Underreported Struggles #54, September 2011

Underreported Struggles #54, September 2011

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October 2, 2011

In this month’s Underreported Struggles: Ontario First Nation issues eviction notice to Canadian mining company; Displaced Triqui women forced to suspend peaceful sit-in; Kalahari Bushmen gain access to water on their ancestral lands

Underreported Struggles, September 2011

Burma’s President announced that the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River would be halted “to respect the will of the people.” Grace Mang, program coordinator at International Rivers, said: “The suspension of the Myitsone Dam is a great success for civil society groups in Burma and throughout the world. The decision shows that dam builders can no longer rely on dictatorial governments to push through projects that are rejected by their populations.”

An alliance of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera region are outraged over a recent decision by the Philippines government to lift its moratorium on the acceptance and granting of new mining applications. The moraturium was instituted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in February of the year.

A Federal judge in Brazil suspended work on the controversial Belo Monte dam project, citing concerns that it would impact local fish stocks and harm indigenous peoples who rely on fishing. In his ruling, Judge Carlos Castro Martins explicitly forbade Norte Energia, the consortium behind the dam, from “building a port, using explosives, installing dikes, building canals and any other infrastructure work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river, thereby affecting local fish stocks”.

Colombia’s National Civil Registry finally promised to take action to correct thousands of outrageous identity cards that government notaries issued to the Indigenous Wayuu People. According to a recent report, as many as 50,000 Wayuu have received official ID cards that don false and degrading names like “Tarzan”, “Alka-Seltzer,” “clown,” “gorilla,” and “cappuccino” among many others. Estercilia Simanca Pushaina, a lawyer, writer and Wayuu leader, says the practice of falsely identifying the Wayuu has been going on for generations

A group of displaced Triqui women from the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala, have been forced by the government of Oaxaca to suspend their peaceful sit-in which began more than 12 months ago. The government took advantage of a new agreement with the Triqui to push everyone off the main plaza in Oaxaca city and prevent them from returning. The sit-in began in August 2010, one month before Triqui Authorities evacuated the town of San Juan Copala. The evacuation was ordered almost immediately after paramilitaries threatened to execute all supporters of the autonomous municipality.

In a huge win for Indigenous and forest dwelling peoples throughout Indonesia who are struggling to assert their customary land rights in the face of massive palm oil expansion, Chief Justice Mahfud M.D. ruled that two Articles of Indonesian law used to imprison community members are unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid. Articles 21 and 47 of Indonesia’s Plantation Act are responsible for the widespread criminalization of forest community members who often end up in jail for defending their land rights against the ever-encroaching expansion of oil palm plantations.

More than 100 Shuar indigenous people blocked the Morona River, disrupting Canadian-based Talisman Energy’s exploratory drilling operations in the Peruvian Amazon. At least four of Talisman’s cargo boats have been detained in the blockade.

A northern Ontario First Nation is urgently calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to stop gold mining exploration on a sacred burial site. KI First Nation explains that the Toronto-based company God’s Lake Resources deliberately ignored their widely-publicized moratorium on exploration and overstepped their Indigenous rights to explore for gold in an area where multiple sacred KI graves are located. KI has since issued the company an eviction notice.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) is now accepting public comments on the Wishbone Hill coal strip mine–a controversial 8,100-acre coal mine project that could drastically impact the health of thousands of families in southern Alaska. More than 80,000 people live downwind from the proposed mine site, which means they could be routinely exposed to toxic coal dust. One particular community lives less than one mile away from the site.

A top court in Costa Rica ruled that the ancestral lands of the Bri-bri indigenous people must be returned, handing one of the country’s most marginalized groups a legal victory. A lawyer for the indigenous group said that the ruling was “historic” and that the Bri-bri consider these lands to be sacred. Government agencies now have one month to decide which individuals living on the reserve will have to evacuate.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) hijacked a boat filled with emergency medicines for the Nukak, one of Colombia’s near-extinct Indigenous Peoples. The National Indigenous Organization ONIC told Survival International that FARC gave those on board twenty minutes to flee. Once they did, FARC took the boat and everything in it, from medicines to stretchers, surgical equipment and computers.

A special Peruvian Government Commission officially confirmed Maple Energy’s role in environmental pollution and health problems affecting two Shipibo communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Over the past three years, the Ireland-based company has been responsible for six oil spills on Shipibo lands. The announcement comes just two months after 32 Shipibo men were forced to clean up one of those spills with their bare hands.

A group of women from the Blood Tribe were arrested after peacefully confronting the US company Murphy Oil on the Blood Reserve in Southern Alberta. The women, who were eventually charged with “intimidation”, were attempting to stop the construction of four new fracking sites in a massive area that was leased out to Murphy Oil by the Blood Tribe Chief and Council. The women, who have have trying to stop fracking on the reserve for more than year, said that they had no choice but to take action.

Indigenous peoples in the Malaysian state of Sarawak lost a 12-year old legal battle over a massive government land seizure that led to the notorious Bakun dam project. The Iban, Dayak, Kayan, Kenyah and Ukit peoples argued that the government unlawfully took the land, which had occupied by their ancestors for generations.

The Kalahari Bushmen are celebrating a major victory in their struggle to return home with their Indigenous rights intact. For the first time in nine years, the Bushmen have access to drinking water! The welcomed victory stems from a new partnership between Gem Diamonds Botswana and the NGO Vox United to provide the indigenous residents with access to water at four villages in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

In the Altai Republic, the Tubalar People are demanding compensation from the Russian space agency Roskosmos because of damages caused by a Proton rocket that crash landed on the Tubalar’s traditional territory. The Tubalar say that the rocket, which used a highly toxic fuel called heptyl, has poisoned their cedar cones, one of the Tubalars’ staple foods. They also say many people experienced respiratory problems and headaches after the crash.

Videos of the Month

Written Out of History: The Untold Legacy of Native American Slavery – Written Out of History blends historical facts with accounts of the forgotten legacy of Native American slavery as told by indigenous scholars and anthropologists.

The Lost Taino Tribe – THE LOST TAINO TRIBE examines the complex issue of Taino history in Boriquén (Puerto Rico) and documents the efforts of the Taino resurgence movement taking place throughout the Americas.

Body, Home, Mother Earth – In Body, Home, Mother Earth (Cuerpo, Casa, Madre Tierra) you will learn about the Tutu Naku Peoples, their traditional practices, their relationships with the Earth, and their struggle to preserve a biocultural heritage that is being eroded from the outside-in. (Film in Spanish and English)

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 or Facebook!

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