TAOS, NEW MEXICO. A precedent-setting human rights suit will soon be filed in an
American court, on behalf of the inhabitants of Djenne, Mali. It will name the
US Treasury and the African Development Bank as defendants.
South of the Sahara, in Mali, on a tributary of the Niger named the Bani River,
the African Development Bank's Talo Dam project would dry out a historic,
environmentally senstitive flood-plain.
Without offering any credible benefit and without creating electricity, the Talo
Dam would destroy the entire agricultural base of more than 40,000 people.
Traditional rice, millet, fish and cattle production would disappear.
Starvation would lead to a mass exodus of refugees, causing the abandonment and
destruction of the two thousand-year-old city of Djenne. This magnificent adobe
town, population 12,000, together with its archeological site dating to 300 BC
and its Great Mosque--the largest adobe building in the world--is a
UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
The Dam would cost $27 million. Construction is being financed by the African
Development Bank. The US is the Bank's largest national contributor, and the US
Secretary of the Treasury is a Governor of the Bank.
Within Mali, longtime well-organized political opposition to the dam has been
led by a Djenne native, Bagouro Noumanzana, an agronomist who was for five years
the country's Director of Agriculture. Unfortunately, local opposition has
suffered a setback. In 1998, the national parliament voted in favor of the dam
148 to 2. International resistance, particularly in the US, has become crucial.
Jean-Louis Bourgeois, aka Baber Maïga, US citizen and property-owner in Djenné,
is preparing a suit against the United States Treasury and the African
Development Bank (ADB) to prevent the construction of the Talo Dam.
Bourgeois has written a detailed history of Djenné's 13th century mosque,
rebuilt in 1907, sub-Saharan Africa's greatest monument. His lawsuit will
contain several claims:
1. A liability claim for the devaluation of his property in Djenné by the
illegal US funding of the dam.
2. That the US treasury is violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
and the Pelosi Amendment.
3. That the African Development Bank (ADB) is violating its own published
environmental guidelines, specifically its "Irrigation" handbook.
The lawsuit is based on the following language in the African Development Bank
Act enacted August 13, 1981, [___ ___ ___, Title 22-Foreign Relations and
Intercourse, Subchapter XXIV--African Development Bank, 290i-7. Jurisdiction of
United States Courts, page 595]:
"For the purposes of any civil action which may be brought within the
United States? against the Bank? the Bank shall be deemed an inhabitant of the
Federal judicial district in which its principal office within the United
States? is located, and any such action to which the Bank shall be a party shall
be deemed to arise under the laws of the United States [?and the district courts
of the United States].
If you have any questions, please contact:
Citizen of Honor
of the Town of Djenné