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Attempt to silence defence of ecology

Defend Sebastian Rodrigues and defend Goa’s environment from the Fomento

Online Petition to Save Goa’s environment from open-cast mining to Goa’s Chief Minister

by Hartman de Souza, 16 January 2009

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An online petition to raise voice of Goans affected by destructive mining and and an article in defence of Sebastian Rodrigues written

To: Chief Minister, Government of Goa

Wanton open-cast mining in Goa has devastated the countryside, destroyed forests and severely damaged valuable water resources. Entire villages have seen their crops destroyed by mine slurry and their land reduced to desert. Seby Rodrigues (please see http://mandgoa.blogspot.com)is an activist who has been in the forefront of the fight against irresponsible mining that pays no heed to the devastating consequences it unleashes on the environment and people.

Because he spoke up against Formento, a mining company owned by the Timblo family from Goa, they have chosen to try and silence him. They have sued him for 500 crore rupees (about 125,000 US dollars) for ’defamation’ for what he has said on his blog. This suit has been brought by Sujay Gupta the Vice President of Communications for the Timblos. The suit has been filed in Calcutta so that Seby will face further harassment and have to travel up and down.

We are appalled at this attempt to bully and silence a legitimate voice.
We stand with Seby against destructive mining and against all attempts to muffle legitimate voices in a democracy. We stand with Seby in decrying the destruction of Goa’s environment by mining companies like the Timblos, and urge minions like Sujay Gupta to sue us too...

Sincerely,

To sign this petition click here


Activists to support Sebastian in fight against Fomento

Herald, January 13, 2009

Angered by the Rs.500-crore defamation case filed against anti-mining proponent Sebastian Rodrigues in the Kolkata High Court by Fomento company, activists and members of several NGOs resolved to stand firmly behind him and take the issue to the people’s court.

A meeting organised by the Gawda Kunbi Velip and Dhangar Federation held on Monday at T B Cunha Hall, here, to condemn Sebastian’s defamation ended in social activist Pravin Sabnis, who presided over the convergence, adopting three strong resolutions.

The first resolution called for immediate withdrawal of the defamation case filed against Sebastian by Fomento and the second resolve warned of taking the issue to all villages till the accusation was drawn back.

The third resolution called upon eminent persons, artists and other people to conduct study tours to mining sites and see the extent of the destruction caused by the activity.

Sebastian said the defamation for some of his internet writing on the Fomento’s mining activities was an attack on the freedom of speech and lamented that the intellectual class was mum on the whole issue of destruction on account of the activity.

At the centre of the ire of today’s meeting was Sujay Gupta the Vice President Communications of Fomento. Award-winning teacher Ramesh Gauns, environmental activist Rajendra Kerker and Goa Suraj Party’s Floriano Lobo were amongst those who took a dig at Gupta, who was former editor of Gomantak Times.

At the end of the meeting, Lobo said they had decided to hold a meeting close to Gupta’s house in Moira in the coming week to show solidarity with Sebastian.

He said Sebastian was Goa Suraj Party’s very important member and his work had blessings of the party. “Audooth Timblo, who is also a very dear friend of GSP, must immediately correct his foolhardiness of filing the suit in the Kolkata HC and file it in the Bombay HC if he feels Seby’s writings were defamatory,” he mentioned.

Gauns said the fight was for right to live and called upon people to save the tribals who live in mining belts as they were the true custodians of Goa and its inheritance.

Some of the speakers maintained there was systematic police-establishment cohesion to suppress anti-mining voices.

Pushkar Raj from Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said the Goa Police Bill 2008 intends to sideline the State’s multi-member police complaints authority by bringing in a single-member authority, which is proposed to be directly under the Goa Government.