Underreported Struggles #45, December 2010

by January 3, 2011
 

In this month’s Underreported Struggles: Ecuadorian soldiers evict Kichwa community; UN approves two Resolutions from Bolivia; South Dakota OK’s oil drilling near Mato Paha; Australian NGO starts emergency campaign to support the Hmong.

Underreported Struggles #45

Members of the Toba Qom community of La Primavera called off a hunger strike after the Argentine government agreed to listen to their demands for justice and the return of lands. the Hunger strike began roughly three weeks after the Toba were brutally repressed by the police, resulting in the death of three people.

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Chilean police forces violently assaulted the Rapanui on two separate occasions. Most recently, on December 29, “a contingency of 200 armed police began violently dislodging the Rapanui Parliament from their headquarters in the center of the town of Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui,” reports Save Rapanui. The police are said to have beaten dozens of people with clubs, “including children and women.” Acting on government orders, the police are attempting to stop the Rapanui from successfully reclaiming ancestral lands.

La Cuna de Aztlán, a prestigious indigenous cultural protection group, filed a lawsuit with a US District Court challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) decision to permit six large solar energy projects in Southern California. The essentially pristine desert region is home to more than 17,000 Cultural Sites, including petroglyphs and extremely large and delicate earth drawings known as geopglyphs. La Cuna and other plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against all six projects.

Australia’s Federal Environment Minister granted an emergency listing to a sacred site near Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania. The culturally important site is home to approx. three million indigenous artifacts, some of which are up to 42,000 years old. However, despite the now-protected status of the site, the government claims that it “cannot” stop the Brighton Bypass project… even though it will irreparably damage the site.

The Peruvian National Police opened fire on Campesinos near the Andean city of Huaraz in the Department of Ancash, Peru. After allegedly being attacked with “sticks and stones” the PNP began firing at the Campesinos with tear gas and live ammunition. A total of five people were seriously injured in the attack. One person, a student named Willy Cadillo Vergara, later died from his injuries.

The General Assembly of the United Nations approved two resolutions presented by Bolivia. The first, entitled “Harmony with Nature,” asks to convene an interactive dialogue on International Mother Earth Day on April 22nd, 2011. The second resolution convenes a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, with the objective of contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Radio Free Asia reported that the Chinese Government is preparing to displace up to 4,000 Tibetans from their lands for a new hydro dam in Lhundrub county, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). In recent months, China has become increasingly belligerent towards the Tibetan people, which means it may be just a matter of time before they make their move. According to local sources, “The Chinese have already built houses exclusively for the Chinese soldiers who have arrived to work on the dam.”

According to Kichwa leaders from the Amazon province of Napo, Ecuadorian soldiers entered the Kichwa Tzawata community on November 29 “to evacuate them” for a new a mining project. Modesto Alvarado, a representative from the community, stated that 63 soldiers entered the community to make way for the return of the Merendon Mining Corporation, which exited the region in 2007. The government claims that it had no knowledge of the eviction.

In the Sarawak region of Borneo, the Penan discovered that the rainforest to which they were planning to relocate, is being actively cleared for oil palm plantations. As reported by Aliran, “[1,000] Penan are being forced to move by the Sarawak state government to allow the billion-dollar Murum dam project to go ahead.” With the relocation site site being destroyed, it is unclear where the Penan will be able to go.

The state of South Dakota approved a new oil drilling project near Mato Paha (Bear Butte), an important place of ceremony and worship for more than a dozen Indigenous Nations including the Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota and the Arapahoe. While the drilling site is technically on private land, it is located less than 1.5 miles away from Mato Paha, which is listed as a National Historical Landmark, a National Historical Place and a National Natural Landmark.

Sixty-one Indigenous Nations came together in Canada for an historic alliance to protect the Fraser River watershed and to declare their opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Signed in Williams Lake, the “Save the Fraser Gathering of Nations” declaration states: “We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.”

Members of an indigenous community in northern Colombia threatened to kill themselves unless the national government recognizes them as as an official Indigenous Nation which would grant them improved access to health care, education and land under Colombia’s constitution. “We are telling the nation and the Americas that there is a people called the Cacique Chinchelejo and that we have needs and must be recognized,” a spokesman of the community said.

In the United States, a federal judge upheld a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow snowmaking with treated sewage wastewater at a northern Arizona ski resort. The ruling dealt a major blow to the Save the Peaks Coalition and others who have been trying to protect the San Francisco Peaks. Save the Peaks is now in the process of appealing the decision.

The indigenous community Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI, Big Trout Lake) told De Beers Canada that they will not allow any mining on their land as currently proposed by the company. In a letter copied to Ontario’s premier Dalton McGuinty, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the U.N., the community’s chief and council laid out a number of issues that must be considered before any mining exploration takes place.

The Australian-based volunteer-run organization Little Survivors started an emergency campaign to support the Hmong Peoples in Laos. According to a recent press release, Lao authorities have begun a military campaign, with the assistance of Vietnamese troops, to completely exterminate the Hmong by the end of January 2011 prior to a visit by an overseas official.

The Guarani community of Ypo’i won a vital court ruling in late November. According to Survival International, the court ruled that the community could remain on a small piece of land they reclaimed in April, “while authorities map out their territory.” Since September, the community has been “imprisoned” by a rancher that claims the land is his private property. As a result, the Guarani have been unable to leave the area or access desperately-needed food, water and medical supplies. The court also ordered the rancher to let authorities deliver supplies to the Guarani. Unfortunately, it appears that rancher has decided to defy the courts.

The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake teamed up with the Union des Producteurs Agricoles of Deux-Montagnes and the coalition of committees formed by local citizens to send out a resounding “No!” to the arrival of a niobium mining company, Niocan, in Oka Quebec. “The mine would be in operation for 17 years and would occupy about 6.4 hectares of arable land. Contrary to what Niocan is trying to make us believe, the company has not obtained social acceptance. Citizens and Mohawk oppose this project which would disrupt the local landscape,” states a press release.

Videos of the Month

Interview with Julio Parra, Huichol Medicine Man – Julio Parra talks about the Cerro Quemado, sacred mountain of the Huichol People, and why we should help protect it from a mining company.

Connection to a Place – Esther Stutzman, Kalapuya and Coos Elder, speaking at the 1st Annual Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Ecosystem Sustainability Conference, May 14, 2010.

The Chaco Forest and Its People – The Chaco Forest and Its People” documents the work of the Amotocodie Initiative and Ayoreo leaders to support – from a distance – groups of uncontacted Ayoreo in the Chaco Forest and to protect their rights to life and self-determination.

Underreported Struggles is a monthly roundup of news, petitions, videos and events compiled by intercontinentalcry.org.