Underreported Struggles #67, October 2012
In this month’s Underreported Struggles: Elders walk out of healing circle after nuclear waste pitched as solution to youth suicide, substance abuse; Indigenous Peoples in Brazil mobilize against “anti-Indian” decree; The Anuak implicate the World Bank in grave human rights abuses.
Underreported Struggles #67
A federal judge in Brazil reversed a decision to evict a Guarani-Kaiowá community that is attempting to reclaim some ancestral land. The threat of an eviction received major news coverage around the globe after the Guarani community threatened to resist to the death any attempt to remove them. Unfortunately, many reporters misinterpreted the Guarani’s words, believing that they were going to commit mass suicide rather than leave their land again.
The federal attorney in Sacramento dismissed a set of citations that were issued against Winnemem Chief Caleen Sisk last July, with no further explanation. At the time the citations were issued, Chief Sisk was charged with violating the very river closure that the Winnemem had requested in order to defend the sanctity of a coming-of-age ceremony for the young woman who will become the next leader of the tribe. The Winnemem are now asking for a formal apology from the US Forest Service for their actions.
Innu protesters set up two consecutive blockades on the main supply road to a major northern Quebec Hydro dam project. The Protesters say they have been systematically excluded from talks related to Quebec’s Northern Plan to develop natural resources. Some protesters have also accused the Uashat-Maliotenam band council of corruption and that it is reaching deals with the government without the peoples’ consent.
A group of O’odham youth raised their voices against Pangea Development-Co LLC and the Pecos Landowners Association (PLA), without saying a single word. The youths attended a Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Tribal Council session wearing breathing masks and “No Build 202” shirts to speak out the proposed Loop 202 freeway and the negative impacts it will bring. As a result of their efforts, the Tribal Council voted for transparency and to hold Pangea and the PLA accountable.
In a stunning development, villagers in Kurukshetra, India, forced the Haryana Agriculture University authorities to fulfill their promise to completely destroy field trials of Monsanto’s GM corn. The welcomed display came only after Monsanto officials–with the support of University staff–tried to sneak out the GM corn. Alert villages stopped them in their tracks.
The UK government dismayed and disappointed indigenous peoples as well as activists around the world by refusing to ratify ILO Convention 169, the only enforceable international law that protects basic indigenous rights. Prime Minister David Cameron defended his position by saying that ILO 169 cannot be implemented ‘as the UK has no indigenous people to whom the Convention can apply’.
A fleet of boats piloted by Native and non-Native fishers gathered off Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point, Wash.) to stand with the Lummi Nation in opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen. If completed, the terminal would significantly degrade an already fragile and vulnerable crab, herring and salmon fishery, dealing a devastating blow to the economy of the fisher community. The Lummi Nation is participating in a broad intertribal coalition to defeat the project and to ensure that the natural and cultural legacy of Xwe’chi’eXen is protected in perpetuity.
The Batwa Peoples of southwest Uganda, after being evicted from their traditional territory in 1991, are finally returning to their homeland; but they can only visit, as tour guides. The Batwa are taking tourists on $80 treks deep into Mgahinga to encounter first hand “the lost world of the Batwa”. Not all Batwa have been displaced. Over all, there are as many as 500,000 Batwa–more indelicately known as “pygmies”– who continue to inhabit the rainforest that stretches from Cameroon to Uganda. However, they continue to face the same old threats: encroachment, logging,evictions, racism, health problems, extreme poverty and censorship.
Despite claims to the contrary, a blockade led by the Penan continues to stand against the construction of the Murum Dam in the Malaysian province of Sarawak. Completion of the dam would entirely flood the Penan’s ancestral lands. In related news, a secret plan to resettle the Penan recently surfaced, revealing how the government is using the negative effects of rampant logging of the Penan’s forests, to justify the tribe’s resettlement. The Penan insist that they will not end the blockade until their demands are met.
The Anuak, Indigenous Peoples in Southwest Ethiopia, implicated the World Bank in grave human rights abuses that are being carried out as part of a supposedly voluntary resettlement programme headed by the Ethiopian Government. The Anuak say there is nothing “voluntary” about it… They are being dispossessed of their fertile, ancestral lands, and forced into new villages where there is little access to food or arable land. They also report a daunting list of abuses including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture in military custody, rape and extra-judicial killing.
A group of ten Elders walked out of a healing circle in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, after Nuclear waste storage was pitched as a solution for youth suicide and substance abuse. Some inquiries afer the perverse proposal revealed that the event was organized by employees of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a federal agency responsible for “long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel”.
Indigenous Peoples throughout Brazil are mobilizing to repeal a dangerous new law that opens the doors to a full-scale military invasion of Indigenous lands, prohibits the distribution of news lands, restricts autonomy, and permits the construction of various industrial projects (like the Belo Monte Dam) without consultation. Protests against the law known as Decree 303 are ongoing.
At least 7 Maya were killed and up to 32 were injured when combined armed forces violently removed demonstrators from a well-known intersection of roads in Totonicapán, Guatemala. Demonstrators had blocked the road to protest the rising price of electricity in the area. They also demanded a dialogue with the government to discuss their objections to various reforms proposed by President Otto Pérez Molina. The Guatemalan foreign minister later said the murder of indigenous protesters was no big deal.
An international protest in support of the Jumma Peoples was carried out in Bangladesh, South Korea, USA and Australia. The protest, which took place over the course of 13 days, condemned a recent communal attack on the Jumma by Bengali settlers with the support of the Bangladesh government. The attack left more than 100 Jummas and 9 Bengalis wounded. The Jumma, whoa are struggling for the right to self-determination-and to simply live peacefully–face almost daily attacks at the hands of Bengali settlers Bengali settlers who are encouraged to move into the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the Jumma live.
Some older news, the Gadigal Peoples in Australia have started issuing passports to recent immigrants to their territory as well as asylum seekers. Among those to receive passports are WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen detained in Guantanamo Bay.
Videos of the Month
Unnatural Disaster – Taiaiake Alfred explores the Psychophysical Effects of Environmental Racism especially as it pertains to the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne.
Deep Trouble – This video is a recording of the recent presentation “Deep Trouble — Nuclear Waste Burial in the Great Lakes Basin.”
Colonialism And Media Psychological War – Dr. Jared A. Ball discusses the role of mainstream media as a colonial propaganda tool for psychological warfare.