BC Mining Resisters of the Year: Bisha Mine Workers (in Eritrea)

Every year in May, the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC) holds the “BC Mining Person of the Year Award” gala. Illustrious past winners include Pierre Lebel of Imperial Metals (Mount Polley Mine) and John McManus of Taseko Mines (New Prosperity Mine). This year, Mining Justice Alliance will hold our own gala on May 7 2018 to celebrate the recipients of the first ever BC Mining Resisters of the Year Awards. We will honour mining resisters who have stood up for rights, justice and self-determination, facing up to a powerful state-sponsored industry whose track record of injustice should not be celebrated. To find out more and nominate a BC Mining Resister of the Year, click here.

nevsun gala.jpg
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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.

Sign the petition: https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/nevsun-in-eritrea/

This entry was posted in Community Resistance, Conflict and Repression, Local and Indigenous Rights, Nevsun Resources and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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