publié by Admin, le Monday 9 January 2017
The community of the Ambaladara municipality in the Mananjary District had clearly expressed its opposition to the resumption of the illegal gold mining operations by a Chinese company during the September 20, 2016 demonstration, which ended up with the suspension of these activities by the Head of Region. In spite of this opposition, we have just been informed that this Company resumed its gold mining operations since December 25, 2016.
In its Communiqué dated October 10, 2016, the RSCDA-IO/CRAAD-OI had already asked the tricky question of the authorities’ position in respect of this gold mining project, which continues causing high risks linked to the probable use of mercury by the Chinese operators, who still did not get the required operating and environmental licences. According to the information provided by members of the Ambaladara community and local civil society, the authorities at both district and region levels seem determined not to intervene.
The Health regional authorities also take the stand to keep silent and remain inactive, although they know quite well that the riverside communities are at high risk of being affected by the disastrous effects of pollution by mercury, which is a neurotoxin product very damaging for the development and functioning of the human brain and central nervous system, particularly for pregnant women and young children. Moreover, mercury can also be disseminated over long distances in the atmosphere and cause a global contamination of ecosystems, fish, birds and mammals, all along the food chain.
This situation clearly reveals that the Chinese operators and their local allies benefit from a great deal of impunity, in spite of the popular protest movements. The situation is even more worrisome in the present context characterised by strong social tensions linked to the campaign of repression waged by the security forces following the acts of popular justice that recently happened in the Mananjary district.
Considering these continued violations of the law and fundamental human rights of the riverside communities, the undersigned organisations call on all parties to learn from the recent experience with some Chinese gold operation projects, as well as from the increase in the number of the acts of popular justice, in order to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by some minorities facing the injustice towards communities which are victims of coercion.
The RSCDA-IO/CRAAD-OI and TANY Collective remind authorities at all levels of their responsibility for protecting, respecting, and realising fundamental human rights. They also remind them that Madagascar has ratified the international conventions on environment protection as well as the Minamata convention on mercury that aims at eliminating its use in gold mining. They urge the authorities to listen to the voice of concerned communities and to ensure their free, informed and preliminary consent, before any investment project can take place on their territory.
January 09, 2017