Thematic Social Forum on Mining & the Extractive Econom yCommon threads of extractive exploitation, of community strength, and of dignity
Day 1, Tuesday 18 October 2023
The Thematic Social Forum (TSF) on Mining and the Extractive Economy opened today with a spark of magic as we connected across tongues and cultures via the universal language of music. The Wiji Kendeng musical ensemble from the Kendeng community, Indonesia, sang us into a day of sharing, understanding and co-creating.
It was fitting to meet in Semarang, a city with a history of struggle against colonisation and extractivism. It was also fitting to commemorate Roger Moody, a founder of the London Mining Network and an inspiration to many who continue in his wake.
What followed reflected the main priority of the TSF: a sharing of stories of community resistance against mining and extractives. Common threads of extractive exploitation, of community strength, and of dignity came from Cameroon, Thailand, Indonesia, Sápmi, Turkey, Tonga, Wallmapu and Tunisia.
Panning out then, we held a glass up to the global political context in which our struggles exist and persist. What is this economy that we’re supposed to serve – as opposed to one that serves us? What mindset is being spread like a virus, that strangles our communities and slashes our ecosystems to pieces? And who thinks they’re fooling us by simply picking up a can of green paint?
These global dynamics were reflected back to local realities. In Latin America mining certifications aim to justify and clean extractive violence – in a region that’s one of the most dangerous places on earth to be an environmental and human rights defender.
We honoured Berta Caceres and others who were murdered for their leadership and bravery. Women spoke of the gendered impacts of mining, spoke of the strength that comes when women stand together and raise their voice.
New mining frontiers are emerging. Deep sea mining, the so-called ‘blue economy’ threatens our oceans and island nations who steward the sea. In the ‘capitalist hydras’ of our world, such as the USA and Europe, Indigenous peoples, migrants, the poor and the otherwise marginalised suffer internal colonialism, continued exploitation and dispossession.
And yet we resist, and yet we persist. We recover our ancestral wisdom and we sow seeds for future generations. We stand with those whose land is occupied and those oppressed by war. We stand, we raise our voice and we say: