Violation: verbal threats and arrest for her leadership of the community’s fight against Jindal coal mining in Tete.
Tete province in central Mozambique has become emblematic of the corporate greed and violence of extractive industries. In early 2013, Jindal (an Indian coal-mining company) started open cast coal mining in the province. They did so without first resettling, as required by law, the 500 families living in the area, 289 of which lived within the mining concession.
Jindal’s activities have caused serious environmental pollution and ecosystem damage and destabilised community life, with hundreds forced to breathe contaminated black dust emitted from the pits every day. The mine has placed severe restrictions on the community’s movements, and civil society organisations have also been prevented from entering the area. Beatriz, a native of Moatize- Mozambique, is one of the activists defending the community against Jindal.
“I was defending the rights of my community. The Jindal company arrived and found us there. And now we are living badly. A lot of dust, noise and houses are getting cracked. We want the company to leave our community.
In 2018, the police arrived at my tent at 9pm and took me to prison. I asked what the charge was: They said they heard rumours that I was agitating the community against the Jindal company. That I was a person who talked a lot. I was imprisoned for seven days without a clear charge of my arrest. The Jindal company exploits open pit coal in our community. My house is 150 meters from the mine.
We live under dust, the houses are falling because of the cracks with the explosions, there is a lot of noise from the railway line and our health is getting worse. The rate of tuberculosis has increased. How could I keep quiet? To defend my rights is to be an agitator? This is not life.
That’s why I joined the others in the community to say that the Jindal company should leave. They found us here and are doing us harm. Our government says nothing so we must speak up for the future of our children. Even if they arrest me, I will not stop fighting for our community, for our freedom in the district of Moatize. I am even willing to tell the story to anyone who needs to listen. Because this is our fight. It is a fight for justice and human rights.” – Beatriz Zacarias