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Struggles from Papua New Guinea and Dominican Republic represented at Barrick Gold AGM

Community Advocates speak inside the meeting, while supporters rally outside

by Compiled by Sakura Saunders/Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

Cressida Kuala addresses a crowd.
Cressida Kuala addresses a crowd.
The hand-painted poster board signs were made by highschoolers who had visited the Pueblo Viejo mine. Since 2014, over 100 high school and university students have visited communities next to Barrick's Pueblo Viejo mine, and yet Barrick still denies that there is a problem. These students now come to protest Barrick every year, and will help push Barrick past the tipping point to admitting these abuses.
The hand-painted poster board signs were made by highschoolers who had visited the Pueblo Viejo mine. Since 2014, over 100 high school and university students have visited communities next to Barrick's Pueblo Viejo mine, and yet Barrick still denies that there is a problem. These students now come to protest Barrick every year, and will help push Barrick past the tipping point to admitting these abuses.
Klaire Gain and Cressida Kuala addressed shareholders inside the meeting, and supporters outside.
Klaire Gain and Cressida Kuala addressed shareholders inside the meeting, and supporters outside.
Struggles from Papua New Guinea and Dominican Republic represented at Barrick Gold AGM
Crowd shot outside Barrick AGM. Photo: Alan Pike
Crowd shot outside Barrick AGM. Photo: Alan Pike
After rallying outside the AGM, supporters marched to Barrick's headquarters at Front and King.
After rallying outside the AGM, supporters marched to Barrick's headquarters at Front and King.
Outside Barrick's HQ, posters and banners were placed on the floor, while people held vigil outside on the street until 5pm, engaging passersby.
Outside Barrick's HQ, posters and banners were placed on the floor, while people held vigil outside on the street until 5pm, engaging passersby.
Struggles from Papua New Guinea and Dominican Republic represented at Barrick Gold AGM
Struggles from Papua New Guinea and Dominican Republic represented at Barrick Gold AGM
Peter Munk’s death made headlines across Canada and front-page news in Toronto. Valorized as a philanthropist and successful businessman, his praise cast a dark shadow on the primary source of his wealth: rural and largely indigenous communities suffering next to his company Barrick Gold’s giant mines.
 
During Barrick's AGM, people gathered outside the meeting to honour the victims and uplift the demands of communities silenced by the drumming of Munk’s accolades. Cressida Kuala and Klaire Gain were both present to update supporters and shareholders on the current state of communities surviving next to Barrick's Porgera and Pueblo Viejo.
 
Cressida is a human rights advocate and founder of Porgera Red Wara (water) Women’s Association. She works with other human rights organizations in Porgera and with the human rights clinics at Harvard and Columbia universities to improve remedy procedures for victims of mine-associated violence. Klaire Gain first visited Barrick's Pueblo Viejo mine in 2014 with a group from the social justice and peace program at King's College at Western University. She has since returned 8 times, bringing over 100 university and high school students to meet with community members and witness the impacts of Pueblo Viejo. 
 
Cressida's statement to the AGM:
My name is Cressida Kuala I hold a proxy from Rachel Small.

I am an indigenous Ipili woman and a human and environmental rights defender from Porgera in Papua New Guinea.

I have come here from half way across the world to speak to you all - as have other men and women from my community over the past ten years.

Sadly, the past year has been another very bad year for my people as the mine continues to contaminate our waterways and erode our land. And my people are suffering from human rights abuses because of the mine’s security forces and its operations. In March last year numerous houses in Wingima Village – just next to the open pit - were burnt down again by heavily armed police who guard the mine. In July, the mine dumped chemical waste material that caused serious burns to more than 150 men, women and children. And in October, 15 year old Boi Nelson Nai, was run over and killed by one of the mine’s loader trucks. There has been no compensation given by the mine for any of these victims.
Also a hundred and nineteen women who have been raped by Barrick’s security guards took their complaint to the UN because they are deeply dissatisfied with the remedy Barrick has given them. Many more women who have been raped by mine security and police guarding the mine are still waiting for remedy. 

My questions are:
1) When will Barrick pay compensation to the more than 150 men women and children who suffered burns from the chemical waste dumped by the mine, and for the family of Boi Nai who was killed by the mine’s loader truck?

2) When will Barrick finally give the 119 women who were raped and gang raped by mine security the compensation they are asking for?

3) When will Barrick finally give compensation to the many other victims, including more rape victims, who have filed their claims at the mine’s grievance office years ago, but have not yet received any response?

Klaire's statement to the AGM:

Since Barricks Pueblo Viejo Gold Mine in the Dominican Republic began commercial production, community members of Las Piñitas, Las Lagunas, El Naranjo, and La Cerca who live beside the mine have expressed great concern regarding environmental devastation, which they believe has directly impacted their health and livelihoods.

According to community members the damages caused by the Pueblo Viejo Gold Mine include, but are not limited to,

-The pollution of local river sources
-The death of 2,200 livestock due to contamination
-Loss of over 80% of their cacao production
-Over 150 members of the community, children included, with lesions on their body
-23 community members tested positive for dangerous levels of zinc, lead and chromium in their blood. 
-An increase in abortions and still births amongst women 
-Children unable to attend school due to odours released from your mining site

One member of the community stated: "There is no secret that where there is a mining area there is pollution. Wherever there is an area of mining there is horrible poverty, because they take the riches, while we are left with the holes"

After years of attempts for dialogue with little response from your company community members have taken direct action. Since the early hours of November 6th 2017, they have occupied space outside of Barrick Gold’s production site. They have been chained to chairs for over 5 months refusing to leave until the demands of a dignified relocation for 600+ families impacted by your project are met. 

Although community members value their intimate connection to their ancestral land, they have come to the consensus that in order to live full, healthy lives they must be relocated to an area where they can, "drink water, breathe air and live peacefully." This is a process that must be done collaboratively with full input and approval by community members. One impacted community member explained, "if we have to die of thirst, of hunger, or of cancer, we prefer to die with a bullet in our head"... defending our land. 

A circulation petition calling for the relocation of community members has over 600 signatures- noting that Canadians are hearing the demands of impacted communities and will not ignore your companies disregard for the environment and human rights. 

Shareholders, as Canadian citizens, it is our responsibility to hold our corporations accountable for their actions abroad and I urge you to research the atrocities of Barrick and pull your stocks. Although Barrick does not care about community members voices, they do care about yours. 

Barrick Gold claims to "maintain a fundamental respect for the human rights of every individual and community affected by its operations". If this is true, why have you not put the needs of communities before profit and listen to community members in the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea and other areas where you operations when they say "el agua vale mas que oro" ("water is worth more than gold").

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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