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21 Oct 2019

Caroline O'Doherty, Irish Independent

Campaigners share struggles in fight between industry and conservation

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5 October 2019


Manu Peni, from...Papua New Guinea..."The worst thing is the threats about my family. I am a single father of a nine-year-old boy and the threats to harm him are very difficult to deal with."

Those, they say, are the hardest aspects of environmental activism in a world where commercial interests and nature collide and communities get caught in the middle.


Manu Peni knows that tactic. "The government pitched us as just a bunch of NGOs who couldn't find proper jobs and instead made it our job to sabotage development. They said the people I represent are illiterate and know nothing. It's true many of them don't have much education but they are literate in survival and they know this threatens their survival."

He allows himself a small smile: "And I'm a chemist, I have been a university lecturer in New Zealand. Many of the activists in our group are college graduates. When they discovered this, they started to treat us with more respect."


"When I saw the Front Line logo 'protect one, empower one thousand' I became emotional," says Manu. "Because I represent 400,000 people and sometimes I feel very alone."