Help stop profits from slavery in Eritrea - FreedomUnited.org

Help stop profits from slavery in Eritrea

ALERT: READ UPDATE

Solomon and Slavery in Eritrea

Solomon, 29: alleges that he was subjected to months of being followed and intimidated by government agents at the mines after a series of minor workplace disputes with his superiors and other workers. Solomon says he was abducted at gunpoint from Bisha mine, thrown into solitary confinement, tortured with electric shocks and beatings, and accused of being a spy.

Kidane profile

Kidane, 37: After his father died and he was refused permission to attend a religious memorial ceremony, Kidane left the mine without permission and went into hiding for four months. He was punished with two months’ imprisonment. On another occasion, when he failed to recognize a government figure at the checkpoint, he was imprisoned for two months in solitary confinement.

Aman profile

Aman, 32: said he was conscripted by the army when he was 20 and assigned to work at Segen, an Eritrean government construction firm. He claimed he was sent to Bisha mine, hundreds of kilometers from his family, in 2009. “Life was very harsh,” he said. “There were sandstorms 24 hours [a day], the temperature was 38C [100F] or 40C. We never had full stomachs. My work was constant.”

 

These are just a snippet of the stories that are being told by Eritreans working at the Bisha mine*, majority-owned by Nevsun Resources Ltd – a Canadian Mining company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Nevsun operates the Bisha mine and subcontracts work there to a state-run company Segen Construction Company – known to make extensive use of conscript labor from the national service program.

Nevsun chose to set up mining operations near Asmara, Eritrea in 2008 in order to mine copper, zinc and gold – despite the widespread concern of human rights abuses perpetrated by the government against its own people. In fact, just recently a UN commission found that the government is guilty of committing “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations.”1 Nevsun is one of the only international businesses operating in Eritrea, paying the government billions of dollars.2

There have been repeated allegations of the use of forced conscript labor, propped up by intimidation, abuse and torture since construction began at the mine. Nevsun has either denied the existence of forced labor, or denied responsibility for it – whilst continuing to profit and even expand Bisha’s operations without truly addressing it.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, has granted the right to take Nevsun to trial over potential abuses in Eritrea – a landmark ruling. Right now, as the case against Nevsun will go ahead, we can also take action and ensure that big business does not profit from slavery.

Call on Nevsun’s biggest shareholders to withdraw their investment, and support the fight to end profiting from slavery in Eritrea. zincgoldcopper

 

 

Campaign updates

Freedom United, alongside partners Eritrea Focus, met with M&G Investments on May 19, 2017 to discuss the campaign. We welcome their statement that they take the matter of forced labor seriously, but continue to encourage M&G to sell their holdings in Nevsun. Read M&G’s statement here.

On May 3, 2017, Nevsun held their AGM in Vancouver. We joined our partners, including Mining Justice Alliance and Mining Watch Canada to take your signatures collected here, and by SumOfUs, to show both company executives and shareholders that operating in Eritrea is not acceptable. Read the media advisory here.

CALL ON NEVSUN’S SHAREHOLDERS TO DIVEST FROM SLAVERY

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Dear BlackRock and M&G Investments,

The international community has long been calling on Nevsun Resources Ltd to address the alleged use of forced labor in its Bisha mine, and reconsider its operation in Eritrea. However, Nevsun has made it clear that it will continue to operate, as it either denies instances of forced labor have occurred or claims that it has no responsibility over this aspect of the operations.

In light of this, I believe that BlackRock and M&G Investments, have no viable alternative but to reconsider its position as a shareholder in Nevsun Resources Ltd, who operate the Bisha mine in Eritrea, and withdraw from all investment in Nevsun Resources Ltd.

It is evident that for Nevsun to ensure it is respecting human rights and that forced labor is not taking place in its operations in Eritrea, the company would need to ensure it is not supporting the government’s use of conscript labor from the national service program. However, this is near impossible whilst operating in Eritrea. It is for this reason that I am now addressing you, the major shareholders to withdraw investment.

Sincerely,

Freedom United will protect your privacy and keep you updated on this and other campaigns.

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Our partner in this campaign:

MiningWatch Canada

MiningWatch Canada represents a public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world. It is supported by environmental, social justice, Indigenous, and labour organisations.

Eritrea Focus

Founded in 2014, Eritrea Focus is an association of NGOs, human rights organizations, exile and refugee groups, and individuals concerned with the gross abuses of human rights in Eritrea. Eritrea Focus were involved in the formation of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea and continue to provide Secretariat support. Eritrea Focus aims to draw attention, especially of decision-makers, to the suffering of the Eritrean people, including the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the country each year.

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