Tribe brings warning to London with help of celebrities
|A protester outside the Vedanta 2009 AGM.|
Human rights campaigner, Bianca Jagger, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy lent their support for a protest today outside the AGM of British mining company Vedanta Resources.
Bianca Jagger joined Dongria Kondh tribal representative Sitaram Kulisika, and eighty others, at the protest at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. The protestors demanded that the company withdraw its plans to construct a massive bauxite mine on the top of a mountain sacred to the Dongria Kondh tribe of Orissa, India.
Jagger said, ‘The mine will damage the cultural and economic rights of the Kondh people as well as the fight against climate change. There is plenty of proof that the best protectors of the forests and other vital eco-systems are local people themselves.’
Arundhati Roy sent a message of solidarity saying, ‘If Vedanta is allowed to go ahead with its plans for mining the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa for bauxite it will lead to the devastation of a whole ecosystem, and the destruction of not just the Dongria Kondh tribal community, but eventually all those whose livelihoods depend on that ecosystem.’
The Dongria Kondh are actively resisting Vedanta’s plans, building road blockades and human chains to prevent bulldozers from passing, in protests over many months.
Dodi Pusika, a Dongria Kondh elder, said, ‘Niyamgiri [the mountain] is our God and he is guiding us all the time, he has kept us alive. Our God has been looking after us for thousands of years. We must make sure that we keep our mountain safe.’
Stephen Corry, director of Survival International said, ‘The days of British companies taking tribal peoples’ lands with impunity are over. The court of public opinion will ensure the Dongria Kondh don’t face this threat alone: it will ensure that the damage to the company’s reputation will, in the long run, outweigh its profits. As well as being a gross human rights violation, it’s just economic madness for Vedanta to mine Dongria land.’