Underreported Struggles #50, May 2011

by June 2, 2011
 

In this month’s Underreported Struggles: The Triqui people issue an urgent call for solidarity and action; Canadian company admits its wrongdoings to the Subanon people; Quechua community blocks geneticists from trying to collect their DNA; Residents from 10 villagers set fire to logging camps, machinery in Malaysia

Underreported Struggles, May 2011

Three women from Grassy Narrows are blocking the Ministry of Natural Resources (MRN) from accessing Segeisse Road in the Anishinabe community’s traditional territory. The road is in desperate need of work, and Grassy Narrows is attempting to fix it with their own contractors. Rather than do it themselves (because of community’s ongoing blockade), MNR is threatening to lay $10,000 fines against the community and its contractors.

The British Colombia Supreme Court granted an injunction to the Wet’suwet’en Nation, preventing Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (“Canfor”) from engaging in timber harvesting activities within a culturally vital portion of Wet’suwet’en Territory. Canfor had been seeking its own injunction after the Ginehklaiyex House Group blocked access to the territory in 2009; but the Wet’Suwet’en countered with their own injunction.

Owners of the Arizona Snowbowl ski area began construction of a wastewater pipeline on the San Francisco Peaks, a sacred site to more than 13 Indigenous Nations. Local environmental justice organizations, Tribal representatives, and members of Flagstaff community are currently preparing a course of action to defend the Peaks.

Roughly 10,000 Indigenous People are protesting against the oncoming Santa Ana silver mine in southeastern Peru near the border with Bolivia. The Indigenous people are concerned that pollution from the new mine would threaten their livelihoods and contaminate local rivers and lakes.

The Triqui people of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca, Mexico, issued an urgent call for solidarity and action for June 2nd, 2011. Late last year, the Triqui were forced to abandon the municipality, which had already been under siege by paramilitaries for most of the year. Just prior to the evacuation, the paramilitaries threatened to kill anyone that supported the municipality. Now, after being away for more than 5 months, the Triqui people are attempting to return home.

The UK-group Survival International reported that a Guarani community in Brazil decided to retake a part of their ancestral land, after living on the edge of a highway for more than 12 months. According to Survival, the Guarani simply marched back to their land, unwilling to further endure the appalling conditions they have been subjected to by the side of a road.

TVI Resource Development, Inc. (TVIRDI), after years of violating the human rights and customary laws of the Subanon People, admitted its wrongdoings in a cleansing Ceremony led by the Subanon’s traditional judicial authority. During the ceremony, the company acknowledged that Mount Canatuan is indeed a sacred site and that they were wrong for desecrating it. They also agreed to pay the fines as stipulated by the traditional authority.

Land acquisition plans for Posco’s proposed mega steel project in Orissa were postponed following resistance from indigenous villagers who oppose and support(!) the project. The agitating villagers say the Government-led plan to acquire land is, in no uncertain terms, “illegal”. The acquisition would ruin the livelihoods of thousands of families.

Leaders from the Quechua community of Q’eros blocked a group of geneticists from entering their community to collect DNA samples for the National Geographic’s Genographic Project. The Quechua, concerned that no one was properly consulted about the visit, turned to the Cusco state government for help. Cucso ultimately ultimately sided with the community, forcing the Genographic Project to back off.

Seven people were killed at Barrick Gold’s North Mara mine in Tanzania after more than 1,000 people, desperate to find leftover scraps of gold, invaded the modern mine site. Following the the fatal confrontation, police “stormed a local mortuary and stole the bodies of four of the dead”. They also arrested and charged two members of Parliament, a legal adviser, and journalists for allegedly “instigating people to cause violence.” Just days after these and other disturbing events took place, even more allegations of sexual assault surfaced against employees of the company.

CONADI, the Chilean Government’s Indigenous Corporation, purchased more than one million acres of land for 115 Mapuche communities in Chile’s Araucanía Region. The move brings an end to several long-standing land claims, including that of the the Mapuche community of Cea Trecalaf No. 2, which was broken up more than 35 years ago.

Hundreds of Maasai, Sukuma, Barbaig and Taturu pastoralists refused to leave the Maswa Game Reserve because of their historical ties to the land. The Tanzania government wants the pastoralists out of the reserve, which borders the world-famous Serengeti National Park, because of an all-too-familiar claim: “environmental degradation concerns”.

The Goa government ordered the closure of an illegal open cast iron mine after a sustained protest by Indigenous villagers. The villagers, concerned about a mining company’s takeover of a hill vital to their beliefs, wisely set up a protest camp outside the private home of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, an official who had the authority to shut down the mine.The Minister conceded to the villagers after just one day.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench forced the Provincial government to halt work on a campground expansion project within the Cold Lake First Nation’s (CLFN) traditional territory. The welcomed ruling also brought an end to the emergency cultural camp set up by a group of Dene to physically halt any construction work from taking place in the area.

A group of Navajos turned to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), after years of fruitless legal fighting in the US, to halt a risky uranium mining operation that threatens the drinking water for about 15,000 people. Similar to the Navajo move, the Lakota–partly driven by their own concerns with uranium–are attempting to approach the United Nations International Court of Justice (IJC). Systemic discrimination by the entire US court system is leaving Indigenous Nations like the Lakota and Navajo no choice but to seek justice elsewhere.

Fisherfolk and indigenous people in southern Chile also turned to the IACHR for help in their 15-year conflict with Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO), a paper pulp company which plans to dump toxic waste into the ocean. They’re also trying to take the Chilean state to task for alleged human rights violations.

Residents from 10 Bidayuh villagers set fire to five logging camps and thirteen heavy machines in a dramatic protest against logging activities on their land, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. As reported by Free Malaysia Today, the villagers took matters into their own hands because the government refused to address any of their complaints about what was happening on their land without their consent.

In the lead up to the 7th Arctic Council meeting in Nuuk, Greenland, a group of 20 NGOs sent an open letter to the Arctic Coastal State Foreign Ministers of Canada, U.S., Russia, Greenland, Denmark and Norway, demanding a moratorium on all offshore drilling in the Arctic. The letter is an important first step for solidarity against Arctic offshore drilling–and perhaps all troubling developments in the global North. The entire region is itself being increasingly viewed as a haven for all forms of economic development under the scolding hot sun.

The Philippines government, in a surprise move, cancelled its Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) for several mining concessions in Palawan. However, the Indigenous People of Palawan are not quite ready to celebrate, given recent moves by the MacroAsia Corporation, not to mention the Health Departments near-portrayal of Indigenous People as “dirty animals”.

A Purepecha community stood up to organized criminal gangs in the state of Michoacan, western Mexico; declaring an emergency “state of siege” and blocking all access routes to their community. Leading up to what Purepecha leaders have called “an act of desperation,” a group of heavily-armed men opened fire on the community, seriously injuring one person. The armed men where officially escorted by the police.

Videos of the Month

The Dark Side of Green – In the southern region of Mato Grosso do Sul, on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, the most populous indigenous nation of the country silently struggles for its territory, trying to contain the advance of its powerful enemies.

Don’t Dam the Patuca River! – A Chinese dam project threatens Central America’s largest tropical rainforest and local Indigenous peoples: the Tawahka, Miskito, Pech and Garifuna.

Algonquins of Barriere Lake vs Section 74 of the Indian Act – Barriere Lake Solidarity has produced this video to help bring attention to the current struggle of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake: The Canadian Government’s attempt to take control of the community through an obscure provision of the Indian Act.

The Huarani: Savages of Oriente/Protectors of the Forest – There is more than one side to every story. The tale of the Huaorani is no different. As we continue to witness the destruction of their homeland in the world’s largest rainforest, it is impossible to ignore how our own fate is linked to theirs.

Underreported Struggles is a monthly round-up of censored and under-reported news, compiled by Intercontinental Cry. If you want to know about these stories “as they happen”, follow IC on Twitter: @indigenous_news or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Intercontinental.Cry