World Briefs: Dozens hurt in crackdown on copper mine protest

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MYANMAR

MONYWA — Security forces used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs Thursday to clear protesters from a copper mine in northwestern Myanmar, wounding villagers and Buddhist monks in by far the biggest use of force against demonstrators since the reformist government of President Thein Sein took power last year.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the area hours later on a previously scheduled visit, said she would try to negotiate a solution.

In a statement broadcast on state television, the government initially acknowledged using the riot-control measures but said it did not use excessive force.

But in an unusual move, it later retracted the statement, apparently sensitive to the great respect in which monks are held in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Monks and other protesters had serious burns after the crackdown at the Letpadaung mine near the town of Monywa.

Protesters who oppose the mine’s environmental and social impact had occupied the area for 11 days.

SRI LANKA

Monks urge a halt to judge’s impeachment

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks on Thursday urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to withdraw an impeachment motion that accuses the country’s chief justice of misusing power and having unexplained wealth.

A letter signed by monks heading the four organizations that cover all the Buddhist monks in the country urged the government to safeguard judicial independence, saying the majority of the public think the impeachment motion “will lead to disenchantment about all branches of the judiciary.”

The motion filed by lawmakers of Mr. Rajapsaka’s ruling coalition levels 14 charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Opposition parties and independent analysts say the impeachment attempt is aimed at stifling judiciary independence and concentrating power with Mr. Rajapaksa.

Buddhism is the state religion of Sri Lanka, and monks are influential over the public and government.

About 74 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people are Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists. About 18 percent are Tamils, who are predominantly Hindus or Christians, and 7 percent are Muslims.

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