Target: Equatorial Palm Oil Chairman Michael Frayne
Goal: Stop palm oil company from abusing the rights of the indigenous peoples of Liberia by developing their land without consent
Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) is a major producer of palm oil, a popular vegetable oil. EPO has developed land in Liberia for its plantations, but has not followed proper procedure as laid out by Liberia’s 2009 Community Right’s Law, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) Principles and Criteria, and international human rights laws. This company has already cleared community land and planted palm oil on 89,000 hectares without the consent of the indigenous people living there. Now EPO is planning to do the same thing to the Jogbahn Clan by clearing 80,000 hectares of their land without consent.
This development is clearly in violation of the laws listed above, which require the right to prior consent by the indigenous people who live on the land. The Jogbahn Clan have not consented to the development of their land, but EPO has still gone ahead with studies of the land in preparation for clearing.
However, the Jogbahn Clan is not going down without a fight. With the help of the Liberian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Sustainable Development Initiative, citizens of the 11 villages from the Jogbahn Clan filed a complaint to the RSPO about the EPO’s expansion of plantations onto their land. A coalition of NGOs, including Global Witness, Friends of the Earth, FERN, Save my Future Foundation, Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development, and Sustainable Development Institute, have backed the Jogbahn Clan by issuing a press release accusing EPO of human rights abuses in its operations in Liberia.
Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor, a campaigner for the Sustainable Development Institute said, “Equatorial Palm Oil must listen to the Jogbahn Clan and accept that their ‘no’ means ‘no’. The continuing determination of these communities is a cautionary tale for corporations who think they can ignore communities’ rights and ownership of land.”
This community will not give up their land easily, but they need our help to protect their unalienable rights. As Chief Elder Chio Johnson of the Jogbahn said, “The land gives us everything. We come from this land. Everything our ancestors left us is preserved in the forest, so why should we give it up?” Help the Jogbahn Clan keep their land and stop EPO from violating the rights of indigenous people purely for profit by signing the petition below.
Dear Mr. Frayne,
Your company, Equatorial Palm Oil, practices despicable policies in its development in Liberia. You are violating the rights of the indigenous people by clearing community land without their consent. You are disregarding the rights of the Jogbahn Clan by ignoring the fact that they have not consented for your company to destroy their ancestral land and continuing to move ahead with your plans for development.
You have no right to these lands—they are owned by the people who have lived there for hundreds of years. By ignoring their wishes for you to leave them in peace, you treat them as if they are not even human. If someone tried to take your home and land without your permission, you would list your rights immediately and declare the injustice being done to you. Do these people deserve treatment you would be appalled to receive? Do they have fewer rights than you because of the way that they live?
You are despicable in the way you conduct your business and I will not stand by as you destroy these people’s lives and livelihood just for profit. I demand that you stop destroying the land and violating the rights of the Jogbahn Clan, and all other indigenous people, for your blinding and inhumane greed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ailey Kaiser Hughes via Creative Commons