Hpakant jade company offers compensation to slain man’s family

Poeple of raw jade (locally called yemase) collectors at Hpakant in western Kachin state

The Thaukpa Kyae jade mining company in Kachin State Hpakant's township has offered 20 million kyat (USD $ 19,531.2) as compensation to the family of a 20 year old man who was killed on the job. Hpuklawng Gum Ja Awng, also known as Ze Lum, was killed on the evening of October 31. The company claims his death was the result of an accident however the victim's family disputes this explanation.

Matters related to compensation have been delegated to the local chapter of the Kachin Culture and Tradition Association (KCTA) of Hpakant township at the wishes of the family. The Kachin culture group has requested kyat 400 million (USD $ 39,062.5) in compensation for Hpuklawng Gum Ja Awng's family. The company offered to pay the far lower amount during a November 10th meeting, Hpuklawng Gum Ja Awng's brother Brang Nan said.

“Our brother cannot appraise so we have nothing to say about whether we are satisfied or not. They (the company) offered to pay kyat 20 million after a request from the Kachin culture group, we will accept the decision of the culture group because we respect them, there will be no sanctification,” Brang Nan said.

According to Brang Nan, Zaw Oo, the company’s backhoe driver admitted that he murdered Hpuklawng Gum Ja Awng during an investigation conducted by the Hpakant township police but the company insists the death was accidental.

“When the police questioned the company authorities and the backhoe driver, he again admitted that he hid the corpse,” said Brang Nan. The late man's family wants to send a message not only to all Kachin people but for whole nation to avoid similar deaths in the future.

On 31st October at the Waje Maw jade mining site, local people found four pieces of Gum Ja Awng's corpse in a pile of mining waste rock. The firm continues to face an investigation from the police. The family held a cremation ceremony on November 2nd for the deceased.

“There were some accidents in the past but only injuries and this time what happened was worse. Unfortunately he was under the waste soil without being noticed by our driver and then was grabbed by the arm of the backhoe. We feel really sorry for that, right now we are talking with his family and the Kachin culture group,” said Win Naing an officer from the company.

The victim leaves behind his pregnant wife and one child.