“This historic gathering is a point of convergence for our heightened resistance to the intensifying plunder by mining TNCs under the rubric of neoliberal globalization.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – In defense of the rights of peoples and communities against destructive large-scale mining all over the world, some 140 internationalists gathered in Quezon City on July 30 for a landmark global linking of arms.
The International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM), gathered indigenous peoples, scientists, church workers, economists, environmentalists and other progressives, “to assess the global mining situation, share experiences and lessons from people’s struggles, and strengthen the call for a global mining that is shaped by the people’s demands and aspirations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the IPCM lead organizers.
Some 80 delegates came from the Philippines, while the rest came from 28 countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, and from Latin American and African countries.
Many of the delegates were victims of human rights violations resulting from state repression of communities opposed to mining, such as the Manobo women from Mindanao, who had repeatedly evacuated from their homes due to militarization and encroachment of mining companies in their ancestral lands. There were also former political prisoners who figured in campaigns against mining, such as Davao-based scientist Kim Gargar, and Patrick Yepe Lombaia of Papua New Guinea.
Some of the delegates arrived from visiting communities in Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya, in a mission to learn the impact of destructive large-scale mining on the environment and the people, and in solidarity with the communities’ resistance.
“In the midst of the worsening crisis of the global mining industry, coupled with the strengthening of the peoples’ movement opposed to it, we as representatives of mining-affected communities, people’s organizations, and other concerned groups and individuals are gathered here today in this landmark International People’s Conference on Mining,” said Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in her keynote address.
“This historic gathering is a point of convergence for our heightened resistance to the intensifying plunder by mining TNCs under the rubric of neoliberal globalization,” she said.
The IPCM runs up to August 1.
“We are here because we hear the cries of the nature and our future that is being relentlessly destroyed. We have received the invitations of thousands of murdered people, of the villages, forests, polluted rivers and seas and the destroyed agricultural fields,” said Sel?uk Koza?a?li, a Turkish people’s lawyer from the Progressive Lawyers Association.
Araullo said that as the global mining industry undergoes a crisis, it pushes even more liberalization of government policies, giving control of local mining industries to big companies, who wantonly conduct their extractive activities at the expense of people’s lives and the environment.
This, however, sets the condition for people’s resistance, not just against the plunder by mining companies, but for national liberation.
“Mining TNCs no longer can plunder the common resources as before, the people are rising steadfast in their struggles and fast gaining ground,” Araullo said.
The IPCM was organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.