Press Release June 27 2012
A MEMORIAL IN EXILE
Orbits of Responsibility for a War Crime from a Bosnian mine to London’s Olympic Park
On July 2 2012 London’s Olympic tower — the ArcelorMittal Orbit — will be
reclaimed as A Memorial in Exile by survivors of the Bosnian concentration
camp at Omarska, now a fully-functional mine operated by ArcelorMittal. Iron
ore and profits extracted from Omarksa have been used to manufacture
London’s newest landmark.
Details of Press Conference: Monday 2 July 2012 from 2-3pm
Location 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NG (East London Centre)
Walking commentary and view of the ArcelorMittal Orbit at Warton & Loop
Roads (Olympic Park perimeter) from 3-4pm
See map next page…
From 25 May 1992 till 22 August 1992 the Omarska mine in Prijedor, Bosnia was used as
a concentration camp by Bosnian Serb forces. At least 3,334 Bosniaks and Croats from
Prijedor were imprisoned in the Omarska camp, 700-800 were killed. Still missing in the
Prijedor region: 2, 916 men, 262 women and 11 children.
In 2004, ArcelorMittal assumed 51% of the ownership of the Ljubija mining complex that
included Omarska and resumed commercial mining operations.
In 2005, ArcelorMittal made a commitment to finance and build a memorial on the
grounds of Omarska.
Seven years on and twenty years after the war crimes committed there, still no space of
public commemoration exists.
Grounds, buildings, and equipment that were once used for the perpetration of these
crimes now serve a commercial enterprise run by the world’s largest steel producer.
On 14 April 2012, Mladen Jelača, Director of ArcelorMittal Prijedor confirmed to Professor
Eyal Weizman, of Goldsmiths, University of London and artist Milica Tomic of the
Monument Group, Belgrade, that iron ore mined at Omarska mine has been used in the
fabrication of the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
In the absence of this promised memorial and until such time that it is built, London’s
Olympic tower — the ArcelorMittal Orbit — will be reclaimed as the Omarska Memorial in
SPEAKERS / PARTICIPANTS
Survivors from the Omarska / Prijedor camps: Satko Mujagic, Rezak Hukanovic, Kemal
Pervanic, Sudbin Music, Fikret Alic, Mirsad Duratovic
Srdjan Hercigonja, Milica Tomic, Antonia Majaca, (Four Faces of Omarska Belgrade),
Adisa Pamukcic, Susan Schuppli, Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London) and
Ed Vulliamy (journalist)
Please join our press conference and help to bring awareness to this issue. With
the Olympics fast approaching ArcelorMittal has a significant window of
opportunity to make things right!
How to find us on Monday 2 July 2012
64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NG (East London Centre)
For further information please contact A Memorial in Exile through our website to receive
more information or write to us at the following email: email@example.com
Some notes from a two sections: 1. on the Zenica and Ljubija mines in Bosnia-Herzegovina 2. On ArcelorMittal and the UK, from: Greig Aitken (ed), In the Wake of Arcelor Mittal, London: CEE Bankwatch Network, 2008. Available: http://bankwatch.org/documents/mittal_local_impacts.pdf
he Zenica and Ljubija mines in Bosnia-Herzegovina War and human rights issues
One of the most attractive aspects of the Zenica plant for Mittal Steel was the presence of significant reserves of iron ore in the same country, at the Ljubija mines.20 As mentioned above, in 2004 LNM signed a joint venture agreement with RZR Ljubija (Rudnici Zeljezne Rude Ljubija) to form the company New Ljubija Mines, and to mine and develop the complex, 21 which has an annual capacity of approximately 1.5 million tonnes and reserves estimated to last 35 years.22
The Ljubija mines, however, have a dark history, which was outlined in a 2006 report by Amnesty International.23 The mines were one of the case studies in the report showing that the consequences of ethnic discrimination in employment during the war have not been addressed and that they persist in both entities of Bosnia. The problem is not confined to Ljubija and needs to be addressed much more thoroughly by the state and entity governments, however as the 51 percent owner of the Ljubija Mines, Mittal needs to develop a strategy to deal with the mines’ legacy.
Allegations concerning the mining complex during the Bosnian war include:
• Systematic dismissals of non-Serb workers. Former workers told
Amnesty International that on 22 May 1992 announcements
on the radio informed them that Bosniak and Bosnian Croat workers
must not report for work any more, and that in the following
weeks they received dismissal letters signed by the RŽR Ljubija
management. The workers who appealed against their dismissal
to the had their appeals rejected and received written communication
that they could not continue to be employed because
their position was reserved for employees of Serb ethnicity.24
• The detention of thousands of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in
detention camps in Omarska, which is part of the Ljubija mines
complex. “Improvised detention facilities made in the Ljubija iron
ore mine” were also allegedly used, including in the main separator
in the central mining area.25
• Involvement of the war-time management of the Ljubija mines
in crimes committed during the “ethnic cleansing” campaign.26
It is not clear whether these allegations have been investigated
or whether any of the accused are still working at the mines.
• Killings at the mine complex. The International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia found that 48 people were killed in the
Ljubija iron ore mine.27 The Tribunal also found that “hundreds of
detainees were killed or disappeared in the Omarska camp between
the end of May 1992 and the end of August when the
camp was finally closed”.28 The Tribunal also found that in July
1992, more than 100 people were killed in the Omarska camp,
including people who were initially detained in the so-called
“white house”, a building which is part of the Ljubija mines complex,29
and that on 5 August at least 120 persons detained in
the Omarska camp were taken away and subsequently killed.30
• The presence of mass graves at the mines. In 1994 the UN
Commission of Experts reported that the mines in Omarska, Tomašica
and Ljubija contained a great number of bodies of victims of the
fighting in the Prijedor area, as well as of those who were killed
during detention.31 The report alleges that: “… the Serbs regularly
recruited local villagers and camp inmates to assist in disposing
of the bodies and then killed them as well so as to eliminate any
potential witnesses”.32 The report also mentions a massacre carried
out in July 1992 in room 3 of the Keraterm camp, found by
the Commission of Experts’ to have “resulted in a huge mass burial,
most likely at one of the Omarska/Tomašica mine sites”.33 In
2001, 373 bodies were reported to have been exhumed from
the mass grave of Jakarina Kosa in the Ljubija mine34. Amor
Mašovic, the head of the FBiH Commission for Missing Persons,
is reported to have stated that “there is no doubt whatsoever
that there are bodies as yet unfound within the mine of Omarska
and its vicinity […] We are not talking about dozens of bodies
here, we are talking about hundreds”.35 Former workers at the
mine testified to Amnesty International that they knew of other
former workers who were called to help bury the bodies of murdered
non-Serbs, and that they recognized some of the victims as their former
No-one is arguing that Mittal Steel is responsible for any atrocities carried out at the mines, but it is clear that there are many unanswered questions which need to be approached delicately by the company, particularly as 49 per cent of the company is still owned by RZR Ljubija, and thus by the Republika Srpska government, and the role of these parties in any atrocities at the mines cannot be ruled out.
If there are still bodies in the mine complex, it would be appropriate for Mittal Steel to accord victims and their relatives the dignity of allowing excavations to take place before iron ore is mined. This is one of the demands from civil society organisation the Association of Camp Survivors from Prijedor Municipality, however this request appears to be being ignored by the relevant authorities and Mittal Steel.37 A newspaper article on the issue alleges that the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, which would normally be expected to take an interest in the fate of non-Serb citizens, is also ignoring the issue because of its connections with Mittal Steel in Zenica.
As Amnesty International put it: “In such cases […] where economic activities may potentially destroy evidence of war crimes and crimes
against humanity or may otherwise be an impediment to the realization of the rights of the victims and the families of the victims of serious human rights violations committed during the war, it is the duty of the authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure that economic priorities do not come before justice for the victims.”38 All quotes above from pp.32-33
ArcelorMittal and the UK
Most notoriously, Mittal was seen to have bought political influence in acquiring the Galati plant in Romania when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened to help Mittal steel buy the Romanian Galati steel plant a month after the tycoon donated USD 250 000 (GBP 125 000) to Blair’s party, the Labour Party. In an extraordinary letter, Mr Blair told Romania’s prime minister that selling his biggest state-owned enterprise to Lakshmi Mittal would enhance the country’s chances of joining the European Union.
Blair said he knew nothing about the donation when he signed the letter and his officials said the letter was justified on grounds of national interest. However Mittal employed only 100 people in the UK at the time and Mittal owned LNM through Richmond Investment Holdings Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands, where international companies pay no taxes.7
“From our point of view we were backing the winner of a privatisation process in Romania which had a sound creditworthy proposition that we could support,” EBRD’s head of banking, Noreen Doyle, said.28 Nevertheless, the UK government found itself in an awkward situation, on one hand receiving donations from Mittal and on the other hand being part of the EBRD’s board making decisions on giving loans to Mittal.
Afterwards it was also revealed that Mittal had made another, smaller donation to the Labour Party in 1997 and just a few months afterwards the UK gave its support for the EBRD loan for Mittal’s plant - then named Ispat Karmet - in Kazakhstan.11
Greig Aitken, (ed), 2008. In the Wake of Arcelor Mittal, London: CEE Bankwatch
Network. Available: http://bankwatch.org/documents/mittal_local_impacts.pdf