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Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders

by murray bush - flux photo

Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders
Organizer Daniel Tseghay
Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders
Delivering a petition signed by almost 200,000 calling for Nevsun shareholders to divest.
Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders
Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders
Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders
Organizer Steve Stewart
Confronting slavery with Nevsun shareholders

VANCOUVER - Protesters were on hand this morning outside the Nevsun Resources AGM. The Vancouver company is being sued in BC Supreme Court by three Eritrean workers for complicity in using slave labour at its Bisha copper mine in Eritrea.

Along with similar cases against Canadian resource extraction companies operating in Latin America, the Nevsun case could help make notorious Canadian companies legally responsible for their criminal behaviour abroad.

Today's picket outside the 4 Seasons Hotel was organized by Mining Justice Alliance, Mining Watch Canada, Freedom United and Amnesty International. An attempt to enter the hotel to confront shareholders was met with pushing and shoving by hotel security goons.

From the organizers' press release:

The north-eastern African country of Eritrea may be far away but a Vancouver-based mine’s activities there connects us and makes Canada complicit in serious labour violations.

Nevsun Resources operates in Eritrea, benefiting from its program of indefinite conscription. The system has been called a form of slave labour by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. Forty eight former workers are currently moving forward with a lawsuit against Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, making it the first time a modern slavery case has been heard in a Canadian court.

Eritreans on Nevsun’s site will regularly work 12 hours a day, for six days a week, working for the equivalent of $30 a month, and often much less. When one worker left the work site without authorization he was imprisoned for four months.

Eritrea established a National Service program in 1995 requiring adults to undergo 18 months of military training. The program quickly transformed into indefinite conscription that often lasts for years, and sometimes for 10 to 20 years. Conscripts are rarely engaged in duties related to the military, serving, instead, as labourers in state-run industries and projects like Nevsun’s mine.

Eritrea is also currently producing an incredible number of refugees. Of a population of fewer than 6 million people, 5,000 are leaving every month. Eritreans make up a large part of the thousands of people desperately trying to reach Europe and drowning in the Mediterranean or dying along the way every year.

Nevsun Resources is complicit in this refugee crisis and profits from supporting a brutally repressive regime. The Canadian Public Pension (CPP) Investment Board is one of the company's investors, making workers paying into Canada's public pension plan all shareholders. We call on people to join us outside the venue for the Annual General Meeting where we will present a petition and make the case that the company’s investors must divest now.

Click here to sign the petition calling on Nevsun to stop profiting from slavery



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