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Opinions of Sunday, 20 November 2011

Columnist: Amankwah, Samuel K.

Abuses And Unjustice Against Saaman Must Stop

Youth for Action Ghana wish to
express our uttermost disgust at the unjustifiable abuses and glaring
injustices being allowed to be visited on the people of Saaman, near Osino,
in the Eastern Region by Solar Mining, in its adamant resolve to pursue its
commercial interest at the expense of the peace and economic survival of
the people.

Solar Mining had been
prospecting for gold illegally in the community in partnership with Kibi Goldfieds.

And under the guise of prospecting, the company has been using the police
and the military to unjustifiably harass people in the community, and also
destroyed a number of water bodies, including River Akusu and River Anoma
which are among the main sources of water supply to the community. Agents
of the company have also been entering the farms of the people illegally.
We recall the unlawful arrest
and detention of the Assemblyman for the area and 14 others by the Eastern
Regional police, and their subsequent release without any charge being
preferred against them.
Perhaps, the worst of the abuses
is the decision by the Fanteakwa District Assembly to deny people in the
community their fair share of the national cake as a form of punishment for
the determination to fight for their rights in not contesting to the
illegal activities of Solar Mining.
The roofs of the block of the
local DA Primary School was ripped off as a result of heavy downpour. And
several requests made to the Assembly for the roofs to be fixed went
unheeded, simply because the people would not allow their rights to be
trampled upon my Solar Mining and its collaborators.
Under the laws of the country,
before a company can undertake any mining activity, the affected community
should give their prior consent, even with the right to say NO. Even after
giving the prior consent, mining activities cannot start until appropriate
compensation has been negotiated and payments made accordingly.
All these legal requirements
have not taken place, yet Solar Mining last week moved excavators and other
heavy duty equipment into the Saaman community, ostensibly to commence
actual mining.
Sensing that they would incur
the wrath of the people, officials of Solar Mining on Friday, November 18,
2011, sent soldiers to the community to harass the people who were
demonstrating against the movement of equipment into the area.
As it happened in the Arab
Spring, the people’s power prevailed over the coercive power of the
compromised state security, with women and children in particularly driving
out the soldiers from the community.
Already, the people have
resolved to use all means possible to resist the attempt by Solar Mining
and its partners to force their will down their throat. They have made
their position well articulated to the Environmental Protection Agency,
which is yet to respond appropriately to their position.
This situation, no doubt, has
the potential of creating chaos in the community and thereby affecting the
area’s peace and stability. And should anything untoward happen, EPA will
have to he held accountable.
We want to call all well-meaning
Ghanaian individuals and groups to rise up and join the people of Saaman to
fight for their rights. We cannot allow these abuses to continue in the mining
sector, especially when it has been universally acknowledged that mining
has been a curse for our country.
We are also calling on
government to move in to stop the company from further perpetration of
abuses on the people. We want government to know that it first and foremost
owes the good people of Saaman, and for that matter the entire nation, the
obligation of safeguarding their interest at all times, especially in the
face of abuses by individuals and groups seeking their parochial and
material gains at the expense of the wellbeing and survival of the people.
The people of Saamam say they
are content with their farming activities that had over the years remained
their main source of livelihood and their decision must be respected as
such.
Finally, we want to call on the
people of Saaman to remain firm and continue to use all legitimate means
available to them to resist the oppressors rule and fight for their rights.

Signed: James Kwabena
Bomfeh,

Executive |Director, Youth for Action Ghana

0244535472/0206921110


Samuel Kwabena Amankwah

Communication Director

Youth for Action Ghana0244217504