It was pretty much ‘business as usual’ for the month of February. Corporations continued acting as innocent third parties while Governments continued to demand indigenous People allow the theft of their lands and destruction of their cultures without question. “It’s in your best interests,” we’re told. “It’s for the greater good.”
Amidst this however, there was one important shift in the world this month–one that we can only hope will catch on in greater force. Governments began pulling back the reins of development, and a few corporations and Shareholders started withdrawing from and speaking against development projects because of the dangers they pose to indigenous people and the environment. This happened more in February than in the last 6 months combined.
Considering how schizophrenic the government-backed development industry is, it’s doubtful this shift will develop into something substantial any time soon. After all, change cannot happen in a vacuum and it cannot happen on its own.
If we were to really start pushing though… I mean, if we were to start working together regardless of our desires, beliefs, and fears; and if we were to stop playing games like “house” and “king of the castle” then governments and corporations would have no choice but to accommodate us, therefore justice… Something to consider as you go through this month’s brief on Underreported Struggles.
Underreported Struggles for February
Zamboanga Peninsula indigenous leaders appeal to UN
A group of Indigenous Leaders from Mindanao have appealed to the UNCERD because their traditional lands have been irreparably damaged by mining operations headed by the Canadian mining company, TVI Pacific. Timuay (traditional Subanon leader) Jose Anoy said: “We are here because we could not get justice in the Philippines. We have come here to explain what happened and seek justice and action.” Also addressing the UN CERD, Timuay Fernando Mudai said, “We have this response from the Philippine Government, but whatever they answer the reality is that our sacred mountain is already destroyed.”
Letter to JP Morgan Chase on the Gilgel Gibe III Dam
This is a letter from international NGOs regarding JP Morgan Chase’s proposed financing of Gigel Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia which demands: “Prior to the consideration of financing, JP Morgan Chase should ensure due diligence of project compliance with Ethiopia’s national laws, international standards and its own policies as well as consider the integrity of this project in relation to Ethiopia’s development needs.” The project is violating several laws, and over 2000 people will be adversely affected by the dam.
Drilling suspended on Minago Nickel Project
After meeting with the Chief and Council of Norway House, representatives from Manitoba’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines announced they will be suspending a drilling permit issued to Victory Nickel for their Minago Nickel Project. To date, the Manitoba government has issued three permits to Victory Nickel, however they did not consult or notify Norway House Cree doing so.
Costa Rican Indigenous Protest Free Trade Treaty
Hundreds of Costa Rican indigenous people began a protest against the Free Trade Treaty between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States. Women, men and children set up camp in a plaza facing the headquarters of Judicial Power, protested all night and will continue until Thursday afternoon. Demonstrators of different ethnic groups accused the FTT of imposing the use of patented seeds that prevent traditional crops.
TransCanada Investors concerned over Lubicon rights abuse
In their plans to build a jumbo pipeline across unceded Lubicon territory, TransCanada’s failure to consult and address the concerns of the Lubicon Cree has begun ricocheting back at the company. According to a Press Release by the Friends of the Lubicon dated February 26, TransCanada shareholders have learned of the failure and are now “taking the company to task for mismanaging the issue of aboriginal land rights and rightly raising the possibility of delays and/or cancellation of the project if Lubicon land rights are not properly addressed by the company.
Boise moves to respect Grassy Narrows Land Rights
Boise announced yesterday that it “wishes to honor the request of Chief Fobister to discontinue sourcing fiber from the Traditional Use Area of Grassy Narrows.” AbitibiBowater, the world’s largest paper company, clear-cuts trees from Grassy Narrow’s traditional territory in northwestern Ontario, and sells pulp from these trees to Boise. Boise makes paper from this pulp and sells a huge percentage of it to OfficeMax in the United States and Grand & Toy in Canada.
Sentencing for KIFN assertion of rights on March 17
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KIFN) Chief Donnie Morris and five other members of the community will soon find out if they, like Ardoch Algonquin spokesperson Robert Lovelace, will be fined and incarcerated for asserting their own rights—that is, for attempting to stop a molestation by walking away from Canada’s so-called consultation process and refusing to accept unsanctioned development on their land as “a given.”According to a recent Press Release by KIFN, sentencing will take place on March 17.
Chavez Orders Immediate Liberation of Indigenous Peoples
Over the weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was informed that Agroflora, an affiliate of the British Vestey Group, illegally set up a fence that encircled 200 Yaruro indigenous people. According to the denunciations filed by Representative Cristóbal Jiménez, “the farm put up a fence around them and they can’t get out without permission from the farm owners.” Another 800 People remained outside of the fence.
After learning this on Sunday, Chavez quickly ordered the National Guard to demolish the fence, allowing the indigenous people to once again move freely.
Border wall is bypassing the wealthy and politically connected
As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security marches down the Texas border serving condemnation lawsuits to frightened landowners, Brownsville resident Eloisa Tamez, 72, has one simple question. She would like to know why her land is being targeted for destruction by a border wall, while a nearby golf course and resort remain untouched. (Related Interview at Democracy Now)
Guatemalan Activists: Defenceless Defenders
The security situation for human rights defenders in Guatemala has gotten worse in the last five years, with around 50 activists killed in that period and near total impunity for the murderers, said Hina Jilani, special representative of the United Nations secretary-general. Attacks on human rights activists form part of a broader context of violence that has claimed 25,700 lives in the last five years, making Guatemala one of the most violent countries in Latin America. (There is also a serious ongoing situation concerning Women in Guatemala. According to a new report, since 2001, it is estimated that more than 2,500 women and girls have been brutally murdered in Guatemala – with only 3 percent of the cases making it to court.)
Govt reinstates indigenous permit system
The federal government of Australia has moved to reinstate the permit system it revoked as part of the draconian intervention scheme it forced on Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The permit system gives Communities the right to decide who can enter their lands.
Chile Government Endorses the HidroAysen Project
Late last week, the highly contested HidroAysen dam project received a major endorsement by a member of Michelle Bachelet’s Chilean Government. This project threatens the region’s indigenous population as well as the environment which several endangered species need to survive. (visit http://patagonia-under-siege.blogspot.com/ for more information)
People breathing city air are likened to fish in an oil spill
Alarming evidence for the way air pollution damages the cardiovascular system emerged on Monday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. Although “clean air” legislation has cleaned up the most visible smog-like pollution in industrialised countries, Lung Chi Chen of the medical school at New York University said microscopic soot particles from vehicle exhausts killed an estimated 30,000-40,000 people a year in the US.
The Militarization of the World’s Urban Peripheries
In this article, Raúl Zibechi discusses a growing trend where Urban peripheries in Third World countries are becoming war zones “where states attempt to maintain order based on the establishment of a sort of ‘sanitary cordon’ to keep the poor isolated from ‘normal’ society. The reason this is happening, one urban theorist explains, is because “the slum peripheries of poor Third World cities” have become decisive geopolitical spaces that are are “disconnected and autonomous from industrialization as well as from economic development.”
Land invasion forces Yanomami into local town
A group of Yanomami Indians have spent the past ten days camped in a local Brazilian town following the invasion of their land by goldminers and ranchers. Yanomami from the Ajarani area in the state of Roraima are camping in the nearby town of Caracaraí. A group of ranchers are illegally occupying Yanomami land in the area, cutting down the forest to make way for pasture and scaring away the animals and fish on which the Yanomami rely.
San Ildefonso Pueblo to regain some land
San Ildefonso Pueblo is on the verge of regaining part of the land that its ancestors once used for hunting, gathering wood and other traditional purposes.
Press black-out Aboriginal protest over Northern Territory intervention
Over the past week the local media has bombarded Australians with gushing praise for the Rudd government’s apology to members of the “stolen generations”—the Aboriginal and “half-caste” children who were forcibly removed from their parents by government authorities from 1900 to the early 1970s. The real attitude of the media and political establishment toward the desperate conditions facing indigenous Australians, however, was on display less than 24 hours before Rudd delivered his formal apology. The day before the nationally televised “sorry” events, nearly 2,000 Aborigines from across the country gathered in Canberra to protest the federal government’s Northern Territory (NT) police-military intervention.
Cordillera: Moves to Protect Indigenous Rights
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) welcomed the recent pronouncement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno to hold a workshop on the socio-economic rights of the marginalized, including people’s organizations. “This move may help in giving indigenous peoples (IPs) the justice the state has denied them. It may help in giving justice for the decades of oppression they have suffered,” CPA chairperson Beverly Longid said. Longid added that the move would make the courts more accessible, especially to the poor.
Garden River First Nation to use Bio-ID Cards Technology
Garden River First Nation has signed an agrement to license and use Veritec’s 2-D VSCode(TM) Biometric technology for multi-purpose cards which will serve as Tribal Member ID, Border-crossing (from and to Ontario, Canada) control and passport-backup ID cards. It’s these cards will allow the Garden River Ojibway to be “the first in Canada to be able to identify, without any doubt, their people are who they say they are.”
The Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement
In early January, five leading Tibetan organizations announced the launch of the “Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement”, a coordinated Tibetan resistance effort leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Games will take place just months before the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising against China’s invasion of Tibet. Since then, more than 1 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China’s occupation.
Indigenous people vow to stop Inco pipeline
The Mining Advocacy Network reports that indigenous people in Kanaky, more commonly known as New Caledonia, began mobilizing over the weekend to stop a waste pipe that Inco is hurriedly laying for its Goro nickel mine. A little over a week ago, the company won an appeal case filed by the indigenous concern group Rheebu Nuu in November 2006. The groups says the waste pipe is an imminent threat to the environment.
Ogoni: Nonviolent Protest March Against Shell
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) staged a non-violent protest march against Shell’s activities and the environmental destruction of Ogoniland after yet another oil spill in the region.
Reports of ‘encounter’ between oil workers and isolated Indians
Unconfirmed reports indicate that a team prospecting for oil deep in the Peruvian Amazon has encountered a village belonging to previously-uncontacted Indians. The men, who were working for the Canadian company Petrolifera, allegedly came across houses, paths and utensils. If the reports are true, the Indians are members of the Cacataibo tribe.
Urge India to abandon steel megaproject
On January 31, the government of India gave South Korean multinational Pohong Steel Corporation (POSCO) permission to go ahead with a huge iron mining, manufacturing and export project in Orissa state. As a result, villagers in the region along with anyone opposed to the project are now at high risk of being violently suppressed.
Argentina’s Guarani see benefits in isolation
After two Guarani youths killed themselves last year, Silvino Moreyra, a Chief in their community, started a 60-day quarantine aimed at protecting all Guarani youth from what he saw as the corruption of modern society. It proved such a popular move, that when the first 60 days were up, the community signed up for another 60 days, due to expire sometime in the middle of this month.
Help save Sierra Madre, tribe leader urges media
Using a borrowed mobile phone, a tribal leader in Sierra Madre in northern Quezon asked for media’s help to stop the renewed illegal logging operation in the mountain ranges. On Monday evening, Eric Avellaneda, vice chairman of mountain tribe association called “Adhikain ng mga Grupong Taong Katutubo na Nagtatanggol” (Agta), sent a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and reported that more than 30 chainsaws were sneaked into the mountain and were now being used by unidentified groups in their renewed unlawful cutting of trees.
Alaska Natives, ecologists oppose oil drilling in Chukchi Sea
Last week, a coalition of indigenous people and environmental groups filed a lawsuit aimed at halting the massive oil drilling project in the Chukchi Sea, which is home to one-tenth of the world’s polar bears, along with walruses and endangered bowhead whales. The coalition argues that the U.S. Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) should not have gone ahead with it’s recent decision to open up bidding to oil and gas companies because they failed to address a number of key issues.
Ogiek killed like rabbits by rampant militia in Kenya
Realizing that the Ogiek had fled the area around Chepyuk and took refuge at Teldet and Chepkitale, the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF), Kenya’s most dangerous and notorious, at least 1000 men strong armed militia, has now taken advantage of the lawlessness and the commitments of the police elsewhere to hunt and kill the Ogiek like rabbits.
Gabriel Resources faces another set-back in Romania
Plans for Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine — a multimillion-dollar project by Canada’s Gabriel — suffered another setback on Thursday when a Romanian court ruled a local authority had improperly approved an urban plan attached to the project. The Alba Iulia Court of Appeals ruled that decisions by a municipal body in Transylvania were procedurally flawed.
Ascendant Copper Loses Mining Concessions in Ecuador
On Friday, Ecuador’s government announced that it was revoking Ascendant Copper’s mining concessions for the controversial Junin Project, an open pit copper mine located in one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions. “As an Intag resident, I am ecstatic to be rid of a source of conflict that was tearing our communities apart,” said Carlos Zorrilla, executive director of Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag (DECOIN), a local grassroots environmental organization. “In our particular case, it is a clear triumph of community-based resistance over the destructive power of transnational corporations.”
El Slavador: “Life Is Worth More than Gold”
Peasant farmers from the northern Salvadoran province of Cabañas fear that mining operations planned for the region will consume 30,000 litres of water a day, drawn from the same sources that currently provide local residents with water only once a week. Environmentalists and experts have also warned that if the operations that are now awaiting legal permission actually begin, the cyanide that would be used by the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim to extract gold and silver could contaminate the area’s groundwater and soil.
Videos for the Month
Blue Gold: World Water Wars
This is the trailer for the film Blue Gold: World Water Wars, a documentary that explores the current and emerging world water crisis from an ecological, social, and political standpoint. Through examining Court cases, U.N. conventions, local protests, and numerous situations where people are struggling for their basic right to water, Blue Gold reveals the breadth of what we face unless there are changes to the way the world’s water is managed.
Thirty-six years of civil war in Guatemala brought the deaths of over 200,000 people, most of them from Indigenous Nations. In the wake of an amnesty signed in 1996 which allowed everyone to return to their lives. a diverse group of Quiche, Q’eqchi, Mam, Ladino (mixed Spanish and indigenous) and others decided to continue the struggle by creating a self-sustaining agricultural cooperative; a community that could serve as a just and peaceful model for Guatemalan People.