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Cameroonians rally to demand EU stop deforestation for rubber

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Photo: Baka Indigenous woman in protest. Credit: Greenpeace Africa

More than 30 young Cameroonian activists crowded in front of the headquarters of the European Union Delegation in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, this morning to demand the end of the EU support for rubber originating from rainforest destruction. The mobilization took place while the European Commission in Brussels is drawing up the articles of a new law on commodities linked to deforestation and forest degradation.

“Cameroonians rally today for a bold EU policy: rubber products linked to deforestation must be kept out of the European market. Europeans cannot vote with one hand for a Green New Deal and use the other one to buy commodities or finance plantations that erase our forests and displace our people,” said Nkolo Thade, a Baka indigenous leader who spoke at the rally.

The rally marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, after 10,000 hectares of rainforest in the South of Cameroon (an area about the size of Paris) were trashed by the multinational rubber company Halcyon Agri and the previous owner of its local subsidiary Sudcam. This operation, from 2011 to 2018, resulted in the displacement of Baka Indigenous People and the threatening of the Dja Faunal Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[1] Demands for restoration of the forest and compensation of the Baka community have been consistently flouted by Halcyon Agri’s management.

Nevertheless, rubber from plantations such as this is being processed and marketed undisturbed to markets around the world, including the EU’s. Furthermore, European banks are financing such plantations: in July 2020, Deutsche Bank’s scandalously described a $25 million loan to Halcyon Agri as a “sustainability loan.” For over a year, the bank has refused to reconsider its loan after Greenpeace Africa and Greenpeace Germany have shared reports concerning its client’s human rights violations, environmental crimes, and lack of transparency.[2] 

“The people in the EU unwittingly consume rubber from deforestation areas, and EU banks are financing the land grabs. If the rubber industry gets away with trashing our rainforest, it will continue to do so with rainforests everywhere,” said Marie Grace Ngo, a Cameroonian activist from Greenpeace Africa and a student at the Institut des Relations Internationales du Cameroun (IRIC).

While youth activists rally today, the Greenpeace European Unit and Greenpeace Africa handed over a letter to the ambassador of the EU delegation in Yaoundé, calling for the adoption of ambitious and effective legislation on forest-and-ecosystem-risk commodities (FERCs). 

New EU legislation is urgently needed to regulate the placing of forest-and-ecosystem-risk commodities on the EU market. Greenpeace Africa calls to include natural rubber as a key risk commodity in the upcoming EU law to halt deforestation and forest degradation driven by EU consumption. 

Greenpeace demands:

  • Sustainability requirements for all risk commodities – including meat, soy, palm oil, and rubber – must address human rights impacts, deforestation, forest degradation, and the conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems other than forests. 
  • The new legislation should apply to natural rubber as a key forest and ecosystem risk commodity in particular and set sustainability requirements for all forest and ecosystem risk commodities and products placed on the EU market, and address human rights impacts, deforestation, forest degradation, and the conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems other than forests;
  • The new law should cover the financial sector, obliging financial actors to abide by due diligence obligations and sustainability requirements equivalent to those for commodities and products;
  • Finally, it must establish requirements for supply chain transparency and traceability, as well as a comprehensive enforcement framework as laid out in this briefing by the Greenpeace European Unit [3]. 

Notes

[1] Greenpeace Africa, Sudcam’s Assault on Human Rights, November 2019; Greenpeace Africa, Ruinous Rubber, July 2018.

[2] UNESCO, Rapport de la mission de conseil d’experts indépendants de l’UNESCO à la Réserve de faune du Dja (Cameroun), 18 February – 4 March 2019; Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK), Palmed Off: an Investigation into three industrial Palm Oil and Rubber Projects in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, May 2019; Earthsight, Cameroon women denounce “destruction” of forests and community by agribusiness giants, April 2020; The Coming Storm: How Secrecy and Collusion in Industrial Agriculture Spell Disaster for the Congo Basin’s Forest, March 2018; Norway Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) Annual Report, February 27, 2019; Rainforest Foundation Norway, Press Release: Norway’s Government Pension Fund acts against deforestation: divests major agricultural companies, February 28, 2019; CIFOR, Socioecological responsibility and Chinese overseas investments The case of rubber plantation expansion in Cameroon, 2015.

[3] Greenpeace European Unit, A new EU Law to protect the World’s Forests, August 2020.

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The importance of Iran’s membership in the SCO

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The members of Majlis (the Parliament) have approved the emergency of the plan of Iran’s commitments to achieve the position of a member state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), – informs IRNA from Tehran.

The  emergency plan was endorsed with 161 votes in favor, two against, and three abstentions.

Ali Adyani, the deputy vice president for parliamentary affairs, said that the plan was proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was endorsed by the cabinet members, and sent to parliament to become law.

According to the official, Iran’s membership in the SCO is of great importance in terms of economic, social, and international affairs particularly because the opportunity would help the Islamic Republic get rid of illegal sanctions and enhance economic diplomacy.

Iran has been an observer of the SCO since 2005. Then, President Ebrahim Raisi called for full membership of the Islamic country in the organization in its last summer summit in Tajikistan.

The legislators have accepted to speed up scrutinizing the plan. Earlier, the Iranian parliament had endorsed the plan of accession of the Islamic Republic to the SCO.

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Sabah: ‘The Americans have deceived themselves, the Europeans and Ukraine’

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The US is repeating the same mistakes as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Now – in Ukraine. So it seems inevitable that Washington will face another setback as a result of its ideological obsession, – writes prominent Turkish observer Bercan Tutar at “Sabah” newspaper.

Having suffered a complete failure in the Middle East wars, the Americans sent to Ukraine not only their ineffective weapons, but also their inadequate thoughts and strategies. But no matter what they do, their chances of defeating Russia are very slim.

The 330th day of the war, which began on February 24, 2022, has already been completed. After a short retreat, Russia began redeployment. However, the fact that Russia abandoned the siege of Kyiv and focused on control over Russian-speaking regions led Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and the United States to false conclusions.

Encouraged by Russia’s cautious military actions, the United States applied its strategy in the war on terrorism in Ukraine and. According to American experts, the current US administration is following the deadly tracks of previous military propaganda in Ukraine, which proved unsuccessful in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While Russia is pursuing a military strategy that prioritizes its political goals, we see that the US is lacking in both military and political leadership. As soon as the war in Ukraine began, the first goal of the US was to rally its NATO allies against the Russian invasion. It was a smart strategy and it worked.

However, when the US reached the first target, a further one only increased its expectations. Russia was asked to leave not only Donetsk and Lugansk (Donbass), but also Crimea. Even further, the United States began to voice maximalist demands, such as regime change in Moscow. But it is absolutely clear that these demands can arise only in conditions of a total world war.

As a result, American fantasies lead Washington to attempt strategic suicide. The Americans have deceived themselves, the Europeans and Ukraine.

Russian leader Putin said on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the breaking of the blockade of Leningrad: “We tolerated it for a long time and tried to come to an agreement. As it has recently turned out, they were messing around with us; they were lying to us. This was not the first time this has happened to us. Yet we did everything in our power to settle the problem peacefully. It has become obvious now that it was an inherently impossible mission; the enemy was only preparing to bring this conflict to the hot phase. As I have said, there was no other way than to do what we are doing now.”

In short, some geopolitical officials in the US have dragged Zelensky into a ‘no-win war’ against a nuclear-armed Russia.

Now the world is focused on two options:

– either the US and its allies will perform a ‘miracle’ in Ukraine;

– or the Russians will crush Ukraine and then break the back of the NATO alliance.

Thus, the US strategic position in Europe will come to an end and a new world order will be born, perhaps with several centers of power outside of America.

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War games will take place off Durban between South Africa, China and Russia

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South Africa’s government has finally shown its colours by inviting Russia and China for war games next month, London’s ‘Daily Mail’ writes with indignation and indignation.

SA President Cyril Ramaphosa has ditched his supposed ‘neutrality’ to the war by hosting the naval drills off the country’s east coast near Durban and Richards Bay from February 17 to 27. The move is the strongest indication yet of the strengthening relationship between South Africa, and the anti-West authoritarian regimes of China and Russia.

The drills will take place around the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and bring more focus on the refusal of South Africa – a leading voice on its continent – to side with the West and condemn Russia’s actions. The South African government said last year it had adopted a neutral stance over Ukraine and called for dialogue and diplomacy.

But the upcoming naval drills have led the country’s main opposition party to accuse the government of effectively siding with Russia.

But the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which incorporates all of its armed forces, said next month’s naval exercise would ‘strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China’. The aim of the drills was ‘sharing operational skills and knowledge’, the SANDF said.

The three countries also conducted a similar naval exercise in 2019 in Cape Town, while Russia and China held joint naval drills in the East China Sea last month.

The United States and European Union had hoped South Africa would support the international condemnation of Russia and act as a leader for other nations in Africa. But, South Africa appealed to be one of several African countries to ‘abstain’ in a United Nations vote last year condemning Russia’s special military operation.

South Africa and Russia share a long history, after the Soviet Union gave support to the ANC in its fight to bring down apartheid, the regime of repression against the country’s black majority, writes London newspaper. (And we should remember, how the British destroyed the Boers’ Transvaal and the Orange Republic of the at the beginning of the 20th century, and planted the apartheid regime here).

Apartheid ended in 1994 when the ANC won the first democratic elections in South Africa and Nelson Mandela became president.

South Africa is also a member of BRICS, a bloc of emerging economies, alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China.

South Africa’s obligations with respect to sanctions relate only to those that are specifically adopted by the United Nations. Currently, there are no UN-imposed sanctions on the particular individual, they say in Pretoria.

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