The civil society organisations that have signed the present Declaration express their solidarity with and full support of the rejection by the local population of the gold mining project of JIUXING MINES S.A.R.L. in Soamahamanina, following the meetings and exchanges of their representatives since Tuesday 21 June 2016 with the established Refusal Committee of gold mining by this Chinese company.
For several months, thousands of the residents of Soamahamanina and neighboring communities have been opposing this project for which an environmental permit for gold mining has just been issued by the National Office for the Environment (ONE) for a duration of 40 years.
The reasons for the refusal of this mining project by the local communities are clear and undisputable.
The first reason is about the complete disregard of the concerned local population by the permit holder and State authorities at different levels : the large majority of the seven (7) communities (fokontany) affected by the mining project has not been consulted, or has refused the project. Threats of repression have been made in response to their demands and expressions of opinion. They strongly suspect that there was corruption among the causes of the current situation and they have filed a complaint with the BIANCO, the entity in charge of the fight against corruption.
These local communities are also opposing the grabbing of their lands and natural resources on which they rely for their livelihoods, along with the loss of the living spaces and food sources of the communities living in the mining concession.
In addition, the local population affected by the gold mining project strongly object to the disrespect for their cultural and traditional values brought about by the destruction of their tombs. Likewise, they refuse the destruction of the church and school that are enclosed in the mining concession.
Furthermore, the local population is strongly opposed to the loss of the "tapia" forest that is part of a protected area and constitutes a vital source of income for the local silk producers. The concerned communities do not want negative environmental impacts entailed by the use of heavy extraction machinery by JIUXING MINES S.A.R.L., such as water pollution and mudding of rice fields.
Current events together with the actual risks involved clearly demonstrate that the basic human rights of the communities affected by the gold mining project in Soamahamanina and neighbouring communities are seriously endangered.
We, as signatories of civil society, denounce this violation of the basic human rights of the local population, as well as the willingness of State authorities to silence its legitimate opposition by means of the threat of use of repression forces.
We remind the State authorities that they are primarily responsible for the protection and realisation of the rights of all Malagasy citizens, and that they must refrain from using disproportionate means of repression by law enforcement forces to prevent people from claiming their rights.
It should also be noted that granting an environmental permit to projects that destroy the environment and people seems to have become a standard practice of the ONE, as everyone could see in relation to the process of issuing a highly questionable permit to the Toliara Sands company for ilmenite exploitation in the area of Toliara II.
For all these reasons, we, the undersigned civil society organisations, declare that THE ENVIRONNEMENTAL PERMIT GRANTED TO JIUXING MINES S.A.R.L. FOR GOLD MINING IN SOMAHAMANINA IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
We fully support and reinforce the opposition of our compatriots living in the affected area and neighbouring communities to this gold mining project, and hereby declare our determination to work with them and all stakeholders in order to find a sustainable solution which respects human rights.
Signed in Antananarivo on 23 June 2016.
CRAAD-OI – Centre de Recherches et d’Appui pour les Alternatives de Développement – Océan Indien
RESEAU SOA – Syndicat des Organisations Agricoles
Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY.
Association MAZOTO – Miaro Aina -Zon’Olombelona sy Tontolo iainana
Plate-forme de la Société Civile de la Région DIANA
FVTM – Fédération des Femmes Rurales de Madagascar.
Solidarité des Intervenants sur le Foncier – SIF.
Brief summary of events at Soamahamanina explaining the statement :
To follow the situation at Soamahamanina :