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His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone: We call on you to free the six Land Rights Activists of Maloa

His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone: We call on you to free the six Land Rights Activists of Maloa

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This petition has been created by Green S. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Green S.
started this petition to
His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone
What happened?

Thursday 4th February 2016 was a dark moment for all Sierra Leonean land owners and users who try to defend their right to land and livelihood against large scale land acquisition as six anti-land grabbing activists were sent from the High Court directly into prison. Since 16th October 2013 Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa, Lahai Sellu and the former Member of Parliament, Honorable Shiaka Musa Sama had faced an ongoing trial on orchestrated charges of incitement, conspiracy to commit a crime and the destruction of 40 growing plants of Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone (SAC SL). Right from the start, all of the now convicted had pleaded not guilty.

“The six have done nothing wrong, that’s why I cannot believe that justice was denied today. How can you pay a meagre two US Dollars per acre of land per year and don't expect people to speak up”, says one of the women who lost their land in Pujehun District.

We need your support!

Stand up for justice by signing our petition today! Help us free Shiaka Musa Sama, Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu who stood up for their right to land and livelihood as executive members of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA). Herewith, we ask His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to release Shiaka Musa Sama, Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu from prison and to cancel the payment of any fines.

UPDATE Musa Sellu, Foday Musa & Lahai Sellu are free -On May 3 2016 Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu were released from prison. Therewith, the fundraising campaign for the MALOA-6 has come to a successful end.

UPDATE Kinnie James Blango is free
- On March 23 2016 Kinnie James Blango was released from prison. Thanks go to all the people supporting the ongoing fundraising campaign. Musa Sellu, Foday Musa, Lahai Sellu are still in prison. Learn more about our fundraising campaign at the end of this petition.

UPDATE Sima Mattia is frees - On March 16 2016 Sima Mattia was released from prison. Due to successful fundraising activities, we were able to pay his fine of 30,000,000 Leones (over $5,000). Now it is time to free the remaining four! To learn more about our fundraising campaign, see information at the end of the petition.

UPDATE Shiaka Musa Sama is free -
On February 24 2016, Shiaka Musa Sama was released from prison. People around the globe have shown their solidarity and their readiness to help others. On these grounds, a strong Civil Society Network of Sierra Leonean and international partners under the lead of the Non-Governmental Organisation Green Scenery succeeded in bringing together 72,000,000 Leones ($13,000). By request of the MALOA-people, this money was used to free Shiaka Musa Sama. After the payment of 60,000,000 Leones, 138,000,000 Leones ($25,000) are still missing to redeem the remaining five prisoners. If you want to support the fundraising, please find all necessary information below.

You want to learn more?

Since 2011, members of MALOA have been resisting the taking of their land in Pujehun District by SAC SL, which was realised in collusion with the authorities of the Malen Chiefdom and the State. From the day the organisation started its resistance, Members of MALOA have been in the courts of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, land owners have repeatedly been threatened by police brutality through which communities also lost valuable household and farming items.

The six land owners and executive members of MALOA now convicted have been perpetually intimidated by powerful authorities at the Chiefdom and national level. They have practically been kept in the courts to quiet them and to instill fear not only in them but in the entire membership of MALOA and moreover in other land owners who are quietly suffering from a lack of land to support their livelihood as a result of large scale acquisitions of land for agricultural and mining businesses all over the country.

Many homes in Malen Chiefdom have been shattered due to a lack of basic conditions that could otherwise have been obtained from farming on the land for which SAC SL is paying only $5 per acre per year. Of this sum land owners only receive 50 %. Today, many children in Malen Chiefdom have ceased going to school, as families can no longer afford the fees.

The six anti-land grabbing activists Shiaka Musa Sama, Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu were all found guilty to all of the counts under which they were charged. Five of them now have to pay thirty million leones (over $5,000) each or to stay in jail for five months. As MALOA’s spokesperson, Shiaka Musa Sama is asked to pay sixty million Leones (over $10,000) in order not to spend six months in prison. Therewith, the High Court imposed a sentence that was very much consistent with SAC SL’s estimated value of the destroyed trees. Despite the fact that they only paid one million Leones (less than $200) for each acre of 60 palm trees in Malen Chiefdom, the company valued the 40 destroyed trees at two hundred million Leones ($36,000).

As a Non-Governmental Organisation, Green Scenery is committed to the defense of basic human rights, the promotion of environmental protection and the development of sustainable agriculture in Sierra Leone. We stood and we stand side by side with MALOA and we believe that these six brave anti-land grabbing activists have no case to answer and that they must therefore be released immediately. “They do not belong into prison. They should be free to continue advocating for their tenure rights and their right to live a dignified life. If they remain imprisoned then injustice has won over justice and those who struggle for the rights of the voiceless are fighting a losing battle”, says Green Scenery’s Executive Director Joseph Rahall.

Green Scenery and MALOA both are members of the Action for Large scale Land Acquisition Transparency (ALLAT). ALLAT was established in 2012 to ensure a transparent and accountable land governance system in Sierra Leone.

For further information:

MALOA on Facebook – www.facebook.com/MALOAPujehun/
Green Scenery – www.greenscenery.org
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/sierra-leone/2016/02/d23608/.


Have your financial share in freeing the MALOA-6!

Thank you for your interest - the fundraising campaign is over.
After the payment of their fines, Shiaka Musa Sama, Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu are back with their families in Malen Chiefdom.

The petition signatures will be handed over to the Government in June 2016 in order to advertise for the reactivation of a constructive mediation process between the Government, SOCFIN and the affected communities.

YOU ARE STILL INVITED TO SIGN THE PETITION!