Talodi — On October 20, elements of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) poisoned some waterways in Talodi, South Kordofan, with cyanide, when they decided to leave the area. A donkey and a cow reportedly died after they drank the poisoned water.
The Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organisation HUDO reports in a press statement on Monday that a large group of RSF militiamen arrived at the El Togola gold mining plant in Talodi locality on October 17.
The militiamen, carrying sniper rifles travelled in vehicles mounted with machine guns. They harassed people near the gold mine, their faces covered with masks, and attempted to detain some of the young activists protesting the use of highly toxic cyanide and mercury in gold mining.
When the paramilitaries left on October 20, HUDO claims they deliberately poured cyanide into some of the waterways in the area. When members of the Talodi Youth Association for Development heard about this, they visited the site immediately. They saw a donkey and a cow dying minutes after drinking from the contaminated water, they immediately alerted the people in the area.
HUDO urged the transitional government to the alleged perpetrators RSF accountable, and to put in place measures that protect the safety of the people and to stop the RSF violations as well as prioritise and take in to account the local community demands and rights.
Radio Dabanga reported on October 21 that RSF members spread cyanide in creeks and other water sources in the area. After three cows died, herdsmen immediately removed their livestock from the area.
Since early September, Rashad, Kadeer, and Talodi localities in South Kordofan witnessed almost daily mass protests and sit-ins against the use of toxic substances in gold mining, after environmentalists reported the death of a large number of livestock and birds.
On September 11, the governor of South Kordofan ordered the closure of all mining plants in the state, in reaction to pressure from environmentalists and protesting residents worried about the hazards of the use of mercury and cyanide to extract gold from ore. The mining companies however refused to implement the governor's order. Concerned residents of Talodi and Kalogi continued to protest.
The Sudanese Council of Ministers issued directives calling an immediate halt to the use of mercury and cyanide in mining operations in the country on October 9.
Many people saw it as a positive first step. Others wanted the government to go further.
In a joint statement, the Resistance Committees Coordination in South Kordofan said that the government's decision falls far below the wishes of the residents of the affected areas.
The activists stressed that the gold mining companies operate without any clear legal framework and that the government should not file lawsuits against these companies, but should remove them from the region.
RSF militiamen are stationed near gold mining companies in South Kordofan to protect the operations. On October 3, angry protestors attacked the offices of four mining companies and an RSF base in Talodi.