The Abiremhene, Nana Amo Kyeretwie has asked nongovernmental advocacy organisations engaged in the protection of human rights and environmental integrity to stop their campaigns against Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and to allow the Company to destroy the Ajenua-Bepo Forest Reserve.
Speaking at a press briefing at New Abirem, Nana Kyeretwie asked WACAM, a nongovernmental advocacy organisation operating in mining communities, and its affiliate coalition of anti-mining NGOs to stop their campaign of lies against Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) and allow it to engage in fruitful negotiations with communities in the Newmont Akyem Project area for mining to commence for the benefit of the people and the country as a whole.
Nana Kyeretwie did not only accuse WACAM of deliberately telling lies to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) on the real situation on the ground but that it was also allegedly manipulating a section of the farmers.
The Chief said the majority of the people in the various communities have seen through the hidden agenda of WACAM of sending such negative reports in order to get global funding for its activities.
Such an attitude, Nana Kyeretwie said not only put the name of Ghana into disrepute in the eyes of the international community but also sent wrong signals to prospective investors, who might like to come into the country.
Referring to some of the alleged lies by WACAM, the Abiremhene said there has never been any point in time when Newmont has evicted anyone during its exploration and preliminary work as alleged by WACAM in its report to the UNHRC.
He said nobody lived in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve where the exploration took place so why did the Company have to relocate people?
Abiremhene said the assertion by WACAM that Newmont had no resettlement plans was false because everybody in the communities to be affected knows that the Company had proposed Adausena; Hweakwae; New Abirem and Afosu as resettlement areas should some people be displaced.
“So how does WACAM reconcile this fact with its report to the world that Newmont has no plans to resettle people who might be affected by the mining?”
Nana Kyeretwie said it was very insulting and an affront to the dignity and integrity of the chiefs and people in the area that “in 2008 Newmont may have fraudulently enticed local village elders into acquiescing to the projects by paying them large sums of money” as alleged by WACAM.
He emphasised that with experiences learnt from mining areas like Akwatia; Obuasi; Tarkwa; Bogoso and Awaso where mining has taken place for years the people in the communities have been sensitised enough and would not allow themselves to be cheated during negotiations with the Company.
Nana Kyeretwie said that was why various committees and associations like stool lands and crop owners associations, movable and unmovable properties committees, youth associations, hairdressers, traditional rulers and indeed various artisans have been dialoguing with Newmont every fortnight with the view to being kept abreast on activities of the Company.
When GNA contacted Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, for his comments, he said the attack of the “Newmont Chiefs” on WACAM was misdirected because it was Foodfirst Information Action Network (FIAN) that sent the report that Nana Kyeretwie referred to and not WACAM.
Mr Owusu-Koranteng said FIAN had confirmed to WACAM that the content of the query UNHCHR sent to the Government of Ghana, which the Government gave to Ghana Chamber of Mines and which the Chamber in turn gave to Newmont to answer, were contained in a “Global Urgent Action” report it sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.
The Executive Director said WACAM was not the source of the allegation that the Chiefs were paid huge sums of money adding that WACAM was not against mining but was strongly against irresponsible mining, especially in forest reserves.
“WACAM is not afraid of what it says because it always stands by the truth and seeks the wellbeing of the vulnerable and disadvantaged in society,” he said.
Mr Owusu-Koranteng explained that WACAM’s fearlessness was displayed when it admitted initially that it had made an input to the 2008 Annual Periodic Review Report on Human Rights Situation in the Country until it came to its notice recently that the query from UNHCHR rather emanated from the “Global Urgent Action Report” FIAN sent around May 2009.
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