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Lynas installed its plant in the Malaysian area of Gebeng, Kuantan in the state of Pahang, without consulting the local community and has not been transparent, said activist Tan Bun Teet, chairperson of the organization Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, to Real World Radio.
Tan highlighted that Save Malaysia Stop Lynas is not against development, as the government often claims. "We just hope that whichever corporation that come and operate and that are going to provide job opportunities for the local communities, ensure that in the process of providing such employment opportunities as well as economic development, they should be made sustainable", said the activist, who was sued by the company for defamation together with four other members as well as the organization.
According to Tan and other people interviewed in Kuantan, the use of civil defamation was not common in the past. Its use has become more and more common after Lynas came to the country, a company that processes rare earths and produces radioactive waste such as thorium.
Tan said that the government has not properly listened to the valid opinions and arguments of the civil society, nor has it been able to provide any safe solution for the disposal of the waste.. So far, the company has not developed a waste management plan, despite some of them being radioactive.
Our interviewee highlighted that the community found out about Lynas project when almost 90 per cent of the plant was ready and thanks to a public forum organized by a local MP who shared an article from the New York Times about the construction of this plant in Gebeng. This was at the beginning of 2011. By late 2011, the first shipment of rare earth arrived to Kuantan´s port.
According to the activist, from the beginning of the resistance against Lynas, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas understood that there were two alternatives to expel the company. One was that the government closed down the factory, which would result in trials against the country and possibly economic damage. The other way would be to make Lynas financially non viable. "It was in this direction that we formulated our strategies.Today Lynas seems to be in financial difficulty", said Tan. Lynas is facing difficulties to pay its debts.
At the end of the interview, Tan highlighted the need for organizations and communities concerned about Mother Earth to be informed about the resistance against Lynas and linked this struggle in solidarity, understanding that any attack on Mother Earth in any part of the world has a consequence for other regions. "We should all work as one big coalition", he concluded.
Imagen: Víctor Barro – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional
Amigos de la Tierra Internacional (ATI) ya tiene una delegación en Ginebra, Suiza, para dar muestras a una nueva sesión regular del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas (ONU), que va del 6 al 23 de junio, del respaldo popular a las negociaciones del tratado vinculante sobre transnacionales y derechos humanos, que se negocia en ese marco multilateral.
Esta edición de nuestro programa semanal abre con la flamante coordinadora general del COPINH, Berta Zúñiga Cáceres, con quien profundizamos en las luchas de ese movimiento indígena, el caso legal por el asesinato de su madre, Berta, y las principales preocupaciones.
La presión en el marco de Naciones Unidas (ONU) a favor de los principios rectores sobre empresas y derechos humanos es muy grande, reconoció la presidenta de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional (ATI), Karin Nansen. Pero esos principios no funcionan en los hechos y nunca lo harán, aseguró, por su carácter voluntario, que no obliga a las corporaciones a respetarlos.
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