CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Zoravik, a New England-based collective, invites the public to an informal talk and discussion with environmentalists and human rights activists based locally and in Armenia. The Amulsar mine is one of several internationally funded mining projects in Armenia, and it is the most recent to become the focus of local environmental activists. For many Armenians, Amulsar symbolizes the expansion of corporate greed at the expense of long-term environmental and human health.
Respected environmental activist and feminist Arpine Galfayan will join the discussion from Yerevan via Skype to discuss the current state of the campaign to shut down the Amulsar project and will provide ideas for diaspora-based activists who want to support activists in Armenia. Dr. Henry Theriault, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University and President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, will help frame the issues of the Amulsar project within an international perspective. Ursula Kazarian, founder and former president of the Washington, D.C-based Armenian Environmental Network, will moderate the event. This event is planned as the first of a series to encourage diaspora-based environmental activism. You can read more about the event and RSVP on the Facebook event page.
Time: Sunday, November 18th, 1pm
Place: Hilles Room P-14, Harvard University, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Internationally funded mining projects are often portrayed as profitable for emerging economies across the globe. Proponents of mining projects often argue for responsible resource exploitation as a means to support political independence and national security interests, as well as to empower local communities through new and relatively stable employment opportunities. Mining companies and their financial partners also often promise direct economic investment in public infrastructure as “bonuses” for impacted communities. These “extra” investments typically include school upgrades and new roads that will provide improved and long-lasting market access for economic development. However, the realities following such projects typically fall far short of those promises.
Time and again, impacted communities have experienced severe public health impacts due to irreversible environmental damage from mining activities, including the contamination of air, soil, and water used for drinking and agriculture. This is particularly likely when mining activities have not been properly regulated or monitored over a significant period of time due to poor governance and/or limited oversight resources, as has long been the case in Armenia. Now, with renewed government support for the rule of law in regulating mining activities, locally based activism focused on stopping the damage caused by current and future mining projects is critical in empowering communities affected by mining projects.
Well-organized international support could make the difference in successfully combating threats to environmental and public health caused by mining activities. Further, informed and meaningfully engaged diaspora activism could play a significant role in promoting alternatives for sustainable economic growth for Armenian communities impacted by Amulsar and other mining projects in the country.
All interested are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion. A question and answer session will follow the scheduled presentations.
Zoravik (“in solidarity”) is a Boston-based Armenian activist collective that promotes new avenues for political and grassroots organizing and project-based engagement for progressives. Formed in the wake of the Velvet Revolution, the group seeks to mobilize the political, cultural, and social institutions of the diaspora to support and encourage transformative efforts in Armenian communities worldwide. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/zoravik or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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