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Execution of Local Communities In the Name of Conservation

Hundreds of campaigners recently called on the Prime Minister of Swaziland to uphold the rights of local communities evicted from their land and intimidated in the name of conservation. We now await the government's response.

 

stomach
This man is from Musa's community. His stomach was burnt by Big Game Park rangers because he refused to point out people who had been poaching.

In early September we created a cyberaction calling on the Prime Minister of Swaziland and other powerful figures in Swaziland to arrest the killers of Musa Gamedze and give access to justice for all other victims of abuse, torture and killings by Big Game Parks in the name of conservation.

 

So many people took part in action that the government shut down the email addresses we were using.

 

Friends of the Earth Swaziland will soon be handing over the names of everyone who took part in action, in the form of a petition, and demanding a response from the Prime Minister.

 

To find out more about the fate of Musa Gamedze and his community read on.

 

 



Justice for Musa Gamedze

On 8th August 2008 a young Swazi man, Musa Gamedze, was hunted down and executed in broad daylight at his home, in full view of his children.  According to eyewitness reports the man who fired the fatal shot was the General Manager of a local private game reserve, Mkhaya, accompanied by three police officers.  

 

BGP owns and manages Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Nature Reserve.  It also manages Hlane National Park, the country’s largest protected area, held in trust for the Nation by the King.  

 

Musa Gamedze was part of a community that was forcibly evicted, without compensation, by Big Game Parks (BGP) from land they had lived on for more than four decades.  The community is still resettling and struggling to rebuild their livelihoods.  Their new home is over 10km away from Mkhaya Game Reserve and the time of the shooting Musa had just returned to visit his three young children.

 

Musa Gamedze is not the only one to suffer at the hands of BGP.  Many others have been killed or left crippled in suspicious circumstances.  The police and the parks rangers, when not denying responsibility, cite poaching as the reason for the attacks.  

 

Whilst there have been reports of game poaching by the residents of the neighbouring communities, these are understood to be mainly subsistence in nature with some resulting from farmers defending their crops against marauding game from the nature reserves.

 

In 2005 Friends of the Earth Swaziland published a research report into the conflicts arising from the management of protected areas.  It exposed numerous cases of human rights abuses which were alleged to have been committed in the name of conservation by game rangers and put forward various recommendations.  These include the urgent repeal of section 23 of the Game Act, used by perpetrators of these human rights abuses to avoid prosecution.

 

Three years after this report the situation is critical.

 

justice for musa gamdeze

The speedy and widespread response to this action – 913 people took part – had government ministers closing down their email addresses. However a large number of messages got through to their targets, demanding justice for Musa Gamedze, a man killed by game wardens for 'trespassing' on land that his community had lived on for forty years before being forcibly evicted. During the course of the cyberaction, Friends of the Earth Swaziland were invited to meet some of the ministers targeted in the action (the meeting did not through due to the dissolution of the government); their director was invited to present the campaign at a workshop for new female MPs; and they were invited to participate in a national TV debate regarding the ongoing game reserve conflicts. When the time is right, FoE Swaziland plans to join up with a women's movement to deliver the cyberaction names to the Prime Minister.
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