The double standard continues

The double standard continues

October 20, 2014

Those were the words of Rogelio Ustate as he spoke at a meeting of the London Mining Network.

His moving story of how he and his community in Colombia were treated by a mining company, which listed on the London Stock Exchange, highlights how important our justice campaign really is.  He told us how the health of his community had deteriorated because of the coal dust in the air,  how the water had become contaminated and how the water table had fallen, making it harder to access any water at all.

Around 12,000 hectares of forest land has been cleared to the ground and at least 3,000 children have died in three years due to water contamination.  The mining activity has taken over their ancestral land, including the cemetery.  Now the community cannot pay their respects to the dead, and the dead have no peace.

As I listened to him, I thought: what would happen if this company was operating in Britain? They would almost certainly be taken to court and told to mend their ways.  They would have to put right what they had done wrong and those that have done wrong would be punished in the courts.  Crucially for those who had be harmed, they would be compensated.

But in Colombia, things are very different. No one is stepping in and saying that this has to stop. In fact the very people who are meant to protect the community are complicit in the actions. The police beat those who protested and the local council has threaten to take land away from people if they do not cooperate with the mining company.

I asked him a simple question: what does justice mean to you?  First it meant punishment. The Mayor, the local council officials and the company management should be punished for what they have done. But not just that, the community have suffered enough. They wanted the mining company to leave and their land back to the way it was before the mining company had come in.

We cannot let this shocking double standard go on. British companies should not be able to get away with things abroad that they would not be able to get away with here. They should face justice, here in the UK, if necessary, to make sure that they don’t get away with benefiting at the expenses of others .

That’s why I want you to join with me and ask the main party leaders to tell us what they will do to improve this situation.  At least 600 people have already done it, why not become the 601st, then ask your friends to do it too.