Violence in Kyrgyzstan Due to Canadian-Owned Mine

Kyrgyzstan declares state of emergency following violent protests

By Hyder Owainati, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

The former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan is in a state of civil unrest. Violence erupted on Friday outside of Kumtor mine, owned and operated by Toronto-based company Centerra, as up to 2,000 demonstrators marched to the company’s headquarters. Their demands? The nationalization of the Kumtor mine and greater provisions of socioeconomic benefits.

[pullquote]Riot police met protestors in an attempt to stifle the uprising, which resulted in the injury of 55 people and 13 officers. Eighty others were taken into custody.[/pullquote]

As of Saturday, those directly challenging the ownership of the mine by the Canadian gold producing giant have lifted their blockade. Government officials confirmed that electricity and road access to the mine have been reestablished. However, instability and turmoil continues in Kyrgyzstan, as protestors in the south of the country maintain their siege over local government headquarters.

Nationalization of the Kumtor mine has been a long-standing issue in Kyrgyzstan. The mine makes up to 12 per cent of the country’s economy, and many argue that limiting economic leakages to foreign companies will most benefit Kyrgyzstan. On the other side of the debate, the mine represents a primary source of Kyrgyzstan’s foreign investment. Whereby, nationalization of the mine could hinder long-term economic prosperity by discouraging future international corporations from investing in the country.

Hyder Owainati is a student at the University of Toronto, who loves to write short stories, read books and collect comics. You can follow his work at http://the-three-muses.tumblr.com/


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