Mining and Human Rights: building networks of resistance
In recognition of International Human Rights Day 2014, KAIROS co-sponsored Mining and Human Rights: building networks of resistance, an afternoon of workshops and presentations on the struggle of communities in the Philippines, Guatemala and El Salvador to defend their land, water and food from the impacts of resource extraction.
Connie Sorio, KAIROS’ Ecological Justice and Asia-Pacific program coordinator, spoke about how despite the Philippines’ immense deposits of nickel, gold and copper, the majority of Filipinos live in deep poverty. Ironically, the hardest hit are those who have been displaced by mining operations. This poverty has forced more than ten percent of the population overseas to find work to provide for their families. Connie described the intense militarization and grave human rights violations in communities that resist mining, and shared some of what was learned by the KAIROS Learning Tour to the Philippines in July that met with communities affected by the Canadian mining company, TVI Pacific Inc., and its Philippine subsidiary.
Pablo Godoy from Students Against Migrant Exploitation showed a video about Guatemalan communities that resisted mining on their land and asserted their right to free, prior and informed consent before the mining began. He stressed that the communities were totally ignored by both the Guatemalan government and the Canadian mining company involved.
René Guerra Salazar of Salvaide spoke of how after a long struggle, the people and government of El Salvador succeeded in establishing a moratorium on mining in the country – an action that came with a heavy price as the Canadian mining company that was forced to shut down its operations is now suing the country for tens of millions of dollars.
All three speakers highlighted the courage demonstrated by communities that are fighting the destruction and human rights violations associated with resource extraction, in addition to the militarism used by host governments to silence dissent. They emphasized the need to support these struggles and called on Canadians to participate in actions and campaigns for the regulation of Canadian mining companies. A most timely action right now is the KAIROS Advent campaign: All I want for Christmas is Mining Justice!