Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sierra Leone Class Struggle

Over at the Power to the People blog a report on the unrest at the diamond mining area in Sierra Leone where police cracked down on protests about the exploitation and inhumane conditions .

Residents were protesting the mining operations’ impact on living conditions, saying the company has failed to compensate affected families. Residents say Koidu Holdings has not met promises to help in the resettlement of residents displaced by its operations. A private company owned by Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz, Koidu Holdings mines the deepest vertical kimberlite pipe in the world. It has been in talks with locals who live near the blast site in the concession for several years.

Rich in diamonds, Kono district lacks piped water, electricity and good roads, citizens say. Residents have long denounced what they call exploitation by diamond seekers.

Dozens of young residents of the eastern Sierra Leone town of Koidu swarmed onto the mine to protest against the mining company. Sierra Leone police had to intervene and opened fire on the protesters.
Valnora Edwin is the director of Sierra Leone non-governmental organization, Campaign for Good Governance. She says the residents of the town adjacent to the mine complain the blasting has negatively impacted their daily lives. The residents are also complaining that the mining, which started in 2003, damages their plantations, their water supplies, and more generally, the environment. They want the mining company to pay to relocate them.
"They are complaining that when they are doing the blasting it is affecting their school, it's affecting everyday activities because everyone has to go indoors, there are particles flying in the air, and that is also affecting their health," she said.

According to Abu Brima, executive director of the Sierra Leone Network Movement for Justice and Development
"The community people have made a number of complains, and have written a lot of letters of complaints to the authorities, and recently they also made a memorandum of 14 points to go on strike if Koidu holdings did not meet their demands," According to Brima, because these demands were not met, the villagers resorted to protesting, expecting the support of local authorities. "But, unfortunately they the authorities have used their heavy hands to clamp down on local communities on behalf of the mining company..."

Members of parliament who visited Kono following the uprising issued a statement on 17 December condemning what they called "heavy handed action taken" in quelling the unrest. "We believe it was a peaceful demonstration which could have been settled through negotiations," the seven MPs said in the statement

1 comment:

blackstone said...

Get the word out comrade!