Police Question Protestors Opposed to Inn Din Power Plant

Village chairman, Arker- Hnin Ka-Yok and twenty locals who oppose the coal-fired power plant in Inn Din Village, Ye Township, were taken to Ye Town police station for questioning on 13 June.

The investigation was in response to a letter sent to police by families that support the building of the power station. The letter alleged that anti-power plant protesters had threatened one of them, Ma Ye Htay, and destroyed a fence. It also said that the families feared retribution.

Copy of Complaint LetterMyint Taw, an official from Ye Township police force said the police had "invited" the twenty locals to the police station to "just ask for the facts."

On 15 May local protesters shouting slogans such as “no coal” surrounded Ma Ye Htay from Thar-Karan Village whilst she was working selling land plots for the power plant project in Hnee-Tha-Yok Village. The situation then escalated into a confrontation between Ma Ye Htay and the anti-coal protesters.
Following the incident Ma Ye Htay and three other locals, U Tar Tay, Daw Kyi Linn and Ma Khin Khin sent a letter to Ye Township Police on 25 May.

The letter explained that Ma Ye Htay supports the building of the coal-fired power station.

The letter then went on to give their version of the incident.

It claimed: "On 15 May Ma Ye Htay went to visit the owners of the farm next to hers in Hnee Ka-Yoke Village to discuss farm land grants [the papers issued by the government giving farmers the right to work on a piece of land.] with other farmers. She had gone to meet farming friends, but whilst she was there U Aung Myint Shein [the housing and farming head of Hnee Ka-Yoke Village] caused her problems. Then U Aung Myint Shein gathered together some local thugs who caused Ma Ye Htay further problems and frightened her.

"To avoid further trouble Ma Ye Htay ran away from the area and hid at the house of U Thar Tay and Daw Kyi Lin.”

The letter then claimed that: "The thugs led by U Aung Myint Shein surrounded the house of U Thar Tay and Daw Kyi Lin and destroyed the house fence. The thugs then frightened her by threatening to cut her and kill her with sticks and knives.”

U Maung Shin the Inn Din Village administrator, who witnessed the incident, said the points made in the letter were untrue and that Ma Ye Htay has not been attacked by thugs, it was just locals coming down and surrounding her.

He did not blame the supporters of the coal-fired plant, but he said that since the coal-fired power plant was such a sensitive issue it would be better if Ma Ye Htay stopped her business selling land plots for the power plant project.

On 26 May a day after the letter was filed, Ye Town Police charged U Aung Myint Shein under articles 447, 451, and 506. Police Official Aung Myint Thein, from Thanbyuzayat Township Police Force, was sent to Ye to investigate the case and question U Aung Myint Shein.

“They [the police] did not explain to the accused why he was being questioned, how he would be investigated and for what. They did not even tell me as I accompanied him,” said U Aung Naing Win, the secretary of Ye Township Social Society Group, who went along with the accused locals to the police station.

U Aung Myint Shein  said that he was questioned about his involvement in the case and whether he had, as stated in the letter, destroyed the fence and frightened the victim.

The proposed coal-fired power plant is to be constructed by the Toyo-Thai Company, in the Inn Din Village area, with an investment of $2700 Million USD. It will be capable of producing about 1280 megawatts of electricity. On 9 April a memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed between the Union government, the ministry of electricity and Toyo-Thai.

Locals have staged protests against the coal-fired power plant. On 14 December 2014 about 500 locals, led by the Ye Social Society Group, staged a protest march in Ye Town. On 5 May about 6000 locals staged another protest against the plant at the Inn Din Village football field.

Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI