BY CHERNOH ALPHA M. BAH, DIRECTOR OF THE AFRICANIST MOVEMENT
KONO, Sierra Leone — The Africanist Movement hereby expresses dismay over the fatal incident that culminated in the police shootings of innocent and defenseless masses in Kono struggling to take control of their resources that are being constantly looted by mercenary companies.
The Africanist Movement wishes to state that the protest of the people of Kono against the destructive and exploitative mining activities of mercenary corporations like Koidu Holdings and Branch Energy represents a critical component of the struggle for self-determination in Sierra Leone. It is a manifestation of the growing desires and aspirations of the poor and exploited masses of our people to challenge the forces that are responsible for the conditions they experience and create a future for their children.
The Africanist Movement would like to remind everyone that Kono is home to the richest diamond mines that produce the world's best and most precious diamonds. But since the commencement of diamond mining activities in the country around the 1930s, thousands of diamonds amounting to millions of carats have been extracted and are still being extracted by multinational corporations owned by the British, the United States and the various European nations with no dividends to the people who own these resources.
Today in Kono, there are some 90 multinational corporations including Branch Energy, Mile Stone, Sierra Leone Diamond Company (SLDC), Bridge Resources, Koidu Holdings and a host of others — partly or wholly owned by the British, Americans and other Europeans — that are involved in the exploitation of the diamond resources of our people in Kono.
These multinational corporations make millions of dollars regularly in diamond revenues at the expense of the future of the masses of our people whose inalienable rights to access to and control of their resources are being constantly violated by the dubious and devilish activities of these corporations. It is estimated that about 10 million carats of diamonds are being taken out of Kono every month through the activities of these corporations.
The Africanist Movement sadly notes that while these corporations make huge revenues from the resources, our people in Kono live on less than a dollar a day with no electricity, no good roads, no proper health care system, no pipe borne water and other social services necessary for human existence. For a very long time, our people in Kono have been completely deprived and rendered powerless by the activities of these corporations who often receive protection and guarantees from the government.
Regardless of the enormity of resources, it is appalling that our people in Kono are still forced to live in a situation where there is no economic and social infrastructure necessary for growth and development. It is also sad to note that seven of every 10 of our children in Kono are found in the diamond mines instead of classrooms.
It is disgusting that three of every five pregnant women in Kono die during childbirth due to the absence of clinics and efficient healthcare delivery. It is also a pity that most of our people in this country have never seen a diamond, let alone knows how a diamond looks.
The Africanist Movement wishes to state these horrendous crimes and abuses inflicted on the masses of the areas where these corporations are located are products of a state-syndicate and it receives the backings of state actors.
More often than not, successive governments whose accession of political power is roguely facilitated by the sponsorship they receive from these corporations are completely unconcerned over the deplorable conditions the people experience as a result of this situation.
The Africanist Movement believes that the brutal response of the police to the democratic demands of our people in Kono for control over their resources is not triggered by a desire to maintain peace and order. It is a move to protect the interests and property of multinationals that remain culpable of organized theft of the people's resources.
The Africanist Movement therefore calls for the prosecution of every member and shareholder of the management of Koidu Holding, Branch Energy and the other multinational corporations operating in Kono for the egregious human rights violations committed against our people.
We call for an independent inquiry to be undertaken by representatives appointed by the masses to ascertain the amount of diamonds and resources that Koidu Holdings and Branch Energy in particular have extracted and exploited from Sierra Leone.
We equally call for an independent investigation into the police action that has resulted in the deaths and wounding of innocent and defenseless people struggling for their basic democratic rights.
We also call for the urgent relocation and rehabilitation of the more than 2,000 families that have been rendered homeless by the operations of Branch Energy and Koidu Holdings.
We demand that all multinational companies operating in Kono should cease operations immediately and unconditionally and pay reparations for the unknown number of diamonds and other resources stolen from our people.
We demand basic social and economic development for our people in Kono who have been left impoverished and isolated by these oppressive conditions.
We call on every African in Sierra Leone and other parts of the world to join and unite with the struggle of our people in Kono to take control of our resources.
Down with multinational corporate exploitation! Down with police violence and brutality! All power to the people!
Uhuru News is the online voice of the International African Revolution. It is dedicated to giving voice to the struggles of the African working class from around the world through its programming in an effort to unite and inform the struggles of African people and forward the International African Revolution.