Myanmar rejects 'white phosphorus' claim report

Myanmar on Saturday dismissed an independent report that alleged security forces used white phosphorus in a crackdown on a copper mine protest last year, which left dozens of people injured.

The pre-dawn raid on protest camps at the Chinese-backed mine in northern Myanmar in November was the toughest clampdown on demonstrators since a reformist government came to power in early 2011.

A network of lawyers sent a canister discovered at the site in Monywa to a laboratory overseas which was found to contain military-issue white phosphorus that can lead to serious injuries, their report said.

But presidential spokesman Ye Htut dismissed the report without commenting on its findings, saying the government would only recognise a separate parliamentary probe being conducted by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We do not study or give comment on individual inquiries," he told AFP, adding that the report could "disturb" the work of Suu Kyi's commission.

The lawyers group, which submitted its findings to the Nobel laureate in late January, this week released a final draft of its report claiming government forces used "excessive force" in breaking up the mine demonstration.

It added that senior local officials acted on behalf of the mine -- a joint venture between Chinese firm Wanbao and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings -- and "misused their powers to punish villagers opposed to selling their land".

Activists said about 100 people were injured in the crackdown. Some suffered severe burns. The government has since apologised to senior Buddhist clerics over injuries sustained by monks who were at the forefront of the protest.

President Thein Sein's office initially said that tear gas and smoke bombs were used against the protesters, but denied allegations by local media that a form of chemical weapon was deployed.

Chinese-backed projects to tap Myanmar's abundant natural resources have sparked resentment among local residents. Opponents are calling for work at the mine to be suspended to allow environmental and social impact studies.

Suu Kyi's commission was originally supposed to present its findings by the end of January, but the date has been postponed, with members of the inquiry suggesting a decision would not be before late February.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 1 hour 50 minutes ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 2 hours 46 minutes ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 5 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.

  • First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy
    First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy

    He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.