Whistle blowers report Myanmar to global mining body

A view of the Letpadaungtaung project area (Photo - Phyo Wai/EMG)

The Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA) joined more than 300 civil society organisations in reporting Myanmar’s alleged breach of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Standard.

According to article 1.3 of the EITI Standard, the government has pledged to refrain from obstructing freedom of expression in relation to the extraction of natural resources.

The MATA says the government can seek advice from the EITI board over the handling of the Letpadaungtaung conflict.

It has denounced the death of a resident during clashes with the security forces at the copper mine. It has also staged a protest in Monywa on January 5 over the implementations of projects without the consent of the public.

Tun Myint Aung of the MATA said: "Conflicts arise in other countries when they are trying to implement the EITI Standard. The EITI board will give advice on how to handle the issue. This is why we are demanding [its involvement]. Otherwise, there would have been many countries where the implementations of the EITI Standard would have been halted."

The MATA has also urged the government to hold an emergency meeting with the MATA and EITI but the government is yet to respond.

"If Myanmar is not able to solve this conflict, it would be difficult for it to become a fully-fledged member of the EITI. As Myanmar has pledged to abide by the EITI Standard, the government seems to be shamelessly breaching the rules. It's shameful for the country. It may hinder international relations," Tun Myint Aung added.

The EITI board accepted Myanmar as a candidate country during its 27th meeting in Mexico City in July. Myanmar is now working on drafting a report to become a fully-fledged member.

After Myanmar becomes an EITI member country, the revenue received from natural resources should be used with transparency. The EITI Standard is one of the methods for ensuring transparency and combating corruption.

The EITI is an international organisation which maintains a standard, assessing the levels of transparency around countries’ oil, gas and mineral resources. This standard is developed and overseen by a board consisting of representatives from governments, extraction companies, civil society organisations, institutional investors and international organisations.