An Update on the Madagascar Crisis

An update can be found here. One of the more disturbing items is this:

We have also recently discovered that large-scale, organized bushmeat hunting is being conducted in old-growth rainforests near and within the newly protected area of Makira. Under the control of an individual who claims huge tracts of rainforest as his own, every type of lemur in the area–including indris and the highly endangered silky sifaka–are hunted down by packs of trained dogs and killed. The meat is smoked on site and sold throughout the region–even as far away as the nation’s capital city, Antananarivo.

Apparently the wood being cut down in these areas is being sold to China, and of course the people actually doing the hard work are being ruthlessly exploited:

Villagers participating in the logging risk their lives and are exploited shamelessly by the mafia. Villagers receive as little as US$2.50 (2€) per day to drag logs miles out of the jungle–logs weighing an average of 200 kg each, with some weighing more than a ton. In Antalaha, Sambava or Vohémar, these same logs have fetched up to US$11 (8.50€) per kg for the local mafia and foreign profiteers (primarily from China).

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  1. Further the killings of protesters in Madagascar on 28 March 2009
    PRESS RELEASE FROM « THE ASSOCIATION OF MALAGASY PATRIOTS »
    (« COLLECTIF DES TIA TANIN DRAZANA MALAGASY »)
    collectifgtt@gmail.com
    A huge demonstration at Ambohijatovo Park on 28th March 2009 : 8 killed and 30 odd seriously injured
    So far, we have always believed that there was no scale of barbarity, but what has occurred today in Antananarivo proved us wrong. While more than 50 000 peaceful demonstrators gathered in the Ambohijatovo park (whic is not a no-go area), a recurring event since Andry Rajoelina seized power by force, mutinous soldiers obeying Rajoelina’s orders made no bones about using live munitions and shooting at the surrounded crowd who were only asking for the return of the constitutional order and for the respect for democracy. In fact, this autocratic power is showing day after day its true face reflecting the image of the would be president who can exert his authority only by using force.
    At the moment we are writing these lines the death toll is appalling : 8 dead, two of them were Members of Parliament.
    As members of the Association of Malagasy patriots we hold that those killings are a further proof of the nature of that power in keeping with Andry Rajoelina who used weapons and henchmen to carry out his coup.
    We also call for France to stop using an ambiguous language for it is deeply involved in those misdeeds, as proof, French elements were seen by the crowd in the scuffles, pursuing, with some mutinous military collaborating with that power, the demonstrators.
    Therefore, we strongly blame France in its involvement in these troubles in Madagascar and we urge the French media to show lucidity and fairness : oddly enough they were not present during today’s demonstration whereas they covered other troubles shaking Antananarivo re’cently or in the past..
    We do make it a principle that, henceforward, we will give a specific wide airing to the events in Madagascar.
    Given the seriousness of the events which have taken a heavy toll of human life,certainly the Malagasy people cannot put up with such provocations and those attacks on unarmed civilians will result in making the Malagasy people angrier, and theirs claims for the return of legality and for the respect for democracy more radical.
    After wielding power for one week, the only achievement of the puppet government is to cause thousands and thousand of Malagasy to take the streets in Antananarivo, leading to today’s crisis. Unsurprisingly, the meeting, which has become a daily happening, is gathering more and more people ; since las Thursday school and university students, and civil servants have joined the peaceful and nonviolent movement.
    In a context of general defiance, not to mention the non-recognition by most of the world’s Governments, except France, and by international Organisations of this regime guilty of a democratic hold-up, and with a general strike looming ahead as soon as next week, the only possible solution is the standing down of the would-be president Andry Rajoelina, and the return to power of a democratically elected president, Marc Ravalomanana. If France wants to do the Malagasy people a good turn, let her repatriate her peculiar protégé Andry Rajoelina, who is a French national.
    In any case, we do take exception to the biased and unfair way in which the events in Madagascar have been dealt with, so far by the media. We are convinced that the French people do not realize what their leaders are up to in Africa. We believe that Mr Sarkozy’s recent visit to Niger and DRC are disguised way to make amends in the eyes of the French people and to ease his conscience about the terrorist acts being carried out in Madagascar.

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