70 gather at the Munk School of Global Affairs
Approximately 70 people gathered today at a commemoration held for the seven individuals killed in Tanzania at African Barrick Gold’s North Mara Mine. Public outcry over this violence has been amplified by recent reports that local security/police forces employed by the mine have attempted to ban a memorial ceremony for the deceased. To the horror of many local families, these security forces also stole 5 of the 7 peoples’ bodies from the mortuary.
The company has claimed that this violence was in response to an invasion of 1500 local people looting for gold ore. For others however, the real crime can be linked to the history of large-scale mining in the region. Editor of ProtestBarrick Sakura Saunders comments: “This mine was built on displacement and dispossession of the local people. These communities have a long history of small-scale mining for their livelihood that has been taken from them. Now, these same communities are being criminalized for using the survival-mechanisms that they know. They are being killed for ‘stealing’ the same gold-laced sand that used to be theirs.”
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. According to Carlos Jimenez a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, local mining communities often feel negative impacts and experience economic losses. He also expresses other concerns as a U of T student. He states, “It is disgusting that the University of Toronto chooses to accept donations from an industry which destroys communities and legitimizes it under the rhetoric of development. We must evaluate what kind of influence mining companies have in communities both at home and abroad.”
U of T alumni soon-to-to be graduate student Kwanza Msingwana agreed. “Barrick Gold should be held accountable . . . rather than just take the goods of Tanzania and leave the people impoverished leaving the environment in a bad state so that people cannot continue to benefit from the environment.”
President of Science for Peace, Judy Deutsch also expressed concern for human rights violations as well as the toll that mining has on the environment as a whole. She states, “The focus needs to be on preserving cultivable land and preserving water, not sacrificing young people to enrich entrepreneurs such as what just happened at the North Mara mine.”
The names of the individuals killed in North Mara mine were read out loud: Emanual Magige, 27; Chacha Mwasi, 25; Chacha Ngoka, 26; Chawali Bhoke, 26; Mwikwabe Marwa, 35. Statements were also read from Tarime residents and advocates who work in the region.
Despite receiving formal invitations, no administrators of the Munk School of Global Affairs were available for comment.