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         PRESSMEDDELANDE

4 september 2013

FN riktar åter skarp kritik mot Sverige!

Kräver stopp för gruvetableringar i renskötselområdet utan samebyarnas samtycke, samt att Sverige fullt ut kompenserar samebyarna för skador orsakade av rovdjur

I en rapport riktar FN:s Rasdiskrimineringskommitté återigen skarp kritik mot Sverige. Man slår fast att såväl landets mineral- som rovdjurspolitik strider mot samebyarnas egendomsrätt.

– Samerådet har under flera år jobbat med att assistera samebyar i deras kamp mot gruvindustrin, säger Mattias Åhrén, ledare för Samerådets Männikorättsavdelning. – Vi har upprörts över hur Sverige helt ignorerar renskötselns rättigheter och intressen så snart ett gruvbolag vill in i renskötselområdet. För Samerådet har det varit uppenbart att det strider mot samebyarnas egendomsrätt när de nekas rätten att säga nej till gruvbolag. Det känns oerhört tillfredsställande att FN nu ger oss rätt. Vi förutsätter att Sverige omedelbart reviderar minerallagen, så att den reflekterar samebyarnas rätt att säga nej till gruvetableringar. Vi förutsätter vidare att näringsminister Annie Löf och Sveriges regering i övrigt omprövar sitt beslut att tillåta gruvverksamhet i Rönnbäcken utanför Tärnaby, då FN-rapporten klargör att beslutet strider mot grundläggande folkrätt, fortsätter Åhrén.

I sin rapport noterar FN:s Rasdiskrimineringskommitté även att Sverige inte fullt ut kompenserar samebyarna för rovdjursskador. Kommittén uppmanar Sverige att finna vägar att fullt ut kompensera samebyarna för skador orsakade av statens rovdjur.

– Genom rapporten bekräftar FN att Sverige är folkrättsligt förpliktat att ersätta samebyarna för de verkliga kostnaderna statens rovdjurspolitik orsakar dem, utvecklar Mattias Åhrén. – Samerådet har visat inför FN hur idag en sameby kan erhålla en ersättning om 2 miljoner per år för skador orsakade av rovdjur, fast att den verkliga skadan är 4 miljoner kronor. Det är fullständigt orimligt, och folkrättsstridigt, att Sverige vältrar över en så stor del av notan för landets rovdjurspolitik på enskilda renskötare. Vi förutsätter att regeringen i den förestående rovdjurspropositionen inför ett regelverk som fullt ut kompenserar samebyarna för skador orsakade av statens rovdjur, avslutar Åhrén.

För ytterligare information, kontakta Mattias Åhrén, ledare för Samerådets Människorättsavdelning, tel. +47 47 37 91 61

PRESSMEDDELANDE

Samerådet

Sveriges regering talar klarspråk i gruvfrågan; gruvnäring har företräde framför renskötsel även när samebyars möjlighet att bedriva renskötsel omintetgörs!

I beslut 2013-08-22 ger regeringen Nickel Mountain AB tillstånd att öppna tre dagbrott i Rönnbäck utanför Tärnaby, på Vapsten samebys traditionella renbetesland och flyttled. I beslutet anför näringsminister Annie Löf (c) å regeringens vägnar att “… även om rennäring inte är möjlig att bedriva inom de aktuella områdena om företräde ges åt gruvverksamhet, behöver detta inte nödvändigtvis medföra att samebyns möjligheter att i övrigt bedriva rennäring omintetgörs…” [vår understrykning] (Se s. 10.) I beslutet ignorerar Annie Löf och regeringen att samebyn har egendomsrätt till området i fråga.

Av formuleringen “behöver detta inte nödvändigtvis medföra” framgår att Annie Löf och regeringen i övrigt tillåter en gruvetablering i Rönnbäck fullt medvetna om att det kan få konsekvensen att Vapsten inte längre kan bedriva renskötsel. M a o är regeringens inställning att gruvnäring har företräde framför renskötsel, oavsett konsekvenser för drabbade samebyar. Att dessa utplånas är inget hinder för gruvor.

Regeringens position utgör ett hån mot det samiska folket och den samiska kulturen, är omänsklig gentemot drabbade renskötare och bryter mot grundläggande mänskliga rättigheter.

– Jag blir förbluffad när jag läser regeringens motivering, säger Inger-Ann Omma, renskötare i Vapsten sameby. – Där står svart på vitt att när gruvbolag vill in i samiska områden så är det som att vi samer inte finns. Vi blir skuggor i vårt eget landskap. Att oersättliga kultur- och naturvärden förstörs och att hela familjer tvingas ut ur renskötseln och därmed förlorar basen för sin kulturella identitet betyder ingenting. Landet har varit samiskt i urminnes tider. Ändå är vi inte värda någonting i jämförelse med privata vinstintressen och arbetstillfällen under en kvarts mansålder, avslutar Omma.

– Genom att bruka det aktuella området för renskötsel har samebyn etablerat egendomsrätt till området i fråga, enligt såväl nationell- som internationell rätt, säger Mattias Åhrén, ordförande för Samerådets Människorättsavdelning. – Regeringens inställning att denna rätt helt kan ignoreras, att samerna inte har några rättigheter till områden vi bebott och brukat i urminnes tider i konkurrens med gruvindustrin, leder tankarna till terra nullius, en doktrin som andra jurisdiktioner förkastat som en av de grövsta exemplen på rasdiskriminering. Det är koloniseringspolitik i dess mest klassiska och rena form, avslutar Åhrén.

För ytterligare information, kontakta Inger-Ann Omma, mobiltelefon 070- 206 42 53 och Mattias Åhrén, mobiltelefon +47 47 37 91 61

Press Release July 4th, 2013 (se nedan för svensk version)

Today the Saami communites of Sirges and Jåhkågasska attend Beowulf Plc AGM in London in order to reiterate that they do not accept the company’s exploration and mining activities in Gállok (Kallak), in Jokkmokk, Sweden; an area of great importance for both the Sami communities’ reindeer herding (see below for AGM Statement).

Reindeer husbandry plays a central role in the Sami way of life and is a prerequisite for Sami communities’ and their members’ spiritual and cultural identity. Reindeer herding has been undertaken in Sweden since time immemorial. Today the Sami way of life is under tremendous pressure from land exploitation in the Sami homelands.

– Beowulf Mining’s planned mine and associated infrastructure threatens to devastate the conditions for reindeer herding in the area, says Jonas Vannar, Sirges  Saami community.
– This project endangers our entire existence and we will notify Beowulf’s shareholders of this, continues Vannar.
– In view of the importance of this issue for the affected Saami communities, the company’s arrogant attitude is a particularly distressing. We currently have absolutely no confidence in this company, concludes Vannar.

Any mine in Gállok would also constitute a breach against Sirges and Jåhkågasskas members’ human rights. By way of their traditional land use, the Saami communities have earned property rights to the area that gives them the right to say no to mining operations. In light of the mine’s huge negative impact on the communities, the project would also violate a number of other human rights, such as the right to culture and to health. The Swedish government has an obligation to ensure that each developer operating in reindeer herding areas respects these rights.

– It’s better for the company to abandon this project immediately in order to avoid additional costs and stress among the reindeer herders, says Mattias Åhrén, Head Lawyer, Human Rights Unit, Saami Council. We will assist the Saami communities to raise this case at the international level, unless the mining plans are scrapped, Åhrén concludes.

For further information, please contact:

Jonas Vannar:  +46703986587                      Nilla Märak: +46730543326

Statement from Saami Communities Sirges and Jåhkågasska at Beowulf Annual General Meeting, London

July 4th, 2013 

Question 1.

Reindeer herding is integral to the Saami peoples’ cultural and spiritual identity. It has been practiced by Saami people since time immemorial, but the Saami way of life is currently under enormous pressure from extractive industrial activities in Saami areas. Beowulf’s planned mining operations in the Kallak area would threaten the grazing lands of tens of thousands of reindeer. Given the devastating impacts Beowulf Mining’s proposed mining activities would have on our Saami communities of Sirges and Jåhkågasska, we will never consent to the projects. Rather, we will do everything possible to protect our lands and livelihoods for future generations. The profits Beowulf is planning to make will be short-term only, but the devastation for the Saami people and their environment will be permanent.

 HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY PLAN TO ADDRESS THE ENOURMOUS IMPACTS THAT YOUR MINING OPERATIONS WILL HAVE ON RENDER REINDEER HERDING AND SAAMI COMMUNITIES?

Question 2.

The Kallak project faces many problems given its remote location. The road is in very poor condition and it is at least 40 kilometers to the nearest railway. Extending the railway to the mine site would cost several hundred million pounds, not to mention that this is a complicated and drawn-out planning process in Sweden.

 The Kallak project also faces problems as it threatens the cultural integrity of the Laponia Area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, because Saami reindeer herding is critical to Laponia’s cultural values. In such case, the World Heritage Committee may delist Laponia as a World Heritage Site, and this is something the Swedish state does not want to see happen.

HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY PLAN TO ADDRESS THESE MAJOR PROBLEMS?

Question 3.

Beowulf has recently abandoned its planned mining in Ruovdevarre because of the lack of necessary infrastructure and the area’s importance for the local community and other land-uses.

HOW IS THE KALLAK PROJECT DIFFERENT FROM THE RUOVDEVARRE PROJECT? DON’T THEY FACE THE VERY SAME PROBLEMS?

Question 4.

Beowulf has repeatedly broken the Swedish Mining Act. Exploration work plans have been ‘lost’, terrain driving restrictions have been ignored and the environmental act doesn’t seem to mean anything to your company. Beowulf has applied for a mining concession but the EIA report, reindeer herding analysis report and transport report are so far from complete that all affected parties have rejected the reports.

HOW DOES BEOWULF INTEND TO EXPLAIN THIS KIND OF IRRESPONSIBLE CORPORATE BEHAVIOUR TO ITS SHAREHOLDERS?

 

Pressmeddelande 2013-07-04      Embargo till kl. 14.30

 Samebyarna deltar på Beowulfs bolagsstämma i London

Idag deltar Samebyarna Sirges och Jåhkågasska på Beowulf Mining Plcs bolagsstämma i London.

Syftet med samebyarnas deltagande är att upprepa att de inte accepterar bolagets prospekteringsverksamhet i Gállok (Kallak), i Jokkmokks kommun, Sverige, ett område som är av stor betydelse för båda samebyarnas renskötsel.

Renskötsel  spelar en central roll i den samiska livsstilen och är en förutsättning för samebyarnas och deras medlemmars själsliga och kulturella identitet. Renskötsel har bedrivits i Sverige sedan urminnes tider. Idag är den samiska livsstilen satt under enorm press från markexploateringar inom de samiska områdena!

–          Beowulfs Minings planerade gruva med tillhörande infrastruktur hotar ödelägga förutsättningarna för renskötsel i området, säger Jonas Vannar, Sirges Sameby.

–           Detta projekt  hotar hela våran existens! Det kommer vi att meddela Beowulfs aktieägare, fortsätter Vannar.

–           Mot bakgrund av denna frågas betydelse för de berörda samebyarna är det här bolagets arrogant a attityd synnerligen beklämmande. Vi har idag förlorat allt förtroende för att den här exploatören, avslutar Vannar.

Samebyarna understryker att gruvans vara eller inte vara i Jokkmokk inte bara är av vikt för dem utan för hela kommunen. Jokkmokks kommun har profilerat sig som en “samisk kommun“, och den samiska kulturen är av stor vikt för området. En utvecklad besöksnäring kan skapa arbetstillfällen och tillväxt på ett hållbart sätt under generationer. En gruva ger möjligen ett kortsiktigt uppsving, men är sedan endast ett stort ärr i naturen som försvårar rennäring, besöksnäring och rekreation.

En eventuell gruva i Gállok skulle även utgöra ett grovt brott mot Sirges och Jåhkågasskas medlemmars mänskliga rättigheter. Genom att traditionellt bruka dessa områden har samebyarna upparbetat en egendomsrätt som ger dem rätt att säga nej till gruvverksamhet där. Gruvverksamhet i området skulle även, mot bakgrund av gruvans enorma negativa inverkan på samebyarna, även bryta mot en rad andra mänskliga rättigheter, såsom rätten till kultur och till hälsa. Dessa rättigheter har den svenska staten en skyldighet att tillse, att varje aktör som opererar i samebyarnas område respekterar.

–          Det är lika bra att avbryta detta projekt omedelbart för att undvika ytterligare kostnader och stress hos berörda renskötare, säger Mattias Åhrén, ledare för Samerådets Människorättsavdelning.

–           Vi kommer att hjälpa samebyarna att ta denna sak internationellt, om inte gruvplanerna skrotas, avslutar han.

För ytterligare information, kontakta:

 

Jonas Vannar:  +46703986587                      Nilla Märak: +46730543326

Media Release by Saami Council and Minerals Policy Institute

Wednesday 21 Nov 2012

United Nations Human Rights Complaints for Hannans

Today, in Perth at the AGM of the Australian based exploration company Hannans Reward Ltd, investors were notified by the Saami Council and affected Saami communities that complaints to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had been prepared and would be officially lodged with the UN if the company goes ahead with its open-pit mining plans in Northern Sweden, home of the Indigenous Saami people. Through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron, Hannans is in the process of developing several open-pit mines in crucial Saami reindeer grazing pastures, which would violate fundamental human rights of Saami reindeer herders of the Girjas and Laevas Saami communities.

“At last year’s AGM, we warned investors and financial institutions involved with these mining projects of the human rights risks. We have given the company ample opportunity to withdraw their plans, yet they continue to deceive investors by pouring money into projects that are doomed to fail because of the enourmous environmental and social risks associated with them” – Says Mattias Åhrén, Chief Lawyer at Saami Council.

Saami communities have previously been successful in halting developments in Saami areas by lodging complaints with the UN, as was demonstrated in 2005 when the UN intervened and ordered logging to cease in Northern Finland because of the damage it was causing to reindeer grazing pastures. Stora Enso – the company involved – suffered significant reputational damage and lost both customers and investors as a result. The company had all the required national permits, but this was not enough, as the operations were deemed to breach the human rights of the local Saami people.

“We are absolutely opposed to exploration and mining on our traditional lands and we will do everything we can to stop this short-term plundering of our mountains” says Ingemar Blind, Chairman of the affected Girjas Saami Community.

“We are working with other stakeholders in our region who are of the same opinion and have grave concerns over the environmental damage mining will entail for our sensitive arctic environment” says Niila Inga, reindeer herding member of the affected Laevas Saami community.

Media Contacts:

Mattias Åhrén, Chief Lawyer, Saami Council +47 47 37 91 61

Charles Roche, Mineral Policy Institute +61 (0)450 901 714

Mats Berg, Media Contact, Girjas Saami Community +46 70 397 6977

Niila Inga, Media Contact, Laevas Saami Community +46 70 546 91 19

See the website www.saamiresources.org for more information.

Statement from Saami Communities at Hannans Reward Annual General Meeting, Perth, Australia, 21stNovember 2012

Minerals Policy Institute is authorised, on behalf of the Saami Council and the local Saami reindeer herding communities of Girjas and Laevas, to represent them at Hannans Reward AGM in Perth Australia on November 21st, 2012, and read out the following statement:

Hannans Reward, through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron AB, are planning mines on the traditional lands of the Indigenous Saami communities of Laevas and Girjas in the north of Sweden. The integrity and ecologically sustainable use of these lands is critical to the migration of reindeer and the practice of reindeer husbandry. Mining in this area would leave 20,000 reindeer without grazing lands, and Saami families and communities without access to their customary lands. Reindeer herding is the central Saami livelihood and the key component of the communities’ and their members’ cultural and spiritual identity. It has been practiced by Saami people in the Arctic since time immemorial, but reindeer herding is currently under enormous pressure from extractive industrial activities in Saami areas.

Given the devastating impacts Hannans Reward’s proposed mining activities would have on Girjas and Laevas respectively, the communities will never consent to the projects. Rather, they will do everything possible to protect their lands and livelihoods. In line with this commitment, and their obligations to future generations, the communities have – with the assistance of the Saami Council – prepared complaints to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which will be officially lodged with the UN if the company goes ahead with its open-pit mining plans in Northern Sweden.

Copies of the complaints to the United Nations have been sent to Kiruna Iron, Hannans Rewards, the Swedish government and major investors in Hannans Rewards.

Questions:

Given the success of previous Saami complaints to the UN – for example, in 2005, the UN ordered logging operations in Saami territories in Finland to cease because they breached the fundamental human rights of the affected Saami communities –how does Hannans Reward view the risks the planned UN complaints poses to its business?

The jurisprudence emanating out of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as outlined in Girjas’ and Laevas’ complaint to the Committee, clearly establishes that the right to property requires that indigenous communities consent to mining activities that considerably negatively impact on their traditional land. Against this background, and since Girjas and Laevas have declared that they will never consent to Kiruna Iron’s mining activities, why is Hannans Reward persisting with this project and risking shareholders funds, when the project has been rejected by the Girjas’ and Laevas’ communities?

Press Release by Fiettar Reindeer Herding District and the Saami Council (2012-10-19)

In letters sent today, the Saami Council calls on two major investment banks to withdraw their investments in the Norwegian based mining company Nussir ASA. The Saami Council warns the Banks that investing in Nussir ASA may render them complicit in human rights violations. The background of the letters is Nussir ASA’s refusal to withdraw from the Nussir, Gumpenjunni and Ásavággi area, despite Fiettar Reindeer Herding District’s persistent and rigorous objections to the company’s mining project. The mine would have detrimental impact on Fiettar’s possibility to continuously pursue traditional Sami reindeer husbandry, particularly if considering cumulative impacts of already existing and planned infringements in the area.
“Nussir ASA’s proposed mine would destroy calving, summer and fall grazing lands of fundamental importance to Fiettar”, says Ragnhild Marit Sara, member of Fiettar. “In addition, the mine cuts of traditional migration routes, blocking the reindeer from passing the area, resulting in loss of vast pasture areas on the north side of Nussir, Gumpenjunni and Ásavággi. The migration route is also used by Fála, both in spring and autumn. We have no alternative lands that can substitute these pasture areas and the loss of the migration route. There is simply no room for a mine, with associated infrastructure. Nussir ASA’s planned mine would destroy too much of Fiettar reindeer herding community’s calving, summer and autumn lands for the community to be able to survive”, continues Sara.

“The investment banks investing in Nussir ASA’s project violates a number of normative systems”, says Mattias Åhrén, Head of the Saami Council’s Human Rights Unit. First and foremost, through traditional use, Fiettar has established a property right to the area. Nussir ASA blatantly violates this right when seeking to enter the territory without Fiettar’s consent. The mining project violating the human right to property follows e.g. explicitly from the jurisprudence emanating out of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In addition, the relevant Banks have committed not to invest in projects such as the one pursued by Nussir ASA through multiple international corporate responsibility guidelines such as the OECD Guidelines and the UN Global Compact. Further, the Banks’ own Environmental Policy Statements commit the Banks to respect indigenous peoples’ rights to lands traditionally occupied and used”, continuous Åhrén.

The Saami Council, which cooperates with Aborassa Reindeer Herding District in a similar project, has run similar successful campaigns in the past, targeting companies not respecting Sami rights, by undertaking shareholder and investor dialogues, media campaigns and filing complaints with UN treaty bodies. “We expect the targeted investment banks to withdraw from Nussir ASA’s mining project”, Sara and Åhrén ends.

For further information, please contact Raghhild Marit Sara, mobile phone +47 917 917 28 and Mattias Åhrén, mobile phone +47 47 37 91 61

June 24th, 2012

The Saami communities of Girjas and Laevas have now begun a co-operation with Greenpeace in order to stop Australian based Kiruna Iron’s (Scandinavian Resources ASX:SCR) mining plans in the Kiruna region of Northern Sweden.

Recently, the National Swedish Saami Association also announced at their annual meeting  in Jokkmokk that they would be raising Kiruna Iron’s proposed plans to the attention of the UN. The Association indicated they may also raise a complaint with the UN over British based Beowulf Mining’s plans in the Jokkmokk region. 

Kiruna Iron’s CEO, Magnus Arnqvist, responded by welcoming the review of Kiruna Iron’s operations by Greenpeace and the UN, although the Saami communities expressed scepticism over the company’s willingness to be open.

21 February, 2012

Last night on Swedish Television, local municipal politician Kristina Zachrisson expressed concern over Kiruna Iron’s planned mining activities in the Kiruna area. While Kiruna municipality and many of its politicians are generally pro-mining, Zachrisson said that reindeer herding communities and the tourist industry also had to be carefully considered.

Zachrisson now joins other unlikely skeptics of Kiruna Iron’s plans – including several local mining unions – who have recently expressed concern over the potential impacts of Kiruna Iron’s proposed mines on sensitive mountain environments.

Click here for coverage in Swedish

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