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13.08.2005 General News

Mining Communities decry destruction of their livelihood


Tarkwa (W/R), Aug. 13, GNA - Representatives from 22 communities affected by mining activities have petitioned President John Agyekum Kufuor to stop Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) from abusing their sovereignty as citizens of the Republic of Ghana.

Forty-seven representatives from 22 Mining Communities in the Wassa West and Asutifi Districts in the Western and Brong Ahafo Regions, respectively, who attended a two-day workshop organised by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) with support of DKA, a Catholic Christian organisation based in Austria, signed the petition.

The Petitioner said: "We express deep concern about the continued destruction of our communities and cultural lives by multi-national mining companies" and are surprised about their insensitivity to the plight of Mining Communities apparently because of the tacit support they received from some government functionaries.

The petition, a copy of which was made available to the Ghana News Agency said: "We have noted that Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL), a subsidiary of Golden Star Resources, a Canadian mining company, has related with Mining Communities in its concession from a position of strength and acted with impunity in the violation of community rights.

"We wish to recall that BGL exhibited insensitivity to the health and socio-economic problems that resulted from the cyanide spillages from the Company in October 2004 and Wexford Ghana Limited in January 2005."

The representatives said they were sad to learn about how BGL denied the affected people of the two-cyanide spillages access to medical care at the Company's Clinic, using intimidation and insults. The Petitioners said: "We wish to express deep concern about the mining activities of Bogoso Gold Limited, which is destroying Prestea and Himan towns with a population of over 10,000 people. It is worrying that the mine waste generated from mining activities of BGL is almost covering the Government Hospital at Prestea. The intensity of the blasting activities of the Company sometimes creates shock for the patients of the Hospital.

"We express surprise about how BGL has been supported by the Regulatory Agencies to virtually mine the Prestea town with no respect for the rights of the over 10,000 people in Prestea and Himan. "Equally surprising is the fact that the security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators from Prestea and Himan, who embarked on a peaceful demonstration on the 13th June 2005 in exercise of their constitutional right of demonstration to draw attention to the problems of the mining activities of BGL."

The petition said: "We are surprised that no effort has been made to investigate the shooting incident and to bring the perpetrators of this act to book. This is a sign of insensitivity to the violations of the human rights of poor people. We believe strongly that State agencies would have acted differently if the victims of the shooting incident were to be Company officials or people with status.

"We wish to state that this would be undermining good governance and the Rule of Law if the country does not show sensitivity to the violation of the rights of the marginalized."

The Petitioners linked the problems of Prestea and Himan to weak mining laws and called on Parliament to enact laws to protect the rights of Mining Communities and asked the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the violations of the rights of the people of Prestea and Himan by BGL.