Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Environmental group lobbies to UK Parliamentarian Clare Short to help stop rights violations in mining communities

August 1, 2006

Environmental group lobbies to UK Parliamentarian Clare Short to help stop rights violations in mining communities

United Kingdom Member of the Parliament and Human Rights advocate Clare Short met with the environmental activist group Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and Batasan 5 legislators today to discuss the mining situation and debilitating human rights situation in the country.

Clare Short is visiting the country to get first hand information on the operation of foreign mining companies in the country. She is currently a United Kingdom Member of the Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood and was the Secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to 2003. She is also known as an advocate for peace and women's rights.

Clare Short gained international prominence when she resigned as international department secretary of the Blair Government in May 2003 over broken promises of British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the future of Iraq. She similarly led calls for the British Prime Minister to step down.

"The participation of Clare Short in the mining campaign will greatly help in educating the people in United Kingdom and Europe on the social impacts, economic dislocations and environmental destruction brought about by the operations of transnational mining companies (mining TNCs) in here," says Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.

There are at least four European mining companies involved in the 24 priorities large-scale mining projects of the Arroyo administration. Three of these are from UK, namely, BHP Billiton, Toledo Copper Plc. of London, Queensland Nickel Inc, and Crew Minerals AS Norway.

"One of the negative social impacts of mining TNCs operations is the high incidence of human rights violations in mining-affected communities. Particular cases include the forced dislocation of Subanon families, an indigenous people in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte to clear the way for the operation of Canadian-owned Toronto Venture Inc., and the killings of environmental activists in Mindoro Oriental which is related to the nickel mining project of Crew Minerals."

"Our records show that already 13 anti-mining activists and leaders have been killed under the Arroyo administration. Eight of them were killed in 2005 to 2006. In addition to these are the forced disappearance of Joey Estriber of Aurora Province and the attempted murder of Fr. Allan Caparro of Leyte Province, who at that time of the incidents, are both active in the campaign against foreign large-scale mining."

"These human rights violations are results of the Arroyo administration's all out support to foreign mining TNCs. Military and the police act to protect the investments of mining TNCs. Mining companies are encouraged to employ private armies by the government."

"We hope that through Ms Short's watchful concern on the local mining issues, the affected communities may get a reprieve on the problems they face and the struggle in the country will gain more supporters from the international community," Mr. Bautista ends. ###

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