Bishu Mining and Human Rights

SOCEPP Editor’s Note

Bisha Mining is an Eritrean company formed for the development and operation of the Bisha Mine in western Eritrea.  It is owned by a Canadian based Nevsun Resources Ltd. (60%) and the Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO) (40%).

The labourers at the mining are allegedly participants of National Service Program. This is a program, according to one UN report, administered “similar to slavery in its effects”.   In relation to this, Human Rights Watch in its January 2013 report entitled- Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector– stated that “Nevsun’s experiences show that by developing projects in Eritrea, mining firms are walking into a potential minefield of human rights problems. Most notably they risk getting entangled in the Eritrean government’s uniquely abusive program of indefinite forced labor—the inaptly-named national service program. Through this program the Eritrean government keeps an enormous number of Eritreans under perpetual government control as conscripts. Originally conceived as an 18-month program, the national service scheme now requires all able-bodied men and most women to serve indefinitely, often for years and with no end in sight, under harsh and abusive conditions. Those who try to flee risk imprisonment, torture, and even reprisals directed against their families.”( )

Victims did not sit with their hands folded. In November of 2014, Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle filed a lawsuit against Nevsun Resources in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The number of accusers now has increased and reached 48. However, the company is still operating in Eritrea well along with the brutal dictator of the region.

The current dictatorial leader of Eritrea and his government with whom Nevsun is working is the cause for thousands of citizens fleeing home only to perish in the high seas. Concerned citizens have joined hands to fight against any corporation that makes a deal with dictators who treat their fellow citizens in no different way than slaves were treated centuries ago.

As a strong player in the global mining industry, Canada and the Canadian government have responsibility to make sure that Canadian mining companies and the likes  fulfill their social responsibility wherever they may operate.

Currently Freedom United reports that community members joined Vancouver’s Mining Justice Alliance outside Nevsun Resources’ Annual General Meeting to present over 180,000 signatures on petitions calling for the company’s shareholders to divest from operations in Eritrea, a country where forced labour is widespread.  To read more on this please go to the News Release

SOCEP –Canada joins the call for Nevsun Resources Investors to divest over abuses at Eritrea mine.

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.