Environmental activists, religious figures, and believers protested Tuesday in Paris against the mega oil projects of the French group TotalEnergies in Uganda and Tanzania, a first action led by the movements Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities and GreenFaith.
"Deliver us from Total", "Warm hearts, not pipelines": they were about thirty gathered in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in the south of Paris, according to a journalist of the AFP.
Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities is a branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement, well known for its civil disobedience actions. GreenFaith is an inter-religious NGO born in the United States which fights "for climate justice", supported by religious volunteers.
The protesters were opposing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Tilenga oil field project in Uganda and Tanzania, initiated by TotalEnergies. The NGOs accuse the multinationals of taking over land through expropriation and are concerned about the environmental impact of these projects.
"Our traditions and our religions urge us not to remain silent," said Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace, one of the religious figures present, along with Pastor Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet, President of the Rassemblement des musulmans de France Anouar Kbibech, Buddhist Master Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh and Bishop Marc Stenger.
These religious figures arrived carrying an empty coffin with African landscapes painted on it.
"I'm Catholic and I think it's great to see religious figures taking a stand on the divisive issue of ecology," said Isabelle, 43, who like all the members of Extinction Rebellion refuses to give her last name.
TotalEnergies has been sued by several environmental NGOs over its activities in Uganda and Tanzania. The company will appear before the Paris Court of Justice on December 7 to discuss the matter.
The associations are targeting two colossal projects that are intrinsically linked: the Tilenga project, a 419-well drilling project in Uganda, one third of which is in the Murchison Falls natural park; and the EACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline) project, the world's longest heated oil pipeline, which crosses Tanzania over nearly 1,500 km, crossing several protected natural areas.
TotalEnergies reacted in a press release, stressing that "all the partners in the Tilenga and EACOP projects are committed to implementing them in a way that places environmental and biodiversity issues and the rights of the communities concerned at the heart of the project, in accordance with the highest international standards.
These projects, the press release adds, "represent a major development challenge for Uganda and Tanzania and we are doing everything possible to make them exemplary in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, economic and social progress, sustainable development, environmental awareness, and respect for human rights.