Underreported Struggles #13, April 2008

Underreported Struggles #13, April 2008

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John Ahni Schertow

The short-lived trend of corporate social responsibility came to a grinding halt in April, reminding us yet again that they have no intention of changing voluntarily, atleast, not as long as their wants take precedence over rights and the needs of others.

And of course it was business as usual for Nation States – especially Canada, America and Bangladesh, who jumped at the chance to attack Indigenous people and illegally invade and usurp their lands.

Now for the depressing truth: In the coming months, there will be more invasions and offensives, more arrests and abuses, more displacement and land theft, more cultural and environmental destruction. And we’ll see it get worse. More aggressive, more invasive, more damaging.

Should we expect anything less? This is how it’s always been, and there’s no reason to think it’s going to change any time soon, providing, of course, that we continue trying to address them as we always have.

I realize the hypocrisy in that satement, but the way I see it, throughout all of history, it has never been the ones in power to take responsbility for themselves, to make the changes we need them to make. It’s always been us.

And what are we doing today to bring that change? We mimick tactics and strategies that have long since played out (that never really worked in the first place), our groups are stoic and passionless, and we ourselves are divided, overwhelmed, and afraid to take risks (which is not to say we have to get violent.).

Where in that can you see room for change? It’s like were planting a seed in a bucket of cement and expecting it to grow…. The kicker being that we know it won’t work, but we try anyways. And then we try again.

How long before we stop trying and start doing? Will we wait until there’s no more green grass, flowing water, and cultural diversity? Something to think about as you go over this month’s Underreported Struggles

April 29
No Toxic Dump on O’odham Land!
On March 29, Traditional O’odham leaders and International Supporters gathered in the small village of Quitovac in Sonora, Mexico, to organize against a toxic waste dump that threatens one of the O’odham’s most sacred Ceremonial sites. O’odham Solidarity asks you to “please write letters to the officials listed on the Green Action website and to sign the online petition being circulated. In the past we have won concrete victories using these basic tactics. Let’s hope that this time, once again, nothing more will be needed!”

April 28
Malaysian Government Must Recognise Sarawak People’s Land Rights
The International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) for Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights has demanded that the continued arrest of indigenous community leaders by the police, acting in collusion with plantation companies in Sarawak must stop immediately. The recent arrests of five community leaders in the Kg. Wawasan area with trumped up charges organized by the company with the support of the police reflects the high handedness in which plantation companies violate the native customary rights to land by the indigenous communities.

April 26
State Troopers illegally Occupying Sioux Lands
Presently, State troopers from South Dakota are illegally occupying Yankton Sioux Lands. They began doing so on April 15, after Yankton Sioux Tribal Members began protesting a Hog Farm being constructed on their territory without their consent. According to the Atlantic Free Press, the Sioux Protesters were “met immediately with illegal law enforcement presence and arrest[s]. To date twenty-two people have been arrested on trumped up charges and there has been a total over reaction of law enforcement numbering up to 52 SD Highway Patrol Cars with 22 more Highway Patrol cars waiting in reserve. Some patrol cars from as far away as the state of Iowa.

April 25
Settlers attack Jumma in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
On April 20th, hundreds of illegal settlers attacked seven Jumma communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) of Bangladesh. Over 500 houses are reported to have been burned, and an unknown number of Jumma were assaulted, raped, and looted during the attack. According to a recent report by the Asia Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), the attack comes shortly after a group of Jumma gathered to discuss how to defend themselves against an attack, which they had been hearing rumors about. Somehow, the army learned about the gathering…

Mohawks surrounded by OPP
In case you’ve not yet heard, the Ontario Provincial Police surrounded a group of Mohawks on April 25, after the Mohawks set up a blockade to prevent an illegal development project. The OPP went on to make several arrests. The blockade was removed (voluntarily by the Mohawks) on April 29, though several of the arrested are now awaiting trial. Here you will find a list of (mostly non-mainstream) news and updates sent out during the offensive.

April 22
Development Bank pulls away from Phulbari
Early this month, the director general of Asia Development Bank (ADB)’s Private Sector Operations Department declared that his agency would ‘decline the opportunity’ of investing in the Phulbari mine in Bangladesh. The Asian Development Bank was considering a plan to give a $100 million loan to GCM Resources, the UK company behind the massive coal mine scheme. GCM had also asked the bank for a $200 million “political risk insurance package” to help protect them from any losses they would incur through local resistance… In 2006, over 50,000 people gathered to protest the mine, subsequently forcing GCM to shut down the operation and flee.

Campaigner Guide to Mine-Related Finance
Mines and Communities (MAC) has made a rather useful resource guide available on their website. Among other things, it provides a database on mining companies, their projects, and the names of the funders. Now I imagine I don’t have to tell you the significance of having such a resource, so let me just ask you to help spread the word that it exists.

Judge issues statement in uncontacted tribes court case
A judge in Peru has issued a statement dismissing the arguments of three companies and the Peruvian government in a court case involving some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes and oil exploration. The case was filed by Peru’s Amazon Indian organisation, AIDESEP, in order to ban oil companies from working in regions of the Peruvian Amazon inhabited by uncontacted tribes.

April 21
Puerto Rico Denies Taino Effort to Clean River
On April 11 Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) informed the General Council of Tainos Borincanos that they would NOT be allowed to clean the Bucana river in Jacanas. As part of an effort to promote conservation and respect for the environment, the Council proposed the clean-up more than two months ago, to “mend the damage caused to the sacred site of Jacanas, Ponce, PR and to renew its integrity.”

April 20
Help protest violation of Binongan Indigenous Peoples in Philippines
The Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Binongan indigenous peoples in Baay-Licuan, Abra Philippines, was grossly violated by Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals for not securing such prior to exploration and drilling in the indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain at Capcapo mountain. Now, the communities opposing Olympus are militarised with the presence of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

April 18
Removal of illegal invaders suspended
The Brazilian Supreme Court has suspended the police operation that sought to evict a group of rice farmers illegally occupying Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous territory in the Brazilian state of Roraima. The decision came last Wednesday (April 9), after the farmers began threatening and attacking the regions indigenous people, destroying bridges, and setting up roadblocks to resist their eviction.

Mayans Fight New Dam in Guatemala
In the Quiche region of northern Guatemala, on the border with Mexico, lies the isolated Ixcan Municipality. It is home to around 75,000 indigenous Mayans who are mostly subsistence farmers. The area is beautiful, green and lush, charecterised by rushing rivers and jungles rich in biodiversity. Unfortunately for the indigenous population, the area also contains many of Guatemala’s most coveted natural resources – oil, gold, land perfect for large scale sugar cane plantations for biofuel production and rivers with the potential for massive energy production.

April 17
Lubicons walk out of AUC hearing
“If TransCanada tries to build this pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory without Lubicon consent — based on approval of an application to an Alberta Government regulatory agency that does not have legitimate authority in unceded Lubicon Territory — the Lubicon people will oppose it every inch of the way, every way we can, for as long as TransCanada Pipelines tries to operate in Lubicon Territory.”

April 15
Northwest Tribes Paid to Stop Calling For Dam Breaching
Four tribal governments in the US have accepted a $900 million payout to boost fish populations in the US Pacific Northwest, in exchange for an end to those tribes’ calls for dam removal and their support for federal fish management plans. The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation (OR), the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (OR), the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (WA) and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation (WA) agreed to the payout. The Nez Perce, however, refused the deal – saying it still wants the four lower dams on the Snake River removed.

Barí People Left Without Land by Oil, Cattle, Coal
Despite the demarcation of indigenous territories in Venezuela, and the Decree issued last year (see comment) by President Hugo Chavez that prohibited new coal mines from being built in the Sierra de Perija — and even though no more bombs are being tossed into their communities — the indigenous People of Venezuela, especially the Bari, continue to find themselves surrounded by the prospect of their own demise.

April 14
Judge grants U.S. access to Apache Lands
Brenda Norrell informs us that the judge presiding over the Lipan Apache lands right case has ruled in favor of Homeland Security, giving them access to survey Eloisa Tamez land so they can decide on what they want to take for the infamous, ill-conceived, and ultimately redundant Border Wall

April 11
Ngobe: We are desperate and abandoned
Earlier this month, the Ngobe of western Panama wrote an urgent appeal that asks the international community for immediate assistance. For some time now they’ve been struggling to stop the US-based company AES from building the Changuinola dam on their traditional lands. In recent months, the situation has become hopeless for the Ngobe. According to the appeal, the National Police have taken over their community and they are “being subjected to cruel violations of our fundamental human rights.” On top of that, the government has un-communicated them from the world; and they are quite literally being forced to sign away their lands, rights, and livelihoods

April 10
Stop Exporting Asbestos! A Plea to Canadians
This is a two part article. The first half talk about Canada’s active effort to sell and distribute abestos to countries like India and Pakistan. The second half focuses on asbestos in government-funded houses on Canadian Reserves, and the efforts of Raven Thundersky, who has now lost SIX members of her family to asbestos-related diseases.

Reproductive Toxin Found in Air Sample at First Nation burial ground on ‘Clean’ Air Day
A second air sample taken by the Aamjiwnaang Bucket Brigade contained some unpleasant results and further revelations about flaws in Canada’s pollution laws. The sample was taken on a ‘clean air’ day on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reserve, near Sarnia, Ontario, at the Aamjiwnaang burial grounds near Suncor, on a day when no odors or accidents were present. Instead of clean air, the results of the independent test revealed levels of two hazardous sulfur compounds that exceed known health based thresholds. One of the chemicals is listed as a known developmental toxin that can interfere with the reproduction system. See here for a related article.

April 08
An open letter to the US left from the Hawaiian sovereignty movement
The confluence of two forces–a massive military expansion in Hawai’i and Congressional legislation that will stymie the Kanaka Maoli [Native Hawaiian] sovereignty movement–will expand and consolidate the use of Hawai’i for US empire. We are calling on the US left to join our movement opposing these threats and to add our quest for independence as a plank of the broad US left strategy for a nonimperialist America. If you support peace and justice for the United States and the world, please support demilitarization and independence for Hawai’i.

How to starve indigenous communities
In recent years, the relative self-sufficiency of the Igorot People of the Cordillera mountains has been increasingly threatened by “modern agriculture,” which the Philippine Government has been pushing on them, “purportedly to increase crop production through high-yielding varieties (HYVs) and, lately, genetically engineered seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides…”

April 07
Japan denies existence of Indigenous People
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Taro Aso has called Japan a “one race” nation, an expression similar to a controversial statement in 1986 by then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, sources close to the minister said Monday. In a speech during a ceremony at the new Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Saturday, the sources said Aso described Japan as having “one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race. There is no other nation (that has such characteristics).”

Chiapas Government Frees 30 Political Prisoners
Kristin Bricker (mywordismyweapon.blogspot.com) reports that on Tuesday, April 1, “the Chiapas government freed thirty political prisoners in response to years of protests for their freedom, but not before giving some of them one last thorough beating.” Belonging to a variety of organizations,”including EZLN bases of support, adherents to the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign, an evangelical Christian organization, and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD in its Spanish initials)” — at least two of the liberated spent the last twelve years in jail.

April 04
Support the Struggle for Survival at Black Mesa
Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) sends an update on the struggle of the Traditional Dineh residents of Black Mesa, reminding us that the US still intends to relocate the Dineh and destroy their homelands. For more information and to learn how to help, please visit www.blackmesais.org, and www.blackmesawatercoalition.org

April 03
Indigenous and Peasants of Peru Propose to Refound the Nation-State
One of the regional preparatory meetings of Linking Alternatives 3 took place this weekend. The final declaration says proposes, among other things, to “refound” the Nation-State based on a “new social contract,” which would be implemented through a new way of “understanding and practicing political governance”, based on the principles of “complementarity, reciprocity, solidarity and interculturality”.

April 02
Australian Intervention News Roundup
Courtesy of the Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia), here is a roundup of Media Releases,
Opinions, Research pieces, YouTube Videos, and News focusing on the Australian Intervention… Yes, the intervention continues.

April 01
Manufactured Crises on Stolen Land
This is the second article of a three part series by Paula Lapierre of the Kichesipirini Algonquin – discussing the dangers and hypocrisy surrounding the Chalk River Reactor, which is located within the unceded traditional territory of her People. I recommend you first read part one for background: Lies, Omissions and Nuclear Waste


Mato Paha Forum (2007)
The following 40-minute video is a segment from last year’s “Mato Paha-Bear Butte Spiritual Forum,” an event that brought together Traditional Healers (Medicine Men) and Spiritual Leaders from many Tribal Nations to provide ancestral teachings about the spiritual significance of Mato Paha. It was the first time in decades that such a gathering took place.

California’s Toxic Mercury Legacy
This video discusses the social, cultural, and environmental consequences brought on during the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800’s. More than 26,000,000 pounds of the neurotoxic substance known as mercury was used to extract the gold ore living in some 12 billion tons of Earth. “Today most of that gold is, well, packed away safely from desperate hands. While the mercury continues to leave behind a toxic legacy in the rivers and fish, in the trees and soil, and in the brains of unborn children. It’s a legacy that speaks to what can only be called the American Reality.”

Tim Wise: On White Privilege
Courtesy of the Angry Indian, who recently featured this on his website, here is a ten minute excerpt from a lecture given earlier this year by Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” The lecture was aptly titled “The Pathology of Privilege: Racism, White Denial & the Costs of Inequality.”


What if a small city disappeared
If 18,000 women in Canada went missing, would people take notice? The equivalent number of women in terms of Canada’s national Aboriginal population has gone missing since 1957. Many were murdered. Few were found alive. A lot are still unaccounted for. And those are just the known cases.

Listening To Grasshoppers-Genocide, Denial And Celebration by Arundhati Roy
“All things considered, the word extermination, with its crude evocation of pests and vermin, of infestations, is perhaps the more honest, more apposite word. When a set of perpetrators faces its victims, in order to go about its business of wanton killing, it must first sever any human connection with it. It must see its victims as sub-human, as parasites whose eradication would be a service to society.”

Chicano students embrace their indigenous backgrounds
Chicano students are strengthening their identities and learning more about their indigenous backgrounds by studying the culture and traditions of their ancestors. Ethnic studies Professor Elisa Facio said the terms “Chicano” and “Chicana” are political terms that grew out of the Chicano civil rights movements in the late 1960s. “It refers to an individual committed to social change,” Facio said. “It’s a self-identifying term, not born into. It is mainly individuals of a certain generation who chose to self identify to reflect their indigenous as opposed to European ancestry.”

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