Skouries: an ancient forest is Greece’s latest battle-ground

26 March, 2013

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By Theodora Oikonomides and Zoe Mavroudi, Hellenic Mining Watch – Resistance to destructive mining in Greece

Skouries is the most important Greek story you’ll rarely hear about. It’s an ancient forest in northern Greece, where a mammoth Canadian gold-mining company is staking its claim.

Gold-mining, environmental concerns, state repression, police violence and a sturdy and organized local anti-mining movement have made Skouries a veritable battle ground in Greek politics, one that has received very little international coverage, clearly overshadowed by the escalating Greek crisis.

Greek company Hellas Gold and its main shareholder, Canada’s Eldorado Gold are working towards establishing a gold and copper mine in the ancient forest of Skouries in the northern region of Halkidiki but residents of the area’s 16 villages are strongly opposed to the project and have held several demonstrations against it over the past year, many of which have turned violent. Riot police have made excessive use of tear gas even inside the forest and in the villages, while residents have accused police of detaining people on trumped up charges, physically abusing them and even taking DNA samples from them against their will. Continue reading

Ecuador: Indigenous Tribes’ Militant Resistance to ‘left’ Correa Government

Feb 10, 2013

“To get the gold, they will have to kill every one of us”

The most-storied warrior tribe in Ecuador prepares to fight as the government sells gold-laden land to China

By Alexander Zaitchik, Salon.com

Photographs by Beth Wald

Of the thousands of “Avatar” screenings held during the film’s record global release wave, none tethered the animated allegory to reality like a rainy day matinee in Quito, Ecuador.

It was late January 2010 when a non-governmental organization bused Indian chiefs from the Ecuadorean Amazon to a multiplex in the capital. The surprise decampment of the tribal congress triggered a smattering of cheers, but mostly drew stares of apprehension from urban Ecuadoreans who attribute a legendary savagery to their indigenous compatriots, whose violent land disputes in the jungle are as alien as events on “Avatar’s” Pandora.

The chiefs — who watched the film through plastic 3-D glasses perched beneath feathered headdress — saw something else in the film: a reflection. The only fantastical touches they noticed in the sci-fi struggle were the blue beanstalk bodies and the Hollywood gringo savior. “As in the film, the government here has closed the dialogue,” a Shuar chief told a reporter after the screening. “Does this mean that we do something similar to the film? We are ready.”

Three years after “Avatar’s” Quito premiere, declarations of martial readiness are multiplying and gaining volume throughout the tribal territories of Ecuador’s mountainous southeast. The warnings bare sharpest teeth in the Shuar country of the Cordillera del Condor, the rain forest mountain range targeted by President Rafael Correa for the introduction of mega-mining.

In recent years, the quickening arrival of drills and trenchers from China and Canada has provoked a militant resistance that unites the local indigenous and campesino populations. The stakes declared and the violence endured by this battle-scarred coalition is little-known even in Ecuador, where Correa has made muscular use of state security forces in arresting activists and intimidating journalists who threaten his image as an ecologically minded man-of-the-people. This repression has only intensified in the run-up to Correa’s expected reelection on Feb. 17.

[Domingo Ankwash, a Shuar leader and president of the Asociacion Bomboiza, is leading the fight against proposed large scale mines in the Cordillera del Condor.]

My guide to this simmering “Avatar” in the Amazon was a 57-year-old Shuar chief named Domingo Ankuash. Like many elder Shuar, Ankuash does not appear to be blustering when he says he will die defending his ancestral lands in the province of Morona-Santiago, which borders Peru. Early in my month traveling the Condor, he took me deep into the country for which he is prepared to lay down his life. After a steep two hours’ hike from his village, we arrived at a forest clearing of densely packed earth. Through the trees and hanging vines, a 40-foot waterfall replenished a deep rock-strewn lagoon. The cascade is one of thousands in the Condor cordillera, a rolling buffer between the cliffs of the eastern Andes and the continental flatness of the Amazon basin. Continue reading

South Africa strikes spill into transport sector

The unrest has forced three leading platinum producers to halt mining operations on the richest deposits in the world

By Sibongile Khumalo, Agence France-Presse
JOHANNESBURG, 25/09/2012
South Africa is struggling to quell a wave of strikes that have crippled the key mining sector and now threaten to spark fuel and food shortages, as transport workers became the latest to go on strike Tuesday.

Unions representing an estimated 28,000 truckers said poor pay and conditions had prompted them to launch the latest in a rash of sometimes deadly strikes that threaten to spook investors and curb growth in the emerging nation.

Drivers are seeking a 12-percent wage increase for 2013 and 2014, more than the rate of inflation, which stands at 5.0 percent.

Last week President Jacob Zuma said stoppages in the mining sector in the past nine months had cost the economy close to 4.5 billion rand ($534 million, 415 million euros).

Firms in the transport and mining sectors on Tuesday tried to end the standoffs at the negotiating table, although progress appeared to be slow.

Road Freight Association spokesperson Magretia Brown said no deal had yet been reached with transport workers, but talks were ongoing.

Meanwhile Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers, who have been on a wildcat strike which is now on its second week, held their first day of talks.

The strike has shut down operations at the world’s top platinum producer.

“We expect Anglo American to come with something on the table and if they are unable to do that, the strike will continue and it will be the start of the (formal) strike,” said Gaddhafi Mdoda, a workers representative. Continue reading

Anger Over Mine Massacre in South Africa

South African Mine Strike Turns Into MassacreThe police chief says that cops were forced to shoot the 34 striking miners after a series of violent protests at one of the world’s largest platinum-producing mines.

South African Mine Strike turns into a massacre
A series of violent protests, at one of the world’s largest platinum-producing mines, led to several deaths and injuries after a shoot-out involving the police and striking mine workers.The strike by Lonmin’s Marikana mine, in the North Western province of South Africa, gained support of the young and old.
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South African Miners Fired on by Police

Al Jazeera English |  16 August 2012
At least 12 people have been killed when police opened fire on miners staging a protest at a platinum mine in South Africa, according to the Reuters news agency.
South African police opened fire and dispersed a crowd of striking miners at the Lonmin mine in the North West province on Thursday after issuing an order to the protesters to lay down their machetes and sticks.

Philippines: Lumad communities set up blockades to resist relocation

Minda News, March 26, 2012

NOT ALLOWED. A notice in sitio Nakultana at Bong Mal District in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur states that company vehicles of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. are not allowed passage. Photo by Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews

Indigenous Lumad communities in South Cotabato have organized a set of blockades against an Australian-owned mining company that wants to relocate them to make way for a new copper-gold mine project.

A group of journalists were invited by a local Catholic Church this past weekend to sit down with the Lumads and discuss the situation.

Speaking through interpreters, the Lumad explained how Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), an affiliate of Australia’s Xstrata Copper, recently outlined the terms of a proposed relocation project on a bunch of tarpaulins which it posted in the region without telling anyone3.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the terms of the relocation were written in Cebuano, a common language in the Philippines, but which most Lumads can neither read nor write.

As the Lumads later learned, SMI had given them until March 22 to agree to the relocation proposal, which also included compensation for their land and their farms.

“The community was shocked by the relocation notice. I don’t want my family relocated,” said Juli Samling, a Lumad community member.

“Here in our community, everything is almost free. You have a land where you can plant to put food on the table. In the relocation site, you have to pay for everything to sustain the family”, Samling added. Continue reading

Displacement: The Indian State’s War on its Own People

By Asit Das, Sanhati.com

A mass rally in Nandigram against forced displacement (file photo)

This write-up is dedicated to the memory of Ashis Mandloi, Rehmal Punia and Sobha of ‘Narmada Bacho Andolon’, Shri Dula Mandal of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samity, the martyrs of Kalinganagar, Kashipur and Nandigram, and numerous other struggles against forcible land grab……….

Development

A bridge with no river
A tall façade with no building
A sprinkler on a plastic lawn
An escalator to no where
A highway to the places
The highway destroyed
An image of a TV
Of a TV showing another TV
On which
There is yet another T.V
……………………..

 

1. Introduction

The blood bath in Nandigram, Kalinga Nagar reflects the Contradictions between India people and the predatory land grab by the National and International big business. The Indian state in service of its imperial masters and their agents in India has unleashed a ruthless war on its own people. Under the Neo-liberal regime the Indian state has resorted to brutal terror and repression on its own people especially Adivasis, Farmars, Dalits and other marginal communities by forcibly evicting them from their habitat. World imperialism led by U.S has forced all the subservient third world states to sell their land, forests, water, natural resources to the profit-hungry Multinational Corporations and their Junior Partners in third world Countries. If the local regimes refuse to fall into line military aggression is the order of the Day. Iraq was ruthlessly invaded and millions were massacred in the direct military assault and economic sanctions to control Iraq’s oil. Millions in Afghanistan have died as a result US aggression since 2001. Libya is being ruthlessly bombed by NATO forces for its oil resources. Taking cue from their imperial masters the Indian state and its provincial administrations have resorted to massacres, tortures and police trying to facilitate land grab by greedy corporation. The massacres in Kalinga Nagar and Nandigram to Police firing, murders of farmers and Adivasis in Bhatta Parsaul, Tappal, Kathikund, Kashipur, Karchhana (Allahabad) Sompeta offer a partial testimony to this ongoing plunder, not to mention custodial deaths, fake encounters in Kashmir, North East and Central India. Unprecedented in the history of state repression on its own people the Indian state has unleashed operation Green-hunt with hundreds of thousands of paramilitary forces, including killer brigades like Cobra, greyhound and special operation group backed by the India army. Operation Green-hunt is launched to grab land, forests, water, minis and other natural resources in resource-rich regions of Central and east India like Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. The National and International Corporations are out of grab the iron ore and other mineral resources of Bastar, which the local Adivasis are resisting to save their homes, livelihoods and habitat. Salwa Judum has displaced more than two lakh Adivasis from 250 villages in Bastar to hand over the mines to the Corporates. Continue reading

India: Vedanta’s illegal expansion of alumina refinery under scrutiny

Vedanta Alumina plant in Lanjigarh, Orissa

by Latha Jishnu

Sep 15, 2010

FOR months there has been speculation in Delhi about an imminent clampdown on metals giant Vedanta’s bauxite mining operations in Orissa.

However, when the final forest clearance for Vedanta’s proposal to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills was rejected by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on August 23, there was surprise at the speed at which matters had moved the preceding week.

The ministry’s stop-order came in the wake of a flurry of committee meetings as officials compiled a detailed dossier on the environmental and forest rights violations by the London Stock Exchange-listed metals firm. The ministry’s decision was based on the findings of the N C Saxena Committee set up to examine the mining proposal. The N C Saxena committee submitted its report on August 16. Four days later, its recommendations were accepted by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of MoEF.

Minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh also had to double check the legal implication of his order on Vedanta with the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Attorney General of India since FAC had given in-principle clearance to Vedanta for diverting 660.74 hectares of forestland for mining to the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) in 2007. The Supreme Court had also cleared the proposal in August 2008. Continue reading