14 Feb 2010

'We have been living here for generations, how can the government now just say that it is their land and decide to allow mining without talking to us?

L., at the Dongria Kondh hamlet of Lakpaddar'

Even though the UK-based mining company Vedanta Resources tries to make itself look like a victim, it is the Dongria Kondh who will lose everything if Vedanta gets its way.

In April 2009 the company received approval from Indian authorities to mine for bauxite on top of the Dongria Kondh’s most sacred site: the home of their god, Niyam Raja.

ActionAid once pointed out that Vendanta’s plan is akin to destroying St. Paul’s Cathedral to make a bunch of drink cans and foil for chocolate bars. However, it perhaps more akin to destroying every single Church in the world—along with every Bible and Cross. And then poisoning the food in every supermarket and everyone’s water supply.

To make the image even more troubling: instead of drink cans it’s nuclear weapons: Vedanta hopes to send the Bauxite to Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd. (BALCO), who supplies 90% of the aluminum used to manufacture nuclear-capable missiles for the Indian government.

To date, the Dongria Kondh have not given their consent for Vendanta’s mining project. They have stated many times since the mine was first proposed that they can never do so, because the destruction of their Mountain would guarantee their own death.
More here

This is how it works, corporations seize land for oil, coal, minerals....local people are kicked off of the soil their ancestors have lived on for generations.

Human rights are abused.

Corrupt governments send in troops.

Environmental destruction, human rights abuse, war....are all closely linked.

Amnesty are doing a great job targeting a British company involved and as we know indigenous people are getting very well organised particularly in Latin America.

Ultimately we need to move to a sane economy, not one based on a frantic cycle of produce, consume, throw away but one that makes goods to last, provides access to resources based on respect for ecology and provides real democratic control at the grassroots.

The economy we have at the moment is simply not fit for purpose. The left needs to focuss on this issue instead of coming out with tired rhetoric. Greens need to get to the heart of matter, its about land and property rights.

And of course we have to take leadership from the women herself Professor Elinor Ostrom and from indigenous organisations.

The right kind of property rights, see Ostrom, are at the root of solutions that work.

More from Amnesty here.

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