The expansion of oil palm plantations in Africa begins to claim its first victims. Among them, the environmental activist Nasako Besingi, of the the NGO Future Environment, who was arrested for opposing the expansion of plantations in the U.S. company Herakles Farms. Herakles Farms is converting of 20,000 hectares of tropical forests into palm oil plantations in the South-West Region of Cameroon, facing strong opposition from affected communities. Struggle to Economise Future Environment (SEFE), have been working alongside other activists and local organizations to protect people’s rights and preserve forests in the area where Herakles is operating. Heracles Farms responded with 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”.
Nasako’s court case begins on March and he could face up to 6 months imprisonment and thousands of US dollars in fines. 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 their truck appeared, the men let Nasako go and fled. Herakles Farms admits that the men who attacked Nasako were “local service providers”, but it considers defamatory the accusation of being involved in the attack. In this way, the company has seized the opportunity to move the intimidation at legal level.
Help Nasako Besingi and Future Environment, send an email to Heracles Farms
Dear Patrick Jones,
I am writing to demand your company, Herakles Farms, withdraw its charges against Nasako Besingi of SEFE, withdraw Herakles’s complaint that caused the suspension of Nature Cameroon, and to immediately stop any other forms of intimidation directed at all organisations in Cameroon that have been peacefully defending people’s rights and protecting forests in the area where Herakles is operating. Thank you for your urgent attention.