South Kordofan anti-mining protesters clash with security forces
Angry demonstrators torched the offices of gold mining companies in the neighbourhood of Talodi in South Kordofan on Thursday. The protestors attacked a base of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia as well. At least one militiaman was killed and others were wounded. A number of protestors were injured as well.
Several activists told Radio Dabanga that hundreds of residents of Talodi took to the streets on Thursday morning, in protest against the continued operations of several mining companies at the Meridein, El Tagoula, and El Laffa mines in the neighbourhood.
The demonstrators marched from the centre of the town to the El Junaid (Gunade) plant. They then proceeded to the El Ein El Zarga and El Sunut Companies’ offices, where they clashed with security forces.
The protestors burned the offices El Junaid Company of the United Arab Emirates, of which the RSF commander-in-chief and deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, has holdings, and the offices of the Abersi Company. They also torched the El Sunut plant belonging to the Security Operations Corporation set up by members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) during the regime of ousted President Al Bashir, and the El Ein El Zarga Plant, also owned by former NISS officers.
The director of the Information Department of the Sovereign Council, Brig Gen El Tahir Abuhaja, said in a statement on Friday however, that “armed sabotage groups” attacked mining companies and an RSF base in the area of Talodi.
A large crowd attacked the offices of the El Junaid, El Sunut, El Ein El Zarga, and Abersi mining companies, he said. The plants of El Junaid and El Sunut, a storage facility, and a number of vehicles burned to ashes.
The protestors then proceeded to the RSF base in the area. The militiamen are stationed there to support the provision of machinery and other equipment for the mining companies. The fighting led to the death of an RSF member. Four others were injured, one of them sustained bullet wounds. The statement said that the Sovereign Council will form a fact-finding committee to bring the perpetrators to trial.
RSF spokesman Brig Gen Jamal Jumaa reported separately that a number of staff members of El Junaid Company and RSF paramilitaries were wounded.
Activists reported from Talodi that the clashes led to the death of three security guards and the wounding of six protestors.
The Missing Persons Association said in a statement on Friday, that members of the RSF militia and of the Security Operations Authority were injured. Eight citizens were injured as well: El Sheikh El Baroud, Ahmed Mohamed Daldoum, Bashir Balla, Mohamed El Tijani, Adam Tutu, Sharafeldin Fadul, Hasan Bagouri, Ahmed Abukalam.
The Association attributed “the unfortunate developments” to the reluctance of the authorities to implement the order of the South Kordofan acting governor to halt gold mining operations in the state.
In early September, Rashad, Kadeer, and Talodi localities in South Kordofan witnessed almost daily mass protests and sit-ins against the use of toxic substances in gold mining, after environmentalists reported the death of a large number of livestock and birds, following the decision of the acting governor to resume mining in the state in July.
On September 11, the governor of South Kordofan ordered the closure of all mining plants in the state, in reaction to pressure from environmental health activists and protesting residents worried about the hazards of the use of the highly toxic mercury and cyanide to extract gold from ore. The mining companies however refused to implement the governor’s order. Concerned residents of Talodi and Kalogi continued to protest.
Environmentalists have been warning of the health and environmental hazards of the use of toxic mercury and cyanide to extract gold from ore for years.
In January 2018, a medical team led by the Health Minister of gold-rich South Kordofan investigated the increase in miscarriages, the birth of deformed children, and cases of kidney failure in El Tadamon. At the same time, Northern State education authorities decided to close the Sawarda school complex, in response to cases of coughing, vomiting, and shortness of breath among students in the boarding houses.
The Sudan Democracy First Group highlighted the human and environmental costs of traditional gold mining in the region in a report published in November last year.
Protests against gold extraction plants in several parts of Sudan increased over recent years. People in Northern State, North Kordofan, and North Darfur as well took to the streets in fear for their health. In September this year, people in Sawarda resumed their anti-mining protests.
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