“We were suffering, we didn’t know our rights, but since Green Advocates came, our eyes have opened and we now know our rights to stand up for our land.” – Quita George, head of the women’s group in Dokai Ta, one of the affected towns near the SRC’s gigantic plantation.
In addition to holding “concession of over 40,000 hectares in central Liberia,” Salala Rubber Corporation merged with a rubber processing factory named Weala Rubber Company in 2007. In 2008, Salala Rubber Corporation (SRC) received a 10 million USD loan from the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to expand its rubber plantation. In practice, this expansion means evicting the residents and destroying their farmlands. In 2019, GAI and her partners—Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD), the Natural Resources Women Platform, and Yeagbamah National Congress for Human Rights, filed a complaint with the IFC against SRC. The plaintiffs in this complaint alleged that SRC used this loan “to evict them from their ancestral land without Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC),” thus violating the IFC’s policy, according to scholars. In order to keep these involved residents stay updated with the status of this complaint, Green Advocates International (GAI) would hold meetings to do just that in which these meetings “were also intended for GAI to understand the impact of COVID-19 on local communities” and to enable Nasako Besingi, award-winning Cameroonian environmental and human rights activist, to provide his experiences on how communities can come together and fight multinational corporations whose intentions are to deprive them of their land rights and exploit the lands.
In addition to the attacks and violence that arose as a response to the meetings between GAI staff and the residents to stay updated about the status of the IFC’s complaint, there have also been series of contentions that SRC failed to compensate for the damaged crops and the lack of farmlands for local communities to cultivate. In emphasizing that “farming is a source of income for local community members,” David Somo, a 75 year-old man of Monkey Tail Town (one of the 22 affected communities) said that, “We are suffering here. This is not the original Monkey Tail Village. The company evicted us from our own village and the person who opened this village allowed us to stay here”. Other residents, namely Nora Massa, a youthful resident, also explained her difficulties in finding jobs and not having access to education due to financial crisis as a result of SRC’s destruction of the communities’ farmlands: “We were born and raised in this town but we are not going to school. Before we work, except they have sex with us. If we disagree, we will not work.” In addition, “We want our land back so our parents can use it to farm in order to send us to school for a better future. Because for now, we are suffering and there is no hope,” she lamented.
- Source: frontpageafricaonline.com