Farmer not ‘qualified’ to speak on destruction of his livelihood, says government

7 April 2017 - 11:00am
Press release

The Home Office has denied a visa to a Madagascan farmer due to speak in London about the environmental and social impact of Rio Tinto’s QMM mineral sands mine and its ‘biodiversity offset’ scheme on his community.  

Athanase Monja applied for a visa to attend the annual general meeting of Rio Tinto to be held in London on 12 April 2017.

Athanase, supported by London Mining Network, Re:Common, Andrew Lees Trust, Friends of the Earth and War on Want, intended to present a list of demands from his community to the Rio Tinto board, stating the human costs of the company’s ‘conservation’ efforts.

In response, Sebastian Muñoz, Senior International Programmes Officer (Latin America) at War on Want, said:

"This is outrageous. Athanase has been a farmer all his life, he is witnessing first-hand the destruction of his community’s land and livelihoods at the hands of so-called conservation initiatives by Rio Tinto, and yet the UK government claims he is not qualified to speak on human rights and the environment.

"Athanase has had to deal with the loss of his community’s land on two occasions – because of the mine’s operations and now due to the biodiversity offsetting scheme – and as if that wasn’t enough, he is now told that his ordeal and testimony is not worthy on UK shores.  The UK government ought to be ashamed."

Biodiversity offsetting – a scheme increasingly used by the extractive industries as part of their corporate social responsibility portfolios – argues that while a mine can be destructive to local biodiversity, that these impacts can be ‘offset’ by preserving another similar natural area.  

The schemes do nothing to address the environmental destruction of the initial project, they falsely legitimize their destruction, and in the case of QMM, near Fort Dauphin in the Southeast of Madagascar, serve to undermine land sovereignty amongst local communities.

 

Notes to editors

For more information and interviews contact Ross Hemingway on +44 (0)7983 550728

The Times: Setback for farmer in fight against mining firm

Latest news

War on Want responds to Bangladesh Accord settlement

23 January 2018 - 3:00pm

News broke on Monday that, after a two year arbitration process, unions representing Bangladeshi textile workers reached a $2.3m settlement with a multinational apparel brand over delays to fixing hazards on factory sites. Our Senior International Programmes Officer for Asia and the Pacific, Thulsi Narayanasamy, responds:

Read more

War on Want events for Annual Israeli Apartheid Week 2018

18 January 2018 - 2:00pm

War on Want is proud to be co-sponsoring an exciting array of events for Israeli Apartheid Week across the UK:

Remi Kanazi 2018 UK tour and Sounds of Resistance: Benjamin Zephaniah, Tamer Nafar, Remi Kanazi, DJ Hilwi, and more!

 

Read more

Join the conversation

Solidarity with @AmnestyUK for its decision not to host an organisation which actively supports illegal settlements… https://t.co/mtvlBjfkpr 3 hours 50 min ago
TOMORROW: First screening of Paradises of the Earth at SOAS –documenting environmental injustice sites in #Tunisia,… https://t.co/IYdDFp3FKj 5 hours 44 min ago
MEP claims that UK already agreed in principle to Norway-style #Brexit transition period https://t.co/9idIjr6MfY #Trade 6 hours 33 min ago