In December a fact-finding mission by a civil society delegation from Tanzania, visited the Kayelekera uranium mining complex in northern Malawi. They were arrested on 22nd as “Tanzanian spies”, and have been jailed ever since. The accusations have ranged from trespass to being members of a foreign organisation. Their case was due to be reviewed on 4 January, but they remain in Mzuzu jail in Malawi over six weeks later. The delegation included Caritas workers as well as local farmers from the area where uranium is likely to be prospected in southern Tanzania.
The uranium mine at Kayelekera, run by the Australian-based company, Paladin, no longer operates and is under “care and maintenance”, due to the diminishing price of uranium, and the escalating costs of mining it. It is Malawi’s only mine and was the biggest foreign investment in that country’s history.
For background, please read the short All Africa articles listed here:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201701040106.html as well as details of the mine’s impact on people and environment at:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/27/malawi-mining-puts-residents-risk which includes video footage.
I include an attachment received recently from the German organisations Menschenrechten and Uranium.org, which I think you will also find useful. This has an up-to-date report on the conditions the detainees are facing. It is also encouraging a global response.
The Africa Uranium Alliance, an organisation which has been formed by those opposing uranium mining and the nuclear industry across the continent, is keen to make an intervention, in the form of a [ diverse delegation delivering a ] strong letter of protest to the Malawian High Commission in Pretoria. We are hoping that you will be able to endorse the letter ad contribute, from your organisation, at least one person to go on a delegation to the High Commission to follow up the letter of protest. Should you have knowledge of other organisations which might be keen to endorse the letter and/or send someone on the delegation, please feel free to suggest them. We would also be grateful if you could also inform your broader networks of the situation, including the media.
Our aim is to send the letter on 9 February (next Thursday). It is a during the formal “African Mining Indaba” so the media will be very alert to mining stories out of the continent. Some of you may be in Cape Town and so might be in a position to raise the matter at the Alternative Mining Indaba especially if there are press conferences or media interviews.
Please could you
- Get your organisation to endorse a letter which follows, by 8 Feb.
- If you are able to join a later protest, choose a representative from your organisation to accompany the follow up delegation to the Malawi High Commission at a later stage, especially if there is no release of the detainees.Indicate whether your representative or organisation can provide or will need transport to Pretoria. The High Commission is situated at 770 Government Avenue, Arcadia, Pretoria.
- Please circulate this information to your networks urgently.
- We need a good response from attendees at the Alternative Mining Indaba.
With thanks and best wishes
Yours in solidarity
For the Steering Committee
AFRICAN URANIUM ALLIANCE
* DRAFT LETTER OF PROTEST *
To the Malawian High Commission, Pretoria
We, the undersigned, represent a wide spectrum of South African, regional and continental organisations. We wish to protest against your country’s arrest and continued detention of members of a Tanzanian fact-finding mission, concerned with the social and environmental impacts of the uranium mining at Kayelekera. These researchers come from civil society in Tanzania (welfare and local farmer organisations), including being from areas in Tanzania where uranium mining is proposed or is already under way.
We are shocked at the response of the Malawian state treating the delegation as “spies”, “trespassers” and “foreign agents”. We are highly perturbed at the conditions under which the delegation of Tanzanians is being held, the way they are being represented on trial, and the various violations of their legal and human rights.
We are watching their treatment with great concern. In South Africa we have experienced over a century-and-a-half of mining and in the process have gradually strengthened and defended the rights of communities affected by mining to have full information about the impacts of mining on their socio-economic and environmental rights. As co-citizens of SADC, we feel the same rights should apply to Tanzanians who sought to establish how the mining in Malawi operated, to get some insights about what to expect in their own country. To us, this was an entirely legitimate pursuit. Instead of acting in the spirit of co-operation and freedom of information, the Malawian authorities have acted defensively and unnecessarily high-handedly.
We therefore urge the government of the Republic of Malawi to release the Tanzanian detainees immediately. We urge the government to co-operate with its Tanzanian counterparts In returning the detainees to their country. We further urge the government to provide full disclosure on the impacts of uranium mining at Kayelekera to any citizens of the SADC region who have a valid interest in the information. We demand urgent action on these questions.
With the greatest respect,