Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Corporate Intimidation, Lawsuits, Arrests and Violent Attacks

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 Farms is developing a controversial 20,000 ha oil palm plantation. 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.” Nasako's court case begins on February 25, 2014 and he could face up to 6 months imprisonment and $4,000 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.” Nasako and four colleagues are also 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 environment since last September.

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