9 Dec 2012

Apology made to injured monks

8:37 am on 9 December 2012

The government in Myanmar has apologised to Buddhist monks for injuries sustained during a police operation outside a copper mine last week.

More than 50 people, including 20 monks, were injured on 29 November when police tried to clear protesters who said farmers had been forced off their land. Their injuries included severe burns.

A BBC correspondent said the apology reflects the government's nervousness over the role of monks, who command high public respect.

Religious Affairs Minister Myint Maung told a delegation of senior monks that the police regretted the injuries and said the government would do its utmost to prevent such incidents happening again.

It a commission of inquiry has been established, headed by opposition leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi. She visited the area last Friday.

Eight people have been charged in connection with the protests. They are being held in Insein prison in Rangoon.

The Monywa copper mine in northern Burma is a joint venture between a Chinese company and Myanmar Economic Holdings, which is owned by the Burmese military.

The BBC reports more than 3200 hectares of land is being appropriated to make way for a $US1 billion expansion of the mine.

Rallies have been held at the Monywa copper mine for more than three months. State television said just before the crackdown that all work had been halted since 18 November as a result of the protests.