MAC: Mines and Communities

Extracts From Amnesty International's 2006 Annual Report:

Published by MAC on 2006-05-24
Source: Amnesty International

Extracts from Amnesty International's 2006 Annual Report:


In August and September [2005] indigenous representatives demanded that the national government stop violent evictions and suspend mining projects in regions inhabited by indigenous communities.


In March, Congress ratified a free trade agreement (known as CAFTA) with the USA, the Dominican Republic and other Central American states. This and other economic policies, such as the expansion of mining activities by foreign companies and proposed privatization of parts of the public sector, caused significant protest nationwide. At least two demonstrators were killed, allegedly by members of the security forces, and many were injured during demonstrations.


Alleged violence against protesters

The authorities reportedly failed to investigate allegations of assaults on peaceful protesters by the security personnel of a private company. In May and July, private security forces employed by the Mongol Gazar Mining Company in Arkhangai province allegedly dispersed unarmed demonstrators with tear gas, batons and shots fired in the air.

Activists were protesting that mining would harm water resources and destroy ancestral burial grounds. Security agents were said to have thrown one woman to the ground and kicked her; struck and injured other protesters with batons, handcuffs and rifle butts; and wrecked a television reporter’s camera.


In August the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern that persistent social and economic inequalities continued to restrict the enjoyment of economic and social rights by Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples. It noted that indigenous lands and resources continued to be threatened by outsiders. The Committee also expressed concern about child labour, child prostitution, and about slavery in illegal gold prospecting sites in the upper Orinoco and asiquiare and Guainia-Rio Negro basins.


Threats to freedom of expression

Opposition party officials were arrested and denied equal access to state-controlled media. Independent journalists were harassed and arrested.

On 24 July, opposition leader Michael Sata was arrested and charged with sedition and espionage after supporting striking mineworkers. The Minister of Mines stated publicly that Michael Sata was a “terrorist” who sought to make Zambia ungovernable. Michael Sata was released on 8 August. By the end of the year he had not been tried. The Chief of Police, Inspector General Zunga Siakalima, was dismissed by the President for initially refusing to arrest Michael Sata.

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