MAC: Mines and Communities

PACE condemns mining-related human rights violations in Armenia

Published by MAC on 2012-02-14
Source: Armenian Weekly (2012-01-30)

PACE Condemns Mining-Related Human Rights Violations in Armenia

Nanore Barsoumian

Armenian Weekly

30 January 2012

A Jan. 25 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) declaration condemned mining projects in Armenia that disregard the rights of citizens. Among the 44 signatories, 2 are representatives from Armenia: Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) MP Armen Rustamyan and Heritage Party MP Zaruhi Postanjyan.

The statement accused the Armenian government of "violating its international obligations, such as Article 1 of the Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Aarhus Convention, as well as Armenian legislation, by considering the agricultural lands of community and private ownership as being under the public supreme interest, against the will of their owners and the general public, [and] forcefully tak[ing] those lands from their owners, chang[ing] their purpose and turn[ing] thousands of hectares over to mining, including the Teghut mine."

"The ARF faction in parliament many times addressed the government with demands to improve the eco situation and is going to soon organize public hearings on that topic," ARF Bureau member and ARF parliamentary bloc chairman Vahan Hovhannesyan told the Armenian Weekly. "The ecology of Armenia is one of the most important issues for our party. Our policy on it will be included in our electoral platform."

"The ARF has always supported the demands of the environmental movements to establish a transparent procedure in using natural resources," he added.

The Teghhut Forest is located in Armenia's northern Lori province. Activists say mining will have adverse effects on the region. They are concerned that mining waste will be dumped into the Duqanadzor River Gorge, which will contaminate the water supply. Meanwhile, inhabitants of the village of Kajaran in the southern Syunik province face losing around 600 hectares of communal land to the mining industry, which will reportedly drive 131 families off their properties.

The governor of Syunik, Suren Khachatryan, is said to have shares with Cronimet, the German-owned molybdenum mining company that holds the contract for mining in the area, along with two smaller Armenian companies. Environmentalists also worry that birth defects will increase, as they say happened in the case of Alaverdi, where 9 years of mining activities were linked to over 100 cases of birth defects.

Below is the text of the PACE declaration, along with the names of the 44 signatories.

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Condemnation of the man-made ecological disaster project of Teghut

Written Declaration No. 503 - Doc. 12847

25 January 2012

This written declaration commits only the members who have signed it.

The Armenian Government, violating its international obligations, such as Article 1 of the Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Aarhus Convention, as well as Armenian legislation, by considering the agricultural lands of community and private ownership as being under the public supreme interest, against the will of their owners and the general public, forcefully takes those lands from their owners, changes their purpose and turns thousands of hectares over to mining, including the Teghut mine.

According to independent experts, the damage caused to nature by the exploitation of the Teghut mine will be immeasurable, as not only thousands of hectares of forest and rich biodiversity included in the "Red Book" will be lost, but also about 500 million tons of poisoned waste full of heavy metals and about 600 million tons of other kinds of waste will be produced.

According to a decision of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ACCC/C/2009/43), the decisions of the Government of Armenia regarding the exploitation of the mine in Teghut and its adjacent territory does not comply with the Aarhus Convention.

We strongly condemn the continuing violations of the international obligations of the Armenian government and we demand that all decisions regarding the Teghut mining exploitation be considered invalid.

Signed:

POSTANJYAN Zaruhi, Armenia, EPP/CD

ALIGRUDIC Milos, Serbia, EPP/CD

BONDARENKO Olena, Ukraine, EPP/CD

BRAUN Marton, Hungary, EPP/CD

CIGANE Lolita, Latvia, EPP/CD

CONDE Agustin, Spain, EPP/CD

CONNARTY Michael, United Kingdom, SOC

DONABAUER Karl, Austria, EPP/CD

EKES Jozsef, Hungary, EPP/CD

FLYNN Paul, United Kingdom, SOC

FRITZ Erich Georg, Germany, EPP/CD

FRUNDA Gyorgy, Romania, EPP/CD

GARDETTO Jean-Charles, Monaco, EPP/CD

GRUBER Attila, Hungary, EPP/CD

GUTU Ana, Republic of Moldova, ALDE

HERASYM'YUK Olha, Ukraine, EPP/CD

HOPPAL Peter, Hungary, EPP/CD

KALMAR Ferenc, Hungary, EPP/CD

KAZMIERCZAK Jan, Poland, EPP/CD

KUBATA Vaclav, Czech Republic, EPP/CD

KUBOVIC Pavol, Slovak Republic, EPP/CD

LIBINA-EGNERE Inese, Latvia, EPP/CD

MARIN Christine, France, EPP/CD

MATUSIC Frano, Croatia, EPP/CD

MAYER Edgar, Austria, EPP/CD

NESSA Pasquale, Italy, EPP/CD

NEUGEBAUER Fritz, Austria, EPP/CD

NYKIEL Miroslawa, Poland, EPP/CD

OMTZIGT Pieter, Netherlands, EPP/CD

O'REILLY Joseph, Ireland, EPP/CD

PERNASKA Lajla, Albania, EPP/CD

PFISTER Gerhard, Switzerland, EPP/CD

PFLUG Johannes, Germany, SOC

PRESECNIK Jakob, Slovenia, EPP/CD

PUCHE Gabino, Spain, EPP/CD

RUSTAMYAN Armen, Armenia, SOC

SANTINI Giacomo, Italy, EPP/CD

SCHNEIDER Andre, France, EPP/CD

SOBOLEV Serhiy, Ukraine, EPP/CD

TOSHEV Latchezar, Bulgaria, EPP/CD

VAREIKIS Egidijus, Lithuania, EPP/CD

VARVITSIOTIS Miltiadis, Greece, EPP/CD

VERCAMER Stefaan, Belgium, EPP/CD

ZBONIKOWSKI Lukasz, Poland, NR

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EPP/CD: Group of the European People's Party

SOC: Socialist Group

ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

EDG: European Democratic Group

UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

NR: not registered in a group

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