Members of the Kachin public have planned a protest for Tuesday in Hpakant, Kachin State against the “excessive extraction” of jade from the area.
Those organizing the protest—the Kachin Social Development Organization—are framing it as a demand for rights of the indigenous Kachin people of Hpakant, an area known locally as Mungnawk Hkawng Uru Ga in the Jinghpaw language. Some 5,000 people are expected to participate.
Hpakant resident Lamawng La Tawng told KNG that jade companies have failed to consider the environmental consequences of mining in the region, leading to the lasting damage of what should have been designated protected land.
“Indigenous people own this jade land. Companies have excessively extracted jade from our land. Nothing is left. All that will be left in the next four to five years is soil,” he said. “Indigenous people will suffer a lot. It’s like we are being killed. I want let the authorities know this. The authorities must take full responsibility for it.”
Those protesting are also raising issues of centralization, especially as it relates to lawmaking and regulations regarding natural resource extraction, and say the National League for Democracy government has not consulted local communities on what changes they would like to see.
“The central government controls everything. Even though they amended the jade law, there are no rights for local indigenous people. The protest means we are asking for our own rights,” Lamawng La Tawng explained.