Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A year-long BuzzFeed investigation accuses the WWF of horrific human rights abuses.
On the last Saturday of this month, Earth Hour – invented by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and an Australian media conglomerate – will once again be in the news.
Journalists will report on young families turning out their lights “to raise awareness on the important role of nature in our lives.” Here’s how to tell the difference between real news coverage and fake news coverage. Real journalists will let you know about the nauseating WWF scandal that broke two weeks ago.
Beginning on March 4, BuzzFeed reporters Tom Warren and Katie Baker published the “WWF’s Secret War.” This three-part series is the result of a year-long investigation involving six countries. More than 100 people were interviewed. Thousands of pages of documents were examined.
In sickening detail, this exposé confirms my own observations from 2012 and 2016. In its zeal to stop the poaching of wild animals in Asia and Africa, the WWF has climbed into bed with violent thugs and oppressive governments. In some of the world’s poorest, most marginalized communities, the WWF’s panda logo is now synonymous with repression, torture, and murder.
Part 1 of the BuzzFeed series is titled: WWF Funds Guards Who Have Tortured And Killed People. It describes the 2006 death of a Nepalese man jailed on suspicion of possessing a rhinoceros horn. Until recently in that country, park wardens had the ability to incarcerate people at will, for years. Suspects had no access to legal safeguards such as lawyers, judges, trials, or bail.
We’re told that authorities at the Chitwan National Park
couldn’t find the horn, but they threw [victim Shikharam Chaudhary] in their jail anyway…Nine days later he was dead. An autopsy showed seven broken ribs and ‘blue marks and bruises’ all over his body. Seven eyewitnesses corroborated his wife’s account of nonstop beatings. Three park officials, including the chief warden, were arrested and charged with murder…WWF’s staff on the ground in Nepal leaped into action – not to demand justice, but to lobby for the charges to disappear. When the Nepalese government dropped the case months later, the charity declared it a victory in the fight against poaching…As for the rangers who were charged in connection with Shikharam’s death, WWF Nepal later hired one of them to work for the charity. It handed a second a special anti-poaching award. By then he had written a tell-all memoir that described one of his favorite interrogation techniques: waterboarding.
This tragedy is part of a sustained pattern of events “that persists to this day,” say the journalists. It’s worth noting the WWF “declined to answer detailed questions sent by BuzzFeed News.”
The WWF vehemently denies any involvement in human rights violations, despite numerous, well-founded accusations in multiple countries. It says it has launched an independent review to investigate BuzzFeed’s allegations.
As Part 2 of the series explains, however, A Leaked Report Shows WWF Was Warned Years Ago Of “Frightening” Abuses.