Local Burmese condemn military takeover of ruby minePublished by MAC on 2003-09-10
Local Burmese condemn military takeover of ruby mine
10 September 2003
No: 07 - 09/2003
More than a decade after ruby was discovered in Monghsu, 189 miles northeast of Taunggyi, the Burmese army stumbled upon a new location, reportedly teeming with rich ruby deposits, in eastern Shan State's Mongton township, opposite Thailand's Chiangmai, according to several sources.
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The quality of the "stone" in Loi Hpaleng (Red Cliff Mountain), that is located between Ta Hpaleng (Red Cliff Crossing) in the west and Hwe Aw along the Mongton-BP1 highway in the east is "comparable" to that in Monghsu, according to a Shan gem trader.
"Actually, Hwe Aw militia leader Ja Pikoi had for two years, been digging and selling gemstones from the area under cover of reconnaissance missions against Shan rebels," he said. "And as he became richer, the cover was gradually blown off."
Two companies from Mongton's Infantry Battalion 225 have recently been assigned security over the area to scare off prospective prospectors, according to the militia sources.
The event was regarded as an unkind blow both to Shan dissidents and the local populace. "Why should this evil government be rewarded with all the riches?" moaned a villager. "They can now keep on bullying us for a long, long time."
The Shan State Army, said sources, was aware of the existence of the ruby deposits, "but they had wished to keep it secret until freedom comes. Unfortunately, the Burmese military arrived first."
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