A Greenpeace executive has lashed out at a law suit brought against the organisation by Indian steel giant Tata for defamation and trademark infringement, after the company was ridiculed in an online game.
Tata, India's largest business group, is seeking $2.1 million in damages after Greenpeace released the game, Turtle vs Tata, in which players have to help a little turtle escape the clutches of marauding 'Tata demons'.
The game was designed to highlight the plight of Olive Ridley turtles, threatened by the controversial development of a massive deepwater port at Dhamra on the east coast of India, in which Tata is involved.
Greenpeace branded the legal action a 'SLAPP', or "Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation". Writing on US web site The Huffington Post, executive director Kumi Naidoo said:
"Rather than respond to the ethical question of why it has chosen to develop a port in an ecologically fragile area of global significance, Tata has chosen to engage Greenpeace India and Greenpeace International in a SLAPP suit, a crude tactic employed to quash open discussion and the consumer's right to information.
"While Greenpeace is used to dealing with these intimidation tactics, and has won many cases like this, the claim will almost certainly have the chilling effect of shrinking democratic space, and making individuals and smaller groups in India think twice."
The organisation has been campaigning against the Dhamra development for five years. According to Greenpeace, government documents obtained under a freedom of information request show that the port development violates India's Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
The site lies close to Gahirmatha, one of the world's largest nesting sites for Olive Ridley turtles, and to India's Bhitarkanika national park. The plan also threatens the livelihood of a large subsistence fishing community.
A request to grant an injunction against the protest group, forcing them to take down the game, is due to be heard in the Delhi High Court today.
For the latest information on the case, visit here.