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Myanmar: Chinese joint venture Tha Khin Sit Mining faces charges for assaulting two reporters after story about protest against company’s site clearances for banana plantations

Author: Nan Lwin, Irrawaddy, Published on: 11 March 2019

"Joint Venture Chinese Company Faces Charges for Assaulting Reporters", 27 Feb 2019

The managing director and staff of a mining company who detained and assaulted two journalists on Tuesday, face five charges including assaulting a woman and wrongful restraint, according to the editor-in-chief of Myitkyina Journal where the reporters work.

A Chinese joint venture, Tha Khin Sit Mining, Import and Export Company’s director and employees forcibly took two reporters from the office of the Myitkyina Journal one day after the journal published a story about local residents’ plans to stage a protest against the companies which are carrying out site clearances for banana plantations in Waimaw Township, Kachin State.

The reporters were detained in separate rooms in the company’s compound…The two reporters were only released after their employers contacted Waimaw Township Police Station, which sent police officers to surround the company’s compound. The Myitkyina Journal editors opened a case against the managing director and five other employees of the mining company at the Waimaw police station under five charges…If found guilty, they could face a one-month to two-year prison sentence and a fine.

According to Myanmar TradeNet, the company is a joint venture between a local Kachin business and a Chinese partner which is active in mining, imports and exports and tissue-culture banana plantations…For more than two years, China-backed banana plantations have been facing a backlash from local residents in Kachin State, where operators are accused of working lands acquired controversially. As the banana plantations expand, villagers displaced by fighting and living in IDP camps are increasingly concerned that their land may be occupied, and that they will not be able to farm it when they return home…

According to a 2017 environmental study by the Lisu Civil Society Organization, Chinese companies have been planting tissue culture bananas since 2012 in Kachin State’s Special Region 1…the companies are using insecticides, weed killers and fertilizers and disposing of them carelessly. This has led to the pollution of water supplies in these areas, in turn causing soil damage and killing fish and livestock.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach anyone at Tha Khin Sit for their comments on Wednesday.

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