Environmental organisations, including Greenpeace Africa, warned on Monday that they are facing threats because of their opposition to the auction of oil blocks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Three weeks after the government launched a call for tenders for 30 oil and gas blocks in the DRC, "environmental defenders continue to face direct threats," eight of the organisations said in a statement.
In addition to Greenpeace, the signatories include the Rainforest Foundation and the Network for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of Forest Ecosystems (CREF).
"Statements by certain Congolese government ministers have fanned the flames," the organisations said, "demanding that the authorities adopt a more tolerant attitude and take measures to protect the rights of environmental defenders.
At the end of July, the DRC government launched tenders for the exploitation of 27 oil and 3 gas blocks, promising to ensure that environmental standards are respected.
In a previous statement, Greenpeace had denounced these oil and gas projects, warning of the catastrophic consequences they could have on local communities, biodiversity and the climate as they affect a complex rich in peat bogs. The organisation also warned of "the curse of oil" and it's attendant "violence and poverty".
"Since then, activists have received a barrage of threats on social networks, including accusations of treason (...) as well as death threats," the statement said. "Threatening anonymous phone calls have also been recorded," they add.
In 2021, "227 land and environmental defenders were murdered in just one year, the worst figure ever recorded", the text continues. "The resolution must be taken by the Congolese authorities to guarantee freedom of expression and that not a single one of those who stand up for the environment falls," it urges. "We will not let anyone deprive us of nature, clean air and water, or a stable climate," the activists say.