Underreported Struggles #14, May 2008

Underreported Struggles #14, May 2008

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John Ahni Schertow
June 1, 2008

A land reclamation in Colombia, an historic gathering Brazil, and two massive lawsuits filed by Indigenous Nations in Canada highlight this month’s roundup of Underreported Struggles. The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) also tried more than 20 corporations in Peru; and to the surprise of many, the Ontario Court of Appeals unconditionally released Ardoch Algonquin Bob Lovelace and the six members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (the KI6) after spending months in jail for defending their traditional lands against mining.

On the not-so-good side of things, armed Mexican marines and federal police confiscated 9 tons of gulf corvina from the Zapatista-backed Cucapa Peoples; in Panama, a group of paramilitaries attacked the site of a 7-month indigenous blockade (police responded by raiding their communities); and last but not least, in Australia, the government started pushing the so-called “intervention” onto indigenous people in Urban areas.

Underreported Struggles for May, 2008

Klamath River Tribes and Fishermen Declare Mission Accomplished
Klamath River Basin tribal leaders, native activists, and sport and commercial fishermen, and conservationists returned home to the West Coast after disrupting the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting. The group is demanding the removal of four Klamath River dams that kill salmon and create massive blooms of toxic algae. “We went to Omaha to send Warren Buffett and his executives a clear message that as long as there is no business as usual on the Klamath, there will be no business as usual for him, Mid American Energy, or PacifiCorp,” said Karuk Vice-Chair Leaf Hillman, after the shareholder meeting held May 1 –4.

May 30
Report back from ‘the Xingu Encounter’
Thousands gathered in Altamira, Para-Brazil last week for the Xingu Forever Alive Encounter, an historic gathering of Indigenous Peoples and allies opposed to damming the Xingu River. The primary focus of the gathering, according to International Rivers, was on “the Belo Monte Dam, whose construction would result in the displacement of 500 indigenous Brazilians, and 16,000 other people, create the need for the construction of four other dams to store water during the dry season and also destroy the natural resources upon which these local people survive.”

May 29th
Indigenous Groups Challenge Private Investment Decree
More than 5,000 indigenous and peasant communities in Peru launched a petition drive this week with the aim of getting President Alan García’s decree promoting private investment in communally owned land declared unconstitutional.

Free at Last! KI6 and Bob Lovelace Prevail In Court
Robert Lovelace of the Ardoch Algonquins and the group known as the KI6 were unconditionally released by Ontario’s Court of Appeal yesterday. The overcrowded courtroom burst into applause when the judges read their decision. Since being released lovelace and the KI6 have both stated they fully intend to continue defending their lands, even if it means they’ll end up in jail once again…

May 28th
Paramilitaries Attack Indigenous Dam Resisters in Panama
The site of a 7-month indigenous blockade in resistance to the construction of a new dam in the state of Bocas del Toro, Panama was attacked by gun-toting paramilitaries supported by Colombian electric firm Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EEPPM/EPM) on the night of May 18… Although local authorities have been notified of the incident and the potential for violence, to date police have only responded with raids into Naso communities

Letters needed to protect Mato Paha (Bear Butte)
The Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP) has sent out an action alert warning of a renewed danger facing Mato Paha, a sacred place of prayer to over thirty Indigenous Nations across the Plains. On June 5th, the Meade County Commissioners will hold a hearing for a liquor license being sought by Target Logisitics for the “Broken Spoke Campground,” previously known as the Sturgis County Line. Your letters are needed (Before June 5) to help make sure the license is not approved.

May 27th
Australian Intervention Moving Towards Urban Areas
The possibility of federal intervention into suburban Aboriginal communities was flagged yesterday by Environment Minister Peter Garrett. Mr Garrett said if it became clear “particular strategies” from the Northern Territory intervention had worked, they should be considered for other indigenous communities, including those in his own riding. See here for a related article

Indigenous Nasa Repressed by Colombian State
Last week, nearly 500 indigenous people claimed their right to land and demanded the Colombian State fulfill a set of promises made to the Indigenous Nasa community of Northern Cauca, for the States its role in the massacre of El Nilo. The Government quickly reacted to the reclamation by sending in the ESMAD, “the Colombian version of a ‘SWAT’ team.” At least 8 Nasa were seriously injured.

Mexico Confiscates Fish from the Cucapa
Armed Mexican marines and federal police helped to confiscate 9 tons of gulf corvina from the Cucapa fishing community last weekend, reports Frontera NorteSur. Apparently, non-indigenous fisherman saw them catching the fish and told federal authorities, alleging they were violating a seasonal ban that started last week. It was later confirmed that the Cucapa were violating the ban. The fishing community, however, maintains their right to harvest the Corvina, also known as the weakfish, because they depend on it for subsistence.

May 26th
Grassy Narrows, Ontario government to negotiate pilot forestry project
A little over a week ago, the Province of Ontario signed a memorandum of understanding with Grassy Narrows First Nation, binding them to hold ”good faith negotiations” to develop a short-term agreement that would include a pilot project integrating forestry with traditional uses in a site within the Whiskey Jack Forest. Years ago the Province gave AbitibiBowater Inc rights to log the forest, three-quarters of which is Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory…

May 22nd
South African Apartheid Victims Suing 50 Corporations
The US Supreme Court affirmed a ruling on Monday that three class action lawsuits filed on behalf of South African apartheid victims can be tried in the American legal system. Combined, the lawsuits are seeking more than $400 billion from nearly 50 multinational companies for ‘allegedly’ aiding and abetting the South African military and security forces.

Racist Suppression at Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial
On Sunday, May 18, three indigenous People were arrested during a protest at Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial. Two of them are now in hospital after being beaten by the Police…Here you will find a message from Chris Mato Nunpa, father of one of the arrested, explaining what happened.

May 20th
Argentina: A Different Kind of Land Occupation
“This is going to be a different type of occupation,” say the people of Tierra y Libertad (Land and Freedom), a land occupation on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The name of their group gives an idea of what they intend. The occupation began on March 29th this year when 40 families entered a small parcel of land in La Matanza and began setting up a community. Since then the occupation has grown to over 135 families and has continued to organize and resist eviction in the face of intimidation and violence…

Beaver Lake Identifies 16,000 infringements in Lawsuit
Aiming to stop the wholesale destruction of their traditional lands, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation has launched a massive lawsuit against the Federal and Alberta governments. Filed on May 14th, the suit identifies more than 16,000 infringements that are contributing to the destruction of the environment, the loss of traditional areas, and the decline in wildlife populations within their territory. These infringements are making it impossible for the Nation to exercise their Treaty Rights.

May 19th
European Companies Found Guilty By Permanent Tribunal
The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) was gathered in Lima, Peru, from May 13 to 16, for its second session on European Transnational companies in Latin America. More than 20 companies were tried were for the environmental and human rights abuses. The final ruling of the tribunal declared them all: GUILTY.

May 17th
Canatuan Indigenous Leaders Call Announcement To Stop Gold Project A ‘Cheap PR Stunt’
Calling the announcement of the Canadian–backed mining firm TVI Resource Development Philippines Incorporated that it has ended its $25–million Canatuan gold and silver project in Zamboanga del Norte as “cheap public relations stunt”, an indigenous leader said the mining firm “never stops telling us lies”.

May 15th
Lubicon Denied Standing at Pipeline Hearing
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) recently informed the Lubicon People that they will not be allowed to participate in the AUC’s hearing on TransCanada’s application to build a major gas pipeline… across unceded Lubicon land. To add insult to injury, the AUC says it’s the Lubicon’s own fault for not ‘properly’ answering their questions.

May 14th
Native band sues Ontario for $550-billion, saying mine sites belong to them
The Whitefish Lake First Nation is suing Ottawa and Ontario for $550-billion, claiming the dozens of mines that are once again operating in the Sudbury area, are on their Treaty Lands. “Describing the massive price tag as a conservative estimate, the band has filed a claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, arguing that surveyors erred in 1885, drawing up the reserve’s boundaries in a much more limited way than what was agreed to orally and in writing in the Robinson Huron Treaty 35 years prior.”

May 11th
Another uranium conflict brews in Ontario
The Band Council of the Anishinabek at Serpent River issued the following Press Release on April 30, warning of yet another uranium conflict brewing in Ontario–that is to say, a conflict brought on by Ontario’s refusal to accept their constitutional obligations towards Indigenous Communities.

May 9th
Peru Will Not Exploit Uncontacted Peoples’ Lands
In a very suprising move, the government of Peru announced it will not auction off the reserve lands of uncontacted Tribal Peoples for oil exploration. The decision represents a U-turn for Perupetro, the state body responsible for negotiating exploration rights,” comments Survival International in a recent press release. “Perupetro spokespeople had previously suggested the uncontacted Indians did not exist, and that exploration in their reserves would be permitted.”

May 5th
Business as Usual: Selling Out the Sahrawis
Brave young Sahrawis took to the streets of El-Ayoune in the occupied Western Sahara to protest occupation by Morocco. As the Sahrawi in El-Ayoune were marching so were their brothers and sisters in France. More than 300 Saharawi workers participated in a rally in Paris to “reaffirm their will to continue the struggle for freedom and independence under the leadership of POLISARIO Front”, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary in May the 20. Sahara Watch meanwhile reports, “Peter Van Walsum, personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the festering, nearly 33-year-old conflict in Western Sahara, dropped the diplomatic equivalent of a nuclear bomb on international legality this week. The problem is, no one seemed to notice.”

May 4th
Hawiians occupy Iolani Palace
Around Seventy members and supporters from the “the Hawaiian Kingdom Government” occupied the grounds of Iolani Palace on Wednesday, saying the grounds are the property of the “Hawaiian Kingdom.” They locked all the gates and barred government workers and the public from entering the area. The action ended without incident on the same day, but then they returned the following day—only to leave and then once again return on Friday. The New York Times quoted the group’s leader as saying this is what they plan on doing every weekday from now on.

Cordillerans in Hong Kong Unite to Defend Ancestral Lands
The sound of gongs reverberated in Chater Road on May 4 as migrant workers from the Cordillera Administrative Region reaffirmed the defense of their land, life, livelihood and resources in celebration of Cordillera Day in Hong Kong. Organized by the Cordillera Alliance, the event focused on the issue of mining plunder and state terrorism in each of the six provinces in the region, namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

May 3rd
Achuar & Others Stage “Clean-Up” at Occidental Petroleum
Indigenous leaders from the Peruvian Amazon and environmentalists today donned hazmat suits and staged a symbolic “clean-up operation” outside the global headquarters of Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) to urge the company to remediate a toxic disaster it created in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Oxy dumped nine billion barrels of toxic wastewater into virgin tropical rainforest belonging to the indigenous Achuar people when it drilled for oil in Peru from 1971 to 2000.

May 1st
Tourists in Botswana Get Water, but G’wi Do Not
A travel company based in South Africa received permission on Friday from the government of Botswana to build a tourist lodge near a G’wi settlement in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). As part of the deal, the company has permission to sink numerous bore holes to provide water for the guests they expect to entertain. The Safari & Adventure Company, which also operates in Zambia and Namibia, will be taking significant amounts of water from the ground, even though the nearby San people are still denied the right by the government to use any water from the single borehole on their land.

Chixoy Dam (Genocide) Reparations Campaign Announced
Courtesy of Rights Action, here’s a story discussing a reparations plan for Genocide survivors and Mayan-Achi people who were massacred and forcibly evicted from their communities in the 1970s and 1980s – to make way for the Inter-American Development Bank- and World Bank-funded Chixoy hydro-electric dam.

Stop Prestea Mine Expansion in Ghana
Oxfam has an ongoing letter campaign in support of indigenous communities that border near the Prestea Mine in Southwest Ghana. The US-based company Golden Star Resources recently announced a plan to expand the mine. The plan jeopardizes the communities, and explicitly denies their right to free, prior, and informed consent.


Yankton Sioux: Oyate Duta Awa Yankapo
Oyate Duta Awa Yankapo, or Protectors of the Red People, looks at the recent events surrounding the construction of an industrial hog farm that is completely surrounded by the Ihanktowan, or Yankton Sioux Nation. Since April 15th, 38 Ihanktowan peacefully blocking the construction have been arrested by state law enforcement officers acting outside of their jurisdiction on behalf of a company that is itself, acting illegally.

Dispatches: Undercover in Tibet
Two weeks after China launched its full scale effort to suppress the Tibetan People, an effort that continues even now with almost daily arrests of Tibetan Men and Women, Channel 4’s Dispatches aired the report “Undercover in Tibet,” revealing ‘the hidden reality’ of Tibetan life under Chinese occupation. Here you can watch the full report.

The First People of Suriname
In this video, you will hear Indigenous representatives from Suriname speaking about their centuries-old struggle for rights and for recognition by the government. The video was created for the Organization of Indigenous People in Suriname and taken to the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), in April 2008.

Underreported Struggles is a monthly roundup of the news and events compiled for intercontinentalcry.org. To view previous monthly reports, please visit https://intercontinentalcry.org/tags/underreported

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