Local residents from Aungthabyay Village, Patheingyi Township, Mandalay Region, held a press conference at Mandalay Media Centre on December 2 voicing their difficulties as they face arrests or court trial in their protest against a 5,000-ton coal-fired cement plant project being implemented by Myint Investment Company near the village.
"We local farmers are facing various hardships and difficulties. We have been charged under various sections. Some have been arrested and thrown in prison. Their family members are in trouble. We will demand to meet with Mandalay Region chief minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung," said Kyaw Zeya who is facing court trial under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law for participating in the protest.
About 20 local farmers have been put on trial while seven others remain remanded in custody for trails. As they face imprisonment, their families now looking down the barrels of financial difficulties, said local people.
During a press conference held to mark the second anniversary of the region government since taking office, chief minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung remarked upon the protest against the cement plant project saying that the protestors were just a handful of people while over 5,000 local people support it. The protest came from behind the scenes. At that time local farmers also denounced the chief minister's remark.
Lower House MP Thaung Htay Lin for Patheingyi Constituency blamed the dispute for a lack of coordination promising to ask the Ministry of Industry about the project.