Human Rights Protest - Marriott Revokes Award Ceremony Contract - Miner Trapped in Cave-In - Open Letter From Tom Rowe
Human Rights and Environmental Groups To Protest Award To Newmont CEO
Marriott Hotel Revokes Contract for Alternative Award To Western Shoshone Carrie Dann
Miner Trapped By Cave-In At Newmont Mine In Nevada
When Denver’s elite arrive at the Downtown Marriott Hotel for Denver University’s annual fund-raising Korbel Dinner on Aug 30, they will be met by protesters from around the state.
While DU’s Graduate School of International Studies presented its “International Bridge-Building Award” to Newmont CEO Wayne Murdy, protesters will serve Murdy with a Citation for building Newmont’s bridge on a foundation of human rights and environmental abuses. GSIS Dean Tom Farer had refused to revoke the award to Murdy, over objections from a majority of GSIS tenured faculty and protests from communities that are directly affected by Newmont gold mines around the world.
The protesters, representing a host of Colorado-based non-profit organizations, will present what they call the “REAL International Bridge Builder’s Award” to Western Shoshone elder Carrie Dann. But the honoring ceremony will be held on public sidewalks because the Marriott revoked the groups’ contract to hold the honoring ceremony in the Hotel’s Molly Brown room. More information on the Western Shoshone can be found at www.wsdp.org.
In an email to the groups, Marriott’s Director of Event Planning Joe Humerickhouse wrote that the “Hotel see (sic) the Thursday event "Presentation by Carrie Dann" as a conflict of interest to a current piece of business” -- clearly a reference to DU’s Korbel Dinner.
It is unknown who pressured the Marriott to revoke its contract for the meeting room, but Glenn Morris of Colorado’s American Indian Movement, said, “This is reminiscent of Newmont changing the location for its annual shareholder's meeting three times a couple of years ago, for fear of negative scrutiny. Newmont doesn't want its record exposed, DU is embarrassed, and their response is to muscle the Marriott into trying to silence our voice by denying us a venue. Of course, they will not succeed, and we will be there, and we will have our say.”
In Western Shoshone Territories, a Newmont miner was reported missing yesterday after a cave-in at a mine owned jointly by Newmont and Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. It is feared the miner is trapped in the underground Getchell Mine. In June, another miner was killed when ground gave way at Newmont’s Midas mine. Both mines are near Winnemucca, Nevada.
On five continents, Newmont-affected communities are constantly engaged in protests, marches and litigation to defend their natural resources and their rights. Oxfam America, Amnesty International and the World Resources Institute have documented community charges against Newmont for contaminating drinking water; polluting rivers and oceans with toxic waste including cyanide, mercury and arsenic; colluding with police and military in order to intimidate, brutalize and detain community activists; bribery; and depriving local fishermen and farmers of their lands and livelihoods.
In April, Newmont shareholders passed a resolution requiring an investigation into the company’s relations with the communities affected by its mines. A report will be presented to shareholders at the 2008 meeting. “Why is DU giving an award to a corporation whose own shareholders have moved to investigate the negative human rights and environmental impacts of their operations?” asks Kara Martinez, a GSIS alumna who coordinates the Denver Justice and Peace Committee.
“This award is an unforgivable affront to many thousands of people whose lives, livelihoods and natural resources are forever marred by Newmont’s mines,” says Paula Palmer, executive director of Boulder-based Global Response.
Carrie Dann, representing the Western Shoshone Defense Project, said, “Newmont has done nothing to address the impact of their operations on the ongoing human rights violations against the Western Shoshone.”
The Colorado American Indian Movement, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Global Response, Denver Justice and Peace Committee, the Stop Newmont Coalition and the University of Colorado’s Indigenous Support Network called on their members and all concerned citizens to gather for a civil demonstration outside of the Marriott Hotel (California and 17th Street) at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 30th. Protest organizers have pledged their commitment to non-violence.
Open Letter From Tom Rowe - Former Dean of DU's Graduate School Of International Studies.
Dr. Rowe is Associate Professor and has been a GSIS faculty member for 33 years. From 1981 to 1996, he served as Associate Dean and then Dean of the School.
Why Wayne Murdy Should NOT Be Honored With GSIS International Bridge-Builder's Award
On Thursday, August 30, the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), University of Denver, will honor Wayne Murdy, Chairman of Newmont Mining Corporation, with the International Bridge Builders Award at GSIS’ annual Korbel Dinner. This unfortunate action conflicts with GSIS’ long-standing tradition of concern with advancing the human rights of marginalized and oppressed individuals and groups.
The award has been justified by the notion that Murdy has struggled to push Newmont, a company with a deplorable environmental and human rights record and a negative image in many communities around the world, toward greater social responsibility and a greater commitment to human rights.
In reality, however, as Murdy moves toward retirement, after 15 years as a senior executive with the company, Newmont’s operations on the ground do not measure up to the values to which it claims to be committed. Having served for years as CEO and Chairman of Newmont, surely Murdy bears some responsibility for what the corporation does as well as what it says.
We have had enough cases of senior leaders receiving awards while all misbehavior is blamed on subordinates.
It is true that Newmont, under Murdy’s leadership, now says it accepts some voluntary guidelines for protecting communities, human rights and the environment. The United Nations’ “Global Compact” and the “Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance” are among the agreements.
These do not create legal obligations and are not enforceable, so it is difficult to use them to bring real change in corporate behavior. But they do give the appearance of positive measures. Indeed, it is this formal commitment to social responsibility that the Dean of GSIS believes justifies an honor for Murdy, not the actual behavior of the corporation.
The majority of the permanent faculty members at GSIS have opposed the award to Murdy on the grounds that the commitment to human rights and social responsibility seems to be for public relations purposes, since these values are not reflected in Newmont’s operations. In Peru, at Newmont’s Yanacocha mine, on-going controversies and protests have led to widespread violence, intimidation and even murder of critics of Newmont’s operations. A recent publication from the World Resources Institute actually uses Newmont’s mine in Peru as a case study of what corporations should NOT do if they want to operate effectively and fairly within local communities.
In Indonesia, as the most recent issue of MOTHER JONES indicates, controversies continue to swirl around the environmental damage to Buyat Bay and health consequences for local villagers. In Ghana, thousands of local farmers have been displaced and traditional livelihoods have been destroyed by Newmont’s mining operations; and local activists contend that Newmont works with local authorities to abuse and imprison critics. In North America, Newmont operates on Western Shoshone lands without their permission, damaging and destroying sacred sites and the environment and paying no royalties to the Western Shoshone for taking their land or resources.
In all of these cases, Newmont contends that it operates in accordance with local laws, which may be true. But evidence suggests a much too cozy relationship with local governments and officials. Moreover, if Newmont were really committed to behaving responsibly, it would simply do the right thing, whether legally required to do so or not. Newmont should not use weak laws to justify its own abusive behavior!
For all of these reasons, it is at best premature for GSIS to give any award to Murdy or Newmont. At Newmont’s shareholders’ meeting this spring, it was decided that, because of the widespread controversies and negative reports, there needed to be an independent study made of Newmont’s operations and their impact on local communities. If GSIS wants to advance the cause of social responsibility and human rights protection, it ought at least to await the conclusion of that review.
If GSIS is truly concerned with advancing human rights, protection of the environment and social responsibility, however, there are more appropriate individuals to honor than the chief executive of a huge corporation which has disrupted the lives of individuals and communities around the world.
One possibility might be Mirtha Vasquez Chuquilin, who has been threatened with rape and murder for her work in Peru on behalf of communities protesting the operations of Newmont’s Yanacocha mine there.
Another might be Carrie Dann, a courageous woman who has fought for years for the rights of American Indians against the US Government and Newmont and other mining companies. She and other activists have received strong support for their efforts from the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States.
Still another might be Masnellyarti Hilman, the Deputy Minister of Environment in Indonesia and Newmont’s nemesis there because of accusations of terrible environmental damage to Buyat Bay and the villagers living around that Bay. Ms Hilman studied at the Colorado School of Mines on a US State Department fellowship in the 1990s.
Or the honor might go to Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, the Executive Director of WACAM in Ghana, a nonprofit that has struggled to protect the rights of thousands of villagers displaced and inadequately compensated for farmland and forests destroyed to make way for Newmont’s mining.
These and other unsung heroes who struggle on a daily basis for human rights and a decent environment, often at great sacrifice and sometimes even at considerable risk to their lives, are those who truly carry the burden of change and improvement. They may not be wealthy or individually powerful but they are nonetheless those GSIS should be recognizing and honoring for their attempts to build bridges to a better world.
This location has been negated - See above story!
Please join us for the real “Bridge-Builder Award”
Presented to Western Shoshone elder
Denver Marriott Hotel, 17th and California
Aug. 30 at 7:30 pm, Molly Brown Room (ask desk for location)
Carrie Dann will accept the award on behalf of community activists in Peru, Ghana, Romania, Indonesia and Nevada who have created a worldwide network of resistance to Newmont’s abusive practices.
Wayne Murdy will be served with a Citation for Building Bridges on a foundation of Environmental and Human Rights Abuses
Western Shoshone Defense Project
So-Ho-Bi (South Fork) office:
775-744-2565 (fax and phone)
P.O. Box 211308
Western Shoshone Defense Project
So-Ho-Bi (South Fork) office:
775-744-2565 (fax and phone)
P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
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