Three individuals sew their mouths shut to protest against Georgian Manganese's practices in Chiatura
Villagers in the Chiatura mining district in Georgia have sewed their mouths shut
Three residents of the Shukruti village in the mining town of Chiatura, Western Georgia have sewed their mouths shut in an attempt to draw the authorities’ attention to a massive protest against the destructive activities of Georgian Manganese Ltd. which extracts manganese ore in the area.
Another ten protesters have gone on hunger strike.
The Chiatura protests began on April 23, 2021, when local miners and farmers failed to have their demands met at the negotiation table. The main requirements that the activists have revolved around environmental protection since manganese mining operations have caused serious damage to the local environment. Some homes were also severely damaged and the situation continues to deteriorate.
The protesters demand the ore mines stop operating in the area, Georgian Managese compensate them for the damage and have the government involved in solving the issues that the local residents are currently faced with.
- The women working in Georgia’s dangerous mines
- Tkibuli – a city in Georgia that has become used to death
Experts state that the manganese ores in Georgia are distinguished by high-quality and large industrial reserves with a convenient geographic location. The development of the Chiatura reserve began in 1879 and, by 1990, 203 million tons of crude ore had been mined and 108 million tons of processes product had been sold. Manganese production has declined sharply since 1990 and after numerous unsuccessful attempts to privatize and rehabilitate Chiaturmanganets, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced a tender on November 11, 2006. The winning company received the right to extract minerals from the Chiatura deposit and all the assets of Chiaturmanganets ojsc.
What do the protesters demand?
Residents of the village of Shukruti claim that the methods of manganese extraction have caused severe damage to many houses and left many people fearing for their lives.
The decision to undertake a more categorical form of protest has been made after the negotiations that lasted for 85 days did not result in a workable agreement. An attempt to put up a tent in front of the building of the Chiatura district administration was also suppressed.
Collapsing houses are not the only problem that worries the residents of Shukruti. The passage of the mine below the courtyards led to the appearance of cracks, making the land unsuitable for agriculture.
“Houses are crumbling above our heads, the earth is cracked. Mayor Givi Modebadze did not allow us to put up a tent. We were unable to attract the attention of either the company or the government by any means. Now we are forced to move to an extreme form of protest”, local residents said.
The village of Shukruti has turned to the Public Defender for help.
This is not the first protest against manganese mining that has occurred in the region. For many years, the authorities have been unable to cope with the massive environmental damage caused by mining, despite the fact that the state has appointed a special manager to monitor the situation.
During the first phase of the protest, in April, workers from the mines also joined the protesters. They demanded a 50% increase in wages, better insurance packages, the transfer of employment contracts to hired workers, and a ban on the movement of heavy vehicles around the city.
On these issues, an agreement was reached between the company and the employees, and they returned to their jobs.