Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Senegal

The Oakland Institute Team

21st October 2016

Turning the Tide in Ethiopia

Miracle or Mirage report cover.

Mass protests have spread across Ethiopia, and the world is finally paying attention. From the heroic actions of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa, to a growing consensus for justice and democracy, to the introduction of a new House Resolution on human rights in Ethiopia, it is clear that momentum is gaining and change is afoot, even as the repressive government imposes a state of emergency.

Yet, the US continues to hold Ethiopia up as a model economy. Our latest report debunks this myth and explains how authoritarian development schemes perpetuate cycles of poverty and food insecurity, while marginalizing vulnerable citizens. As the largest country donor to Ethiopia, the US must re-examine its stance on Ethiopia’s economic development, and acknowledge the long-lasting devastating impacts that this model will have.

US Bullying in Cameroon

Four years ago, the Oakland Institute exposed the illegal practices of Herakles Farms, a US-based company that was set to receive a 99-year lease for 73,000 ha of Cameroonian forest. Its plan? To transform pristine rainforest into a palm oil plantation.

Our research and advocacy have paid off—in 2013, Herakles Farms’ lease was significantly reduced. This November, the reduced lease is up for re-negotiation. On the eve of those negotiations, we released a new report exposing that US government officials pressured Cameroon into accepting this devastating deal. We are now working to hold the US government accountable for these actions.

Justice for IDPs in Sri Lanka

In September, Anuradha Mittal presented the findings of the Institute’s field research at a United Nations Human Rights Council parallel event. Anuradha’s remarks shed light on the ongoing plight of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) in Sri Lanka, and were heard by the office of the UN High Commissioner and the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, among others.

Days before the event, the US and UN praised the Sri Lankan government for its work towards reconciliation. With tens of thousands still displaced seven years after the war, these accolades are not only misplaced, but they send the message that human rights abuses in the country can continue consequence free. We are urging the US and other international leaders to demand the full resettlement of all IDPs in Sri Lanka, along with the demilitarization of the North.

Senegal: Agro-pastoralists Reclaim Their Land!

Women of Ngnith collect water in the early morning. Impeding access to water is one way Senhuile restricts village life in Ndiael.

Senegalese agro-pastoralists are fighting back, and winning.

In 2012, foreign-owned Senhuile SA obtained a 50-year lease to 20,000 ha of land in Senegal, threatening the livelihoods of over 9,000 pastoralists. The Institute’s 2014 report brought international attention to the project and was used in local and international campaigns against it. This summer, after news that Senhuile’s lease area would be cut in half, pastoralists mobilized to reclaim their land. This action kick-started negotiations with authorities, and the pastoralists expect to soon begin grazing their cattle and cultivating their land once again. The pastoralists’ groundswell resistance inspires and encourages us in our work in service of grassroots mobilizations!

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