From the beginning, the Posco Orissa Project was embroiled in controversy by threatening tribal rights and opening up the possibility of environmental violence. Since 2010, both the Saxena and Meena Gupta Committees have suggested to Posco to delay development in the area since the residents of relevant areas needed to be protected by the Forest Rights Act. Additionally, there appeared to be several problems, including an agreements gathering process in which the Posco project has seriously been suspected of fabricating its legal justification for the project.
Thousands of residents have protested for the last six years against Posco and the government to protect their livelihood from the project without due process. Furthermore, more than 100 injuries occured on May 15th 2011 due to the blind firing of rubber bullets by police forces during a cruel dispersement of protesters. After announcing the reports of the Government Investigation Committee last year, residents expected the project to be halted.
However on the 2nd of May, the Environmental Ministry Union accepted the State’s position that the area did not belong to the forest-dwellers. The residents got angered that the Indian Government disregarded the report results of the Investigation Committee based on obvious evidence to attract $100 milion dollars of investment.
After the announcement of land acquisition starting on the 18th of May, the posting police force, once in the region, have threatened and irritated residents, which has sparked both fear and anger. This must stop immediately. If the Orissa State Government did not enforce land expropriation by police force and face fierce opposition from local residents, then no one would expect these occurrences to take place.
If a huge loss of life occurs, it could be a disgraceful human rights violation case, which would inevitably be championed by international societies. This case would not only target Posco, but also the Korean Government or Korean society in general.
If the project can only be done by mobilizing police force without consideration for local residents despite their six years of effort, Posco and the Korean Government must carefully reevaluate the risks associated with pursuing this project.
Korean civil rights organizations ask Posco and the Korean Government as follows nearly on 18 May, the memorial day of Kwangju Democratic movement, with hope that the tragedy happened at 2009 in Yongsan should never be repeated.
We are demanding that Posco stop this forced land acquisition, which will inevitably lead to wide spread violence!
We are urging Posco to take all possible routes to prevent bloodshed!
We are asking Posco to decide its project direction through a democratic and peaceful way and ensuring they respect the opinions of residents!
We are insisting that the Korean Government, as an accountable member of OECD and international communities, urges Korean companies in India to obey local laws and International standards of human rights!
16th May, 2011.
Public Interest Lawyers Group ‘Gonggam”
Korean House for International Solidarity
Democratic Legal Studies Association
Joint Committee with Migrants in Korea
Advocates Public Interests Lawyers
Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy
Korean Contingent Workers’ Center
Network for Glocal Activism/School of Feminism
Democratic Workers’ Solidarity