Uprising Against Barrick Gold in Tanzania
Mining Story 218

Uprising Against Barrick Gold in Tanzania

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John Ahni Schertow
January 5, 2009
 

A little over two weeks ago, more than 3,000 villagers raided the North Mara open pit gold mine in Tanzania, destroying an estimated $7 million worth of mining equipment.

Mainstream news says the group, which appears to have rose up in an instant, were criminals and “gold-seekers” who attacked the site, owned by Barrick gold, soon after the company had finished blasting high-grade ore.

Several eye witnesses, however, report that “the immediate cause of the civilian uprising was the killing of a young man named Mang’weina Mwita Mang’weina. Human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu, who represents many of the villagers, explains that Mang’weina and some friends were engaged in an argument with Barrick security when one of the guards shot Mang’weina, who was unarmed at the time. This incident caused an uproar within the community, which immediately took up stones, overpowered mine security (who then fled), and attacked the mine, setting fire to millions worth of equipment,” describes Sakura Saunders, an editor for protestbarrick.net.

“Mang’weina himself is a part of the legacy of the North Mara mine. He was one of the thousands of unemployed locals in the area, angry over the mine’s recent history of forced displacement, loss of livelihoods, human rights abuses and ongoing repression. He is the seventh person killed at the hands of mine security since July 2005, when the killing of a local boy sparked a similar uprising that resulted in the destruction of mine equipment and the subsequent detention of over 200 villagers,” continues Saunders.

Evans Rubara, a Tanzanian journalist and community advocate, says this latest uprising “is a sign to both the government of Tanzania and the International community (especially Canada) that poor and marginalized people also get tired of oppression.” He hopes that Barrick will now invest in “another strategy that will bring a good and constructive relationship with the local communities by implementing programs that do not enhance more looting and belittle Tanzania, leaving thousands in destitution.”

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But at the same time, Rubara understands that Barrick Gold, like so many other companies around the world, are the modern-day instigators of colonial rule. That is, as Kings so vital to the survival of humanity that humanity itself should be sacrificed for their prosperity.

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Recent events speak well to this. Following the uprising, dozens of villagers have been arrested without bail, and the company has brought in more than a ton of hand grenades and tear gas (…to defend themselves against humanity).

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