Protests halts Chinese gold mine in MadagascarPublished by MAC on 2016-10-10
Source: News 24, TANY Collective
Two local leaders have been arrested in Soamahamanina
On 22 September 2016, security forces dispersed with tear gas a community protest against a mining project runned by Jiuxing Mines in Soamahamanina, a town and commune in the district of Miarinarivo, part of Madagasar's Itasy Region.
See photo and video coverage in Soamahamanina Facebook page
See previous on MAC:
Madagascar protests halt activity at Chinese gold mine
News 24 - http://www.news24.com/Africa/
7 October, 2016
Soamahamanina - A Chinese firm said on Friday it had suspended work at its gold mine in Madagascar after a series of protests by local residents.
"The company wants to pull out so that calm and security can return to the town of Soamahamanina," said Stella Andriamamonjy, the spokesperson for the firm, Jiuxing Mines, which operates the gold mine in the town to the west of the capital.
She stressed that, "given the investments already made," the halt was a temporary "sacrifice" to appease local sentiments.
On Friday, an AFP journalist saw that the company's excavators and trucks had been removed from the site.
The mine was officially opened in May and employs 11 Madagascan and 20 Chinese workers full time.
Jiuxing Mines has a 40-year permit to mine gold at the site.
Since June, locals have held protests every Thursday, claiming that the mine has ruined their land and calling for the Chinese company to leave.
In late September, protesters clashed with police.
"We hope the state will suggest solutions so we can find common ground with the local population. We hope to be able to start afresh and correct the errors of the past," said Andriamamonjy.
"We will do our best to set up local projects - because that is what the people want -- before really embarking on mining proper," she added.
One of the conditions of Jiuxing Mines' licence was that it build roads, electrify the town, renovate one health centre and build another one.
Press release - APPEAL TO RELEASE THE LEADERS of VONA ASSOCIATION bringing together the representatives of the local communities opposed to the gold mining project in Soamahamanina - Madagascar
The following Press Release was disseminated by Collective TANY after the arrest of Pierre ROBISON and Tsihoarana ANDRIANONY, two leaders of the VONA FITIAVAN-TANINDRAZANA, an association which gathers together representatives of the affected communities in Soamahamanina.
The representatives of local communities affected by mining projects in other Madagascar areas issued a statement supporting this Appeal and to express their complete solidarity with the Soamahamanina inhabitants’ struggle.
The Collective for the Defense of Malagasy Lands - TANY - http://terresmalgaches.info/
Paris, 28 September 2016
On 22 September 2016, in Soamahamanina, security forces dispersed with gas tears a community protest against a mining project. Then two leaders of the VONA Association, which gathers the representatives of the affected communities, have been arrested. We call for the immediate release of these two leaders, Pierre Robison and Tsihoarana Andrianony.
Soamahamanina is a commune of 14,000 inhabitants, located 70 kms from the Malagasy capital, Antananarivo, in the Miarinarivo district of Itasy Region.
The Jiuxing Mines SARL company has been issued a mining operating license for 40 years for gold, zinc, lead and berillium in Soamahamanina and in the neighbouring village of Arivonimamo II, along with an exclusive authorization for a perimeter reservation (AERP) at Morafeno. This has provoked community protests along the National Road #1 since the beginning of 2016.
Indeed, this mining project involving 7500 hectares brought about strong opposition from the people who are living in the area and reinforced their determination to defend their land, living spaces, natural resources, livelihoods, tombs, and to protect a church and a school from their planned destruction.
The issuance of an environmental permit – that is the last step before the operating license – for the Andravolobe site on 26 May 2016, highlighted an unacceptable breach of the public consultation principles, as the large majority of the affected population has not been consulted or has rejected the mining project.
The population points to different aspects of the environmental degradation that would be entailed by the highly mechanized mining process implemented by the Chinese company.
Despite all this, the Jiuxing Mines SARL company set up in Andravolobe with numerous Chinese employees, vans and machines.
Since 20 June 2016, further to a meeting initiated by the bishops of the Justice and Peace Commission, the Soamahamanina population set up a Refusal Committee that gave birth to the VONA Fitiavan-tanindrazana (Node of Patriotism) Association gathering the representatives of the affected communities.
This movement receives strong support from civil society organizations, neighbouring communes and a great number of citizens. So much that on 19 July 2016, the China Embassy in Madagascar and the Government Council decided to suspend the activities of the Jiuxing Mines SARL company.
But the VONA movement claims there should be a definite departure of the company along with its equipment. In fact, the authorities do not take into account the population’s grievances and is rather trying to silence it.
This was especially the case on 8 September 2016, during a visit of the President of the Republic to Miarinarivo, the Region capital, where the displaying of banners was prohibited. However, the Soamahamanina protesters succeeded in bringing their claim to the President’s attention.
Without any attention from the Government, which is not listening, this demand expressed during press conferences then displayed on banners through the village during a demonstration, ended up in the form of an “ultimatum” with 21 september 2016 as the deadline. The day after, further to a popular demonstration led by the VONA Association, an unprecedented wave of repression broke over the movement.
In the face of this violence against people who defend their rights and property, and of the unacceptable pressure on the Malagasy lands that are dedicated by the laws in force to simply being an El Dorado for the mining investors, the Collective TANY calls on citizens all over the world to demand:
- the immediate release from prison of Pierre Robison and Tsihoarana Andrianony,
- the end of any form of repression against the popular movement,
- satisfying responses to the demands of the majority of the local population.
Paris, 28 September 2016
The Collective for the Defense of Malagasy Lands - TANY