Paladin persecutes Australian photojournalist in Malawi

pal·a·din

n.

1. A paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion.
2. A strong supporter or defender of a cause: “the paladin of plain speaking”.
3. Any of the 12 peers of Charlemagne’s court.
4. A Perth-based uranium mining company, winner of the 2006 Pick the Public Pocket award, persecutor of Australian photojournalists.

[French, from Italian paladino, from Late Latin palātīnus, palatine.]

Uranium Good. Independent journalism Bad. A shake of my protective helmet in the direction of Rowan Cahill and Leftwrites.

Australian Company Uses Malawian Police Against Critics
MUA News
January 15, 2007

Two Malawian NGO members allege that they were ordered to Karonga Police Station by the Chief of Police in northern Malawi on Thursday January 4 and then threatened with arrest for taking an Australian photojournalist sponsored by the MUA [Here to stay!] and the CFMEU (mining) [Dare to struggle; dare to win!] to photograph and interview community members at the controversial Australian uranium mine site.

According to Reinford Mwangonde from Citizens For Justice (CFJ) in Malawi, a police van carrying around 10 police officers went to Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) looking for Kossam Jomo Munthali and ordered that he and Munthali attend Karonga Police Station.

Mwangonde alleges that at the police station Sale, Chief of Police, then told them that [Perth-based] Paladin Resources had called them ‘from a long way away’ and complained that the NGO members had taken an Australian photojournalist to the mine site.

Mwangonde said that he told the police that he had taken the photojournalist Glenn Lockitch* to interview affected community members with the permission of the village headman but did not go to the mine site itself. Munthali said that he told the police that he was not even in the district on that day.

According to Mwangonde “it’s unfortunate that Paladin is harassing us by using the Malawian police to promote its own agenda and protect its own interests at the expense of Malawians”. He said that he told Sale that he had not broken any law and dared Sale to arrest him. Mwangonde said that they were then told that in the future any meeting that the NGO’s hold in regard to uranium should be reported to the police.

The Perth based mining company is waiting for approval from the Malawi Government to mine uranium in the remote northern region where an open pit mine is to be constructed with a tailings waste dam 600m x 300m and 135m deep which will sit just above a local river used by the community.

*Glenn Lockitch is a documentary photographer and activist born in 1968 in Cape Town, South Africa. For well over a decade he has been involved in the arts and media, primarily working as an independent human rights and environmental photojournalist. Read Lockitch’s tribute to anti-apartheid activist Norma Kitson (1933–2002), A beacon of integrity and courage.

Herald Sun photographers are reportedly in the process of composing a letter to Lockitch, advising him to follow their lead and to make his work available to Malawian police so that they may apprehend the criminals responsible for getting in the way of legitimate businessmen making profits for the rich and pollution for the poors.

Some background…

Global capital still volatile, uneven, destructive
Patrick Bond
ZNet
December 24, 2006

…One of the world’s poorest countries, Malawi is under the thumb of Western donor governments — which pay much of the state’s budget and cover the large trade deficit — and the Bretton Woods Institutions, which even gift the local finance minister a top-up salary.

For ordinary people there are no obvious improvements, we’re told, in spite of reduced foreign debt levels, higher prices for some exports and lower prices for Asian manufactured imports, and the prospect of uranium exports after an Australian mining house, Paladin, began a project that it claims could boost GDP by 5%.

When the NGO groundWork and the Centre for Civil Society gave out the Southern African Corpse Awards — an annual mock ceremony for big business — in Durban last month, Paladin took the Pick the Public Pocket prize, thanks to a nomination from the Malawi groups Citizens for Justice, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, [FOCUS], Karonga Development Trust and the Uraha Foundation Malawi…

See also : Concern about Australian uranium miner in Malawi, Reinford Mwangonde, Green Left Weekly, November 24, 2006; (Malawian President) Bingu misled on uranium mining—civil society, Juliet Chimwaga, The Nation, November 21, 2006; Concerned civil society organisations query 16-year tax holiday to uranium company, Fatal Transactions, August 28, 2006 | Centre for Human Rights & Rehabilitation (CHRR) | Malawi, BBC country profile

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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