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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Supporters ask Keys to extend support for human rights, Africa to mining reform


Alicia Keys in a World Gold Council ad. Credit: Vanity Fair

Washington, DC – Thousands of music fans and college students from around the country are sending letters to singer-songwriter Alicia Keys who was featured this past summer in Vogue and Vanity Fair as part of a new jewelry advertising campaign launched by the World Gold Council and its member mining companies to boost gold consumption. Thus far, over 2,500 supporters have written to Keys' publicists and management team.

The letter-writing campaign is urging Keys not to associate herself with gold mining that is directly connected to conflict, human rights abuses, and severe environmental problems in Africa and elsewhere. The critics point out the incongruity that Grammy Award-winner Keys is an artist who has used her star-power to promote human rights and social justice throughout the world. Keys has stepped up to perform at numerous benefit concerts and is helping to increase awareness about the AIDS epidemic and raise money to provide life-saving medicines to children and families in Africa.

“Alicia Keys' fans are well-aware of her commitment to bettering the lives of Africa's poorest people. But gold as it is currently produced comes at the expense of poor communities who risk being displaced or losing their only source of clean drinking water because of dirty mining practices. We invite Alicia Keys to help us protect the basic human rights of mining-affected communities in Africa and around the world,” said Keith Slack, senior policy advisor at Oxfam America. Oxfam America and EARTHWORKS are leading the No Dirty Gold campaign, a consumer campaign aimed at changing the way gold is produced and sold.

In their letters, Keys' fans thanked her for performing at Philadelphia's Live 8 concert calling for action to end poverty and suffering in Africa. But they were quick to point to human rights abuses linked to gold mining as an example of why “dirty gold” does not fit with Keys' image. A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents how AngloGold Ashanti, a leading member of the World Gold Council and the world's second largest gold producer, established links with a murderous armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo to gain access to a gold-rich mining site. Letters to Keys also cited the actions of US-Canadian mining company Golden Star Resources, another member of the World Gold Council, which is the target of large community protests in western Ghana because of repeated cyanide spills and two shooting incidents that injured several residents.

“Keys has publicly stated that she shies away from diamonds that are linked to conflict in Africa, and we applaud this. Here's a chance for her to take a stand on dirty gold mining. Making an ethical choice is both fashionable and stylish, and nobody knows this better than Alicia Keys,” said Payal Sampat, international campaign director at EARTHWORKS.

For a sample of the letters sent to Alicia Keys by her fans, and for photos and more information about dirty gold mining, please visit: www.nodirtygold.org