Linked on our blogs with Survival International, the movement for tribal peoples – in many languages.
Published on Dissident Voice, by Survival International, December 15, 2009.
Metals giant Vedanta Resources‘ Indian subsidiary has launched an unprecedented attack on Survival International, apparently to drive its researchers out of an area where the company is planning to mine.
The mining company has falsely accused Survival of ‘forcedly interacting’ with the Dongria Kondh tribe who live around the area earmarked for mining, and of causing ‘unrest.’ Vedanta has prompted a police investigation into Survival, with officers making a late night visit to a hotel where they believed Survival researchers were staying … //
… Gordon Bennett, a London barrister who represented the Kalahari Bushmen in their historic win over the Botswana government, has been acting on behalf of the Dongria Kondh in their complaint over Vedanta’s behaviour, and accompanied the Survival researchers.
He said today, ‘We have not circulated any false information about Vedanta’s mining activities. All the information we have given the Dongria has been culled from Vedanta’s own mining plan, which it has never troubled to discuss with the Dongria itself. We have not ‘forcedly interacted’ with the Dongrias: on the contrary we have been warmly welcomed by all those we have been able to meet.
‘We have not provoked ‘innocent tribals’ to defame either the government or Vedanta. It is true to say however that feelings run high in Niyamgiri and that many Dongria regard Vedanta with suspicion and distrust. They believe that their way of life is under serious threat.
‘We have done nothing to create ‘misunderstanding’. It is Vedanta which has done this, both by its refusal to meet with us, and more importantly by its repeated failure either to consult the Dongria about its plans for their sacred hills, or to pay any regard to their views.’
He added, ‘If Vedanta has nothing to hide, it is difficult to understand why it has gone out of its way to obstruct our inquiries. Their press release is entirely without foundation.’ (full text).
(Survival International, founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK’s Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide taking place in Brazilian Amazonia, is the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Contact Survival International by e-mail. Read other articles by Survival International, or visit Survival International’s website).