Myanmar riot police fired water cannon at monks and villagers protesting against a Chinese-backed copper mine on Thursday, injuring dozens in a crackdown ahead of a visit by Aung San Suu Kyi, activists said.
The demonstration was the latest example of long-oppressed Myanmar citizens testing the limits of their new freedoms after the end last year of decades of authoritarian junta rule that saw protests routinely stamped out.
The pre-dawn raid on protest camps came hours ahead of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's planned visit to the town of Monywa in northern Myanmar, where she was expected to speak to the demonstrators.
"While we were sleeping riot police came to the site and fired water," said Yaywata, a monk who was among hundreds of people demonstrating against the mine, which has seen months of protests over alleged land grabbing. Several monks were arrested and around 30 others "suffered burns to their body", Yaywata, who goes by one name, told AFP.
Protesters recounted being shaken from their sleep as police used the water cannon and some kind of flares or canister-type devices that they said sparked fires at the rally site.
"The monks got up and tried to resist," reciting Buddhist prayers, protester Zaw Phone Myint said.AFP