5.26.2011

Barrick Gold- Human Rights Violations of a Canadian Company?




Barrick Gold - Ever heard of them?

To be honest my social justice heart hasn't led me to do much research about mining companies but none-the-less I love to be educated and I wanted to learn more.
My friend Stephanie and I attended a protest against Barrick Gold at the University of Waterloo a few weeks ago to learn more about the human rights watches and what is actually going on.

As I'm typing this I want to be 100% clear that I know very little about this topic and have only attended one event so my information could very well have a bias. I do know one thing for sure: that humans are to be treated with respect and that all humans should have freedom.

Here are a few points that I found very intriguing from the protest:

1) Barrick is the largest gold mine company in the world and it's Canadian
2) Every ounce of gold produced = 79 tons of waste
3) Gold is buried  among toxins that are very harmful and easily kill humans- there is no safe way in the 21st century to extract gold without also realizing these harmful chemicals
4)Over 50% of gold mining in on Native land around the world
5) 60-70% of mining companies are Canadian and are based in Toronto


 A guest from Papua New Guinea came to share his experience of Barrick Gold coming into his village. Here were his thoughts:

1) People were using the land for food, cooking, water and the whole land after a few years is completely destroyed- nothing can grow on it and the water is gone
2)He said that Barrick came in promising that none of this would happen and the community believed Barrick
3) The children play around the waste dump putting deathly toxins directly into their bodies
4) Barrick than wanted to expand and destroyed two thousand family homes with no compensation- forced to evict with zero notice
5)Because of the lack of resoucres to survive many women go into the streams that run off of Barrick's mining and try to collect pieces of gold or anything they can use to help their family survive. If caught for "trespassing" these girls are ganged rapped by the security guards. When asked about this at the annual meetings the first response was "rape is a culturally acceptable in Papua New Guinea"- they later clarified that this didn't happen and was unacceptable
- Because of this response Human Rights Watch began looking into Barrick
6) In order to make it almost impossible to file or investigate the companies they have a "fly in- fly out" policy. This means that they fly the workers in and out - there is no roads to travel to the mining companies. This makes it very difficult for the local people living in that area to do anything and also for human rights groups to get accurate information when everything is so secretive. Hard for locals voices to be heard.

 http://protestbarrick.net/- Here is link to the website of the group that came to educate myself and others. Please check it out because as stated above I am still in the process of researching this all too!

Maddie

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