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Rio Tinto in Madagascar: 15 activists arrested

Those dispossessed of their land by the Rio Tinto/QMM mining project in Taolagnaro (southeastern Madagascar) are asking for a fair compensation since 2010. Perle Zafinandro Fourquet and her friends created the “Fagnomba” association to defend the poor people in Taolagnaro. Their work has revealed the lack of permits for research on a future extraction site and contributed to the suspension of the work.

But during the week of March 11th, fifteen members of the Fagnomba organisation, including the president, Perle, were arrested and imprisoned in Taolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin). Their families confirm that they are still in prison at the moment.

Perle was arrested on March 11th and interviewed all night. She was brought before the judge on March 12th in the morning and was incarcerated at 01.00 pm. This mother of four children, two in infancy, presents no danger to society. She was put in jail to silence the claims of the association. Her arrest is a violation of fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of association. This detention is unreasonable, unjust and inhumane. It shocked the local people she has defended and the civil society in Madagascar. Her family and friends are very worried about her situation.

Currently, Fagnomba is fighting for:

– The recalculation of the compensation for the villagers expropriated from their land by the Rio Tinto/QMM mining project.

– The departure of the Chief of the Anosy Region (Rio Tinto QMM claims to have already paid compensation to the chief of the region but villagers have not yet been paid)

– Employment of more young people in the Anosy region. The Fagnomba members want Rio Tinto/QMM to hire more young people in the region. The cost of living has significantly increased due to the arrival of Rio Tinto. They recognize that most of the young people are unskilled, but they may nevertheless qualify for low-skilled jobs such as housekeeping, guards, or handlers. A lot of them have lost their jobs due to the mining. Traditional fishermen can no longer fish because of water pollution by discharges from mines.

For more info:

The facebook profil of the FAGNOMBA president:


  1. On Michel HEISERT said:

    Before she was arrested she spent 3 months hidden in her parent’s house and protected by friends because the chief of region threaten her. She is supported by lot of people, they want her to run for the next local election, it’s not the cup of tea of the chief of region who put her in jail.

  2. On Paul said:

    I cannot commeht on the justness of the land compensation, but I would like to make readers aware that there are two sides to every story. In the time that I have worked at QMM, I have seen Rio Tinto go out of their way to integrate the community and appease their often excessive demands.
    There is an army of cleaners, security guards and odd-jobers floating around the operation and more unskilled people can simply not be accommodated.
    The statement that the mine causes water pollution and reduces fishermen catch is absolutely inacccurate. Rio Tinto scientifically monitor their discharge into teh environment. Fishermen will always blame something new on declining catch. The fact is that the community has been overfishing, cutting virgin trees to make charcoal and generally been destroying the natural habitat long before the mine was contemplated.

  3. On V.D said:

    Dear Paul,
    Let me give you some information about the land compensation. According to the area chief for Anosy, 400 hectares of land were sold to build Rio Tinto/QMM’s mine in 2006. The plots went for between 100 and 6,000 Malagasy ariary (£0.02 and £1.65) per square kilometre to different owners. The first sellers now demand at least 3,000 Malagasy ariary per square metre.

    There is also a documentary released by the french TV France 3 showing fishermen in Fort-Dauphin complaining about their displacement and their exclusion from the Port. They have also warned about the danger of the area where they have to fish now. They talked about the death of around 35 fishermen since they were displaced.

    When you say community has been overfishing, cutting virgin trees to make charcoal and generally been destroying the natural habitat long before the mine was contemplated, you are probably right. Some scientists say that it is wrong.
    But even if it is right, Rio Tinto and the Malagasy Government should debate with local people and take in account the social demand for more equity, mor ejustice and more information about the environmental impacts of the project.

  4. On V.D said:

    Happy to tell you that PERLE and all the FAGNOMBA members are free after 50 days in prison!!!

  5. On V.D said:

    Happy to tell you that after 50 days in jail, PERLE and all the FAGNOMBA members are free since this afternoon.

    Thanks to EJOLT for their support

  6. On Nick Meynen said:

    Waw, that is great news! thanks for sharing it and wish them strength. EJOLT is ready to let the world know about their struggle

  7. On Amit Barve said:

    Well the clash between Environment impacts and Development has to solve on table not in courts.

  8. On Vahinala said:

    Amit> Definetely YES!!!

    Now, dialogue and deliberation must prevail if we are to address societal challenges in all of these mining projects in Madagascar

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