The online petition on Avaaz:
For more than seven years, the rural populations of Odisha State have been driving back the Korean company POSCO’s attempts at using their lands to install a mining operation and a commercial port on the coast, with the support of the local government. The 4000 families which are concerned by this project have regrouped (the “anti-POSCO” movement) in order to conserve their lands, their homes and their financial means. However, the local government, as well as POSCO, refuse to acknowledge these claims and wish to force the land acquisition process at any cost! With the intensification of the repression in early 2013, international support has become more and more urgent, before the construction works begin. April will be a key month that will determine if the project will be put in place or not.
Despite the project’s dramatic consequences, which have been pointed out by the anti-POSCO movement as well as by condemning proofs of illegality and unconstitutionality , the government of Odisha carries on supporting the South Korean company POSCO and the development one of the biggest Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) operations India has ever known.
As a response to the successive protest waves led by farmers, the local government has been using strength since May 2010. At that time, policemen were already forcing their ways into the villages concerned by the project, burning houses down and repressing the populations. In December 2011, after the construction of a road needed for the future project, violent quarrels took place. After a quiet year in 2012, the conflicts between the villagers and the police force have reached their climax in 2013. On Sunday February the 3rd, at 4 AM, 12 police patrols together with government representatives have intruded the villages of Gobindpur and Dhinkia, and destroyed 13 betel plantations. The unarmed villagers were beaten up with clubs. Women and children were ruthlessly attacked, some elderly people harmed, and nearly fifty protesters arrested by the police force.
More recently, at the beginning of March 2013, new peaceful protests have been organized by the villagers and Indian civil society organizations. All have been violently crushed by the local police force. The villagers’ wrong being protesting for the respect of their right. On March 2nd, the situation worsened and three militants died in a bombing in Patana. The origin remains unknown but the demonstrators strongly suspect POSCO’s heavies. In visit on March 6th, the ambassador of South Korea to India, M. Kim Jong Keun Odisha, didn’t show any compassion for the villagers in mourning.
The next day, hundreds of men and women from Mangalapada (near Odisha) were tear-gazed after organizing a pacific demonstration to demand the retreat of local armed policemen. About forty people were injured, including women, beaten up by the police. The list of the other exactions committed to realize the gravity is exhaustive.
Because of the end of the parliamentary session of Odisha, held on April 6th, the inhabitants fear that violence rises. In Gobindpur, since April 3rd, 1500 inhabitants have started day and night an ‘unlimited demonstration’ to have their claims taken into account.
A demonstration is expected to be organized on April 12th in Bhubaneswar, mobilizing all the sympathizers and those who have taken a stance against POSCO.
Therefore, the NGO SOLIDARITÉ (Organization for international solidarity) firmly condemns POSCO’s land grabbing practice and the anti-democratic attitude from Odisha’s local government. Thus we join the villagers’ struggle against the development of the project and support villagers from Dhunka, Gobindpur and Patana (the district of Jagatsingphur, Odisha) in their pacific resistance for their rights to land, means of their subsistence, and to justice.
Finally, we claim and support their demands listed below:
- The immediate retreat of the regional police;
- To stop local State’s land grabbing practice;
- To abide by the Forest Rights Act;
- To respect the fundamental rights of the communities concerned, with no fear of detention and false allegations
This petition is supported by:
Contact us to join the petition: contact solidarite.asso.fr
Video realised by VideoVolunteers for PPSS. More witnesses from the residents and activists in the Youtube channel.
You can also see the website Miningzone, to read archives, studies, statements and other resources about the PPSS and Posco.
[Photos : © Reuters © Sanhati.com]