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We, the Zo people would like to bring your attention to matters that are crucial for the future

of Zo people in Chin State (Zogam), Burma. The rights of Zomis (Zo indigenous peoples) in Northwestern Burma are permanently violated by Burmese military junta. Our territories are exploited by multinational mining corporations and tribesmen are forcibly resettled and tortured. Burma applies the policy of Neo-colonialism in the attempt to gain a total control of the Zo's lives, to impose its civilization patterns on them and to uproot their ancient culture. As you are aware, a site in Gullu Mual (A Brief Introduction of Gullu Mt. /Mwe Taung Nickel Deposit) also known as Mwe Taung Mountain contains a large deposit of nickel and uranium which has been the topic of numerous studies and hundreds of hours of public debate and discourse. The people we represent have read those studies. They have been both participants and observers in those debates. It is safe to say there is no group of citizens in the Commonwealth who are better informed about this issue and have stronger feelings than the people who live in Chin State. The people we represent have formed an opinion based on what they have learned from these studies. The majority of the people in our region want the

ban on nickel and uranium mining and milling in Chin State to remain period. They have concluded that the unknown potential rewards of nickel and uranium mining are far outweighed by the unknown risks that may confront their families in future years. It would be difficult to list all the concerns that our constituents have shared with us about the proposal to lift the ban, but a few highlights are worth noting. Unresolved issues surrounding the storage of the dangerous radioactive byproduct of nickel and uranium mining, radioactive tailings, concern everybody who lives in this region. Understand that over 99% of the radioactive rock will be left on site for future generations to worry about polluting drinking water from Chindwin River, Reh (Hearted-shape Lake), River KaladamNeyinzaya and Myittha Rivers in Kalemyo. Every time we open a newspaper, it seems there is yet another storage method or regulatory scheme which has been proposed to handle this hazardous waste. It is little wonder that our constituents have no confidence that these millings can be safely stored in our area. Nickel and Uranium mining in Chin State is an experiment. There is no place in the world where an active uranium mine is operating, (a) in a wet climate which is visited by the occasional Nargis hurricane, tropical cyclone Mahasen, such as is the case in Burma, and (b) in an area where the water table is as close to the surface as is the case in Chin State and (c) with tens of thousands of people within a few miles of the mine location. It is impossible for the proponents of nickel and uranium mining to discount these critical issues. If that doesnt qualify as an experiment, we dont know what does. The mining company involved says their project will create thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars in the local economy. Finally, our economic livelihood as a region is at stake. Native industries like production agriculture and wood products are thriving, but one even small environmental accident will directly and immediately impact those markets. In the industrial sector, we are finally turning the corner in terms of creating a new and vibrant 21st century economy in Chin State and in different parts of Burma. New jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment have flowed into our area just in the last two-three years. These are good-paying, knowledgebased jobs which hold the promise of a brighter future for some of the region

and its citizens. However, lets be clear, the battle for economic prospects is vicious. Our region does not need this stigma hanging over our heads. So lets sum it up. A substantial majority of the people in our region dont want mining. They are concerned about dangerous radioactive tailings. They do not wish to be part of a nickel and uranium mining experiment operated in this kind of climate, this close to tens of thousands of people. They are concerned about the negative impact this small industry will have on our overall economy for the long term. As you are considering your own position on lifting the ban, please consider this. Chin State is not the only site in Burma in which nickel and uranium deposits have been identified. The Letpadaung region and the Shwe Gas Pipeline are also identified sites for further exploration of gas and mining. Nor is the impact of the mining and storage of uranium in Chin State restricted to the immediate geographic area. Practically every community downstream from the proposed site, from Shwe Gas Pipeline, Letpadaung to Chindwin River, and the entire Irrawaddy River community, has expressed their opposition to lifting the ban. The people in our district are no different from the people in yours. They have the same hopes, dreams and concerns that you will find in your region. With the risks we have cited here, do you think the people in your district would want a uranium mine and mill to operate there and leave thousands of tons of radioactive waste for future generations? We ask you to have the same compassion for our constituents as you do for yours. We the Zo people urge the global citizens-- by all human, media, legal, financial or popular means possible - all those who fight against land grabs and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfill their obligations towards the rights of people and all the Zo people around the world to stand with us in doing the right thing. Sincerely, Zomi Congress for Democracy Liberated-Area, New Delhi, India