News Release

Tanzanian Environmental Activists Persecuted for Speaking Out Against World Bank Group Gold Mine

The Tanzanian government has charged two environmental activists and an opposition political leader with sedition for speaking out about allegations of widespread human rights abuses at a World Bank Group guaranteed gold mine. We are sending out this message because these activists need your help! Please take 15 minutes to send a short fax to World Bank Group President James Wolfensohn (as described below).

Rugemeleza Nshala and Tundu Lissu of the Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT) and Augustine Mrema, Chairman of the Tanzanian Labor Party have been raising concerns over allegations of killings, illegal evictions and destruction of livelihoods at the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine in August 1996. According to the evidence they have compiled, tens of thousands of artisanal miners and their families were evicted with little notice, and as many as 52 miners may have been buried in mining pits, when the Government of Tanzania and Sutton Resources, a Canadian mining company, took control of the mine site. The World Bank Group's insurance arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), is supporting the project with an enormous amount of political risk insurance. MIGA has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 1996 evictions.

For their efforts to publicize these allegations, Mr. Nshala, Mr. Lissu, and Mr. Mrema have been accused of making statements which "bring into contempt or to excite disaffection against the lawful authority" of the Government of Tanzania. Mr. Nshala and Mr. Lissu are appealing for help from individuals and organizations around the world. Specifically, they have requested that people send a fax to World Bank Group President James Wolfensohn, and insist that he:
1. Call on the Tanzanian Government to drop the sedition charges;
2. Call for an independent inquiry into the allegations of human rights abuses at the Bulyanhulu mine; and
3. Respond to your fax and tell you what he plans to do about this.

Send the fax to: James Wolfensohn, President, World Bank Group, FAX NUMBER: (202) 522-7700

Please don't forget to ALSO send us a copy of the fax: Steve Herz, FAX NUMBER (202) 783-0444

Or, if you cannot send a fax, please send an email letter to President Wolfensohn here.

For more information on the controversy surrounding the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine see here and here.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or are willing to take additional action:

Tundu Lissu, Lawyer's Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Tanzania
Email: lissu@wri.org

Steve Herz, Friends of the Earth USA
Email: sherz@foe.org