A gold dredge, owned by the Mac Lai Sima Gianna company, dumping tailings into the Itsaka River near the village of Vohilava in southeast Madagascar earlier this month. Much of the region depends on the river for fresh water. Photo: Mongabay

By Edward Carver
20 October 2017

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (Mongabay) – In Madagascar, speaking out against corporate wrongdoing or government corruption can be dangerous business. So it took some courage for Raleva, a 61-year-old farmer, to stand up and ask questions at a meeting in his village in southeast Madagascar on 27 September 2017. A Chinese-Malagasy company, previously expelled from the area, had come to announce that it would resume its gold-mining work. Company representatives had brought with them the “chef de district,” a powerful local official.

The conflict began in August 2016, when the mining company, managed by (and named after) Gianna Mac Lai Sima, a Malagasy woman of Asian descent who lives in the nearby city of Mananjary, came to mine the area. Madagascar’s mining ministry shut down the operation, citing a lack of permits. The company has since submitted an application to the National Environment Office, but no permits have been issued, according to Hery Rajaomanana, the head of the office’s environmental impact unit. Yet at the fateful meeting three weeks ago, the company told the people of Vohilava, Raleva’s village, that the permits had been granted. When Raleva demanded to see them, he was arrested, and has been locked up ever since.

“He should not have to spend one night in jail,” Tamara Léger, who runs the Madagascar desk for Amnesty International Southern Africa, told Mongabay.

But such is the life of an activist in Madagascar. In recent years, those fighting wildlife trafficking or land grabbing have, in the end, often been targeted by the government. “The criminal justice system is being used to silence and harass activists, instead of providing protection to their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and speech,” wrote Muleya Mwananyanda, deputy director for research at Amnesty International Southern Africa, in an email to Mongabay. [more]

Another Madagascar environmental activist imprisoned


  1. Anonymous said...

    The opening statement is accurate, but more accurate would be "In our world today, in all countries, speaking out against corporate wrongdoing or government corruption can be dangerous business."

    I'm running into that right here in Washington State. If you speak up - you are targeted. The State "prides" itself on promoting a clean, healthy environment, but it's a sham in reality. Activists are quickly targeted. We do not have any real protection. Industry still controls the Legislature, most of the media and a lot of the public opinion.

    It is already clear to me that people really do not understand the connection between environmental health and human health.

    The blame lies with education, media and government and media propaganda. The redefinition of words and their real meanings has been widely distorted to promote endless growth and green washing.

    There are also not enough brave people around to speak up - no matter what.  


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