Published:  01:05 PM, 12 November 2019

Suu Kyi's visit to 'valley of rubies' courts protest

Suu Kyi's visit to 'valley of rubies' courts protest

SIX people were held for protesting over the allocation of gemstone mines during a visit by State Counsellor Saw Aung San Suu Kyi in "the valley of rubies" Mogok, Mandalay.

Led by Ko Soe Htay, the group claimed the allocation of mines favoured big mining companies and they protested as they sought a meeting with the relevant authorities, according to The Myanmar Times.

They were rounded up as they protested on Saturday but released after questioning at the police headquarters the same day.

About a week earlier some 300 miners marched in the Kyat Pyin town urging fair allocation of gemstone mines, particularly to small block holders who are claiming discrimination as they are bound to be given unproductive mines.

Ko Soe Htay said they wanted to make sure the State Counsellor knows about the situation that effects small time miners in accordance with the Gemstone Law and that it was unfair.

“The people who were going to meet with the State Counsellor were not open to us, so we had to take to the streets," he added.

Aung San Suu Kyi visited Mogok to attend the Dhamma Beikman ceremony at Nyaung Thone Pin Monastery in Myoma ward.

In her visit, she also held a meeting with town leaders after the event and met with representatives of ethnic groups as well as officials.

A member of the Gem Advisory Committee U Soe Myint said the allocation of gem-mining blocks to small-time miners in Mogok along with issues on national registration cards for ethnic Lisu people and health care among others.

“They mainly discussed the allocation of gem-mining blocks in Mogok, which is apparently unfair to local people. The State Counsellor had said the government will review the matter,” U Soe Myint said.

The concessions for small block holders stretches on an area measuring about 33,000 hectares in three zones while for medium scale holders, 6,500ha has been allocated, also in three zones.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation ministry recently set up a regional gem block allocation and screening group to allocate an acre of land for gem mining to local residents. Each concession is good for one year.

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