(Ottawa) Today, MiningWatch Canada releases a report describing gross violations of human rights at Barrick Gold’s North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania. Thousands of Indigenous Kuria near the mine have been forcibly evicted from their lands to make room for the mine’s expansion. Most people were evicted in December 2022, with the remaining families losing their homes and lands in August and September of 2023.
MiningWatch Canada met with affected villagers in 2022 and again in October 2023. Both the eviction process and the lack of rights-compatible compensation have led to serious impacts including homelessness, landlessness, loss of food security, malnutrition among children, children no longer attending school, as well as mental and physical health impacts.
“The eviction process has been intimidating, coercive and sometimes violent and did not conform to human rights norms, nor to internationally-recognized voluntary standards,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “Villagers were prohibited from using their land to feed and support themselves long before they received any compensation. When the bulldozers came to destroy their homes, they had nowhere to go.”
Many of these Kuria families have been camping on the land of neighbours and friends for almost a year, leading to social friction. Families and extended households that used to live together have been dispersed among those who will take them in. Widows and grandmothers who are taking care of children are especially vulnerable, as are young girls who are separated from their families.
In a letter exchange with MiningWatch Canada, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow denies that the evictions were forced. “Barrick’s denial perpetuates the harm the evicted families are enduring,” says Coumans. “These families urgently need humanitarian aid and a long-term, rights-compatible resettlement. Denial also puts other Kuria at risk as the mine continues to expand.”
The North Mara Gold Mine has a long history of evicting local Kuria from their land, leaving them impoverished and desperate. “These evictions have perpetuated the equally long history of Kuria villagers trying to eke out a living by entering the waste rock dumps that arise where their homes and lands used to be to find residual gold in the mine’s waste; many of these Kuria are killed or maimed by mine police,” says Coumans. “This cycle of forced eviction and violence against local Kuria must be broken.”
Since the 2022 and 2023 evictions, MiningWatch has received information about new alleged victims of excess use of force by mine police at the new pit under construction. Two lawsuits are currently before the courts in the U.K. and one in Canada on behalf Kuria plaintiffs who have allegedly been shot and maimed, and on behalf of the families of those who allegedly have been killed by mine police at the North Mara Gold Mine.
Quotes from Kuria villagers evicted from their homes and lands in December 2022 and September 2023, from MiningWatch’s report:
A father in a household of nine said, “I knew for the first time that they were going to take my place the day they came to mark my house. I was very sad and hurt. I had inherited this area from my father. They prevented us from building or plowing or harvesting.”
A father with 11 people in his household said, “When the mine people finished evaluating, at that time I was surrounded by police. They came and told the police ‘we are done and we want him to sign.’ I asked them, ‘why should I sign something that I do not understand?’ Then they said ‘You old man, are you joking with us? Nyoko [swear word].’ They started beating me. I was badly beaten that day. Then I signed without understanding what I was signing and they took a photo of me.”
A father of seven children said, “[t]hey did not give a reason why they are not paying for my house. They were very hateful and angry when I asked them this question. When I asked, I was answered, ‘Do you think I'm the one who pays or the white man is the one who pays? He won’t pay you for that. What do you want me to do?’"
A mother with 16 people in her household said, “[w]hen I realized that I was not fairly compensated, I went back to the village office to complain. They told me ‘That is what you have received, where can you go to complain about it? Who is going to help you?’”
A father of eight children said, “[t]hey came in, they took the children out of the house by force, and I was held by the police. Then they demolished the house. They killed chickens and ducks that were still laying eggs. They destroyed food and dishes.”
An 80-year-old female caretaker for five school-aged grandchildren said, “[a]fter the demolition I did not have a place to go, I’ve been moving from place to place. So far I have moved to three places already. The children are not going to school. Now we lack food, because the place I was growing food is destroyed. We are suffering a lot to get food. The small one now has malnutrition.”
A mother of 10 children said, “[o]ur life is so difficult and bad, we don’t even have a place to farm. I have many children and I have no means of feeding them. I am now a person who roams around [looking for work].” (...) “At my home place, that is where I could farm and sell some of the products from the farm and get money to take the children to school.”
A father with a household of 12 people said, “[m]y main concern is my home, because up to now my family is suffering a lot. The ones who sheltered me since December are tired of us already. They told me it’s about time I look for another place to stay. I’m looking for ways to leave that place, but up to now don’t see how.”
- Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator, [email protected], 613-256-8331
- Valerie Croft, Communications Coordinator, [email protected], 416-707-5986
For more information:
- MiningWatch Canada, Evicted for Gold Profits: Indigenous Kuria forced off land in expansion of Barrick Gold’s North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania. December 2023.
- MiningWatch Canada, report on shootings and killings by mine police and on forced evictions: “He was murdered”: Violence against Kuria high after Barrick takeover of mine. October 2022.
- Letter Exchange between MiningWatch Canada and Barrick CEO Mark Bristow about the forced evictions
- Information about the three international lawsuits currently underway on behalf of alleged victims of excess use of force by mine police and by family members of those who were killed.