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Chilling Evidence Exposes Mining Company Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jonathan Adabre, Public Agenda, May 12, 2006
Human Rights   Opinions
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The chilling evidence of multiple bullet wounds on the body of Awudu Mohammed, 25, has raised serious concerns about the business conduct of multi-billion dollar mining conglomerate, AngloGold Ashanti, and shed new light on the perceived partnership between mining companies, local police and the Ghanaian military.

On June 21, 2005, a combined team of police, military and mine security shot Mr. Mohammed three times in the back, under suspicions he’d undertaken illegal mining operations, or galamsey, on AngloGold property. The bullets tore through Mohammed’s back, passing through his stomach and lodging in his intestines. As he struggled on the floor, his intestines exposed and bleeding profusely, the AngloGold security team encircled him and, with the butts of their guns and their steel-toed boots, clubbed him, kicked him and tore the skin on his head, ear and forehead.

Unable to withstand the beating, Mohammed gasped for air and slipped into a coma. Believing him dead, the security detail bundled him, threw him into a pick-up, and drove him to the AGC hospital. The men justified the bullet wounds by telling doctors at AGC that Mohammed was an armed robber caught stealing from Anglogold. Subsequently, doctors refused him, convinced he would not survive and unwilling to admit the corpse of an armed robber.

The gold conglomerate had told its first lie in a series of several to come.

From AGC, the security team drove Mohammed to the government hospital in Kumasi, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). Prior to arrival, he regained consciousness and was forcefully warned by the security men not to disclose the truth to doctors at KATH.

The men demanded Mohammed tell medical staff he had gone to galamsey on AngloGold property and, when discovered by the company’s security sentry, he had attempted an escape by scaling a barbed wire fence, which tore his stomach.

However, Mohammed, who suspected his chances of survival were slim, told Dr. Turkson, the medical officer receiving him, that he was in fact shot by the AngloGold Ashanti security detail.

The reason, he told this reporter, was simple. “I wanted my family and the whole world to know my story — that I was not an armed robber, I was simply a victim of the brute force of the AngloGold Ashanti Mining Company.”

Hearing Awudu Mohammed’s story, Benjamin Annan, Assembly Member for Sanso, a suburb of Mohammed’s home village, commissioned his own investigation. Mr. Annan alleges the security team repeated the story of the barbed wire fence and the victim’s attempted escape. When Annan insisted he be shown precisely where the barbed wire incident had occurred, Anglogold was unable to prove their claim.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Turkson and his colleagues at KATH, Mohammed is alive and able to share his story with the world. With corroborative evidence from men like Benjamin Annan, Anglogold Ashanti’s strenuous efforts to cover up its misdeeds and tyrannical treatment of residents in mining communities are threatened.

Unfortunately, these cover ups are widespread. Numerous records exist attributing civilian deaths to the accidental discharges of security rifles. One wonders how many men and women have gone to the grave with their stories of abuse at the hands of these mining organizations untold.

When the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM), a group of communities affected by mining and civil society organizations, launched its campaign against Violence in Mining in Accra on Thursday, May 4, residents of mining communities delivered numerous accounts of murder, arbitrary arrest, torture and other dehumanizing acts perpetrated against them by mining companies.

On June 9, 2004, Clement Kofi Baffo of Aduaneyede in Obuasi was arrested, on allegations of galamsey by the mine security of AngloGold Ashanti. NCOM confirms Baffo died nine hours later in the custody of the security team, the result of brutalization.

On July 13, 2005 when communities in and around Prestea demonstrated against Bogoso Gold Limited, the company, in collaboration with the Ghana military, opened fire on demonstrators, wounding seven.

On February 2, 2006, soldiers acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine Limited shot four farmers in Teberebie, on suspicion of trespassing.

Newmont mining, which began operations three years ago, has killed an estimated five people in Kenyasi since its inception.

Though the stories are varied, two common threads link these civilian deaths and brutalities. All occurred after Ghana’s gold mining moved from underground to surface activity, and all of these abuses have occurred with the active participation of the military and police.

NCOM and the families of victims want to know why the Ghana Army and police are involved in these acts of violence. They question the legitimacy of deploying the state military to offer protection to private companies. Even if those who have died at the hands of mining companies were indeed trespassers, as the companies claim, NCOM demands that statutory laws be applied in dealing with these offenders, rather than vigilante justice.

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