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Intercontinental Cry wins a Project Censored Award!

by on November 10, 2010
 

As a lot of you may know, the crises I write about here on Intercontinental Cry usually don’t get much exposure in the press.

It’s pretty infuriating, to be honest, and it’s something that I’d really like to get into at some point; but for now, let me just say that I’m glad we can create our own spaces to talk about what we want to talk about, even if the number of spaces is lacking.

Actually, that’s the whole reason I started this website, and I can’t even begin to tell you how hard I’ve worked to carry it forward. All I can say is that I’ve always done my best. But even so,  I never ever thought I would get and award for for my efforts, let alone one from Project Censored!  I actually got the news a few months back, but I wanted to wait until the book Censored 2011 was on the shelves before I really mentioned it.

I must say, it’s bitter sweet. On the one hand I’m honoured to get the recognition. It’s a pretty big coup for me. But it’s also a little painful because of the actual story that was chosen and the fact that it was ignored by NGOs and all those well paid professionals out there who’d rather write about Britney Spears or “how to bake bran muffins”.

The story, chosen to be  #7 in the top 25 most Censored Stories for 2009-2010 is “Stop Killing and Starvation of Samburu People in Kenya,” published November 20, 2009, http://intercontinentalcry.org/stop-killing-and-starvation-of-samburu-people-in-kenya

I must admit, I didn’t even blink when I wrote that. I was still reeling from the images in my mind of what was happening. In any case I’m thankful for the honour and that this crisis finally received some much-needed exposure.

On an even brighter note, things are looking up for the Samburu. Following my initial report, Cultural Survival (CS) went to Kenya to investigate. Their trip resulted in the report, When the Police are the Perpetrators which really turned out to be a blessing for the Samburu and the other Pastoralists in Kenya.

With the help of Paula Palmer, one of the CS delegates and authors of the report, I was able to put together this update for Project Censored:

***

In the months following this report, Kenyan police forces led two more full-scale attacks against the Samburu, one of Kenya’s seven distinct indigenous peoples. These attacks, like the ones that occurred throughout 2009, were unprovoked.

For centuries, the indigenous peoples have competed with each other for scarce water resources, to replenish cattle stocks in times of drought, to covet pastures for grazing their animals, and to gain favor in their communities. But for the past fifteen years, arms traders have made weapons available to the population, turning the peoples’ traditional struggle of survival and dignity into one of needless violence.

The government therefore ordered the police to get rid of the illegal weapons and restore peace and stability to the region. However, once they arrived, the police immediately criminalized the Samburu and began to attack their villages, steal their possessions, and confiscate their cattle.

“The brutal intrusion . . . [has] altered and dismantled our oral history. We shall never be the same again,” states Michael Lolwerikoi, in a heartfelt letter on behalf of the Samburu to the US-based group Cultural Survival (CS).

In January 2010, CS sent a research delegation to gather evidence of the attacks. They had been receiving reports from Africa since February 2009. The research delegation was not able to verify some of the reports, including those concerning the military; but after spending two weeks in Kenya, the reason for the Samburu’s “limbo state” was clear. In April 2010, they published a report on their findings: “When the Police Are the Perpetrators.”

Ultimately, the organization’s visit to Kenya played a key role in ending the unnecessary attacks on the Samburu. After their report was received by Kenya’s Minister of Internal Security, the police were ordered to stop using force and to conduct the disarmament operation peacefully. Since then, CS says there have been no further full-scale attacks on the Samburu. However, there is still room for history to repeat. “It’s something that clearly needs international pressure, because the police in Kenya continue to enjoy impunity,” comments Paula Palmer, a member of the research delegation and one of the authors of the report. “[It] mirrors what occurred during the post-election violence being investigated by the International Court of Justice,” she adds.

There is an equal need for international exposure—and there has never been any major coverage of these tragic events. Palmer says they have tried to reach out to journalists from the Guardian, the New York Times, and others but none of the journalists have responded.

The Samburu are asking the government to compensate them for their heavy losses. And they, along with the Borana, Rendille, Turkana, Somali, Meru, and Pokot, want to build lasting peace in the region with the help of their traditional elders. And everybody is eager to get rid of the weapons. “It’s something everybody wants,” says Palmer.

For more information and to learn what you can do to help, please visit www.culturalsurvival.org.

***

CS posted another update to their site a few weeks ago, letting us know that the Pastoralists Development Network of Kenya (PDNK) is now helping to train the police to be more respectful towards the Indigenous Peoples. “Michael Tiampati, national coordinator of the PDNK, reports that many of the police officers ‘are ignorant because of stereotypes…They are transferred to this area and they want to convert pastoralists to suit their imagined ‘civilised’ society. So we told them of the need to respect the people’s social-cultural-economic and religious way of life because their job is to ensure security of persons and property but not to convert communities.’”

Tiampati says that the training has been “very successful” so far, that the officers were receptive, and that they have “acknowledged that their actions have not met the required human rights standards.” He also says they proposed a ” joint (community & police) training in the villages to create harmony and develop good working relations as well as enhanced training and remuneration of the Kenya Police Reservists. The Pastoralists Development Network of Kenya is now seeking resources to implement these trainings.”

You can reach the PDNK by email, info@pdnkenya.org, or by visiting http://www.pdnkenya.org

According to CS, the police also “indicated that their orders came ‘from above’ – which underscores the need for continued pressure to be applied to the highest government officials.” To learn more about the Samburu and take action, visit http://www.culturalsurvival.org/take-action/kenya-stop-police-brutality-against-samburu-people

   
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  • kamana kapu
    November 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    After all is said and done the real problem is the human male, the most treacherous, deceitful, cowardly, violent, murderous and destructive animal that ever set foot on any planet in any universe. The loss of the dinosaurs was one of the greatest tragedies to befall the planet because the human male was so afraid of the them that they refused to go into the jungle to forage for food for themselves and, thus, starved to death at an early age. According to the ancient female folklore the days of the dinosaurs were the best of time, the most peaceful of times because the adult human male could not and did not survive into adulthood.

    Reply

  • theriverkayaker
    November 11, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Congrats to Intercontinental Cry for it’s “project censored” award win.
    I have followed your articles scince the Teztan Biny “fish lake” protests.
    I can understand your frustration if you think that you are not being listened to,but it may suprise you as to how powerfull your articles really are. You helped towards the prosperity project in B.C. to get a NO vote from the canadian federal gov’t.
    With out your articles of which helped to fuel awareness of Taseko’s plan to drain the Teztan Biny to replace it with a tailings pond, the prosperity project may very well have got a green light to go ahead.
    You have done a fine job in keeping the public informed.
    As the worlds populations are changing their ways of thinking and for the most part sick and tired of all this candy coated dribble that is found in your average newspaper of today. your articles separate the wheat from the chaff, your articles are very important as they tell of the plight of the worlds peoples and their environment. You “are” the voice for these people.
    Thank you Intercontinental Cry for keeping the world informed.
    Well done, keep up the good work.

    Reply

  • November 11, 2010 at 11:30 am

    It’s been my experience that when your voice can no longer be ignored, you will soon be attacked. The government of Indonesia recently hacked the website of Survival International for its expose of atrocities in West Papua, and the government of the United States last month disabled the cash flow of Wikileaks by threatening their online donations host. Even my alma mater New College of California crashed the website of our independent alumni association in retaliation for our documentation of trustee money-laundering that showed up on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and led to a special investigation by the Department of Education.

    Recent raids by the FBI against peace activists in Chicago and Minneapolis included confiscation of computers and files, as well as incarceration for such seemingly innocuous acts as showing documentary films and holding discussions at churches about militarism.

    Long story short, as a provider of content for thought leaders you are likely on a list somewhere as a troublemaker, and while those of us in your milieus congratulate you, it is worth reminding others that only by speaking out despite the threat of retaliation do we maintain a public space for the discourse democracy requires. It is also worth repeating the admonition to backup your work and share it with colleagues who can pick up the baton if one of us is taken out of action.

    Reply

  • November 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    @theriverkayaker: “your articles separate the wheat from the chaff,” haha, thanks theriverkayaker. You made my day on that one :)

    @Jay yeah, this has been on my mind for a long time now. In fact I’ve been threatened three times since I started this site. The first two threats were in 2004/7, but they were pretty empty. At least, I didn’t feel threatened by them. But the one I got last year, about a week after the Bagua confrontation, was a little more serious. Without actually saying it, the guy threatened to take my life. In retrospect I probably should’ve came forward about it, but I decided to just ignore it and keep working.

    The website itself has also been hacked, twice, but I make backups all the time, online and on my computer. If I can ever afford to get a CD/DVD burner I’ll make hard copies too. Thankfully, the folks that host the site, May First/People Link, are amazing when it comes to this sort of thing. They’ve done alot of work with the Yes Men.

    What does concern me is that I don’t really have any formal support, no groups or NGOs to come to my aid if I need them. Instead I have to rely on the hope that they will.

    Anyways, lots to think about.

    Reply

  • November 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    You might want to read Common Sense Security, a checklist prepared by my friend Sheila O’Donnell.
    http://www.publiceye.org/eyes/comsense.html

    Reply

  • Jim Higgins
    November 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Ahni– Yes it is frustrating and hard work (because everyone is only “focused on the economy” as well as Brittany Spears). I have focused on Mega-hydro projects esp as perpetrated by the giant gov’t-owned corporation Hydro-Quebec since the late 80′s. In the 90′s it was in the news(in VT & New England almost weekly, but now it’s hardly mentioned, even though they continue to flood wilderness eco-systems and violate Native Peoples’ rights. And all so the USA can continue to waste energy as dictated by our culture. This also goes for most Canadian energy schemes such as the tar sands and other mega-hydro projects.

    Reply

  • November 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    @Jay Thanks, there’s alot of good points in there. I think I will adjust things a bit, just to be safe.

    @Jim On the brighter side, La Romaine’s making headlines again. And I hope the Innu go through with it. I would LOVE to see them embarrass Canada, lol. I can picture now ;)

    I think the key thing in all this is vigilance. We just gotta keep pushing. And when that stops working, we pull. Or we simply let go and watch them trip over themselves. And then we keep moving.

    Reply

  • November 11, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    One of the less obvious benefits of exposing miscreants in the media is they often become cut off from resources and social support by their networks out of fear of tagging others. Sometimes this triggers a resentful reaction on the part of those shunned, who in turn then finger their former colleagues out of spite.

    We used this technique to good effect by printing flyers to pass out at public events, where those named reacted in ill-considered ways, such as demanding to be heard by media in order to deny the charges we made. In this way, what would have been ignored by the press became hot news items.

    An added benefit is that the misbehavior that might have been shrugged off by law enforcement suddenly became a duty they couldn’t be seen to shirk. When the hoodlums came to be questioned by police, they were often so irate they provoked otherwise sympathetic agents to enjoy locking them up.

    Reply

  • Jason(Thunderbeing)
    May 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    You deserve it brother and more,your a true hero keep it up.
    Also that tribe is happier now and i’m sure they thank you too.

    Reply

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