A group of Mauritanian bloggers launched a blogging campaign under the theme “Against foreign mining companies” at the beginning of October.
For the bloggers, this campaign was intended to share their opinions about the issue of foreign companies, accused of looting Mauritania's mineral wealth. This campaign was inaugurated by publishing a series of posts at the same time, and continued for a week.
The Mauritanian bloggers interacted very well with this campaign, and until the moment of writing this article, many bloggers wrote many entries that monitored violations committed by those companies. In addition to blog posts, bloggers engaged on Twitter, under the hashtag #Against looting our minerals. The campaign's news, postings and logos were widely circulated among Mauritanian users of Facebook and Twitter.
The participating posts in the campaign focused on the detection of the foreign companies’ violations of environmental laws, and destruction of the surrounding areas.
Moreover, they unveiled the low percentage of profit given by these companies to Mauritania, that reach at the best 4 per cent of the price of mined gold and copper. They also highlighted the discrimination policies pursued by the foreign companies against their Mauritanian employees.
Many writers and journalists interacted with the idea of the bloggers, and in turn wrote many articles to support the campaign.
Mauritanian blogger Sidi Weld Mohamed Lamine participated in this campaign publishing a post he entitled “I want my friend alive”, in which he talked about the death of his friend because of the toxins used by these companies. He writes:
In any self-respecting government that sanctifies the lives of its citizens, does give up playing its natural role in protecting the country, her sons, animals, trees and wealth. And if it has to waive our wealth let it be. But it has to protect the human lives that work amid an inert volcano that can explode at anytime to reap lives without mercy – just as what had happened with my deceased friend.
Prohibiting cyanide so that the only child of my deceased friend grows up, and who was born after his death, and that he will be threatened while playing or if he touches or inhales this damned material and dies immediately does not console me.
Revealing the truth behind the death of my friend by the company does not console me.
And Mauritania's taking of greater revenues of copper and gold does not console me.
Also the Mauritanian author Abed Arhman Widadi participated in the campaign launched by the bloggers, talking in his blog “Raja Elsada” (Echo) about the proportion given by the foreign companies to Mauritania:
The mines of Taziazat and Akjojet are a blatant testimony to the gravity of the catastrophe as only 4% of copper and 3% of gold revenues are given by these foreign companies [to Mauritania]. Yet those two firms deny the employees’ rights and shamefully use toxins.
It is shameful that all this happening after nearly four decades of the nationalization of Miverma company that was providing the best ratio. The decision of nationalizing this company was taken by Mokhtar Weld Dadah, God's mercy on him, despite the harsh conditions that Mauritania went through during the seventies and the absence of national competencies, and the impact of French domination that was angered to the extent of threatening of military intervention.
The blog “Alrai El Hor” [Arabic for Free Opinion] discussed the danger poised by these foreign mining companies on the Mauritanian environment, and the discriminatory policies against Mauritanian employees working there:
Voices are rising day after day to demand the reduction of the environmental pollution caused by these companies, whether by workers found on site – one of whom one told me about the segregation practiced there. He said some Western employees isolate themselves in well-protected areas while they distribute local workers in cantons that lack the lowest level of protection – or by some experts in this field such as the former engineer and director of environmental supervision Mr.Khalil Weld Ahmed Khlaifa who was sacked from his job as result of unveiling the tremendous risks that effect the Mauritanian environment.
Sidi Al Tayeb Weld Almujtaba adds:
Can our minds believe that 500 Mauritanian citizens died in the northern region in the last five years as a result of radiological activities carried out by these mining companies…However these companies continue to kill and assault without any supervision or punishment.
Any arrogant person today cannot ignore the spread of these malicious diseases and fatal cancers in the northern cities as result to the spread of toxins that move through natural elements (wind, air, sediment, and even reach down to the groundwater table).
The Mauritanian state recognizes this tragedy very well, which is acknowledged by all the names of the victims, living and dead, and the details of their injury circumstances, and even the beds they died on. Despite all this, it turns a blind eye and abides to silence.
Below are some reactions from Twitter.
Blogger Abdallah Weld Jeilany accused some politicians of receiving bribes from these foreign companies:
@AbdallahJeilany: Some politicians reacted with the crime of looting Mauritania's wealth and defended it. They legitimized it through laws, which they passed for a handful of bribes.
And Saifuddin Alchankity criticized the complicity of media with these companies:
@Saifuddin: Our Media solicit the looting of our wealth by (our partners in development) who are in fact (devils residing in development).
Blogger Taha Alhafedh warned from the exhaustion of the country's mineral wealth:
@TahaAlhafedh: The problem in Mauritania is that when the people wake up, our wealth will be exhausted due to the systematic looting, and till the people wake up, I hope we have a homeland left.
And Alhoussain Weld Amor as well talked about the lack of benefits to the Mauritanian people from its mineral wealth:
@houmar83: From the very beginning we understood what is said in the radio, and we heard about the validation of projects to extract minerals and licenses, but our luck from all this is death.
Activist Sheikh Sharif accused the Mauritanian president of taking commissions from these companies:
@cheikhchrif: Of course these companies are not able to loot our mineral wealth without permission from the general, and for sure, this deal is not for free.
Blogger Badereddine Eldari wrote:
@baderdine1: Mauritania: a country that has the second biggest gold mine in the world. However, its people live in dire poverty where only the corrupt have rights.
And activist Nasser El Hashem interacted with the campaign saying:
@n_nasser56: What's happening is theft. You might buy the silence of some pens, but the crime's traces condemn you. The hills out there are nearly talking about your crimes.
A full report on what Mauritanian bloggers wrote about foreign mining companies appears on Paparazzi blog.