More than 9000 natives of the Dejak people, which counts 26 tribes, are forced to move as a result of the Bakun dam construction in the East Malaysian province Sarawak on the Borneo Island. Their traditional way of living; hunting and gathering, farming and fishing, must yield - instead they are offered work at an oil palm plantation. The indigenous people strongly oppose the plans, which will flood more than 690 square kilometres of valuable rainforest. Both companies, Dyno and Alcatel STK, wish to be involved in the project. Neither have any second thoughts regarding the consequences.
Norwegian manufacturers of clothes and shoes have their products made by cheap Chinese subcontractors. The working conditions in this branch have been strongly criticised recently. Norwegian manufacturers such as Gresvig and Helly Hansen, owned by among others Resource Group International (RGI) and Orkla, and RGI subsidiary Brooks Sports refuses to give NorWatch names of the subcontractors they use. What are they trying to hide?
In April, two members of the organisation Agragamee were arrested and accused of provoking the local population to turn to violence against the Utkal project in Orissa, India. Hydro Aluminium owns 33% of the planned bauxite operation, which faces resistance from the native population in the area.
- We have thought everything was well, and have got the impression that our fish processing project in Uganda was a positive contribution. But then we have not evaluated the consequences of the project on the resource situation - this was done by NORAD before we were invited to participate. Now we have come in a situation where we will do all we can to put pressure on the leadership we are co-operating with in Uganda, says division head Rolf Borge-Aaserud in UNITOR.
The third newsletter from NorWatch deals entirely with Norwegian fisheries interests in Africa. In two of the projects the Norwegian interests are out, whereas the third project still ongoing seems to have the opposite effect of what was initially intended.
The export oriented fishery of Nile-perch in Africa's largest lake, Lake Victoria, is strongly criticised by experts who have been monitoring the development for years. Only crumbs are left to the poor, whereas both fish and profits go the West. NorWatch can reveal that the Norwegian company UNITOR, supported by around 10 million NOK (1 USD is app. 7.5 NOK) from NORAD, is one of the largest players in the doubtful fight for the fishery resources in Uganda.
6-7 years ago, Ticon Isolering entered three fishery projects in Africa. Apart from the previously mentioned project in Uganda, which UNITOR now has taken over, the Norwegian company had ownership interests in companies in Angola and Benin. In Benin things went so bad that NORAD considers to file the company for bankruptcy, whereas in Angola, the state confiscated Ticon's plant a few years ago.
This last week indigenous people on the Indonesian island of West Papua have rebelled against the Freeport mine. The police has given up the fight, and military forces are put on alert. The indigenous people have been subjected to killings and torture in their yearlong struggle against the mine, which has led to vast environmental damage. NorWatch has learned that this conflict also affects Norwegian interests. Dyno Wesfarmers Ltd in Australia, owned 50% by Dyno Industrier, has a big contract to supply explosives for the mine.
Human rights violations now form a dark cloud over Aker's cement activities in 9 African countries. Through its subsidiary Scancem International, this Norwegian industrial giant owns production companies in countries with regimes way worse than Nigeria in terms of brutality. In most countries the cement companies are owned in partnership with the authorities. Thus ruling elites strongly criticized by Amnesty International benefit from investments of millions of Norwegian kroner.
Statkraft and Kværner's new power plant in Nepal has been given the go-ahead and financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in spite of the fact that the assessments have not been carried out by independent experts. This is a breach of NORAD's guidelines.
24 organizations and political parties have joined a letter campaign demanding that Norsk Hydro pull out of the Utkal project in India and stop further development plans concerning the mining company MRN in Brazil.
Norwegian trade and industry is expanding; increasingly more companies establish operations abroad. This particularly applies to countries in the South, where a growing market, cheap labor and proximity to raw materials make it attractive for companies to set up shop.
This past year Indian groups of indigenous people have repeatedly used civil disobedience to protest against the Utkal Aluminium Project - a project in which Norsk Hydro has a 33% holding. The tribal people have blocked roads, prevented work from being carried out and even destroyed machinery in their efforts to stop the planned bauxite project. They protest against forced relocation and the fact that their livelihood is threatened, but the authorities react in the Indian manner by having the police arrest protesters.
Boa Vista has as the first quilombo community received land rights right next to the area owned by the mining company MRN in Amazonas. The 600 indigenous people - all descendants of African slaves - were forcibly relocated when the MRN started the extraction of bauxite in the middle of their traditional land. Norsk Hydro owns 5% of the controversial mine.