Underreported Struggles #7, October 2007

Underreported Struggles #7, October 2007

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John Ahni Schertow
October 31, 2007
 

October has in many respects been a month of empowerment for indigenous people and all who struggle for a better life; that is, despite the several tragic and heart-wrenching offenses committed against us by an increasingly fractured and hypocritical colonial world.

For starters, at least a dozen significant, international and regional gatherings took place this month. Among them, the Zapatista-organized Intercontinental Encuentro, the Boliva-hosted Encounter “For the Historic Victory of the Indigenous Peoples of the World”, and the first of a set of meetings in Chile “For the Resistance and Mobilization Against Looting.”

A major focus of these events was dedicated to developing our own strategies and consolidating our efforts regardless of our differing goals and visions.

As well, dozens upon dozens of protests and actions occurred around the world. For one, there was a popular day of action in Columbia, a massive month-long protest in India, atleast a dozen protests for the recently-arrested Indigenous Activists in New Zealand, and just today a group of Buddhist Monks peacefully demonstrated for the first time since the Burmese Government brutally attacked them nearing the end of September. And as always, Indigenous People around the world continued working to protect the land and defend their ways of life.

Underreported Struggles for October

October 31

Myanmar Monks Said to March Again
More than 100 Buddhist monks marched in northern Myanmar for nearly an hour today, the first public demonstration since the government’s deadly crackdown last month on pro-democracy protesters. “We are continuing our protest from last month as we have not yet achieved any of the demands we asked for,” a monk told Democratic Voice of Burma. “Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and immediate release of (opposition leader) Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political prisoners,” said the monk, adding that they had little time to organize so the march was small but “there will be more organized and bigger protests soon.”

October 30

Resistance announced against land usurpation in Peru
The Native Federation of Madre de Dios River and tributaries (FENAMAD) has denounced the governments actions toward granting mining concessions to indigenous lands in Peru, and have announced they must resort to self-defense in order to defend their right to the land “even if our very existence is threatened.”

For the Resistance and Mobilization Against Looting
This past weekend, 80 Representatives of communities effected by environmental conflicts met in Cobquecura, Chile, for the first of four meetings to take place by the end of this year. Summoned by the Action Network for Environmental and Social Justice (RAJAS), the meetings are being held “For the Resistance and Mobilization Against Looting;” all of which are aimed at discussing and organizing a consolidated strategy against the problems they commonly face–namely, those presented by socio-territorial mining projects, hydroelectric, urban and forest plantations and the cellulose industry.

October 29

Landless poor protest in Indian capital
Some 27,000 landless people gathered in New Delhi, hoping to march to Parliament with a single demand — give us land. But police locked them up Monday, chaining the gates to the vast Ramlila fairgrounds and barricading the demonstrators inside. Monday had been planned as the culmination of a month-long, 185-mile march north from the city of Gwalior to the national capital with this message: The masses have been largely untouched by India’s economic boom.

Laos: Damming the Sekong -­ Norconsult wipes Cambodia off the map
A series of large dams are currently proposed for the Sekong River Basin in southern Laos. In addition to the tens of thousands of people in Laos who would be affected by these projects, the livelihoods of 30,000 people living along the Sekong River downstream in Cambodia are also under threat. Yet the dams are being planned with no consideration of the impact on people and the environment in Cambodia.

October 27

Global Day of Action for criminalized indigenous and Activists in Aotearoa
When the Terrorism Suppression Act came into law, Maori said that it was only a matter of time before it was used against them. On October 15 they were proved right. Since then, numerous indigenous people an activists have been arrested, harassed and questioned; their houses raided, their children terrified… Soon after this, a global day of action was organized, which saw over 2000 people take to the streets across Aotearoa; while solidarity protests took place in many other parts of the world. For background and more info, visit indymedia.org.nz.

Upcoming International Day of Action on the NT Invasion
This is a call for Solidarity with Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory against the Australian Government’s so-called intervention. The ‘intervention’ has been in full force since June of this year, despite considerable resistance and opposition. The upcoming day of action has been planned for November 17, one week before Australia’s Federal election. For more information, visit nationalaboriginalalliance.org and for background, see federalintervention.info

October 25

Justice for Mau Mau War Veterans
As the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) prepares to sue the British Government for personal injuries sustained by survivors of the Mau Mau war for independence whilst in British detention camps in Kenya, Mukoma Wa Ngugi unravels the Colonial myths of Christianisation and civilization and exposes the reality of torture, murder, slavery, landlessness, dehumanization and internment.

Tar Sands and Canada’s violation of Indigenous People
The Dominion has recently published it’s special issue on the Alberta tar sands; and has since last Monday , been publishing roughly one article a day about this massive, barely understood human rights and environmental disaster. Four of the articles published so far have focused on the impact of tar sands development on indigenous people.

October 24

Syngenta-hired militia attacks peaceful occupation
On Sunday, Via Campesina peacefully occupied an experimental GMO field of the Swiss company Syngenta in the state of Parana, Brazil, when it was attacked by an armed militia that killed one and critically injured 6 others. Via Campesina issued a statement following the attack, demanding a full investigation into what they describe as the execution of Keno, a local MST leader who was shot twice at point-blank range. They are also calling for Syngenta to be held accountable because they hired the militia in the first place; as well as for the protection of Celso Barbosa and Célia Aparecida Lourenço, two other leaders of the MST who were chased by the gunmen but managed to escape.

Title Holders Protest and Resist Occupation of Lands in South Texas
Independent indigenous communities of Nde’ (Apache) people who’ve endured and survived waves of colonization since the 17th century are protesting the threats by the U.S. National Security Agency to impose a wall upon their traditional territories. This is a call for support and acknowledgment among all individuals, groups and organizations currently engaged in opposition against the U.S. Executive and Congressional orders to the U.S.National Security Agency to build the wall of violence, destruction and death.

October 23

Mapuche Protest against Norwegian Hydroelectric Power
The Norwegian hydroelectric power giant SN Power has big plans for Chile. The company has already started constructing one plant and has another four projects on the drawing pad. SN Power, which is jointly owned by Statkraft and Norfund, claims it has nothing to worry about. But Chilean critics say resistance has never been greater. Chile’s indigenous population, the Mapuche, have already attempted to stop three of the company’s four planned projects. (also see here)

October 19

O’odham: Awakening at the Zapatistas’ Encuentro
When more than 500 Indian delegates gathered in Vicam Pueblo in Rio Yaqui, Mexico, at the Gathering of Indigenous Peoples of America, the power of a global spiritual force was present and released, said Ofelia Rivas, an O’odham woman living on the border of the United States and Mexico. “It is not a local movement, it is not just the Zapatistas. It is the Indigenous People of the world creating this movement,” Rivas said during an interview.

Massive court victory for Santa Cruz and Conejo Maya
A decade-long struggle for the Maya villages of Conejo and Santa Cruz came to an unexpected, hopeful end last week. Chief Justice, Dr. Abdulai Conteh granted the order sought by the villages to have their customary land tenure practices acknowledged and secured under the Constitution. Historically, the Government of Belize has systematically denied the Maya rights to their land, by claiming they were Guatemalan immigrants, therefore without a valid claim.

October 16

The Nowhere People
Forgotten by their governments and their people, tens of thousands of people who were uprooted from their homes and villages by waves of ethnic violence are living hopeless lives in makeshift camps in Assam for more than a decade. In a region that has near-fatally imploded with the politics of competing persecutions, as oppressed groups arm and organise themselves to drive away other wretched and deprived people, in pursuit of dangerous, impossible (and unconstitutional) aspirations of ethnically cleansed homelands.

Czech courts indemnify Romani woman for forced sterilization
On Oct. 12, the Regional Court in Ostrava, Czech Republic, awarded compensation of CZK500,000 (US$260,000) to a Romani woman for having been sterilized against her will. This is the Czech Republic’s first case of compensation for coerced sterilization (NB: if I’m not mistaken, Canada, Australia, and America have yet to take any such action for the thousands of indigenous women they forcibly sterilized).

Lumad struggle against development and conflict
The Lumad, a people from Southern Mindanao have recently started an ongoing campaign to restore their communities and protect their land from exploitation. The Lumad find themselves in a state of seige today, increasinly militarized and divided as corporations exploit their land; and as some of their own people are acting like feudal land-lords, attacking, killing and evicting others for control of the land. The Lumad say this is happening because of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA).

800 People Protest Against Forest Company
Between October 10th and October 13th, over 800 young people from peasant and indigenous organizations from several regions of Argentina and Brazil, met on the 7th Latinamerican Camp for Young People which took place in Piray, Misiones. Among the activities there was a massive mobilization to forest company Alto Paraná, one of the main causes of environmental devastation and contamination of the area.

October 12

(*Correction I posted the following article in haste. Please see Report back on Colombia’s agrarian and popular mobilization for an overview of events)

Chronicle of Resistance in Colombia, October 8-11
This is a bulletin from the Human Rights Commission of the National Coordination of Agrarian and Popular Organizations of Colombia, which details the events that occurred during the National Popular and Agrarian Mobilization in Colombia. (see here for background)

October 11

Congo Pygmies Go High-Tech to Protect Forest Home
When Congo Republic’s northern pygmies go out into the forest these days, some will be carrying hand-held satellite tracking devices along with their traditional bows and spears. Using GPS handsets to pinpoint sacred sites and hunting areas, the nomadic forest dwellers are literally putting themselves on the map to protect their livelihoods and habitat against the chainsaws and bulldozers of commercial loggers.

The continuing struggle of the Waorani
Fifty years ago, the Waorani lived a lifestyle identical to that of an uncontacted, nomadic people. But today the Waorani, known to be some of the fiercest Warriors in the Amazon struggle to defend their lands and ways of life. against an apathetic government and teams of corporations who want the oil beneath their land.

October 10

The Invisible Genocide of the Poor
The number of people who fell prey to Hitler’s insanity was 6 million, yet the “silent holocaust of hunger” of world hunger is killing over 13 million people every year. Every year we therefore witness more than two genocides of a Nazi scale. But unlike the victims of Nazi gas chambers, the victims of hunger die unnoticed, unmourned and in the backyards of vibrant democracies. If we believe in the Gandhian dictum that poverty is the worst form of violence, then we are still inflicting this violence on over 1.4 billion of the world’s poorest people. While the U.S. can spend over $80 billion per year in Iraq alone, the entire wealth and generosity of the world cannot generate just the $13 billion required to prevent the ongoing “invisible genocide by hunger”.

The Nearing Exctinction of Russia’s Indigenous
Over the past few years, policies for Indigenous People in Russia have effectively disappeared. But wouldn’t you know it, a new policy was formed not too long ago, resembling the same one we find all over the world today… The government passed Legislation that gave businessmen the right to purchase the traditional territories of Russia’s Indigenous People. Naturally, businessmen have seized this opportunity; but they’ve been doing more than just buying lands. They’ve also been imposing on the lives of Russia’s indigenous.

Resistance in Oaxaca´s Sierra Mixteca
Productive soil is virtually non-existent, eroded and acidic due to hundreds of years of over-grazing by goats and sheep introduced by the Spaniards, who found the temperate cold of the Mixteca perfect for wool production. Nowadays, the little farming to be done takes place in the valley´s seasonal streams through the construction of permeable dams that obstruct the flow of water without retaining it, a old Mesoamerican trick that floods the nearby corn patches and then trickles downstream to the next patch. The Mixteca has been all but forgotten by state and federal governments, who have exploited the region´s largely indigenous population so thoroughly that that the area has one of the country’s highest indexes of migration. But contrary to what one might be led to believe, the Mixteca is a place full of hope, community, and resistance.

October 9

Government crackdown on Bushman hunters
Six Bushmen have been arrested for hunting in New Xade resettlement camp, according to First People of the Kalahari, a Bushman human rights organisation. The latest arrests bring the total number of Bushmen arrested for hunting since last year’s landmark court ruling to at least forty-eight, with most being arrested since June this year.

October 5

Guyana’s Wai Wai bans loggers and miners
During the second Latin American Parks Congress this week, the Wai Wai established a new precedent for Indigenous People, becoming the first to declare their territory a ‘Community Owned Conservation Area.’ Backed by a government decree and supported by US-based Conservation International (CI), they also banned miners and loggers from their section of the Amazon jungle in remote southern Guyana, near the border of Brazil–and pledged to pursue a sustainable economic strategy based on ecotourism, research and traditional crafts.

October 4

Panama’s Indigenous resist hydroelectric projects
As part of a massive effort to wean Panama off it’s dependence on foreign energy, there are currently over 90 hydroelectric projects slated for development throughout the country. Of course, not all of them will be pursued, but then several will–including some that seriously threaten Panama’s indigenous People; for starters, the Ngobe and Naso.

October 1

Tanzania: Lake Natron Soda ash plant threatens Maasai communities (PDF)
Indigenous Maasai communities living in areas sorrounding Lake Natron on the border between Tanzania and Kenya fear that their livelihood will be destroyed by a proposed Soda ash plant. The plant would extract soda ash for industrial production of for example glass and pharmaceuticals. The Maasai communities fear that the plant’s huge consumption of water would deplete their water resources, and that it’s waste products would pollute the area and undermine their livelihood.

Videos of the Month

Rainforest Warriors
This is an excellent and rare TV documentary about West Papua. A year on from its original UK screening it still has not been broadcast in any other country. In 2006 reporter Evan Williams gained access, on a tourist visa, to West Papua – a country to which journalists and foreign observers are flatly refused entry by the Indonesian government. After three weeks dodging Indonesian officials and police to gather interviews and information, he filed this report for Channel 4’s “Unreported World” series.

La Oroya and the Children of Lead
The following video is a look at the situation in La Oroya, Peru, which in 2006 was identified as one of the ten most polluted places in the world. Populated by some 35,000 people, La Oroya is a mining town that suffers from numerous health and developmental problems caused by the neighboring metallurgical smelter that’s been operating since 1922. Today the smelter is owned by the US company Doe Run Peru. The main chimney emits on average of 1.5 tonnes of lead and 810 tonnes of sulphur dioxide every 24 hours

India’s Dying Fields
Located in the middle of India, Vidarbha is historically referred to as ‘India’s Cotton Belt;’ but in recent years it’s taken on a very different name. Home to 3.2 million farmers, Vidarbha’s now commonly referred to as ‘India’s Suicide Belt.’ The following video, titled ‘the Dying fields,’ focuses on this ongoing agrarian crisis.

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Underreported struggles is a monthly report of news compiled by Ahni, intercontinentalcry.org
To view previous monthly reports, please visit https://intercontinentalcry.org/tags/underreported

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