Four men shot dead by security guards at Sagaing jade mine

Security guards shot dead four freelance miners last week during a confrontation at a jade mine in Sagaing Region operated by military-owned conglomerate Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, media reports said.

The incident occurred when the men tried to enter the mine site in Hkamti Township to scavenge for jade on May 17 and armed police employed by the mine as security workers opened fire, the reports said.

UMEHL had warned the workers the previous day not to enter the mine, said U Maung Tay, an MP in Hkamti.

“But the miners went there this morning and they shot them. There are four miners dead and eleven injured and they are at the hospital now,” he told AFP.

The incident came the same day that a screening of a film about the jade industry by corruption watchdog Global Witness was abruptly cancelled at a Yangon’s Parkroyal hotel.

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Journalists who attended the event were read a statement from the hotel saying that Global Witness did not have prior permission from the Yangon regional government to screen the film.

The film, “Jade and the Generals”, explores how the Tatmadaw has reaped huge profits from jade mines in neighbouring Kachin State and used them to fuel conflict with armed ethnic groups, AFP said.

The film, now available online, also calls on the National League for Democracy government to include jade industry regulation as part of the peace process.

Myanmar produces the world’s finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone prized in China, where it is known as the “stone of heaven” and believed to bring health and luck.

In a report released in October 2015, London-based Global Witness estimated that mines in Kachin had produced jade worth US$31 billion in 2014, equivalent to almost half Myanmar’s official GDP that year.

The report said the jade trade was controlled by networks of military elites, drug lords and crony companies.

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