BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It has been almost three years since any person or organization won the much-coveted “SpitRain” award, but boy-oh-boy does this winner deserve it in a grand way. You’ll remember Spit-Rain comes from the Armenian saying, “He’s so shameless, if you spit in his face, he’d think it’s rain.”
The winner is Deno Gold Mining Company (operating a gold mine in Ghapan), a wholly owned subsidiary of Dundee Precious Metals (DPM), a Canadian company whose stock is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It might be time for that market to review whether or not DPM should retain its listing, given the behaviors it is tolerating by its subsidiary.
Mining is a dirty industry, there’s just no way around that reality. However, it is possible to minimize the damage it causes to the environment and the people employed in the mines by using enlightened practices and paying attention to safety.
But, Deno Gold seems to have chosen the opposite path, opting for a worst-practices approach.
In this case, Deno Gold has decided to sue Yeghia Nersesian for slander. You will recall that Yeghia is the environmental and civic society activist who visited the Los Angeles area in December of 2012. According to Deno Gold, his “transgression” occurred when Yeghia reported that the Deno Gold uses electro-shock on its employees (it’s not clear to me how this is applied, or if this refers to the use of a taser) to keep them working. Now, this fine, upstanding company is worried about its good name and wants the “slander” corrected.
You might wonder why this same company didn’t get worked up into a lather when this was reported well over two years ago in the media in the Republic of Armenia (RoA). The obvious conclusion is— Deno Gold didn’t think that would get much play. But, our mine-lord does seem to be frothing at the mouth now that word is out in the Diaspora where broader segments of society might get wind of it.
There’s also speculation I’ve heard that Deno Gold is doing this at the behest of the RoA’s government. Why would official Yerevan be interested in doing this, you’ll naturally wonder? Simple, Yeghia has been very effective at mobilizing people and drawing attention to a multitude of ills in the country that stem from misgovernment. Thus, silencing such a critic by saddling him with an onerous financial penalty, courtesy of Armenia’s wonderfully “objective” courts, would suit the government’s interest in masking its failings.
Whichever motive is the real one (or perhaps both are, or some other factor is), shame on Deno Gold!
Write the offender and its parent. If you live in Canada, especially Toronto, you might even write your local newspapers about this. Give them a piece of your mind. Tell them how obscene you think it is that they are setting up an unnecessary conflict between the conduct of their business and people’s right to free speech.
Deno Gold (no independent website)
Deno Gold Mining Company CJSC
18 Vardanants Street
0010 Yerevan, Armenia
374 285 59000
1 Adelaide Street East
Suite 500, P.O. Box 195
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5C 2V9