Underreported Struggles #70, January 2013
In this month’s Underreported Struggles: Triqui people reclaim position in front of government palace; India Supreme Court bans tourists from using road through Jarawa lands; Kicha community says it will “die fighting to protect the rainforest”.
Barrick Gold, one of Canada’s most notorious mining companies, implemented a conditional treatment program for women in Papua New Guinea who have been gang raped by the company’s employees. In order to receive support from the program, the women must sign away their right to seek legal action against the company. In 2011, the Founder and Chairman of Barrick Gold, Peter Munk, dismissed charges of gang rape by his company’s security guards by claiming that gang rape was a “cultural habit” in Papua New Guinea.
In New Zealand, the Nga Kaitiaki o te Awaawa o Manaia declared a halt on all mining activity in their valley south of Katikati. Last September, an exploration permit was granted to Broken River Co. Ltd to explore for gold, silver and quartz in the Manaia catchment. The permit covers approximately 80,000 hectares
Despite the best efforts of the Idle No More movement in Canada, the Canadian government un-apologetically announced that it would not budge from its position on Bill C-45 and all the other unconstitutional bills that led to the movement’s popular uprising in December. Not long after that, Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike came to a close and large segments of the movement stepped away from the public’s watchful eye (leading many to believe that INM had come to an end) to consider more long term matters.
Meanwhile, a new bill was brought forward in Canada that Indigenous Peoples could whole-heatedly accept. While no consultation has been carried out, Bill C-469 would compel the government of Canada to ensure that its laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Triqui people of San Juan Copala reclaimed their long-held position in front of the Government Palace in Oaxaca City after being forcibly evicted by state and municipal police in December. The plantón (protest camp) was cleared, for the second time since 2011, to make way for the many tourists that would descend on Oaxaca during the Christmas period.
The Guyanese High Court ruled in favour of a miner who has a concession on titled indigenous lands. The ruling stated that miners who obtained mining permits prior to the Amerindian Act of 2006 are not bound by its provisions, and consequently do not have to obtain permission from indigenous peoples before carrying out operations on their lands.
Indigenous people in south Australia who were exposed to British nuclear tests during the 1950s were told that they have no hope of compensation. A British law firm told them that their case cannot proceed because medical science cannot conclusively prove that fallout from the tests made people sick.
Anonymous launched #OpThunderbird, a new campaign that is responding to the utter lack of investigation of widespread murdered, raped and missing Indigenous Women in Canada. The campaign has created a vehicle not only for witnesses, victims and their families but also for the larger public who have remained largely ignorant of the situation.
The Khoisan, Indigenous Peoples in South Africa, are opposing the government’s plan to build the country’s first nuclear power station on land that is culturally sensitive to the Khoisan. Eskom, an electricity public utility in South Africa that would build the power station, says that, as long as they build away from the coastline it won’t damage anything.
India’s Supreme Court finally banned all tourists from traveling along the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road, a controversial highway that was used for over a decade to conduct “human safaris” on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India. The welcomed decision arrived one year after a reporter working for the Observer released a shocking video in which a group of Jarawa women and children were being forced to dance for tourists.
Trucks filled with timber from illegal logging operations in the Brazilian Amazon were stopped in their tracks by an indigenous village protesting the continued exploitation of their lands.
With little or no support from the local or federal authorities, the Pukobjê-Gavião people in Maranhão state, Brazil, are refusing to stand aside as their forests are destroyed by illegal loggers.
The Western Australia State government gave Woodside petroleum permission to destroy ancient burial grounds near James Price Point for its controversial gas hub.
State Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier issued the permit under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (permission to desecrate an Aboriginal site). Traditional owners, allies and some sympathetic politicians are now calling on Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, to reverse the decision.
France, the former slave power of west Africa, poured into Azawad with a vengeance, bombing towns and cities across the southern end of territory–what is now, according to all the maps, considered to be northern Mali. The invasion received universal support from France’s imperialist allies, the U.S., Canada and Europe. The reason for the invasion is widely reported as an effort to stop “Islamic terrorists” and “jihadists”; however it is well understood that (like all major colonial crusades) the primary interest is securing future profits.
The Aotearoa Ainumosir Exchange successfully carried out a major online fundraiser, ensuring that a group of 7 Ainu youth, accompanied by 3 Ainu committee members and 3 interpreters, can study the various ambitious endeavors of the Maori people who have successfully revitalized their rights as indigenous people while living with strength in the society of New Zealand.
The Bribri recovered some 40 hectares of land in the community of Santa Elena de las Brisas in Costa Rica. According to National Indigenous Mesa Costa Rica (MNICR), the land was held illegally by non-Indians, who used it as pasture.
A young Tibetan man set himself on fire and died outside a police station in China’s Sichuan province in a challenge to Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas. It was the second Tibetan self-immolation this year and the 97th since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.
In West Papua, police forces tried and failed to provoke violence at a demonstration in Manokwari, where protest has been banned. Well over 1000 people engaged in a colourful and vibrant demonstration calling for West Papuan independence. They were shadowed at all times by at least 200 police personnel, 2 truckloads of soldiers, 8 armed motorcyclists, and an extra truckload of elite Dalmas Riot Police.
As peace talks continue between the Colombian National Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC–EP), Indigenous peoples are continuing to suffer as a result of continued clashes between the rebels and Colombian forces. Such clashes have already taken the lives of more than 2000 Embera, Arhuaco, Awa, Nasa and others who are caught in the crossfire.
Three Bushman (San) children were arrested by paramilitary police in Botswana. The arrests were the latest signs of a new government policy to intimidate Bushmen who have returned to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The children were arrested for being in possession of antelope meat. All have since been released, but further reports of harassment and intimidation have surfaced, and there have been a growing number of arrests.
A Kichwa community in the Ecuadorian rainforest–who is being swindled into giving up their land rights to 70,000 hectares–have said that they “will die fighting to protect the rainforest”. The community explains that their chief signed away the rights to the land for $40 per hectare to the state-backed oil company, PetroAmazonas (which is also backed by the Ecuadorean army); however, 80 percent of the village was opposed to the deal.
In Canada, the Government of Ontario began proceedings to overturn a major legal victory for Grassy Narrows in their decade-long battle for Treaty rights and against clearcut logging on their territory. In 2011, the Ontario Superior Court found that the Government did not have the power to unilaterally take away rights promised in Treaty 3 by authorizing industry activities.
The Ethiopian Government continues to move forward with its plans to construct the Gibe III Dam, a project that threatens the cultures and traditional economies of some 500,000 Indigenous peoples in Ethiopia and Kenya. Despite the immensity of the threat, and the overt willingness on part of the government to remove anyone in their way, the situation continues to be widely ignored by activists.
The Ngäbe and Buglé peoples headed out for another round of demonstrations to call attention to the Panamanian government’s non-compliance with peace accords that ended last year’s deadly protests. Activists and leaders of the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca in western Panama claim the state has failed to compensate victims of Police violence, and has allowed the continued construction of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam which will drown Ngäbe communities and farmland along the Tabasara River.
Videos of the Month
Nilliajut: Inuit Perspectives on Security, Patriotism and Sovereignty, discusses climate change, food security and mental health within the context of inherited and acquired patterns of life.
Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship: Indigenous Peoples concerned, experts and practitioners on the ground discuss community protocols, answering the questions: Why are they so important to ensure justice for Indigenous and Local Communities? And what makes them so successful?
Breaking Down the Indian Act with Russell Diabo: In this 30 minute video, Russell Diabo sits down to discuss the ins and outs of the Indian Act, Aboriginal policy and the infamous legislative termination plan of the Harper government.