By Myat Moe Aung
Tanintharyi, Myanmar, September 16, 2017
The residents filed a complaint on Monday before the Thailand National Human Rights Commission to air their grievances against the three Thai mining firms operating in the Banchaung area, according to Naw Pi Tha Law, a member of the local youth group Tar Ka Paw.
The residents have urged relevant Thai authorities to conduct inspection of the open coal pit mining which is being operated by Thailand’s energy Earth PCL, East Star Company and Thai Asset Mining Company, in cooperation with the Myanmar firm May Flower Company.
Ethnic representatives, who live in the region, lodged the complaint to Thailand National Human Rights Commission over human rights violations, due to the mining activities on June 21, 2017, said the statement.
“In 2014, we complained to mining department in Myanmar. Now, this is the act of Thai companies and that’s why we have complained to the Thailand side,” Naw Pi Tha Law told The Myanmar Times.
“The Thailand National Human Rights Commission said it will act on our complaint in cooperation with the Myanmar Human Rights Commission. “Currently, the project has been suspended temporarily by the regional government. But the coal bursts into flames triggering black smoke,” she said.
The project could harm the Banchaung area of Tanintharyi township, which has 22 villages with a combined population of 16,000.
In the report submitted by the residents to the Thai human rights commission, they said the Banchaung Coal Project is causing air and water pollution that can affect the health of the local population.
The open pit mine has also encroached on the lands of some residents, it said.
“I think the hearing was done to listen to the villagers and give answers by calling the local representatives,” said Ko Thant Zin, a member of a public organisation called Dawei Development Association, who was among those who attended the hearing in Thailand.
“The Banchaung issue is not reported in the Myanmar side yet. The human rights commission (Thailand) suggested they would also advise the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission so they can solve the problem together,” he added.
“We are suffering as the coal burns frequently. We hope that human rights commission (Thailand) would come and investigate this to prevent the Thai companies from breaching human rights laws in Myanmar,” said a local resident living in the vicinity of the mining area.
The report was prepared with the help of various organisations, including Tar Ka Paw youth group, the Thailand-based Spiritual Education Movement and the non-governmental organisation Inclusive Development International, among others.