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22 June 2011 | Interviews | 40th Anniversary Friend of the Earth International
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“Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is a very powerful movement actually, because it is all over the world, it is a global movement. We, Friends of the Earth Malaysia, from the very beginning have realized that you cannot just concentrate on local or national issues, because many of our problems stem from international structural causes”, said Meena Raman, from Friends of the Earth Malaysia in this interview held for the 40th anniversary of Friends of the Earth International.
And she added: “We have always felt that local struggles are connected to international structures and therefore if we want to have any change we have to work a global level. This is why Friends of the Earth is so important to us.”
Friends of the Earth Malaysia is an organization created in 1983, and in 1985 it became one of the first groups to be part of the environmentalist federation.
The defense of rainforests and the native people that depend on them was according to Raman one of the struggles carried out by Friends of the Earth Malaysia, filing legal complaints to defend the rights of native peoples. Another key aspect was the struggle against mega hydroelectric projects.
One of the early victories achieved by the organization was being able to take Mitsubishi Chemicals out of the country. This is the main Japanese chemical company, which dumped radioactive waste detrimental for the communities.
Thousands of people participated in this struggle, and although at the beginning they were repressed –even Raman was arrested and taken to solitary confinement – finally the activists were successful and the company had to leave the country.
Raman also said that now the organization is working on a similar struggle, and with reference to fishing communities, she said that another important activity of the group is the protection of mangrove forests.
“Our work is very connected to grassroots struggle, and at the same time is also very active trying to influence government policy on environment. We are working at many levels, including in international negotiations, like on climate change”, said Raman.
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