Statement on Developments in Urut from the EITI MSG Civil Society Fraction's - Armenia
The civil society fraction of the EITI MSG of Armenia (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative multi-stakeholder group) expresses its concern over the events taking place in the Urut settlement of the enlarged community of Lori Berd in the Lori region of the RA, which clearly violate the right of the locals to live in a clean environment. There is social tension and depopulation in the village.
The "JIN HOLDING LIMITED" LLC initiated a public hearing on the application for a preliminary environmental impact assessment of geological prospecting studies (Phase 1) in Urut settlement of Lori Berd community on May 14, 2021.
On that day, the residents of Urut did not allow public hearings due to concerns about the protection of their habitat. They refused the invitation of the company and no hearings took place.
At the request of the residents, a protocol was drawn up at the residence of the administrative head of Urut settlement, where it was mentioned that the residents were against the organization of any hearings on mining-related topics in their village. After some time, the villagers were informed that in on August 10, 2021 the company again initiated an attempt to hold a public hearing. On that day, the villagers gathered again near the administrative building of Urut village to prevent public hearings. They were informed that the representative of the company had not come because of health issues. This time, at the request of the villagers, a protocol was drawn up stating that the residents of Urut village were against organizing any hearing on the mining sector in their village, which was ratified by the administrative head. Despite the existence of that note, in 2021 On September 24, 2012, "JIN HOLDING LIMITED" LLC initiated another attempt to hold a public hearing. Before the hearings, the company did some work, was active in the village meeting with several residents, getting their consent to participate in public hearings and stand by their project. Rumors have started spreading in the village that the project is sponsored by high-ranking officials and it will succeed anyway.
On September 24, a larger number of villagers, activists, gathered near the village administration building and did not allow public hearings to be held. However, there was a tense atmosphere among the residents for and against the mine opening. The representatives of the company did not leave the village, instead they tried different tools and tricks to hold the hearings. According to the villagers, this time the third protocol was drawn up in which it was mentioned that the villagers are against holding hearings on mining issues in their village. The protocol was signed and ratified by the administrative head of the community.
After several hours of resistance, the villagers received word that company representatives were collecting signatures in the village from people supporting the mine. In response, the citizens fighting against the mine in their turn initiated a collection of signatures and with 430 signatures on behalf of the population of Urut applied to the local self-government bodies and the council of elders of Lori Berd enlarged community. They demand to protect the interests of Urut village, to put on the agenda the inadmissibility of opening a mine in that area, to deny the preliminary permission for geological research on behalf of the community.
This situation has divided the society into two parts and created social tension in the village. There is concern that the attempt to hold another hearing will lead to an unpredictable ending. The villagers rightly complain that the company ignores the opinion of the residents about not holding hearings on mining issues in their village and constantly tries to hold hearings against their will. This creates a stressful atmosphere among the residents of the community. A similar situation is in Gladzor community. Taking into account that the core of the EITI process is creating an environment of dialogue between all stakeholders, as well as the fact that such issues are regularly repeated in Armenia, the EITI civil society fraction considers it necessary to initiate a special session of the EITI multi-stakeholder group, the agenda of which will include the following question:
1. Discussion on the issue of taking into account the opinion of the population of the affected communities on the planned activities in the field of entrails use, in particular, on the processes taking place in Gladzor enlarged community and in Urut settlement.
At the same time, we call on the mining companies in the communities where the population has already refused to hold hearings several times, to refrain from holding public hearings in order to respect the opinion of the community residents and to avoid deepening social tensions. We call on the local self-government bodies, the community council, the competent public administration bodies to protect the legitimate interests and rights of the community residents.
The announcement is open for joining.
Oleg Dulgaryan – a member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, President of the “Centre for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO
Nazeli Vardanyan - a member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, President of the “Armenian Forests” environmental NGO, lawyer
Sona Ayvazyan - a member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, Executive Director of the “Transparency International Anticorruption Center”
Suren Nersisyan - a member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Geography and Geology in the YSU
Viktoria Burnazyan – an alternative member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, Vice-president of the “EcoLur” information NGO
Artur Hambardzumyan - an alternative member of EITI MSG civil society fraction, specialist of environmental law, lawyer
Joined the announcement:
Artur Grigoryan - specialist of environmental law
Inga Zarafyan – president of “EcoLur” information NGO
Kristina Ter-Matevosyan – journalist in “EcoLur” NGO
“Center for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO
“Armenian Forests” environmental NGO
“Goy” environmental-juridical NGO
“EcoLur” information NGO
“Freedom of Information” center of Armenia
“Spitak Helsinki Group” human rights NGO
“Cinemart” youth NGO
Varduhi Ananyan – president of the “Cinemart” youth NGO
“Civil Youth Center” NGO
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor
“New Horizons” NGO
"ASPAREZ" Journalists Club NGO
“Martuni Women’s Community Council” NGO
“Green Armenia” NGO
“Progress of Gyumri” NGO
“Peace dialogue” NGO
“Youth Avangard” NGO
“Women’s Support Center” NGO
“Success Lady” NGO
“Tumanyan” Law office
“Direct Democracy” NGO
“Communities Finance Officers Association”
“Youth for Change” NGO
“Transparency International Anticorruption Center” NGO
“Helsinki Association” human rights NGO
“Human Rights Research Center” NGO
“For Equal Rights education center” NGO
“Women's Rights House” NGO
"Public Awareness and Monitoring Center" NGO