Almost A Quarter Million People Worldwide Join Call for Nevsun Resources Investors to Divest Over Abuses at Eritrea Mine [Press Release]

Freedom United – Mining Justice Alliance – MiningWatch Canada

(Vancouver, May 3, 2017) Community members joined Vancouver’s Mining Justice Alliance outside Nevsun Resources’ Annual General Meeting today to present over 240,000 signatures on petitions calling for the company’s shareholders to divest from operations in Eritrea, a country where forced labour is widespread.

Nevsun, whose sole operating mine is the Bisha gold/copper in the north-eastern African nation, benefits from the country’s system of indefinite conscription. It’s a form of forced labour (or modern slavery) according to the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.

The Bisha mine is also a major source of income for the repressive regime that has ruled Eritrea since its independence, and the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. Nevsun has consistently denied that it has used conscript labour, including through its subcontractors, as well as asserting that its contributions to the government are used for development and infrastructure improvement. A UN commission found that the government is guilty of committing “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations.” Eritrea is also the worst country in the world for freedom of speech, according to the World Press Freedom Index. At least 17 journalists are behind bars but none of them has ever been tried in court, nor even been charged with a crime.

Canada is a signatory to international conventions on human rights and forced labour, but has no legal restrictions on the international operations of Canadian companies other than rarely-used anti-bribery laws. “We are pressing the federal government to take responsibility and at least implement an Ombudsperson to investigate complaints,” says Jamie Kneen, Communications Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “At the same time, it’s fair to ask what kind of business ethics, and what kind of due diligence on the part of investors, allows companies to operate in countries like Eritrea.”

Forty-eight former workers are currently suing Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, making it the first time a modern slavery case has been heard in a Canadian court. “The tens of thousands of petition signatories are shocked that a Canadian company can produce goods sold around the world in an environment synonymous with forced labour and human rights violations. The fact that this company is backed by investors that have we have stake in, such as through pension funds, makes our responsibility even more clear.” said Joanna Ewart-James, Advocacy Director at Freedom United.

This form of modern slavery is also the primary cause for another crisis. Eritrea is currently producing an incredible number of refugees. Of a population of fewer than 6 million people, 5,000 are leaving every month, with Eritreans make up a large part of the thousands of people desperately trying to reach Europe from the Middle East and North Africa, with many drowning in the Mediterranean or dying along the way.

“Nevsun Resources is helping fuel a refugee crisis by profiting from supporting a repressive regime,” says Daniel Tseghay, a local Eritrean organizer working with Mining Justice Alliance. Tseghay points out that Nevsun’s shareholders include the Canadian Public Pension (CPP) Investment Board. He says, “With the CPP investing in the company, a large number of Canadians are shareholders and therefore complicit in the enslavement of people from my country.”

The groups argue that the company’s investors must divest now.

See/sign the petitions:

For more information, contact:

Posted in Local and Indigenous Rights, Nevsun Resources, Property and Livelihoods | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slave Labour in Eritrea: Picket Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun’s Annual General Meeting

Join us on May 3, 2017, from 8:30 am – 9:30 am, at the corner of Howe and Georgia Street in front of the Four Seasons Hotel

Vancouver, Unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.

Organized by Mining Justice Alliance, MiningWatch Canada, Freedom United and Amnesty International
 
Click here to sign the petition calling on Nevsun to stop profiting from slavery

The north-eastern African country of Eritrea may be far away but a Vancouver-based mine’s activities there connects us and makes Canada complicit in serious labour violations.

Nevsun Resources operates in Eritrea, benefiting from its program of indefinite conscription. The system has been called a form of slave labour by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. Forty eight former workers are currently moving forward with lawsuits against Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, making it the first time a modern slavery case has been heard in a Canadian court.


Eritreans on Nevsun’s site will regularly work 12 hours a day, for six days a week, working for the equivalent of $30 a month, and often much less. When one worker left the work site without authorization he was imprisoned for four months.


Eritrea established a National Service program in 1995 requiring adults to undergo 18 months of military training. The program quickly transformed into indefinite conscription that often lasts for years, and sometimes for 10 to 20 years. Conscripts are rarely engaged in duties related to the military, serving, instead, as labourers in state-run industries and projects like Nevsun’s mine.

Eritrea is also currently producing an incredible number of refugees. Of a population of fewer than 6 million people, 5,000 are leaving every month. Eritreans make up a large part of the thousands of people desperately trying to reach Europe and drowning in the Mediterranean or dying along the way every year.

Nevsun Resources is complicit in this refugee crisis and profits from supporting a brutally repressive regime. The Canadian Public Pension (CPP) Investment Board is one of the company’s investors, making workers paying into Canada’s public pension plan all shareholders. We call on people to join us outside the venue for the Annual General Meeting where we will present a petition and make the case that the company’s investors must divest now.

For more info on Nevsun:

 

For more info on the picket:
 
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Jan 31: Fundraiser for Tsilhqot’in legal defense against Taseko Mines

Support Tsilhqot’in Nation in defending  Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)!

Tuesday, January 31, 7pm

The WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac St, Vancouver

Next week (Jan 30 to Feb 3) is the federal court hearing Taseko Mines’ judicial review of the federal rejection of Taseko’s New Prosperity proposal. The court hearing is at 701 West Georgia St.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/235435026884433/?ti=as

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Jan 26: Flin Flon Flim Flam (Film Screening)@KDocs

Join members of MJA for a screening of John Dougherty’s documentary on HudBay Minerals. The film will be followed by a Q&A with the Director and local panelists.

2016-01-26-flin-flon-flim-flam-poster

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Jan 24: Blood of Extraction (Book Launch)

Please join us for the Vancouver Launch of a new book by Todd Gordon & Jeffery R. Webber

blood-of-extractiion-evite-vancouver

FB page for the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1228749503847091/

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News Release: Murder of Young Assistant from Guatemalan Environmental Organization is Evidence of Escalating Risk to Human Rights Defenders

(Ottawa/Toronto/Vancouver/Reno/Washington/Guatemala) North American organizations are dismayed and deeply troubled by the execution-style murder of 22 year-old Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima, assistant to the director of the Guatemalan Centre for Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), on Saturday in Guatemala City.

A group of Canadian and US legal, environmental and social justice organizations, and solidarity networks publicly express their condolences for the victim’s mother and two young sisters. In addition, they are profoundly worried about the safety and continued work of CALAS and the mining-affected communities that this organization collaborates with. There is no denying the significance of this brutal murder amidst escalating violence against land and environment defenders, journalists and citizens involved in important environmental and social justice struggles in the country and the region.

Jeremy Barrios was cruelly assassinated by unknown assailants with two bullets to the head while doing errands in zone 4 of Guatemala City. He was responsible for managing sensitive information at CALAS and had not received any prior threat or warning of this attack. None of his personal belongings were stolen. His murder is understood as a direct message to CALAS’ director and other personnel. The precise motive for his murder is not yet known. …

Read the full release here

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Book Review: More than a few bad apples (Jen Moore)

Jen Moore reviews the new book Blood of Extraction by Todd Book & Jeffery R. Webber:

“Militarized neoliberalism” and the Canadian state in Latin America

By Jen Moore

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Military responds to mining protest in Peru. (Photo by Thomas Quirynen and Marijke Deleu, CATAPA)

Stories of bloody, degrading violence associated with Canadian mining operations abroad sporadically land on Canadian news pages. HudBay Minerals, Goldcorp, Barrick Gold, Nevsun and Tahoe Resources are some of the bigger corporate names associated with this activity. Sometimes our attention is held for a moment, sometimes at a stretch. It usually depends on what solidarity networks and under-resourced support groups can sustain in their attempts to raise the issues and amplify the voices of those affected by one of Canada’s most globalized industries. But even they only tell us part of the story, as Todd Gordon and Jeffery Webber make painfully clear in their new book, The Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America (Fernwood Publishing, November 2016).

“Rather than a series of isolated incidents carried out by a few bad apples,” they write, “the extraordinary violence and social injustice accompanying the activities of Canadian capital in Latin America are systemic features of Canadian imperialism in the twenty-first century.” While not completely focused on mining, The Blood of Extraction examines a considerable range of mining conflicts in Central America and the northern Andes. Together with a careful review of government documents obtained under access to information requests, Gorden and Webber manage to provide a clear account of Canadian foreign policy at work to “ensure the expansion and protection of Canadian capital at the expense of local populations.”

Fortunately, the book is careful, as it must be in a region rich with creative community resistance and social movement organizing, not to present people as mere victims. Rather, by providing important context to the political economy in each country studied, and illustrating the truly vigorous social organization that this destructive development model has awoken, the authors are able to demonstrate the “dialectic of expansion and resistance.” With care, they also show how Canadian tactics become differentiated to capitalize on relations with governing regimes considered friendly to Canadian interests or to try to contain changes taking place in countries where the model of “militarized neoliberalism” is in dispute. 

The spectacular expansion of “Canadian interests” in Latin America

We are frequently told Canadian mining investment is necessary to improve living standards in other countries. Gordon and Webber take a moment to spell out which “Canadian interests” are really at stake in Latin America—the principal region for Canadian direct investment abroad (CDIA) in the mining sector—and what it has looked like for at least two decades: “liberalization of capital flows, the rewriting of natural resource and financial sector rules, the privatization of public assets, and so on.”

Cumulative CDIA in the region jumped from $2.58 billion in stock in 1990 to $59.4 billion in 2013. These numbers are considerably underestimated, the authors note, since they do not include Canadian capital routed through tax havens. In comparison, U.S. direct investment in the region increased proportionately about a quarter as much over the same period. Despite having an economy one-tenth the size of the U.S., Canadian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean is about a quarter the value of U.S. investment, and most of it is in mining and banking.

Canadian mining investment abroad

Canadian mining investment abroad

SOURCE: Natural Resources Canada

To cite a few of the statistics from Gordon and Webber’s book, Latin America and the Caribbean now account for over half of Canadian mining assets abroad (worth $72.4 billion in 2014). Whereas Canadian companies operated two mines in the region in 1990, as of 2012 there were 80, with 48 more in stages of advanced development. In 2014, Northern Miner claimed that 62% of all producing mines in the region were owned by a company headquartered in Canada. This does not take into consideration that 90% of the mining companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges do not actually operate any mine, but rather focus their efforts on speculating on possible mineral finds. This means that, even if a mine is eventually controlled by another source of private capital, Canadian companies are very frequently the first face a community will see in the early stages of a mining project…

Read the full post here, in the magazine The Monitor, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Posted in Community Resistance, Conflict and Repression, Corporate Impunity, Environment and Health, Goldcorp, Local and Indigenous Rights, Nevsun Resources, Oh, Canada: Canadian policy, Property and Livelihoods, Social Costs, Private Profit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment