Intimidation & RetaliationThreats, harassment, violence or other scare tactics to influence behavior, such as to quiet a whistleblower or chill opposition
A report by PAX for Peace on paramilitary violence in the Cesar mining region of Colombia highlights the September 11, 2016 execution of Néstor Iván Martínez, leader of an Afro-Colombian community resisting the expansion of coal mines owned by the American company Drummond. “Two unknown armed men forced their entry into the farm of Martinez’s brother in the village of Chiriguaná,” the PAX for Peace report explains. “They tied up his brother and his brother’s wife, waited for Martinez to arrive and then shot him in the head with two bullets before the eyes of his family.” PAX notes that in several pamphlets, neo-paramilitary groups have claimed to defend the interests of mining companies and other economic interests in the region, yet “neither Drummond nor Prodeco/Glencore have publicly distanced themselves from these claims.”
Research by PAX has found that at least 200 people in the region have been attacked or threatened in the past four years.
This is the story of allegations that Australia’s largest coal mining company, Theiss, owned by Leighton (now CIMIC Group) – buried a corruption report detailing how a “fixer” for the company bribed officials in India, potentially millions of dollars, to award Theiss a $5.5 billion coal contract. In return, Theiss would give a company owned by the fixer work at the mine. An employee at Theiss who tried to blow the whistle on it several years ago was first bullied, then fired, and the fixer was eventually paid to go away.
In the Surigao del Sur province in the Philippines, the Manobo group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Preserving Struggle for the Next Generation, or Mapasu) attributes years of armed attack on indigenous peoples to government efforts to protect coal mining in the Andap Valley Complex in the Caraga region. According to a Mapasu statement: “Surigao del Sur has been militarized to guarantee the entry of these mining operations within our ancestral lands. Our leaders have been killed, our schools and cooperatives are being burned down, our teachers and organizations are being vilified and our Lumad communities are being attacked because we remain steadfast in defending our ancestral lands from destructive mining operations and protecting it for our next generation.”
In the past six years, according to the story on Bulatlat.com, 75 of 90 indigenous peoples killed were Lumad: “Most victims were leaders or community members who resist mining, agribusiness plantations and development aggression projects.” Community concerns have included environmental destruction and the handover of lands, forests, minerals and water on indigenous lands to private companies. “Foreign mining corporations, aided by the government through the military, launched a campaign of deception and intimidation to force the indigenous peoples into leaving their land,” says Piya Macliing Malayao, secretary general of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu).
In Batang Regency, on the north coast of Central Java, Bhimasena Power Indonesia (BPI) has made way for a massive coal power plant project in part through strong-arm tactics against local farmers opposed to the project. In this report and video, farmers talk about the anger and frustration they feel about being fenced off from their land and livelihoods, harassed by security guards. “Farmers, landowners and others who reject the coal power plant often receive threatening text messages. In other cases, paid thugs have visited residents’ houses, intimidating them to sell their land.” Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Semarang, a legal aid organization that has been working with the community, also says a deception tactic is being used in which the company makes it seem as if they’ve already acquired large amounts of land as a way to pressure residents who have not yet sold.
On July 1, 2016, Gloria Capitan was assassinated by two masked gunmen on motorcycles who shot her twice in the neck and once in the arm inside her karaoke bar in Mariveles, Bataan Province in the Philippines. Ms. Capitan had faced intimidation and threats since 2015 – allegedly from the coal companies — for her community group’s peaceful opposition to pollution and health impacts from coal operations in Bataan, which include two power plants, two open coal storage facilities and plans for three more plants by 2017. Another dozen people who have been at the forefront of the opposition to coal-fired power plants in the Philippines and neighboring countries have been killed since April, 2016.