MAC: Mines and Communities

Rio Tinto protest: 'Human rights, not mining sites'

Published by MAC on 2004-04-29

Rio Tinto protest: 'Human rights, not mining sites'

Jim McIlroy, Green Left Weekly

April 29, 2004.

Brisbane - Anti-nuclear, West Papuan and Indigenous rights advocates joined together on April 22 to picket corporate mining giant Rio Tinto's Australian annual general meeting at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Under the theme "Human rights, not mining sites", the protesters handed out leaflets to shareholders entering the meeting and to passers-by.

The leaflet, sponsored by Everyone for a Nuclear Free Future and the West Papua Association Brisbane, explained: "Rio Tinto's disregard for human rights, workers' rights and the environment globally and in Australia is unacceptable.

"Rio Tinto is the world's third largest mining company with interests in sand, aluminum, diamonds, coal, gold, copper and uranium. Rio Tinto has a disgraceful record of mining around the globe, including Freeport [in West Papua], Bougainville and Ranger and Jabiluka [in Australia]."

The protesters demanded that Rio Tinto shut down Ranger and Jabiluka; rehabilitate the land and return it to the traditional land-owning Mirrar people; and cease uranium mining globally.

In addition, the demonstration called on the mining giant to stop poisoning Freeport, to enter into serious discussions with the Papuan people about the effects of the Grasberg mine, and to stop funding the Indonesian military.

The leaflet concluded with "Three steps for Rio Tinto to be a true global corporate citizen: Recognise indigenous sovereignty and work with indigenous communities for their own good; respect and protect workers and their rights; respect human rights and protect the environment."

Several protesters attended the meeting as proxy shareholders to ask questions of the board and highlight these issues.


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