Indigenous Struggles 2012: Dispatches From the Fourth World

by January 7, 2013

Intercontinental Cry (IC) is pleased to announce the release of Indigenous Struggles 2012: Dispatches From the Fourth World, an exclusive annual briefing on the global Indigenous movement.

Download: Indigenous Struggles 2012: Dispatches From the Fourth World


It has been a monumental year for the global Indigenous movement, to say the least. During the course of 2012, Indigenous Peoples led more than a thousand protests, occupations, blockades and other essential actions around the world, to turn back the tide of colonialism, to protect cultures and lands, to assert basic rights and, quite simply, to defend the Earth.

It was almost impossible to keep up with it all. Almost. Most impressively, there was the Nasa’s expulsion of military personnel from their territory in Colombia, the group of villagers in India who enforced the destruction of Monsanto test crops; a dozen solid victories against the tar sands and associated pipelines; And let’s not forget the sudden appearance of #idlenomore in Canada and the equally sudden establishment of new Indigenous governments in Nigeria, Australia and West Papua.

There were just as many tragedies: Ethiopia started a full-scale assault against the Anuak Peoples; China announced plans to forcibly “settle” 1.5 million nomads; and Israel passed the controversial Prawer Plan, paving the way for the theft of Bedouin lands. Hundreds of leaders were also killed around the world in a desperate attempt by governments, corporations, and military bodies to extinguish Indigenous resistance.

Another tragedy was the sheer amount of silence that surrounded these life-and-death struggles despite their overwhelming significance to global politics, economics, human rights, and environmental issues. That is precisely why we decided to publish this annual briefing: to give you a chance to know this global struggle as it unfolded in 2012.

However, we wish to point out that INDIGENOUS STRUGGLES is far from being a complete archival record. Rather, it is a collection of events based on our monthly report, “Underreported Struggles”. This annual briefing includes all the monthly reports we published in 2012, which have been revised and extended after a thorough review of more than 2000 articles, reports and press releases.

In order to make this briefing as timely as possible, we limited our coverage to two main subjects:

1) the policies and practices of governments, corporations, NGOs, military and paramilitary organizations, international institutions and settler populations; and

2) the efforts of Indigenous Nations to hold those parties accountable for any actions that threatened traditional lands, cultures, communities, livelihoods and basic rights.

We did not, for instance, include much about food sovereignty, poverty, gender equality and women's rights or the global effort to reclaim indigenous languages. It was very difficult to exclude anything from this report; but we had to draw the line somewhere.

We also limited our coverage of each event to a single paragraph, which means it will be up to you to take the time to learn more about these events. We hope you will take that time out, to inform yourself and support these struggles as best you con

In closing, let me just say that there is no one struggle that’s greater or more important than the rest. Indeed, there is but one struggle: the struggle for life itself. We're in this together.

For more information
John Schertow,

Indigenous Struggles 2012: Dispatches From the Fourth World

  • Gershom Musonda
    February 5, 2013 at 6:04 am

    It is gratifying that there still activists with so much interest in the welfare of IPs worldwide. However, what worries some of us in Zambia , Southern Africa, is the under-representation of our IPs in international forums and lack of appreciation of by some local NGOs and government in respecting, promoting and defending basic rights of these minorities.

    We would like to take you back to the Kagisong Conference in Gaberone, Botswana in 1998 organized by the Botswana Council of Churches, World Council of Churches local and regional NGOs and San representatives. Zambia was very visible for the first time in an international IP forum with support from WIMSA. Since then WIMSA has not been very supportive and the then front-runner for IP rights, zambia independent Monitoring Team-ZIMT- folded up amlost a decade ago.

    However, the good news is that other NGOs took up the challenge and moved on with the IP agenda. These include the Centre for Elections and Governance (CEG) and its sister Organization, Zambian Community Learning Centres (ZCLC). With the support of the Office of the United nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, CEG AND ZCLC embarked on a national School Human Rights Club initiative to lobby for educational and social rights of children of the Tabwa (Pygmy) and Mbukushu/Makwengo(San).

    Though there has been delays in engaging Pygmy communities effectively in Luapula Province on the broder with Congo DR, progress has been made in shangombo, Sioma and Sesheke districts of Western province where San communities have been sensitised over the years to take advantage of governments enabling educational policies, notably, the Free Education,Re-Entry, School Health and Nutrition policies spearheaded by the Ministry of Education. Today, there are at least 15 san children in each of the grades from 1 to 12 in three towns of Western Province. Plans are also underway to expand the ZCLC programme in Western and Luapula provinces fater the change of government in September 2011. The two organizations had at some point faced resistance as some Ministry of Education officials suspicious of critical civic NGOs issued orders for schools not to cooperate with civil society. This is changing under the new government.

    We also want reiterate that the mentioning of Zambian IPs by some regional groupings as representing them is usally misleading. It is common knowledge that any effort to help these minorities should be driven by themselves. And that has been what CEG and ZCLC encourages. Doing things for IP does not guarantee their emancepation and this is one reason why most of these these minorities are still suffering despite several UN human Rights instruments being in place for decades.


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