‘International support is what gives us strength’
‘It’s very hard,’ Holly Rakotondralambo told me before the start of last night’s public meeting in London about tar sands mining in Madagascar and Canada. ‘We only have seven people in our organisation. We are like a family.’
Holly and her little ‘family’ have their work cut out. They’re trying to stop French oil company Total destroying the land and stealing the water supplies of hundreds of thousands of people in Melaky, one of the poorest regions of Madagascar.
As she told the audience last night, Total is already test mining in the area. Yet neither Total nor the government of Madagascar have consulted the local people on whose land the company wants to mine.
Total is receiving corporate finance from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Holly will carry home to Madagascar the words of Sue Deranger, from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Canada, who also spoke at last night’s event. Sue’s community is 252 kilometres downstream from the tar sands mine in Alberta – the largest industrial project on earth. Her people have been devastated by pollution from the tar sands far upriver.
‘We can no longer swim in the water. We can no longer drink the water. We can no longer eat the animals or the fish,’ said Sue.
But Holly and Sue are both determined that what happened in Alberta should not be allowed to happen anywhere else on earth.
And since UK taxpayers own more than 80% of RBS, there is plenty that people in this country can do to help them.
Holly and her little ‘family’ are not alone. ‘We have a network of organisations in Madagascar, which makes us stronger,’ she says. ‘And international support gives us further strength.’
Miriam is media officer at WDM, and works to generate as much coverage as possible for our campaigns.