BREAKING: GreenFaith Activists Summoned & Interrogated; Faith Communities Respond

People of Faith to Tanzania President, CNOOC, and Total CEOs: Stop harassing local EACOP opponents

Last week, ten of our GreenFaith Circle leaders in rural Tanzania were detained by police for three days. Their “crime”? They had met with Rev. Fletcher Harper, our Director, when he visited them in February to learn about their courageous work opposing the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. This harassment and intimidation is unjustified and wrong.

As if that wasn’t enough, their phones were also taken away, leaving them with no means of communication. Why? Because they spoke out peacefully and publicly about their opposition to a fossil fuel project that has taken away their homes and the land they farm to sustain their families.

Our Circle leaders’ faith gave them the courage to say no. Because of that, they were thrown into jail. In the face of a climate emergency, this repression of free speech is a disgrace. It needs to stop.

GreenFaith has responded by supporting these courageous people of faith and securing their release. Now, we are mounting an international effort to tell the Tanzanian government, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and TotalEnergies (the corporations behind the pipeline project) that we will not stand for this illegal, immoral behavior. We must ensure those who stand faithfully and courageously for a just climate future are protected.

In solidarity with religious and climate change organizations across East Africa, we express our profound concern and steadfast opposition to the escalating levels of harassment and intimidation to which our fellow people of faith are subjected for their peaceful, law-abiding opposition to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline.

We call on the government of Tanzania, CNOOC and TotalEnergies to bring an immediate and complete end to this reprehensible treatment of innocent persons. Details of a recent series of incidents are below, accompanied by the full list of our demands.

While we are from different religious backgrounds, we can state unequivocally that none of our faiths tolerate or condones such violent, immoral behavior.

More Context

The EACOP pipeline project spans 1443 km, running from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania. Due to the project’s inevitable effects on the environment, the insufficient compensation measures for the displaced populations, and livelihood losses, the contentious project has encountered strong resistance. The project’s compliance with human rights norms is in question due to recent intimidating instances.

On March 11th, 2024, nine Project-Affected Persons (PAPs) who are members of GreenFaith, a multi-religious climate justice organization, from Golimba and Diloda villages in Hanang District, Tanzania, reported to the District Commissioner’s office after receiving an official summons from the authorities on the 9th of March. They arrived to find police officers waiting for them. The PAPs were split up and interrogated for several hours. It has been reported to us that during these interrogations, they were asked why they are resisting and/or are opposed to the EACOP project, who is supporting them, and whether they know and/or are working with specific Tanzania Civil Society actors who have been working to shed light on the environmental harm and human rights violations associated with the EACOP project. When the PAPs arrived at the police station, officials took their phones away, and have not given them back to date.

They were subsequently released with instructions to report back to the Katesh police station on March 14th for further interrogation. The PAPs complied with the order and reported back to the police station on March 14th with a legal support team present. They were then told to report back on March 28th, 2024. As of today, no charges have been filed.

This incident follows a disturbing pattern of arbitrary arrests and intimidation aimed at individuals who express criticism of the EACOP project. Notably, a similar situation occurred in late 2023 when a Tanzanian activist was targeted and summoned to appear at the Stakishari police station in Dar es Salaam, upon returning from COP28.

We, people of faith and religious organizations, express our staunch opposition to the escalating intimidation of Project-Affected People (PAPs) and faith activists who are raising their voices against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Tanzania.

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