MAC/20: Mines and Communities

1. Report from Council of Canadians, Sept 27, 2001

Published by MAC on 2001-09-27

1. Report from Council of Canadians, Sept 27, 2001 http://www.canadians.org/

New evidence links Canada to death of Tanzanian miners (OTTAWA) -

Citing dramatic new evidence uncovered by Tanzanian investigators, the Council of Canadians, Mining Watch Canada and the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation (EDC - Canada) joined today with environmental and human rights groups in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Tanzania to call for an independent investigation into allegations of mass killings and forced relocation of small scale miners at the Bulyanhulu gold mine in Tanzania in 1996.

Eyewitness accounts, family testimony, photos and police videotape recently uncovered by the Lawyer's Environmental Action Team (LEAT) of Tanzania corroborate long-standing allegations that employees of the Canadian owned Kahama Mining Corporation, LTD (KMCL) in conjunction with the Tanzanian police, buried over fifty artisanal miners by bulldozing over the entrances to the shafts in which they worked. LEAT has also compiled significant evidence that tens of thousands of small-scale miners and their families were forcibly evicted from the area without any compensation to enable the Canadian mining company to take over the property.

To release the evidence, the Council of Canadians, Mining Watch Canada and the NGO Working Group were joined by Tundu Lissu, a human rights lawyer from Tanzania who has been monitoring this case for years. "The video, the photographs and the testimony of family members and eye witnesses show incontrovertibly that there was a massacre. All this in its totality proves a scandal of international proportions," said Lissu.

(This video should soon be on the Council of Canadians website http://www.canadians.org/)

Since the allegations had been publicized in the Tanzanian press prior to EDC providing political risk insurance, the question must be asked if EDC (Canada's Export Development Corporation) was aware of these allegations when it provided political risk insurance worth $117 million US for the mine last year. Since the EDC falls under the jurisdiction of the (Canada's) Minister of International Trade, the groups called upon Minister Pettigrew to support an international independent investigation.

"The Canadian government likes to portray itself as a defender of democracy and human rights around the world. This is truly a test of the government's will to live up to that image. If Minister Pettigrew is really committed to human rights he will call for an investigation and make sure that one happens," said Maude Barlow, Volunteer Chair of the Council of Canadians.

"The livelihoods and lives of small scale miners and villagers in the Bulyanhulu area of Tanzania have been sacrificed to ensure enormous profits for the owners of Canadian companies. The companies involved are celebrated as outstanding corporate citizens. As a Canadian I am ashamed - not only that these forced removals have taken place - but that the truth about what happened there has not occasioned an outcry in this country," said Joan Kuyek, National co-ordinator, Mining Watch Canada.

It is unacceptable that Canada, through EDC, continues to provide support to a project with allegations like these around. The Minister must require an independent investigation and ensure EDC develop an effective human rights assessment process," said Émilie Revil, Coordinator of the NGO Working.

The group also expressed outrage that journalists and others involved in researching the stories have been threatened with legal action. Rather than welcoming the efforts to clear up the allegations, the company (Barrick Gold Corp of Toronto) has been using its lawyers and its political connections to try to keep this story buried.

Today the groups issued the following demands to the Canadian government:

that the Minister publicly call for and offer full support to an independent international human rights investigation into the deaths at Bulyanhulu in August 1996 that Minister Pettigrew ensure that EDC's withdraw the political risk insurance for the Bulyanhulu mine site that the government specifically examine the mandate and policies of the EDC in light of its involvement in this case that threats of legal action to journalists and human rights organizations in an attempt to keep this story buried be stopped

For more information:
Jennifer Story
+ 00 1 - 613 233-4487 ext. 234, or (613) 795-8685 (cell).
The Council of Canadians 502-151 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5H3, Canada
Telephone: + 001 613-233-2773, 1-800-387-7177 -
Fax: 613-233-6776
www.canadians.org
inquiries@canadians.org
     

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