Voices of the People

Photo: Conor Ashleigh http://conorashleigh.com

“I am here to talk about the adverse effects of oil palm plantation in my community, in the Kalangala district in Buggla island, in Uganda. The oil palm cultivation involves 10,000 hectares of natural forests and grasslands that have been traditionally used by communities. The project is undertaken by the Government of Uganda, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Malaysian investors. This project has led to the taking over of community lands, the loss of communal resources like medicinal herbs, water, firewood, cultural sites and undermined food security.”
– Winfred Nyirahabinneza, Uganda

Photo: Conor Ashleigh http://conorashleigh.com

“I am here to speak about forests and territories. For the Mayan indigenous peoples, forests are indivisible from territories. When we defend territories, we are defending the forests. When we talk about forests, we are also talking about the water that gives life. Therefore, we demand to be consulted by those big companies that would like to undertake projects on our territories be they mining or building a dam across rivers in order to draw water from them. This is one way we defend our territories – our response must be sought first before anything starts at all.   When communities decide against a project, we will also raise our voices to the government and the United Nations. This is the way we shall exercise our collective rights.”
– Alfonso Morales, Guatemala

Photo: Conor Ashleigh http://conorashleigh.com

“I am here to convey the struggles of indigenous peoples in Sarawak who have been demanding that their customary rights are respected and that the government recognises our close connection to forests and biodiversity. Our forests and our rights are being constantly violated in favour of timber companies, plantations, and dam projects. So we are rapidly losing our forests and biodiversity resources as well as land, livelihoods, food, medicines, cultural sites and heritage.”
– Jok Jau Evong, Sarawak

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