Violation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Resulting from Coal Mining Operations in Southern Siberia: a new report of ADC Memorial

To mark the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, ADC Memorial published a report: “I Won’t Have Any Life Without This Land”: Violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Resulting from Coal Mining in Southern Siberia.

The open-pit coal mining inflicts irreparable harm to the traditional territories of the Khakas, Shor, and Teleut peoples in Khakasia and Kemerovo Province which makes impossible the traditional relations with the environment and threatens identity, culture, and languages of the indigenous peoples. The report describes the violations of land rights, the right to the healthy environment, the right to self-determination and cultural development, and persecution of activists and defenders of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The coal mining at the lands of the indigenous peoples in Kemerovo Province started in the 1970s and continues to grow, the coal mines destroyed the environmental and cultural surroundings of the Shors and Teleuts.

In the recent decade, the coal companies started their activities in the territory of the Koybalskaya Steppe – a unique natural complex in Khakasia. Coal mining has inflicted irreparable harm on the environment – the rivers and reservoirs, air, and land are heavily polluted. The indigenous peoples can not carry out their traditional economic activities – hunting and farming. Commercial companies often get lands for coal exploration and excavation in violation of the acting legislation. The indigenous people face cheating, blackmailing, and threats if they refuse to sell their lands. Mining destroys the natural and cultural sites sacred for the indigenous peoples, and historical monuments. All this leads to the forced resettlement of the indigenous peoples to the cities; far away from the traditional territories the indigenous peoples lose their identity, culture, and language.

Culture and way of life of the indigenous peoples of Russia present the world-historical and cultural value. Their sustainable economic activities that do not deplete the natural resources and allow to protect the environment, acquire great significance in the context of climate change and environmental pollution threatening the future of the humankind.

ADC Memorial would like to express its gratitude to those who helped to prepare the report: representatives of the indigenous peoples and local communities of Khakasia and Kemerovo Province, activists and environmentalists who, regardless of the risk of repressions, continue to struggle for the protection of their rights.