Malagasy authorities should quash the two-year suspended jail sentence handed in 2017 to an environmental activist who was targeted for questioning the activities of a mining company, Amnesty International said ahead of his appeal hearing tomorrow in the city of Fianarantsoa. (..) Raleva was arrested on 27 September 2017 after he attended a public meeting organized by representatives of the Chinese gold mining company, Mac Lai Sime Gianna (M.L.S.G.), and the local head of district. During the meeting, he demanded to see the company’s mining permits. He was then arrested and charged for using a false title, ‘Head of district’ by the Mananjary tribunal, and handed a two-year suspended sentence on 26 October 2017. He was released after spending 25 days in pre-trial detention at the Mananjary prison and launched an appeal against his sentence.
At the dawn of the second millennium, before the Europeans came to East Africa, the Banjar people from southeast Borneo sailed 7,000 kilometres across the Indian Ocean and colonised the Comoros and Madagascar. They joined voyages led by Buddhist-Hindu Malay kingdoms, such as Srivijaya (sixth to 13th centuries). The Malay traded with far-distant regions, notably across East Asia and reaching as far as East Africa. They had set up trading posts in southeast Borneo and mixed with the indigenous Ma'anyan, from whom the Banjar are descended. (..) We analysed the genomes from 3,000 individuals from 190 regional populations from around the Indian Ocean. These included 30 populations from Indonesia, Madagascar and the Comoros. Our research is the first to reconcile data and hypotheses coming from linguistic, archaeological and genetic research into the settlement of the Comoros and Madagascar. (..) Some 90% of Malagasy vocabulary is from the language of the Ma'anyan, an indigenous group of roughly 70,000 people who live in remote inland areas of southeastern Borneo. Less than 10% of the vocabulary of the Malagasy language is from African languages (mainly Sabaki, a branch of Bantu). Archaeologists have also found cultural evidence — including ironworking techniques, outrigger boats, musical instruments such as the xylophone, and the cultivation of rice, bananas, yams and taro (a 'tropical food kit') — that supports a strong Southeast Asian connection. Genetic studies, too, have generally confirmed the dual ancestry of the Malagasy and Comorian populations. (..) Using cutting-edge statistical approaches, we determined that the Banjar and the East African people (Swahilis community) interbred first in the Comoros archipelago around the eighth century and later in Madagascar around the 11th century. Interestingly, the dynamic of admixture strongly differs in the two territories. Banjar ancestry ranges from 37% to 64% in Madagascar but is only 20% in the Comoros. This is probably because of major Swahili settlement in the Comoros prior to Austronesian arrival. We determined and dated the gene flow (migration) over the last 2,000 years between 190 populations around the Indian Ocean. Our research shows that human migration is correlated to the volume of trade (estimated from historical records). Over the last 2,000 years, the volume of trade along coastal areas of the Indian Ocean oscillated, with peaks and falls. (..) Our research has settled the debate on the African-Asian ancestry of Madagascar and the Comoros. We now know that Asians came to the Comoros archipelago first in the eighth century and then Madagascar in the 11th century. What's still a puzzle for us is the exact maritime route(s) from Borneo to these East African islands. It's another part of the astonishing facts of human geography to be uncovered.