Over 80 groups sign statement opposing intimidation and forced displacement of mining protesters in Peru

This week, Newmont Mining Co. held its annual shareholders’ meeting.

As it has done for the past several years, the event took place at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, more than a thousand miles from its headquarters in Colorado, and far from the protesters and media attention that typified its meetings when they were held in downtown Denver. 

But despite keeping its shareholder meeting under wraps, Newmont has not escaped either controversy or protesters.

The U.S. company is proposing to build a second gold mine in the highlands of Cajamarca province, Peru—a project that has caused much divisiveness and conflict in the region. Mining protesters in Cajamarca have been subject to intimidation and harassment at the hands of both private and official security forces. On March 18, 2014, campesino communities from the towns of Celendín and Bambamarca filed an appeal with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the forced displacement of community members from the areas near the proposed mine.    

Over 80 human rights, environmental, indigenous, labor rights and faith-based organizations have signed on to a statement in solidarity with the appeal—and the list continues to grow. The signatories include labor rights groups such as IndustriALL Global Union Federation and United Steelworkers, environmental groups such as EarthRights International, Earthworks and AmazonWatch, and faith-based groups such as Sisters of Mercy and Maryknoll Sisters.

The letter urges the Peruvian government to:

  • promote peaceful solutions to social conflicts,
  • include dialogue with communities, and
  • guarantee an end to persecution and harassment of environmental and human rights defenders.

They letter also calls on Newmont Mining Co. to:

  • ensure that protesters are not subject to intimidation and violence, and
  • not proceed with any aspect of the project without first obtaining the free and informed community consent of affected communities.

Earthworks supports peaceful and non-violent communication and free speech, and urges all parties concerned to seek opportunities for dialogue and engagement wherever possible.