22 May 2020
We note with concern the announcement that Danakali – an Australian based mining house, listed on the London Stock Exchange – is proceeding with its investments in Eritrea.
In a statement the company said it was “in the final stages of completing the second phase of development of its world-class Colluli potash project in Eritrea, Africa.”
Danakali’s announcement makes no mention of the fact that its investment will strengthen one of Africa’s most repressive governments. Eritreans experience a complete absence of human rights, with no elections, no constitution, no freedom of expression or assembly and a President who has never been endorsed by an electorate.
Worse still, Danakali’s investment is a joint venture with the government, via the Eritrean National Mining Corporation. Dividends and other payments will strengthen this most repressive of regimes. All employment is controlled by the state, with young men and women trapped in a system of indefinite military conscription that is termed ‘national service.’ Pay is minimal and women are frequently sexually abused. The United Nations has described this as a form of slave labour. The abuses are so severe that they amount to what the UN said were ‘crimes against humanity.’
Danakali quotes – approvingly – from another UN report which claims that the Colluli mining project will be a ‘game changer’ for the country. The company fails to say that the very report that they quote from also calls for Danakali to “By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.”
The ILO Global Jobs Pact requires: “vigilance to achieve the elimination and prevention of an increase in forms of forced labour” and “respect for freedom of association, the right to organize and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.”
Forced labour is endemic in Eritrea and enforced by the government. The freedoms of association, the right to organised and bargain freely are banned. The company appears to pay lip service to the codes of the United Nations, but little more.
We call on Danakali to re-consider its operations in Eritrea, until democracy allows its people to truly benefit from its investments.
Dear Eritrea Focus:
I totally support and agree that Danakali think twice and stop its operationss in Eritrean until this fascist_ mafia regime is eradicated from the face of Eritrea and its people are liberated from this barbaric beast….
Dear Eritrea Hub
Thanks for your work on advancing the human rights of Eritreans. To add to your work in search of the voice reasoning and the respect for human rights of Eritreans, let me widen your scope in terms of the human rights of the indigenous Afar nationality that are at the “ground zero” of human rights violation in the region and more specifically to the Cullili Mining project in Eritrea. As Afar leadership, we like to remind our fellow Eritreans, HR activists, democracy and rule of law defenders to not neglect the indigenous populations when you try to bring justice to Eritrea in general and hold those perpetrators to account for their crimes.
In this case, the Afar Eritreans are primary victims as a result of Eritrean government’s policy on land ownership, the government’s extraction policies which ignores the indigenous Afar land rights, their cultural and customary law and their economic pursuits to support their livelihood. Which are all been destroyed systematically as a way of clearing the ways for these multinational corporations, multibillion-dollar project to succeed on indigenous Afar land and properties.
You cannot talk about Bisha gold mine and not talk about the Kunama rights; similarly, we can talk about Cullili potash mine and not talk about Afar land rights in Eritrea.
We believe Eritrea’s approaches to the rights of indigenous people are similar to those of the other colonialist aggression against indigenous people throughout the world. The regime in Eritrea which promotes not only the theft of Afar indigenous lands but also the destruction of their traditional way of life and cultural rights, i.e. UAE killings, evening the naming rights for its partner corporation. Which we all knew coming in, had its original name as South boulder mines Ltd and now changing it’s to “Danakali”. Which the Afar was not consulted on or compensated for. This is cultural appropriation. This is colonialism at its best.
Just imagine if this project was at the heart of Kebesa land (the Highlands) there would be uproar from the inhabitants of the region, perhaps violence by those who claim traditional land rights in the highlands of Eritrea, “Deki-Abat” father-land.
As Afar Eritreans we have been lifting a load of indigenous people’s human rights alone for many years since the nightmare of PFDJ has begun, in some cases, we have been victimized twice over by the so-called human rights defenders in Diaspora.
When you see the indigenous Afar fishermen is gunned down on broad daylight by the United Arab Emirates,(UAE), we need you to stand up with us. Don’t stay silent.
When you see the Afar cultural and ethnic rights being eroded, traditional lands and customary laws, and ports and natural resources are becoming the subjects of foreign takeovers or joint ventures deals by the elements of the regime as this case may be, we need some honesty, sound judgment and solidarity from the Eritrean brothers and sisters mainly from the so-called HR activists. These actions will bring us closer, it will encourage democratic governance and human rights in post-Afwerki Eritrea; it will defuse hostilities among all segments of Eritreans and will enable all of us in opposition camp to unite and demand our collective rights.
Below are some references to Afar and Kunama Human rights violations by the United Nations
• “The actions by Eritrean authority “may be construed as an intentional act to dispossess them [the Afar] of their ancestral lands, their livelihood and their culture” (Paragraph 56) and that:
The killing of members of the Afar ethnic group and reports of existence of Mass-graves… have also triggered their displacement from their lands within the country and across borders to Ethiopia and Djibouti. This has posed great difficulty to their livelihoods as they depend on their traditional lands for the sustenance as an indigenous ethnic group,” (Para 1120b).
• Land traditionally belonging to or used by the Afars was seized in the framework of the land reform and afterwards by decision of the Government, without consultation of the impacted communities; (para 1157) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoIEritrea/A_HRC_29_CRP-1.pdf
(NIV) “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”