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Cameroon activists on trial for peaceful protest against Wall Street land grabber

 

Nasako Besingi, Director of the local NGO SEFE (Struggle to Economize Future Environment) in Cameroon speaks as part of a panel at a Washington DC Press Club event. Photo courtesy of Valery Nodem

 

Email ( jones@heraklesfarms.com) Herakles Farms and tell the company to stop its intimidation of Nasako Besingi and other defenders of local communities and forests. Please use the sample letter provided:

Dear Mr. Jones:

I write to urge that your company, Herakles Farms, drop its charges against Nasako Besingi of SEFE, and, to withdraw a complaint that has resulted in the suspension of the work of Nature Cameroon. Further, I urge Herkales Farms to immediately stop any other forms of intimidation directed at all organizations in Cameroon that have been peacefully defending the rights of people and protecting the forests in the area where Herakles is operating.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.


Background

Herakles Farms is engaged in the development of a controversial 20,000 hectares oil palm plantation in south-western Cameroon and is facing strong opposition from affected communities and global partners.

Nasako Besingi and his NGO, Struggle to Economise Future Environment (SEFE), have been working alongside other activists and local organisations to protect people’s rights and preserve forests in the area where Herakles is operating. They have been subjected to intimidation, lawsuits, arrests, and violent attacks.

On December 31, 2013, Nasako was summoned, at the request of Herakles Farms, for “publication of false news via the internet.”  If convicted, Nasako could face a sentence of up to six months in jail  and thousands of dollars in fines.   His court date is set for March 14, 2014.

Herakles' lawsuit is based on an email that Nasako sent in August, 2012, in which he explained how he was ambushed by a group of men that he identified as junior managers of Herakles Farms. Luckily, a team of French journalists from France24 happened to be trailing Nasako that day. When the journalists’ truck appeared, the men let Nasako go and fled. Herakles Farms admits that the men who attacked Nasako were “local service providers.” Nasako and four other colleagues are facing other charges for organising “an undeclared public meeting” while distributing anti-Herakles T-shirts to locals.

Nasako is not the only target of intimidation by Herakles and the Government of Cameroon. Another local NGO, Nature Cameroon, has in effect been barred by a government official from informing residents of the threats posed by the Herakles Farms project to their livelihoods and to the local environment since last September.

International support is urgently needed to help Nasako with his court cases and to pressure Herakles to stop its intimidation of Nasako and Nature Cameroon.

Nasako can also be contacted directly at nasako.bondoko@gmail.com

On 25 January 2014, a letter was sent by several NGOs to relevant UN Special Rapporteurs requesting they investigate and intervene in these cases of acts of repression and criminalisation of local organisations and activists in Cameroon.


For more information about the destructive Herakles Farms’ project in Cameroon

 SEFE - SEFE calls President of Cameroon's land deal with US company Herakles Farms a grave injustice and hindrance to conventional values

Greenpeace and Oakland Institute - Herakles exposed: The truth behind Herakles Farms false promises in Cameroon (2013) Massive Deforestation Portrayed as Sustainable Development: the Deceit of Herakles Farms in Cameroon (2012)

GRAIN - Cameroon activist takes on land grabber from Wall Street, now faces imprisonment (2013)

 

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  • Nasako Besingi and his NGO, Struggle to Economise Future Environment (SEFE), have been working alongside other activists and local organisations to protect people’s rights and preserve forests in the area where Herakles is operating. They have been subjected to intimidation, lawsuits, arrests, and violent attacks. This needs to stop! by Rev. Holly Hallman on 02/05/2014 at 6:20 p.m.

  • please stop illegal land grabbing. by Rev. Richard Gibson on 02/05/2014 at 4:32 p.m.

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