Underreported Struggles #1, March 2007

Underreported Struggles #1, March 2007

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John Ahni Schertow
May 11, 2007
 

Under-reported Struggles and our need to be aware of them: In my day to day research I come across many situations that get almost zero overage by alternative and mainstream news.

It’s a particularly disturbing trend since the vast majority of these situations involve rampant human rights abuses and military offensives against Indigenous People.

It’s also one that I’m going to try and help to reverse, by proving a monthly roundup of Underreported Struggles, starting with a brief look at some of the actions and events that took place during the months of March and April, 2007.

In providing these briefs, it is my hope that readers will take the initiative to similarly help inform others about what is happening around us, without or knowledge or consent.

30 days of April

Indonesia – Special Autonomy has Failed
More than 1,500 students on Friday gathered in front of the governors palace in Jayapura, the capital of the Indonesian province of Papua, demanding an end to the province?s special autonomy status, which they say does not work. The protestors called instead for dialogue with the government to decided the future of the province. “We want a three-way dialogue, involving Jakarta, a delegation from Papua and a representative from a neutral organisation.”

Ngati Tamaahuroa Haapu Reclamation
Maori involved in the illegal occupation of two schools, including alleged vandalism and apparent theft of thousands of litres of water, are set to be rewarded with free land leases.

Protecting Shipibo Territory
an aggressive program of Amazonian ‘development’ has been promoted during the past 50 years, which has fragmented Shipibo territory by the incursion of non-indigenous colonists, government ‘development’ projects, and foreign corporations exploiting the land by logging, hydrocarbon extraction, and industrial-scale agriculture. However, protecting indigenous land rights has come to the forefront in their struggles for self-determination as the Peruvian government continues to open up the farthest reaches of the Amazon basin for oil exploration and other extractive enterprises.

Encroachment of Semai Land
One day in March, tractors and earthmovers suddenly appeared in their settlement near this town and began mowing down fruit trees and rubber plants the Semai people had planted for a livelihood.

‘It was sudden and without any warning,’ Tijah Yok Chopil, said a Semai woman talking in Malay during a meeting with IPS at their Kampung Chang village. ‘We were told to tally our trees, fruits and animals because all these had to make way for a new project.’

Penan build five new blockades
Five new blockades have been set up by Penan tribal communities in the Malaysian province of Sarawak in an attempt to stop loggers destroying their forest homes. On April 4th 2007 officers of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, supported by the police, dismantled another Penan blockade for the second time this year. The police used chainsaws to destroy the blockades and fired gun shots to intimidate the Penan.

New Zealand – Ocupation Alert. Maori Reclamation
WHAKAKORO: It is the sacred Maunga of our ancestors Ueoneone and Reitu. All Ngapuhi whakapapa back to these Tupuna. It is the Maunga from which Ueoneone summoned his mystical Manu ( Bird ) to travel to Tainui to return with Reipai and Reitu. We are occupying our ancestral Maunga Whakakoro to stop it from being alienated from the Hapu forever.

Land Action in Brazil
As a part of International Peasant Struggle Day, as well as the National Day of the struggle for Agrarian Reform (established by the government in 2002) MST Brazil has initiated several large-scale protests and blockades, aswell as a Petition campaign (see below)

Lake Cowal – Mine occupied, third warning to Barrick Gold
On April 8th, around 80 people gathered at a Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal in central New South Wales and entered the mine, the offices, and chaining themselves to the machinery – grinding mining operations to a halt. The next day, the police arrested 14 people at the site, charging them with entering ‘inclosed land’, under the obscure Inclosed Land Act of 1901.

India – Land reclaim dispute over drying dam
The Gumti hydel project displaced approximately 25,000 indigenous People, and now that the water levels from the dam have dropped severely, hundreds are attempting to reclaim the land – but the police are chasing the people away.

31 days of March

Indonesia – Stop the Northern Coastal Reclamation Project
We know that your country had suffered like us, and we also know that it is quite impossible to measure one’s suffering and compare it to the suffering of others, to the fact that we are still in the same earth in which capital power had spread their influence everywhere. We are in this together. Even so, we would like to inform you what we are facing and trying to do down here.

Mexico – Alliances fight for Huichol land
‘The most important development has been communal organizations,’ Chavez explained. ‘When the pueblos form alliances, they’re better able to resist. One pueblo becomes many, which can organize regionally and then coordinate even on a national and international level. In large part, this is how the lands have been returned to the Huichol.’

India – residents stop illegal construction of toxic waste landfill
More than 500 residents, primarily women, from S.R. Kandigai panchayat in Gummidipoondi physically entered and stopped work at the project site of Tamil Nadu Waste Management Ltd (TNWML)’s hazardous waste landfill and incinerator. The construction was being carried out without permission from the local Government bodies and against the wishes of local residents. Representatives of Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM) and Chennai based youth group Youth for Social Change (YSC) also joined the residents in solidarity.

AU:Blockade set up against company threatening sacred sites
Iluka Mining Corporation’s activities were disrupted by Indigenous Traditional Owners, their families and supporters on a dusty back road in the Yumbarra Conservation Park near Ceduna on Friday 29th March.

The Kokatha Mula Traditional Owners are currently in the Conservation Park undertaking preservation of country including vital maintenance of rockholes. On Friday they encountered Iluka Resources workers clearing roads in preparation for mining exploration, which could include drilling for water.

Philippines – Tribal Folks Demand they be consulted
Learning from past transgressions on their rights by government agencies and private corporations made tribal folks more aware of their rights. Indigenous peoples are pushing that they be consulted first before projects start in their communities.

Burma – Dams on Salween Threaten Indigenous Groups
‘We still do not know where we will be moved. The officials who came to survey our village and the nearby area did not ask for our views or discuss the plans,’ says Nu, whose village has thrived on an economy of rice and vegetable farming for nearly 100 years. ‘That is why we are against the dams being built on the Salween.’

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