Toxic Slavery: Child Labor and Exposure to Intoxication with Mercury in Small Gold Mines in Tanzania! [Translated]

AlJazeera.net on the 29th of August 2013 quoted Human Rights Watch that thousands of children in Tanzania, some as young as only eight years, are engaged in drilling operations in deep dilapidated mines that stand on the verge of collapse, in shifts of up to 24 hours. These children transport and crush the heavy bags of ore and gold. This information came in a report of the organization entitled: "Toxic Slavery: Child Labor and Exposure to Intoxication with Mercury in the Small Gold Mines of Tanzania", in which the organization condemned the involvement of children in a cycle of danger and despair where they are exposed to various risks, such as dealing with mercury, a highly toxic metal that accumulates in the brain, where it may cause the destruction of the nervous system. The children are also vulnerable to injury resulting from sudden collapses. Not to mention the cases of girls working in the mines who are lured and then exploited in the most heinous form.

The organization has called for the government of Tanzania to reduce child labor in small gold mines and appealed to donor countries to support efforts to reduce it. While the large mines owned by global companies are subjected to some control, numerous abuses take place in the small unlicensed mines in Tanzania (the fourth largest exporter of gold in Africa) for which the Tanzanian government refuses to be held responsible. The Tanzanian government has admitted its shortcomings through the words of a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Veronica Simba, that the government is working with the World Bank to improve safety and work standards inside the mines and that the government has launched educational programs to educate workers about their rights and duties, as well as matters of health, safety and others. She added that the education will lead to real change in the field of mining, whether socially or economically. While the Tanzanian government is committed to the education of children working in the mines, it omits to mention the problem of extreme poverty suffered by the majority of the Tanzanian people. These children do not work for their welfare, but to satisfy their hunger and the hunger of their poor families, in areas where the average income does not exceed $100 per month and where the parents do not see an alternative from sending their children to work to cover their daily expenses. The solution to the problem does not lie in calling for the state to criminalize child labor, but in the application of an economic system that secures the satisfaction of the basic needs of all citizens of the state, one by one.


As usual these reports that are published from time to time to apply political pressure on the governments but fall short of hitting the root of the problem, in fact they don’t even mention it. This report failed to develop a treatment to rescue these helpless children from exploitation and injustice. The report discussed the issue at length but obliviously did not mention the failure of the capitalist economic system in the protection of the human rights and its focus on the development of resources with total disregard for the fair distribution of this wealth, to achieve the saturation of the basic needs of all individuals without discrimination. Capitalism does not pay any attention to workers and the classification of their rights and their dignity. These rights are not given to their owners voluntarily in any country of the world, rather they have to be snatched away from between the jaws of the hungry lion. Here are the multinational capitalist companies that spread their wings over the poor countries and dominate the country’s resources, such that the wealth leaves the country and only fragments remain, which are then shared by minor capitalists who exploit the misery and destitution of poor families, and the ignorance and weakness of the working children.

Not to forget the role of the World Bank, that intervenes in the economy of poor countries and places additional weight on their shoulders in the form of debts that add to their poverty and dependency. Afterwards the West claims moral superiority and denounces the results of this poverty and the failure of its states.

The Economic System in Islam ensures the people’s safety from this scramble for looting the metals and other resources that the earth bears. Islam has made people partners in water, pasture and fire, as well as minerals from the mines... They are public property administered by the State to the welfare of its citizens, and may under no circumstance be granted in any way to a foreigner to take advantage of them, just as they cannot be owned by individuals.

There is no way forward for humanity but the way of al-Amin (saw), who was sent with the guidance to the red and the black, to exit them from the oppression and injustice of manmade systems to the amplitude and mercy of the divine system. Therefore oh people of Tanzania, you have suffered from following the Western countries and the capitalist system on the one hand and on the other hand you have suffered from the dictates of their international bank that increased your poverty and devastation and brought misery over your beloved children. Is it not time for you to listen to the reminder of the Lord of mankind and to what He has sent of mercy?

((وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَ‌حْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ * قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ))
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.”


The Women's Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir
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