Liberia police violently disperse ArcelorMittal mine protestPublished by MAC on 2014-07-07
Source: Reuters, The News (2014-07-07)
Shots fired as Liberia police quell ArcelorMittal mine protest
7 July 2014
MONROVIA - Liberia's security forces fired shots in the air to break up a protest at an ArcelorMittal SA iron ore plant northeast of the capital on Friday, authorities and witnesses said.
The protesters, who also fired shots, blocked entries to the mine, the company's railroad and offices. The company said in a statement they also entered the mines and looted equipment and building materials near the mine entrance, causing significant damage.
One demonstrator, who declined to be named, said ArcelorMittal had not fulfilled the terms of its concession agreement with the Liberian government. The person added that the company had not compensated local people for crops, nor had it paid wages or renovated houses.
The Indian steel and mining conglomerate operates the plant in Nimba County under a 25-year deal with the government.
"Ringleaders, including those who shot at the police, have been arrested and are being brought to Monrovia for further investigation and prosecution," the presidency said in a statement.
The statement assured investors that the government would protect their lives and property. It said police had restored calm to the city of Yekepa where the mine is situated, following the protest, which began on Thursday.
The West African state is recovering after a long civil war that ended in 2003. ArcelorMittal, BHP and other companies have moved into the country to tap iron ore reserves.
Liberia: Violence At Arcelor Mittal Dangerous
The News (Monrovia)
7 July 2014
The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says the violent disruption of activities at Arcelor Mittal is unacceptable and reflects a dangerous trend in Liberia's march to peace.
PUL believes whatever claims community members have must be discussed in an atmosphere free of fear and mistrust, as to reach logically sound and mutually beneficial decisions.
"This sort of violence destroys valuable investment, creates insecurity and leads to economic and even political instability," PUL President Abdullai Kamara said in a statement.
The Liberian journalist union warned that if violence becomes the norm, Arcelor Mittal or any other corporation will exercise caution in any future development in Liberia, and this will definitely not serve the better interest of the people.
"Liberia has come from a bitter past of violent conflict, and we cannot afford to preface the upcoming transition with violence that could be further exploited by unscrupulous persons; at this point in our history, citizens need to subtract violence from their advocacy, and rather hold their leaders responsible for not taking relevant actions to ensure that concessions abide by agreements with local communities," Kamara added.
The PUL insists that the government, acting through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Bureau of Concessions, must continuously monitor/track agreements between concessions and local communities, to ensure that they are implemented in due course, to avoid simmering tensions that could lead to violence.
Meanwhile, the Press Union has committed to participating in any efforts aimed at providing public education about concession agreements so as to prevent misunderstanding and conflicts between concessionaires and communities.