Stop Reported Human Rights Abuses Toward Indigenous Groups

Target: Carter Roberts, President and CEO of Worldwide Fund for Nature

Goal: Stop funding “eco-guards” who are reportedly committing human rights abuses against indigenous groups in Africa.

Park guards funded by conservation groups are committing repressive and violent crimes against African forest dwellers, according to a new United Nations report. These “eco-guards,” funded by Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), are reportedly arresting and displacing traditional indigenous groups under the guise of conservation.

In order to curb poaching and resource extraction, WWF began placing eco-guards throughout Africa. While WWF likely had good intention, the outcome has been harmful. In the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, there have been a number of reported abuses against the Baka people, or, members of a larger group that are sometimes referred to as pygmies. Guards have apparently routinely beat members of the community, burned down some of their camps, and limited their access to a proposed national park that is part of their ancestral homeland. In addition, guards are reportedly arresting natives under the wrongful accusation of poaching.

The Baka, along with other African indigenous groups suffering this apparent abuse, are not the ones responsible for overuse and extraction of resources or poaching. Indigenous groups traditionally practice sustainable management of their forests and hold centuries worth of traditional ecological knowledge. Anthropologist Jerome Lewis, who has lived with the Baka on and off over the last three decades, said that the solution is not to repress indigenous groups, but rather to empower them. “We need to empower local communities with the tools that allow them to monitor their forests, according to their values.” Sign below to demand that WWF de-fund eco-guards and instead work to empower indigenous communities to remain in their homeland and protect their resources, rather than outsourcing protection to armed men.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Roberts,

Though the idea to fund “eco-guards” was likely well-intentioned, they are now reportedly committing violent and repressive abuses against indigenous groups who are, quite frankly, not the problem.

These eco-guards are seemingly displacing indigenous groups from their ancestral homelands, distrusting their valuable ecological knowledge, beating them, burning their camps, and more. This is wildly unacceptable. The Baka, and other groups, must be empowered to remain in their homelands and protect their own resources. I demand that you de-fund these seemingly violent eco-guards in order to protect valuable indigenous communities.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steve Evans


One Comment

  1. Elizabeth Story says:

    This doesn’t align with what we expect from the WWF. Please address this situation by working for a solution with the indigenous population, otherwise your reputation will be damaged and donors will be loathe to support your cause.

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