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Feb 14, 2013

Stop threats to Nigerian environmentalist Odey Oyama

by Denis Burke — last modified Feb 14, 2013 02:15 PM

odeyOdey Oyama, director of the Nigerian Rainforest Resource Development Centre (RRDC)  is facing threats to his life due to his advocacy on behalf of communities and against Wilmar International, one of the world’s largest palm oil corporations.  Wilmar has recently established a 50,000 hectare palm oil plantation in Cross-River State, Nigeria; Odey and RRDC say that the lands claimed by Wilmar belong to local farmers and lie within the boundaries of protected forests. The company has begun planting palm oil seedlings without conducting a proper Environmental Impact Assessment, and without consent from locals who claim rights to the land.


RRDC is on the eve of launching a lawsuit against both the company and the government due to Wilmar’s failure to comply with Nigerian laws. As a result of his advocacy, Odey has been placed on a government watch list – a recognized signal that his life could be under threat – and has been forced to flee his home.


Please click here to join us in calling for an end to threats against Odey Oyama and other Nigerian environmentalists. Alert Nigerian government officials that the world is watching: Odey Oyama’s safety must be guaranteed, and the company must comply with national and international law.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific (FoE APac): statement on the duplication of the Four Rivers Project in Thailand

by FoE APac — last modified Feb 14, 2013 11:30 AM
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Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific(FoE APac) is very much concerned that the Korean government is distorting the true consequences of the Korean Four Rivers Project to win a contract for a similar project in Thailand. It is also regrettable that South Korean environmental NGOs who have been critical of this project were described as "unpatriotic" and "anti-state" in a Korean Cabinet meeting last January 15th.

When FoE APac visited the Four Rivers Project construction sites on the South Han River on 30th of June, 2011, it was clear that the project had damaged the river ecology, blocking the river flow by constructing dams, and making the serpentine river a straight one.  Despite the  information circulated by the Korean government, we believe the dams cannot prevent floods or provide clean water.

Construction went ahead despite requests from FoE APac for the suspension of the project.  We learned that the Korean government is now chasing another contract for a similar water management project in Thailand, despite the ecological impact of the  Four Rivers Project.  The Four Rivers Project was nothing but the destruction of the river ecosystem due to unnecessary construction, which was obfuscated by supposed benefits such as flood control, improvement of water quality, securing water supply, job creation and so on.

Thailand is our neighbor in Asia Pacific, with high riverine biodiversity, and we are concerned that the model of the Four Rivers Project may cause severe damage to Thailand’s  rivers and ecosystem, and neighboring countries on the Mekong.

FoE APac is also worried about the suppression of civil society voices in Korea in this regard. Last January 15th when there was a Cabinet meeting, President Myeongbak Lee said that it is obviously "unpatriotic" and "anti-state" for some NGOs to hinder efforts by Korean companies to win the Thailand contract.  This is an attempt to politically constrain our collaborative response – the natural duty of environmental organizations – to environmental problems, whose impacts spread beyond national borders.

We further request that the Korean government stop citing the Four Rivers Project as a great achievement and stop promoting this ecosystem-destruction model to other Asia Pacific countries.  We appeal to the President of South Korea not to block the voice of civil society who are searching for the truth. FoE APac stands with Korean civil society.