|Memorial for dead banned at Canadian gold mine in Africa|
by Jocelyn Edwards, The Toronto Star
May 23rd, 2011
Families of the five men killed by security forces of a Canadian mine are furious after that were denied permission to hold a memorial service Tuesday at African Barrick’s gold mine in North Mara.
“When you have lost your loved ones and you are in a grieving period, for someone to do this to you, it is not right. It would be better if they would take you too,” said Magige Gati, whose 27-year-old son Emmanuel Magige was among the dead.
Five men were killed, and at least a dozen injured, when about 800 locals clashed with security on May 16 at a mine in the area owned by African Barrick, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.
The clash is the latest episode in an ongoing conflict between residents of North Mara, who come to the mine to scavenge for gold and Barrick, which took over the mine in 2006.
Police cited security concerns as well as “a series of criminal acts,” including villagers’ invasion of the North Mara mine and an attack on the motorcade of the local MP by residents upset at what they say is the government’s role in the killings, as reasons for denying permission for the memorial.
Families of the deceased said they were at the mortuary in the small northern town of Tarime to guard the bodies of their loved ones, due to be buried Tuesday, in shifts.
“We fear that the police will take the bodies and bury them. So we are staying to stand guard,” said Gasaya Matikua, uncle of one of the victims, 19-year-old Chacha Ngoka Chacha.
African Barrick employs police as well as private security guards to protect the mine.
Organizers of the memorial said that they would go ahead with the event.
“If the police decide to use force against us, it is entirely up to them. We will hold a peaceful ceremony,” said Tundu Lissu, a lawyer who has worked on behalf of residents around the North Mara mine and who is an opposition MP in Tanzania’s parliament.
“We will not be intimidated or told how to mourn our dead by the very people who murdered them.”
Despite the ban, a van with a loud speaker still drove through the streets of Tarime inviting townspeople to attend. It was quickly followed by a police truck issuing a warning to residents against taking part in any such activities.
A heavy security presence was evident in the town as trucks of police officers, some dressed in riot gear, made their way up and down its streets.