A victory for Avaaz!
The Avaaz campaign to stop the eviction of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land has paid off!
The intended plans
Government officials in Tanzania had planned to annex 1,500 sq km bordering the Serengeti national park for a “wildlife corridor” that would benefit a luxury hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates. This would have resulted in the eviction of over 40,000 Masai pastoralists from their ancestral land to make way for this big game hunting reserve for Dubai’s royal family.
This controversial action has been attempted before — the last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land.
Avaaz takes action
This time round, Avaaz took action to create the media controversy that the Maasai needed. Now, after 18 months of co-ordinated protests that included a global petition signed by more than 1.7 million people, Avaaz and their activists claim victory! The ‘Stop the Serengeti Sell-off’ petition attracted over $1.7 million signatures and led to targeted email and Twitter protests. Avaaz rallied the international media, getting CNN and Al Jazeera to visit the area and break the story to the world, and Avaaz members funded hard-hitting adverts in local papers calling out the government. Finally, in late September, the Tanzanian Prime Minister visited the area and told the Maasai that the President had confirmed that they would not be evicted.
The Maasai are waiting to get this in writing, but the commitment to end the conflict is a huge breakthrough that many said would be impossible. You can read more about their story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/07/tanzania-maasai-serengeti-wildlife-corridor
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