Saami Communities attend Beowulf's AGM in London

Saami Council Press Release, 4 July 2013

Today the Saami communites of Sirges and Jåhkågasska attend Beowulf Plc AGM in London in order to reiterate that they do not accept the company’s exploration and mining activities in Gállok (Kallak), in Jokkmokk, Sweden; an area of great importance for both the Sami communities’ reindeer herding.

Reindeer husbandry plays a central role in the Sami way of life and is a prerequisite for Sami communities’ and their members’ spiritual and cultural identity. Reindeer herding has been undertaken in Sweden since time immemorial. Today the Sami way of life is under tremendous pressure from land exploitation in the Sami homelands.

“Beowulf Mining’s planned mine and associated infrastructure threatens to devastate the conditions for reindeer herding in the area,” says Jonas Vannar, Sirges Saami community. “This project endangers our entire existence and we will notify Beowulf’s shareholders of this,” continues Vannar. “In view of the importance of this issue for the affected Saami communities, the company’s arrogant attitude is a particularly distressing. We currently have absolutely no confidence in this company,” concludes Vannar.

Any mine in Gállok would also constitute a breach against Sirges and Jåhkågasskas members’ human rights. By way of their traditional land use, the Saami communities have earned property rights to the area that gives them the right to say no to mining operations. In light of the mine’s huge negative impact on the communities, the project would also violate a number of other human rights, such as the right to culture and to health. The Swedish government has an obligation to ensure that each developer operating in reindeer herding areas respects these rights.

“It’s better for the company to abandon this project immediately in order to avoid additional costs and stress among the reindeer herders,” says Mattias Åhrén, Head Lawyer, Human Rights Unit, Saami Council. “We will assist the Saami communities to raise this case at the international level, unless the mining plans are scrapped,” Åhrén concludes.

For further information, please contact:
Jonas Vannar: +46703986587 Nilla Märak: +46730543326

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