FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONCERNED VANCOUVERITES TO HOLD MEMORIAL FOR MURDERED AND INJURED OPPONENTS OF CANADIAN MINING PROJECTS
(Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, BC) – On August 1st, 2012, members of Vancouver’s Mining Justice Alliance (MJA) will hold a memorial to honour the many individuals who have been killed or suffered violent attacks killed following their opposition to Canadian-owned mega-extractive projects in their communities. The Vancouver event is being organized as part of a Continental Day of Action Against Canadian Mega Resource Extraction. The memorial will take place from 4:30 pm outside of Goldcorp’s corporate offices, at 666 Burrard St., Vancouver, and will feature music and words of remembrance, as well as photos of many of those recently injured or killed.
While extractive corporations claim to bring positive ‘development’ to communities where they operate, affected communities often report environmental devastation, water toxicity and scarcity, and human rights violations. Courageous local individuals speak out, but resistance to mining projects is often met with intimidation and violent repression. Near Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver’s mining operations in Oaxaca, Mexico, shooting attacks between January and June 2012 left two mine opponents dead and four others seriously wounded. Another Vancouver-based company, Radius Gold, has plans to mine north of Guatemala City, where community leader and anti-mining activist Yolanda “Yoli” Oquelí was shot on June 13, 2012. In Guatemala’s Northwest, Goldcorp’s Marlin mine has been the site of conflict prior to becoming active in 2005. Vancouver-based mining corporations are also are active in the Philippines, where the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) reports that thirteen anti-mining activists have been victims of extra-judicial killings since June 2010. These recent incidents are part of a pattern of violence that has sparked serious concerns about global extractive industry practices, and the Canadian government’s active support of this industry.
The Continental Day of Action targets Canadian projects because Canada is the largest stakeholder in the resource extraction industry in the Americas, and because of the judicial immunity that corporations enjoy here. Canadian legislation has been described as lax and resistant on Corporate Social Responsibility and accountability, falling short of measures in the Netherlands, the UK, the US, France, Belgium, Germany, and Australia. Canada doesn’t regulate its corporations or the government agencies that support them, and refuses legislation that would allow individuals outside Canada to seek justice in Canadian courts. “Canada” states MJA member Masrour Zoghi, “is the Cayman Islands of mining abuses.”
Organizers of the August 1 Day of Action are calling on the Canadian government to divest public funds from resource extraction industries, to regulate Canadian corporations operating abroad and to adhere to internationally recognized rights of free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous and local communities where extractive projects take place. With close to 1000 of the world’s extractive companies based in Vancouver, MJA members hope the August 1 memorial and solidarity will raise Vancouverites’ awareness about our city’s connections to abuses that seem far away.
“Part of this event is to remember those martyred activists, but also to carry on in solidarity from wherever we are,” states Beth Dollaga of MJA and Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights who who helped to organize the memorial.
About the Mining Justice Alliance:A Vancouver based coalition of activists, civil society organizations, unions and students formed in response to concerns over the practices and effects of Vancouver mining companies in Canada, the Americas and around the globe.