Last Tuesday, 12 May, hundreds of Jindal coal mining affected communities, held a spontaneous protest and paralysed the activities of the company. The protestors came from the 500 families of Cassoca villages, Luane, Cassica, Dzinda and Gulu, who are directly affected by the coal mine operated by Indian company JINDAL. JA! staff Mafigo Borges based in Tete was present for the protests, and recorded the short video available on JA facebook page. The video reveals how fed up the communities are with the way they are being treated.
Still shot from the video
The communities were protesting against the violation of their rights and against the failure of the promises made when the arrival of the mining company in the region. According to the communities, resettlement promises of agricultural land, employment and better living conditions, are today completely lacking, a situation that is compounded by the fact that these communities continue to live within the mine concession area subject to inhumane living conditions and are fully exposed to all impacts stemming from the operation of an open pit coal mine. These families are forced to breathe air polluted by coal clouds, consume contaminated water and they have less and less land to farm, their only source of livelihood.
Tired of being ignored, the women, men and children of these families rose up against the company, which has taken away land, has not provided any alternative housing or livelihood, has denied the right to a clean and healthy environment which is enshrined by law. There are constant reports of outbreaks of respiratory diseases and other health complications, said to affect both people and animals.
Till date, the company has been unwilling to provide any clarification. The government of Mozambique has often defended the company’s interests to the detriment of the interests and needs of the people. Some select local leaders, being the only ones to benefit from employment in the company, then control and repress the people, thus causing humiliation, abuse and marginalization for these families already impoverished. The communities have no free access to and contact with civil society and human rights institutions. It is as if, by living within the mining concession, communities have also been privately owned by the company.
This was neither the first nor the second time that the people have revolted. Since the beginning of the JINDAL operations, these demonstrations have been occurring regularly. In fact, the first one had shamefully taken place just days before then President Armando Guebuza personally inaugurated the immoral and illegal Jindal mine. This was just the formal inauguration, as we know that the mine was already operating before the Environmental Impact Study was approved.
But on 12 May, women with stones in their hands and children in their arms, men and kids with sticks, drums and other instruments, burned tyres on the roads and marched and chanted in the local language. Their songs and chants mirrored their dissatisfaction and helplessness:
“Even in our own land, JINDAL is making us suffer”
“Suca JINDAL Suca!” (curses)
As usual, in order to stop the demonstration, JINDAL called the Rapid Intervention Unit and the Civil Protection Police, which protects the safety of the private mining company. These so-called forces of public protection, fired several live ammunition into the air in an attempt to disperse the protesters, who refused to accept the order. The community remained defiant and fearless until the Marara district administrator arrived, and took responsibility to discuss their concerns with the company.
These families want nothing more than enjoy their right to a dignified life. Something that is constantly denied them in the name of development.