15-08-16

UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Uncontacted Amazon tribe faces annihilation

The Kawahiva's land is being targeted by illegal loggers and cattle ranchers

On UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Survival International is calling for the full demarcation and protection of the land of the Kawahiva people, an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon that is at extremely high risk of extinction. 

With the eyes of the world on Brazil during the Rio Olympics, campaigners are hoping that more will be done to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.

Many powerful people in the region, including José Riva – dubbed “the most corrupt politician in Brazil” – are targeting the tribe’s land. The Indians are acutely vulnerable to the threat of forced contact from these loggers and ranchers. 

In April 2016, pressure from Survival International supporters helped push the Brazilian Minister of Justice to sign a decree ordering the full mapping out and protection of the tribe’s land.

But despite this, the Minister’s demand has not been carried out. Until the Brazilian indigenous affairs department enacts the demarcation, the tribe faces annihilation. 

First contact has been catastrophic for many Brazilian tribes. Jirusihú, from the Zo’é people in the northern Amazon, who were forcibly contacted by evangelical missionaries in the 1980s, said: “After the outsiders came, Zo’é became sick and some died. Back then… there was diarrhea and there was pain. Fever killed many, many Zo’é.” 

Source : Survival International

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AS RIVERS RUN BLACK IN PERU, INDIGENOUS TRIBES LEFT CLEANING BIG OIL'S DISASTER

A disastrous spate of oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon have gone from bad to worse in recent days, leaving Indigenous tribes frantically trying to clean up the mess left by the nation's state-owned oil company. 

The catastrophic ruptures in Petroperu's Northern Peruvian Pipeline occurred on January 25 and February 3 and have threatened the water supply of nearly 10,000 indigenous people, says Amazon Watch. 

On February 22, Petroperu officials confirmed to Reutersthat the oil has poured into two critical Amazon River tributaries that eight Achuar tribes depend on for water. According to the news agency, these two tributaries of the Amazon River, the Chiriaco and Morona rivers, are now filled with 3,000 barrels of oil. 

Critics charge that the spills continued to spread and caused far worse damage after the responsible company, Petroperu, failed to act to contain the oil released by the pipeline breakages. 

A third pipeline rupture was rumored on February 19, reports Amazon Watch, but the state-owned petroleum company took to Twitter to deny those reports. 

The devastating spills occurred mere months after Indigenous activists staged massive protests against Peru's oil industry in September. 

Over the weekend, local activist Marco Arana Zegarra posted horrific images of the oil's spread in the Chiriaco tributary: 

Waterways flow with black sludge and trees and flowers are rendered nearly unrecognizable by a thick coating of oil in video footage of the spills: 

"At least this time," observed Zegarra, "Petroperu has given Indigenous populations suits to wear for cleaning up oil."  

Petroperu president German Velasquez "denied reports the company paid children to clean up the oil," reports the Guardian, but then he went on, perhaps damningly, to say that "he was evaluating firing four officials, including one who may have allowed children to collect the crude." 

"It’s important to note that the spills...are not isolated cases. Similar emergencies have emerged as a result of defects in sections of the pipeline," the national environmental regulator said, according to the Guardian.

The regulator "ordered Petroperu to replace parts of the pipeline and improve maintenance," states Reuters. The Guardian reports that Petroperu will face fines of up to $17 million if it is proven that the oil spills have affected the health of locals. 

"This environmental disaster is just the latest in a long history of oil and gas leaks in the area," laments Indigenous rights group Survival International, observing that "[m]ore" than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has been leased by the government to oil companies." 

The group translates a call to actionby AIDESEP, an organization that fights for indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, in which it pleads for "international public opinion, the media, NGOs and civil society to pay attention to this serious event that puts in danger the lives of thousands of people living in the area who have traditionally been neglected." 

Source : Common Dreams 3/2/2016

INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN GUATEMALA FIGHT AGAINST THE PRIVATIZATION OF SACRED SITES

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Argentina Mapuche Group Burns Machinery In Patagonia As Part Of Land Claim

 Members of the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance burned two excavator machines belonging to English businessman Joe Lewis to demand their ancestral land be returned to the indigenous community. 

Members of the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance, an organization that fights for the rights of the indigenous Mapuche community, this morning burned two excavator machines belonging to English businessman Joe Lewis in Río Negro Province. The machines were laying down power lines between a hydroelectric plant owned by Lewis and the city of El Bolsón. 

According to Rionegro.com, police found leaflets signed by the resistance group demanding the following: 

-The release of group member Facundo Jones Huala who was arrested in May following an international capture request from Chile, where a warrant was issued for his arrest after he occupied land the Mapuche claim as their own.

-The eviction of oil, mining and hydroelectric companies from Patagonia.

 -And end to the repression of Mapuche communities. 

Joseph “Joe” Lewis is a 79-year-old British businessman whose net worth is estimated at US $5.3 billion, placing him among the 300 richest people on the planet, according to Forbes magazine. Among his different ventures in Argentina, he is the largest stock owner of electricity-supplying company Edenor. 

Between 1996 and 1997, Lewis bought a 12,000-hectare plot of land in Patagonia, less than 45 kilometers away from the city of El Bolsón, in Río Negro Province. Although he is not the first millionaire from abroad to acquire massive amounts of land in the country, his case was

especially controversial because his land purchase included the Lago Escondido (“Hidden Lake”), widely considered one of the country’s most beautiful landmarks. 

Following the purchase, Lewis ordered the public access road to Lago Escondido be closed, sparking a feud with Argentines in general, but specially with El Bolsón residents and Mapuche indigenous groups. Both groups had different claims and took different approaches to get what they wanted. 

El Bolsón residents demand that Lewis re-open the public access road — called “sendero Tacuifi” — so that they may use the lake again. Ever since he arrived, citizens and numerous NGOs staged public protests, presented formal accusations against him and organized music festivals to “defend the right of free shores and against the concentration of land among foreigners.” 

The judiciary listened to these demands and ruled in 2009, 2012 and 2013 that the road should be re-opened. However, Lewis never complied with these orders. Moreover, former Provincial Governor Carlos Soria had promised to have a bulldozer take down the wire fence preventing the access, but never followed through. His successor, Alberto Weretilnek, didn’t make any progress either, but people from El Bolsón aren’t giving up: A month ago, a group of citizens showed up at the Tacuifil road again. However, they were forced to retreat when they were “greeted” by armed security personnel working for Lewis. 

The Mapuche indigenous community’s claim to the lake is a bit more comprehensive: the lake lies within what the Mapuche consider to be their ancestral land. 

As a result, certain Mapuche groups have taken action to recover the land. The Mapuche Ancestral Resistance group has already been accused of setting a mountain shelter on fire and attacking a truck driver for, in their words, “delivering goods to the rich people who own” the plots of land their consider theirs. 

La Vaca outlet reported in May that police violently evicted a group of Mapuches who had settled on land belonging to the Benetton family, the largest foreign private owner of land in the country with 1.5 million hectares: “They dragged away women and children and took them away in cars without license plates,” Martiniano Jones Huala, a spokesperson for the Mapuche group, told La Vaca. 

Mapuches argue the Argentine government has been handing over their land to foreigners ever since the country annexed the Patagonia region in the so-called conquista del desierto (“conquest of the desert”) in the late 19th century. The “conquest” under then President Julio Argentino Roca killed thousands of indigenous groups who lived there. 

In 1896, Roca donated 900,000 hectares to the British company Argentine Southern Land so it could develop a railroad to improve the country’s export system. In 1982, the company translated its name to the Spanish Compañía del Sud Argentino and staffed its board with 60 percent Argentines. But the company was acquired by the Bennetton family in 1991 for US $50 million, who’ve owned the land ever since. 

According to National Senator Magdalena Odara, the “national register of rural land revealed that 6 percent of our country’s land is owned by foreigners. However, this data is an average, since there are regions like Ituzaingó, in Corrientes Province, which are half owned by foreigners. 21 percent of Bariloche is owned by foreigners.” 

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

 

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18-05-16

OUTCRY AS ADIVASI ACTIVIST GLADSON DUNGDUNG IS PREVENTED FROM TRAVELING TO THE UK

 

Last Monday Indian Government authorities prevented well-known Indian indigenous rights activist Gladson Dungdung from boarding a flight to the UK, sparking outcry from the international community who have condemned what appears to be a politically motivated move to muzzle the voices of India's Indigenous Peoples, known collectively in India as Adivasi. 

One of IC's longest contributors, the Adivasi author and human rights defender was traveling to the UK to attend a conference on mining and environmental history in South Asia at the University of Sussex. He had been invited to talk about the struggle of two Adivasi communities working to protect Saranda Forest. 

The story of Saranda forms the subject of Gladson’s latest book, Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India. In its contentious pages, Galdson examines the rapacious efforts of mining companies to exploit the ancestral home of 125,000 Adivasi people as part of the Indian Government’s development plans in the region.

The publication of Mission Saranda marks the only significant change in Gladson’s circumstances and personal profile since he last successfully traveled to the UK in November 2015 to speak at a workshop on 'Adivasis in the Anthropocene'. This has lead his supporters to suggest the success of the book, which is critical of the Indian Government, is behind the attempt to block Gladson’s movement. 

THE STRUGGLE FOR SARANDA
Saranda Forest lies in Jharkhand, a state located on the eastern side of India. According to Dr. Vinita Damodaran, Director of the Centre for World Environmental History at the University of Sussex, who was due to speak alongside Gladson, Saranda is ecologically rich and the largest surviving Sal tree (Shorearobusta) forest in Asia. 

“The protection of this forest should be of paramount national and international importance”, she says.

The Ho and Munda Peoples have called Saranda Forest home for centuries and, as Gladson writes, their ways of living with the forest are mutually supportive. Their livelihoods and spiritual practices are entirely dependent on the fragile forest ecosystem. The Ho and Munda in turn, have traditionally played a key role in protecting and maintaining the health of the forest. 

Saranda’s ecological wealth and the homes and life ways of the Ho and Munda are now at risk of being wiped from the face of the planet as mining companies seek to exploit the abundance of iron ore in the forest’s sub-soil.

The Indian Federal Government has so far granted mining leases for 1,100 hectares of forest land. If all 85 companies that have applied for leases are successful in their applications, their concessions will total 82,000 hectares; an area larger than Saranda Forest itself.

One of the mining companies that has been granted a lease in Saranda is UK-listed Vedanta Resources, which became infamous for its long-running attempt to mine bauxite from the sacred Niyamgiri Hills in the neighboring state of Orissa despite unanimous and sustained resistance from the indigenous Dongria Kondh Peoples. The company has been the subject of global protests and numerous allegations of extensive human rights abuses. On May 7, 2016 they were granted a license to build a steel plant and also intend to inherit an iron-ore mine from the company Sesa Goa. 

Even now, as a result of mining already under way, Adivasi communities in Saranda are being forced to source their water from polluted streams and their forest land is being steadily torn away by extractive activities, with little to no benefits accruing to local communities. 

MUZZLING THE CRITICS OF ‘DEVELOPMENT’


The plan to exploit the minerals that lie beneath Saranda is part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s pro-development '2020 Vision', in which entire regions are devoted to mining and industry and the populations living there are either displaced or have their existing ways of life drastically and forcibly changed through cultural assimilation. 

Placing the destruction of Saranda Forest in this wider political context goes some way to explaining why activists like Gladson, who are speaking out against what can be seen as a war on India's 68-million indigenous people and the environment, are met with slander, propaganda and the aggressive curtailing of civil and political rights by the state.

The move to prevent Gladson from traveling to the UK bears a striking similarity to the treatment of Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai who was prevented from leaving India in January 2015 to testify on the activities of UK-registered company Mahon Coal Limited. 

In response to Pillai’s case, the Delhi High Court criticized the government's action,saying that 'dissent may not be palatable but it cannot be muzzled'.

It would appear the Modi Government hasn't learned its lesson. Following the treatment of Gladson, campaign organizations, scholars and activists wrote anopen letter to the Indian High Commission in the UK, calling the incident “an unacceptable breach of democratic rights”. 

The letter, which draws attention to the apparent muzzling of an activist in order to stifle dissent from the government's agenda, also demands that Gladson “be compensated and the authorities apologize for preventing him from attending this conference for which he had a valid British visa”. 

Source : IC Joseph Lambert is a legal researcher and activist who currently works for the Gaia Foundation in London.a

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AS RIVERS RUN BLACK IN PERU, INDIGENOUS TRIBES LEFT CLEANING BIG OIL'S DISASTER

A disastrous spate of oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon have gone from bad to worse in recent days, leaving Indigenous tribes frantically trying to clean up the mess left by the nation's state-owned oil company. 

The catastrophic ruptures in Petroperu's Northern Peruvian Pipeline occurred on January 25 and February 3 and have threatened the water supply of nearly 10,000 indigenous people, says Amazon Watch. 

On February 22, Petroperu officials confirmed to Reutersthat the oil has poured into two critical Amazon River tributaries that eight Achuar tribes depend on for water. According to the news agency, these two tributaries of the Amazon River, the Chiriaco and Morona rivers, are now filled with 3,000 barrels of oil. 

Critics charge that the spills continued to spread and caused far worse damage after the responsible company, Petroperu, failed to act to contain the oil released by the pipeline breakages. 

A third pipeline rupture was rumored on February 19, reports Amazon Watch, but the state-owned petroleum company took to Twitter to deny those reports. 

The devastating spills occurred mere months after Indigenous activists staged massive protests against Peru's oil industry in September. 

Over the weekend, local activist Marco Arana Zegarra posted horrific images of the oil's spread in the Chiriaco tributary: 

Waterways flow with black sludge and trees and flowers are rendered nearly unrecognizable by a thick coating of oil in video footage of the spills: 

"At least this time," observed Zegarra, "Petroperu has given Indigenous populations suits to wear for cleaning up oil."  

Petroperu president German Velasquez "denied reports the company paid children to clean up the oil," reports the Guardian, but then he went on, perhaps damningly, to say that "he was evaluating firing four officials, including one who may have allowed children to collect the crude."

"It’s important to note that the spills...are not isolated cases. Similar emergencies have emerged as a result of defects in sections of the pipeline," the national environmental regulator said, according to the Guardian.

The regulator "ordered Petroperu to replace parts of the pipeline and improve maintenance," states Reuters. The Guardian reports that Petroperu will face fines of up to $17 million if it is proven that the oil spills have affected the health of locals. 

"This environmental disaster is just the latest in a long history of oil and gas leaks in the area," laments Indigenous rights group Survival International, observing that "[m]ore" than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has been leased by the government to oil companies." 

The group translates a call to action by AIDESEP, an organization that fights for indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, in which it pleads for "international public opinion, the media, NGOs and civil society to pay attention to this serious event that puts in danger the lives of thousands of people living in the area who have traditionally been neglected." 

Source : Common Dreams 3/2/2016

INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN GUATEMALA FIGHT AGAINST THE PRIVATIZATION OF SACRED SITES

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29-02-16

Finland New bill threatens Sami’s rights to their traditional lands and livelihood

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, today expressed deep concern at the lack of consultation and the reduced protections to the Sami indigenous people in the current draft law on the Finnish Forest and Parks Service (Metsähallitus) to regulate the management of State owned lands.

“The new draft bill presented to the Finnish Parliament earlier this month no longer contains valuable safeguards for the Sami people’s rights to traditional livelihoods, lands, territories and resources, which had been included in the previous draft approved in 2014,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz warned.

“I hope that the draft law will consider that the Sami Parliament and the Skolt Sami Village Council have had limited opportunities to take part in this process which is contrary to article 19 of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples* which Finland has endorsed,” she said.

According to the new bill, most of the Sami Homeland will be transferred to a new State owned company that has yet to be established. This new company will have the responsibility for all logging carried out on State owned lands in Finland, including in the Sami Homeland region.

“States should consult with indigenous peoples concerned through their representative institutions to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them,” the expert said quoting the Declaration.

“Without specific provisions safeguarding the Sami people, the revised Act will significantly weaken the rights of the Sami people, particularly their right to enjoy their own culture and to pursue their traditional livelihoods, and will further limit any recognition of their right to lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired,” the expert warned.
source : Tebtebba

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Sami reindeer herders battle conservationists and miners to cling on to Arctic culture

When Europe’s indigenous Arctic people want to find their reindeer in a snowstorm and temperatures of -30C, they turn to their £10,000 snowmobiles and an app that is also used by British sheep farmers. In seconds, the satellite tracking device linked to their phone tells them if the animals are on a frozen lake, up a mountain or, in the worst case, have fallen prey to wolves or lynx.

So far, so simple, thanks to new technology. But when the Sami people of northern Norway want to complain about traditional grazing land being taken by the government, or the mining industry dumping waste in their pristine fjords, communication, they say, is not so easy.

“Our way of life and culture is threatened by the rush for Arctic development, and by conservationists wanting to protect reindeer predators, like eagles and lynx,” says Daniel Oskal, a young reindeer herder who works in the mountains close to Tromsø.

His colleague, Aslak Eira, adds: “The problem is land grabbing. Government expropriates land for roads and tunnels, windfarms and mines. Our land is being eroded by development. Almost half of our winter lands have gone. I fear that in future there will be nowhere left for the reindeer.”

The two Sami herders have lit a small fire in a shelter above a frozen lake. Together with a relation, Johan Oskal, they own 2,000 semi-domesticated reindeer, which are grazing among the bare trees in the snowy mountains near Tromsø. Last month temperatures were below -30C for three weeks – cold enough to freeze reindeer urine as soon as it hits the ground – but the sun has started to come over the mountains again after months of darkness and last week it was a balmy -10C.

The three families have traditional grazing rights on 2,800 sq km of what most people would call wilderness, but which they see as prime winter pasture for reindeer. In summer they trek 200 miles to the coast, where the reindeer can gorge themselves on sweet grasses, putting back on the weight they lost over winter.

The Oskal family have spent years resisting plans by the Norwegian army to expand the Mauken-Blafjell military area for anti-terrorism training. They lost one case, with the result that there are now roads and huts dotted across their pastures. Daniel Oskal’s reindeer are now the only ones in the world accustomed to machine-gun fire.

Well-meaning conservationists are as unpopular with the Sami as the army, says Eira. “They give us problems. The eagles, lynx and wolverines eat our animals, but the conservationists think only about protecting the predators. One lynx can kill 100 reindeer in a year. We lose one in 10 of our animals sometimes, but you don’t hear anything about the pain of the reindeer. Many times I have found a reindeer killed in an ugly way. Once I found a lynx eating a reindeer as it was giving birth.”

Given their immediate problems, climate change is not at the forefront of Sami concerns, according to Nicholas Tyler, a British ecologist at UiT, the Arctic University of Norway, who studies reindeer populations in mainland Norway and the Svalbard archipelago.

“Encroachment and bureaucracy are more serious,” he says. “The Sami are like pastoralists all over the world. Their future is definitely under threat. Many marginal encroachments together make up a disaster. The reduced freedom of action resulting from loss of habitat, predation and legal constraints potentially dwarfs the effects of projected climate change on reindeer pastoralism.”

Tyler says Norwegian law works against the Sami herders. “There is an urban, European way of thinking about their activity. Pastoralism is aimed at using barren land, but the law is not set up for the movement of animals in the natural environment and Norwegian laws can criminalise herder activity. The authorities want to manage reindeer as if they were sheep.”

The Sami’s rights to traditional lands, natural resources and cultural heritage are, theoretically, protected under Norwegian law, but the people actually have little control over their own future, says Aili Keskitalo, president of the Sami parliament, based in the eastern town of Karasjok.

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The very cold winter weather is good for reindeer, say the Sami herders She fears that Norway’s dominant business and political elites are subverting Sami culture and that the 60,000 to 100,000 remaining Sami are being steadily “Norwegianised”. These days, only 10% of Sami people – who stretch across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – are herders. In general they are as likely to be bank managers as farmers.

The latest assault on the Sami way of life comes, says Keskitalo, from companies which have been allowed to dig massive open-cast mines on Sami land, and then dump toxic mineral waste in fjords with the best salmon fishing.

“Waste dumping is horrific,” she says. “Norway is one of very few countries doing this. It affects reindeer and fishing. I don’t understand why they do it. These are some of the most important places in the Arctic for salmon, and they want to destroy them.

“We, the Sami, face similar challenges to all indigenous peoples – climate change, industrial development and mining. The government is inviting the world’s industries to our territory. They are even moving towns in Sami lands to make way for more industry.

“Colonisation and pillaging of resources, followed by suppression of indigenous peoples, has been taking place all over the world. Here too. No one can take advantage of all the economic possibilities in the Arctic. This would destroy all that we cherish – nature, climate, communities.”

Ironically, Keskitalo adds, it is Norway’s response to climate change that may threaten the Sami more than the phenomenon itself. “The government is planning a huge wind park in the heart of our reindeer territory. It is too much. We endure holiday communities, power lines, road construction and mines, and now we face wind energy as well.

“We are the most blessed indigenous people in the world. We are lucky to have been born into a world with democracy and prosperity. We have good living standards, but we are struggling to keep our culture. We are told we must adjust to changing times, but we say the government and business should change what they do.”

Out in the mountains, Daniel Oskal takes consolation from an unusually cold winter. “This winter is very good for the reindeer,” he says. “There’s lots of food for them under the snow. But its also good for the predators, so I have to herd my reindeer almost 24 hours a day. As an animal owner, that is my duty. That’s just how it is. I hear a lot of people saying this is a strange winter. I actually think this is the first normal winter since 2000. This is how winter time should be, how we know it from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But people seem to forget that.”

It’s likely to be family, rather than predators or climate change, that brings Daniel in from the cold. “I love being up in the hills herding my reindeer. But now that I have my girlfriend and my daughter, it’s harder to stay away.
Source : The Guardian

 

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29-11-15

Climate change and indigenous peoples

For indigenous peoples, climate change is not only an environmental issue but also a human rights issue and a question of cultural survival.

Read about the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and about indigenous peoples' advocacy in relation to this process here  (internal link)

Indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable to climate change

Regional and global assessments confirm that the Earth's climate is changing. Current and projected levels of exposure to climate-related sensitivities, as well as limits and restrictions to adaptive capacity, mean that some environments and peoples are more exposed to climate change and are significantly more vulnerable to its impacts and long-term consequences than others.

Indigenous peoples depend on natural resources for their livelihood and they often inhabit fragile ecosystems. At the same time, indigenous peoples are among the world's most marginalized, impoverished and vulnerable peoples.

Hence, while indigenous peoples bear the brunt of climate change, they have minimal access to resources to cope with the changes.

Climate change is a human rights issue

When ecosystems change, indigenous peoples' customary uses of wildlife, plants and forests are affected. Culturally and economically important species and resources may become more sparse or extinct. 

To indigenous peoples, climate change is, however, not simply a matter of physical changes to the environments in which they live. Many consider climate change a threat to their livelihoods and they fear that their economy and resource use will be threatened, followed by an erosion of social life, traditional knowledge and cultures. Hence, to indigenous peoples climate change is not only an environmental issue but also a human rights issue.

Despite the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge, international experts most often overlook the rights of indigenous peoples as well as the potentially invaluable contributions that indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge, innovations and practices can bring to the global search for climate change solutions.

As the global discourse on climate change focuses on understanding how we can scientifically and technologically adapt to, as well as mitigate climate change, indigenous peoples are faced with the prospect of climate change further challenging their abilities to adapt to and cope with environmental and social changes.

Climate change mitigation initiatives

Indigenous peoples can play a key role in mitigation of climate change. As guardians of large areas of forest, indigenous peoples can have a central role in stopping deforestation. Land titling in favor of indigenous peoples, strengthening of local governance structures and sustainable community forestry are proven tools to quickly halt deforestation. By managing their ancestral land, indigenous peoples help increase forest cover and biodiversity. 

On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that in many cases, reforestation and renewable energy projects aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions pose an additional threat to indigenous peoples' tenure security, livelihoods and economies. The establishment of bio-fuel plantations, wind power project and hydroelectric dams on indigenous peoples' lands without their free, prior and informed content often lead to evictions and dispossession. Adding to the negative impacts of climate change itself on indigenous communities. 

It it thus crucial that mitigation initiatives make room for the inclusion and participation of indigenous peoples. That they respect indigenous peoples' rights and take into consideration their traditional knowledge.

Indigenous peoples are actively engaging in national and international processes on climate change and mitigation policies, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and national REDD+ programmes. 

Read more about indigenous peoples and climate change:

 

 

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COP 21: Tribal people on front line in battle against climate change

The COP 21 summit to be held in Paris from the end of the month has so far declined to give a voice to the indigenous peoples most directly threatened by ecological catastrophe. This omission comes despite clear evidence that tribal peoples are the best conservationists of the environments in which they live.

The global environmental summit will focus on energy policy in industrialised nations rather than the destruction of natural environments such as the Amazon. Despite the extensive efforts of indigenous peoples in Brazil and elsewhere in South America to resist logging, mining and ranching activities that continue to destroy vast swathes of the rainforest, there appears to be no impetus to lend them any support at COP 21.

A recent report from the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) found that very few of the governments attending the Paris summit have even mentioned indigenous rights in their conservation or climate policies. Twenty-six out of the forty-seven countries examined made no reference to tribal land management at all in their proposals.

Despite their exclusion from the major speaking platforms, hundreds of indigenous leaders from South America and elsewhere in the world will be attending in order to have their voices heard. They will include celebrated tribal activists Davi Yanomami, Raoni Kayapó and Mauricio Yekuana

On the subject of protecting the Amazon, Davi Yanomami said: “The climate is changing. Global warming, as you call it. We call it Motokari. It’s making the earth’s lungs sick. So we need to respect this world, we need to put the brakes on, we can’t continue destroying nature, earth, rivers. You can’t continue killing us, the Indians in the forest. We Indians know how to look after our forest.”

Some of the tribes actively battling to save their environment include:

  • The Guajajara: A group known as the Guajajara Guardians have attracted attention for their bold efforts at resisting deforestation. They have been involved in clashes with armed logging gangs, and even organised initial efforts to extinguish a huge fire in the Arariboia indigenous territory over the past two months.
  • The Ka’apor: Earlier this year, the Ka’apor responded to illegal logging in their territory by forming an indigenous ‘army’ to fight back. They have since suffered retributive violence.
  • The Guarani: The indigenous people of southwestern Brazil and Paraguay continue to have violence inflicted on them for their attempts to hold on to their land against sugar cane and soya farmers and big cattle ranching operations. In October, two Guarani teenagers were shot by ranchers, and the tribe has in recent years been trying to organise boycotts of the internationally exported beef and soya produced on their lands without their consent.

Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. They are also the people most acutely affected by the destruction of the natural environment in which they live. Without the support of the international community, however, South America’s indigenous people and the Amazon regions in which they make their homes could be destroyed forever.

Read this online:
http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11016
Source : Survival International




 

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26-11-15

Brazil authorizes operation of the Belo Monte Dam, disregarding the rights of affected communities

 

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) on Tuesday authorized the Belo Monte Dam’s operating license, which allows the dam’s reservoirs to be filled. The authorization was granted despite clear noncompliance with conditions necessary to guarantee the life, health and integrity of affected communities; the same conditions that IBAMA called essential in its technical report of September 22. IBAMA’s decision makes no reference to conditions needed to protect affected indigenous peoples. 

“We can’t believe it,” said Antonia Melo, leader of Movimiento Xingú Vivo para Siempre, who was displaced by the dam’s construction. “This is a crime. Granting the license for this monster was an irresponsible decision on the part of the government and IBAMA.

The president of IBAMA was in Altamira on November 5 and received a large variety of complaints. Everyone – riverside residents, indigenous representatives, fishermen, and members of the movement – talked about the negative impacts we’re living with. And now they grant the license with more conditions, which will only continue to be violated.”

In an official letter to IBAMA on November 12, the president of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) concluded that conditions necessary for the protection of affected indigenous communities had clearly not been met. However, he gave free reign for the environmental authority to grant the operating license “if deemed appropriate.”

“The authorization clearly violates Brazil’s international human rights commitments, especially with respect to the indigenous communities of the Xingú River basin. Those affected populations are protected by precautionary measures granted in 2011 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which the Brazilian government continues to ignore,” said María José Veramendi, attorney with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA). 

The license allows for the filling of two of the dam’s reservoirs on the Xingú River, an Amazon tributary. It is valid for six years and is subject to compliance with certain conditions; progress will be monitored through semiannual reports. Such conditions should have been met before the dam’s license was even considered, let alone granted. 

“Environmental licensing is a way to mitigate the effects, control damage and minimize the risks that the dam’s operation entails for the community and the environment. By disrespecting and making flexible the licensing procedures, the government is allowing economic interests to prevail and ignoring its duty to protect the public interest,” said Raphaela Lopes, attorney with Justiça Global. 

AIDA, Justiça Global, and the Para Society of Defense of Human Rights have argued on both national and international levels that the conditions needed for Belo Monte to obtain permission to operate have not been met. The project must still guarantee affected and displaced populations access to essential services such as clean water, sanitation, health services and other basic human rights. 

“The authorization of Belo Monte, a project involved in widespread corruption scandals, contradicts President Rousseff’s recent statement before the United Nations, in which she declared that Brazil would not tolerate corruption, and would instead aspire to be a country where leaders behave in strict accordance with their duties. We hope that the Brazilian government comes to its senses, and begins to align its actions with its words,” said Astrid Puentes Riaño, co-director of AIDA. 

The green light for Belo Monte couldn’t have come at a worse moment. On November 5th, two dams impounding mine waste—owned by Samarco, a company jointly overseen by Vale and BHP Billiton—broke in the city of Mariana, Minas Gerais, causing one of the greatest environmental disasters in the country’s history. A slow-moving flood of mud and toxic chemicals wiped out a village, left 11 dead and 12 missing, and affected the water supply of the entire region, destroying flora and fauna for hundreds of miles around. The toxic flood has since reached the sea. The company’s operating licenses had expired two years ago. 

Approval of Belo Monte’s operating license comes just six days before the start of the Paris climate talks, the most important meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in recent history. Once in operation, Belo Monte will emit greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane; as the world’s third-largest dam, it will become a significant contributor to climate change. 

By authorizing Belo Monte, the government of Brazil is sending a terrible message to the world. Ignoring its international commitments to protect human rights and mitigate the effects of climate change, the government is instead providing an example of how energy should not be produced in the 21st Century. 

Article first published at AIDA-Americas.org. Republished at IC Magazine under a Creative Commons License.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indigenous people ignored in climate plans, seek voice at UN talks

The role of the world's more than 370 million indigenous peoples in fighting climate change has been largely ignored in national plans to curb planet-warming emissions issued ahead of upcoming U.N. climate talks, researchers and activists said on Wednesday.

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) found only a handful of governments included indigenous land and forest management as part of their climate strategies submitted to the United Nations in the run-up to negotiations in Paris to thrash out a new deal to limit global warming.

The RRI reviewed 47 "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions" (INDCs), designed to form the basis of a new deal, from countries with large rural or forested areas.

Only five emphasise indigenous land and forest management as part of their climate change strategies, it said, whereas 26 make no mention of it at all and 16 mention it in passing.

To make their voices count in the two-week talks starting on Nov. 30, hundreds of indigenous leaders living on the frontlines of climate change - from sinking Pacific islands to the melting Arctic and Indonesia's burning forests - will attend the summit.

"It is going to be a tough battle in Paris," Joan Carling, secretary general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We continue to be ignored at the national level, so what we're going to bring to the talks is the reality on the ground."

RRI analyst Ilona Coyle said plans submitted by Brazil, Guatamala and Peru highlighted the importance of respecting indigenous peoples' rights.

Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru also explained in their plans how indigenous peoples have been or will be consulted, and identify them as particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their dependence on natural resources.

BLIND SPOT

A growing body of research shows that recognising indigenous peoples' rights is key in combating climate change, yet their role in preventing deforestation and land degradation continues to be a blind spot on the climate agenda, experts say.

Deforestation rates are significantly lower in areas where national governments formally recognise and protect the forest rights of indigenous peoples, according to a 2014 study by the RRI and the World Resources Institute.

To improve collaboration, the United Nations and the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) have brought together indigenous leaders and high-level government officials in over 20 countries in recent months to discuss contributions they can make to slashing emissions.

Several more dialogues are scheduled in the weeks ahead, including in Brazil, which has more than 800,000 indigenous people.

Teanau Tuiono, an indigenous leader from the Pacific Caucus, said the discussion there had strengthened participants' resolve to protect the environment from climate change.

"We in the Pacific did not create climate change, but rising sea levels are putting islands and coastal communities under serious threat," he said. "Nonetheless, we're fighting. Not drowning."

Separately, AIPP's Carling said some progress had been made on deforestation, for example in Vietnam and Cambodia, where indigenous representatives have been included in national bodies dealing with forests.

"That would have been unthinkable in the past. But we still have a long, long way to go," she said.

The IIPFCC has issued demands for the final climate change agreement in Paris, saying it is "imperative" that the rights of indigenous people are recognised and respected.

Those should include the right to refuse attempts to seize indigenous lands for high-carbon investments in agriculture, logging, mining, oil and gas, dams and roads, as well as tourism, the forum said.

(Reporting by Bangkok newsroom; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org to see more stories)

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation -

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24-11-15

Asia Report on Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples for COP21

 

This report is a summary of national reports of indigenous peoples from 12 countries in Asia and the results of the regional preparatory meeting of Asia indigenous peoples for the 21st session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP21). This regional preparatory meeting which was organised by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) on September 16-18 2015 in Chiang Mai, Thailand was participated by 30 selected indigenous peoples' representatives coming from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Lao PDR, Taiwan/China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Vietnam including representatives of regional networks of indigenous women, indigenous youth and indigenous persons with disabilities.

Download the Report from Here

Source : Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

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27-08-15

The Esmeralda, the Chilean Navy Ship with a Dark Past Visits Britain

[The death on 7 August of the former chief of General Pinochet’s DINA secret police, Manuel Contreras, prompted celebrations outside the Santiago military hospital in which he passed away and across Chile.

Contreras’ death once again brought into the international spotlight the painful legacy of Pinochet's 17-year military rule. In the midst of renewed interest in the dictatorship’s human rights violations, the scheduled arrival of the Esmeralda, a Chilean naval ship with a dark past, to Britain on the 26 August seems ill judged.] 

The Esmeralda, the Chilean Navy Ship with a Dark Past Visits Britain Wednesday 26 August 2015, by Robbie Wilson. 

http://alborada.net/esmeralda-ship-chile 

The death on 7 August of the former chief of General Pinochet’s DINA secret police, Manuel Contreras, prompted celebrations outside the Santiago military hospital in which he passed away and across Chile.

Contreras’ death once again brought into the international spotlight the painful legacy of Pinochet's 17-year military rule. In the midst of renewed interest in the dictatorship’s human rights violations, the scheduled arrival of the Esmeralda, a Chilean naval vessel with a dark past, to Britain on the 26 August seems ill judged. 

A Chilean Navy training ship since 1953, the Esmeralda has been cited in numerous court cases and NGO investigations as having served as a floating detention and torture centre during the dictatorship. Amongst the ship’s victims was Anglo-Chilean priest Michael Woodward, who was arrested shortly after the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular coalition government. Following years of campaigning by Woodward’s family, a 2013 court case in Valparaiso, led by Judge María Elena Quezada, ruled that Father Woodward had died of wounds inflicted whilst detained aboard the Esmeralda. 

The Esmeralda’s repurposing as a site of state terrorism was well documented by opponents of the dicatorship as early as 1976, when the ship’s participation in a Bicentennial flotilla in New York was met with a two-thousand strong protest. Similarly, the vessel’s presence in this August’s Sail Amsterdam festival received heavy condemnation from Amnesty International and Dutch-Chilean exiles association Mapuche, which picketed the welcome event hosted aboard the ship. 

The Esmeralda’s official website proudly details the ship’s service history. However, there is no mention of the abuses the ship once housed. In 2000 the Esmeralda’s former Lieutenant Commander (and current director of the Talcahuano Naval Hospital) Rodrigo Márquez Marnich stated “the media likes to manipulate a controversial story that supposedly happened 25 years ago. It did not happen”. The ship’s website also fails to list the specific location at which the ship intends to moor in London between the 26– 30 August, perhaps owing to a previously aborted trip in 2003 after protests were held in Dartmouth. 

Following recognition of the Esmeralda’s dark past in Chilean courts, the ship’s continued deployment as a centrepiece of Chilean diplomacy is both surprising and morose, while the notion that its voyages could represent national pride to expatriates is highly questionable. In its present capacity the Esmeralda is obtrusive to the reconciliation

process: rather than silencing its past, the ship might better serve the nation were it permanently moored in Valparaiso and used as an addition to Santiago’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights. 

A protest at the Esmeralda’s presence in Britain takes place on Saturday

29 August in London – for more information visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1035401919827443/

 

source : Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL

The Netherlands/ Países bajos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21-08-15

Well, shiver me timbers! Historic tall ships converge on Amsterdam for giant sailing festival

About 50 historic vessels sailed from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to the capital on Wednesday Accompanied by hundreds of smaller, private boats for SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years 

Highlights among the vessels included an 18th century frigate replica and a 19th century French merchant ship But there was also controversy, thanks to a Chilean vessel used as a torture ship during Pinochet's rule 

At first glance, it could be a scene from a bygone era - the sails of the tall ships fluttering against the sky. 

But a closer look at the smaller boats which surround them reveal this is, in fact, a far more modern scene. 

The 50 stunning tall ships had come from across the world to take part in SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years and sees hundreds of boats accompanying these historic vessels on a trip from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to the capital. 

Looking back at history: About 50 historic vessels sailed from Ijmuiden, in the western Netherlands, to Amsterdam on Wednesday

Popular: They were accompanied by hundreds of smaller, private boats for SAIL Amsterdam, which takes place every five years 

This year, the fleet included an 18th century frigate replica, a 19th century French merchant ship and a controversial Chilean vessel which, in the not so distance past, was used for torture. 

They will now remain in the harbour until Sunday, with organisers expecting around two million visitors to pop down for a closer look. 

Highlights include the Etoile du Roy, a reproduction of a 1745 frigate used in the British television series 'Horatio Hornblower,' and the Belem, a French 19th century steel-hulled three-master. 

But it was the presence of Chilean school ship Esmeralda, used for the torture of political opponents under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which ran from 1973 until 1990, has brought controversy to the family event. 

Anger: But there was also controversy, thanks to a boat which was once used to torture people in Chile during the Pinochet regime 

Dark past: The four master vessel (not pictured) was used to torture at least 100 people during the dictatorship 

Huge draw: It is thought about two million people will see the boats before they set off once more from Amsterdam harbour on Sunday 

Another chance: For those upset to have missed out, a fleet of tall ships is due to arrive in Greenwich, London, next weekend 

An association of Chilean exiles has said it would hold a vigil next to the four-master on Wednesday. 

'At least 100 people were tortured or raped on board,' the association said in a statement, expressing disappointment that 'the boat's dark past is still taboo. 

Amnesty International criticised the lack of information about the boat's history on the SAIL event's website.

Stunning: The sun goes down behind tall and small ships at the IJ river in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, after the days sailing 

Source Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL

 

The Netherlands/ Países bajos

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13-04-15

Where will the World Bank Stand on Human Rights?

The World Bank is entering the final stages of reviewing its processes for assessing and managing social and environmental risk at a project level. Originally announced in 2011, consultations on the first draft close on March 1st 2015. The safeguard review process is then expected to come to an end at some point in 2015, after consultations on a second draft, and the new safeguard system to be enforced from January 2016.

The Bank has received significant criticism from academics, international human rights bodies, indigenous peoples and civil society for the proposed draft of its Environmental and Social Framework, released in July 2014. There have been substantive concerns not only with the proposed policy and standards, but also at the process of consultation and engagement with major rights-holders and stakeholders in the review. While powerful statements and critiques are available here, this article focuses on the human rights implications of the current draft. 

Inadequate implementation

The Bank’s new safeguard proposal contains two separate sections, the Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) and the Environmental and Social Standards (ESS). These new proposed safeguards will require new and significantly improved processes of implementation to address serious weaknesses identified in prior evaluations of Bank safeguard implementation, renewed attention to staff incentives and a radical move towards linking up all levels of Bank risk assessment and evaluation.

The current World Bank safeguards are out of date and out of sync with the current state of development thinking, human rights law, safeguard practices in private and public finance and face serious shortcomings in implementation. The 2006-2008 Learning Review of OP 4.10, for instance, highlighted some extraordinary lapses in implementation, finding, among other things, that where rights to lands and resources were directly implicated, only a small minority of projects addressed these rights adequately.

Adjusting the content alone is simply not enough. The next phase of creating the framework through which new safeguards will be implemented is absolutely critical to the success of the safeguards, and should be conducted in an open and transparent manner. 

Where next?

 

Pressure is mounting on the Bank to radically rethink the way in which the current proposals for a new environmental and social safeguard system will work. From the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), an extraordinary 27 special mandate holders collectively wrote to the President of the World Bank to highlight their concerns. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, through its Working Group on Indigenous Populations, has formally communicated to the President of the World Bank highlighting critical issues with the proposals contained in ESS7 on indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples from Tanzania, who stand to suffer greatly from some of the new changes, wrote again to the Bank. These voices stand among many concerns with the framework of implementation, the content of individual standards and the nature of the Bank’s stance on fundamental human rights.

Human rights for all 

Within the new draft documents, human rights are mentioned three times. The statement of intent asserts “the Bank’s operations are supportive of human rights and will encourage respect for them in a manner consistent with the Bank’s Articles of Agreement”. In ESS3 on labour standards, it is stated that “workers will be provided with information that … will set out their rights under national labor and employment law”; and finally in ESS7 it is recognised that indigenous peoples’ “economic, social, and legal status frequently limits their capacity to defend their rights to, and interests in, land, territories and natural and cultural resources”.

In only one of these instances does the reference to rights come with an identified responsibility – in the case of worker’s rights where the worker must be adequately informed of those rights by the borrower. In the other two cases the commitments are fuzzy. The Bank argues that human rights are protected in practice without explicit reference, but this argument comes up against serious challenges. One such challenge concerns the inclusion of a so-called ‘alternative approach’ wherein a government can request a waiver of the entirety of ESS7, the standard on indigenous peoples. While recognising the need for specific protections for indigenous peoples, the Bank simultaneously introduces a mechanism to suspend such protections, a suspension likely to be requested by the very governments from which the protection is most needed.

The alternative approach must be removed 

It is our view that the inclusion of this alternative approach undermines any claim that the Bank could make to leading in the field of social and environmental protections, and puts paid to any argument that the Bank is protecting rights in practice, if not in explicit reference. The retention of this proposal directly places at risk indigenous peoples across the globe, and cannot be allowed to stand if the rights and interests of indigenous peoples are to be protected in the new safeguard system.

FPP E-Newsletter February 2015

 

 

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28-11-14

Peru exploiting own failures to demarcate indigenous territory

Peru is facing a wave of environmental conflicts as extractive industries expand into land whose ownership remains legally unclear and a new report by Global Witness highlights how this process will become potentially bloodier through laws recently passed in Lima. 

The report “Peru’s Deadly Environment” states that 57 environmental defenders have been killed since 2002 with 60% of these occurring in the last four years, and that Indigenous Peoples have been among the most exposed to the new violence. Global Witness found that that “80% of all killings of environmental and land activists in Peru between 2002 and 2013 stemmed from local opposition to extractive projects” while Peru’s Human Rights Ombudsman documented “1935 social conflicts generated by opposition to mining projects over the period 2006 to 2014.” 

The vast majority of mineral deposits are located on or near Indigenous lands, and logging activities in Peru’s Amazon have also seen Indigenous activists murdered, including Edwin Chota, the campaigning mayor of the Ashéninka community of Saweto in September this year. Global Witness reports that the murder of Chota and three of his companions was symptomatic of “The government’s failure to recognize Indigenous claims to their traditional lands, an issue Chota and other Indigenous leaders campaigned on for more than a decade”, as well as “Poor law enforcement and pervasive corruption that is allowing illegal logging to thrive in the Peruvian Amazon; and the gaps in institutional capacity and resources to adequately address these problems.” 

Pointing to a common theme, Equal Times noted on news of Chota’s death: “Official recognition of the Saweto Indigenous community came in 2003, a year after a section of their land was given to a logging company for 40 years. The logging had 'priority', although the government committed to study and solve the case.” 

The titling of Indigenous land has proceeded at a snail’s pace across Peru, resulting in incursions by loggers in the Amazon, and in the mountains by mining companies taking advantage of formerly communal land being claimed by some as individual titles. Global Witness notes that 20 million hectares of Indigenous land in the Amazon is still pending official titling. 

In mountainous areas affected by insecure titles, many Indigenous activists are working to emphasize the common benefits of collective land titles, arguing that it places the community in a far stronger position to negotiate with mining companies. The Quechua community of Paras is located over 3300m above sea level in the High Andes of Ayacucho province, Peru. Like other mountain regions, Ayacucho is increasingly becoming a focus of mining companies eager to exploit a region that's rich in mineral resources long un-exploitable due to the insurgency by Shining Path guerrillas. 

In the face of concentration in land ownership and the prevalence in Peru of development theories based on the benefits of private ownership such as those of the Lima-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, activists like Tania Pariona Tarqui spoke to the farmers of Paras concerning the impacts that open cast mining has had on the peace and livelihoods of Indigenous communities across the Americas. The poisoning of land, the violence and communal fracturing associated with the Marlin Mine in Guatemala served as a warning, she said, to Indigenous communities not securing collective title of their land. 

Paby Cáceres Vargas of Ayacucho’s Defensoría del Pueblo also attended the meeting, describing the rights of Indigenous peoples under international law and in the Peruvian constitution. “The problem”, he said later, “is the implementation of such rights. The backlog of land ownership cases still to be processed and the slow pace of land titling are staggering.”

The same challenge faced Edwin Chota in the territory around the Upper Tamaya River in the Peruvian Amazon---an issue that will be highlighted when Peru hosts the World Climate Change Conference next month. Global Witness’s report reveals that “Deforestation in Peru accounts for almost half its greenhouse gas emissions, with the rate of destruction more than doubling between 2011 and 2012 to 246,000 ha annually”. The report also quotes recent research by the World Resources Institute showing that Indigenous land rights has proven to be one of the most effective ways to curb deforestation and cut carbon emissions. 

The Peruvian government has proceeded to undermine such rights not only through failing to provide the resources necessary for proceeding with pace in providing titles, but passing new legislation – Law 30230 – that weakens environmental and social protections in a bid to encourage further investment in logging and mining. According to La Campaña Territorios Seguros para las Comunidades del Perú, Indigenous communities lacking irrefutable proof of their property rights stand to lose most from the new legislation. 

Law 30151, passed in January this year, exempted the Police and military from criminal responsibility if they kill protestors while on duty. The law fits a pattern, according to Front Line Defenders, of the security services being used as a legally immune private security force for extractive industries, resulting in the criminalization and victimization of Indigenous and environmental activists. 

Source : info@intercontinentalcry.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indigenous Communities Take Chevron to Global Court for 'Crimes Against Humanity'

 Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body. 

“In the context of international criminal law, the decisions made by Chevron’s CEO, John Watson, have deliberately maintained—and contributed to—the polluted environment in which the people of the Oriente region of Ecuador live and die every day,” states the complaint, which was submitted to the ICC's Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Thursday on behalf of approximately 80 affected communities, totaling tens of thousands of people. 

In 2011, impacted communities won a judgment in an Ecuadorian court against Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2001) for its toxic waste dumping in the Lago Agrio region in northeastern Ecuador between 1964 and 1992, which created an ongoing environmental and public health crisis, including high cancer rates and reported birth defects among residents. Last year, Ecuador's National Court of Justice upheld the verdict but cut the initial mandated payment from $18 billion to $9.5 billion. 

Chevron has repeatedly refused to pay the $9.5 billion ordered by Ecuadorian courts and even took the step of removing most of its assets from Ecuador in an apparent effort to avoid paying. Petitioners slam what they call "multiple collateral attacks against the judgment and the lawyers who represented the affected communities." 

After years of legal battles, impacted peoples have not seen any reparations. 

“The health conditions imposed on the indigenous and farmer communities that live in the Oriente constitute a serious and sustained attack on the population that has lived there peacefully for centuries,” states the ICC complaint. “The damages, which have been documented and confirmed in countless inspections conducted for the Ecuadorian case, brought various consequences, including water contamination, ground contamination, cancer, forced displacement, extermination of two ethnic groups, and many other disastrous conditions that are described in the annexes to this communication.” 

The petition charges that the systemic harm inflicted by Chevron constitutes a "crime against humanity" and therefore is of concern to the international community. 

"It is critical that all legal mechanisms be fully utilized to put an end to what is effectively impunity for a major American oil company that is committing human rights crimes against vulnerable populations," said Pablo Fajardo, lead lawyer for the impacted communities. 

Article originally published at Common Dreams. Re-published on IC under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. 

Source : Intercontinentalcry.org

 

 

 

 

 

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Attempt to Expel Indigenous Peoples from Proposed Baram Dam Site Denounced By Human Rights Groups

Malaysian and international human rights organizations have united to publicly condemn the actions taken by authorities and logging company representatives to intimidate Indigenous Peoples in Sarawak at the proposed site of the Baram Dam. On 21 October, coercive action was taken by police from the General Operation Force (GOF), Forest Department officers and personnel representing logging interests from the company MM Golden to pressure residents of Long Kesseh to abandon their customary lands and disperse from the site, where they had set up a barricade. As a result of the violation of rights outlined in the national constitution and provisions of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, an urgent appeal was submitted on 22 October to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. The appeal calls on her to raise concerns with the Government of Malaysia about the actions taken to forcefully dismantle the barricade, which had been set up one year ago by local residents of Long Kesseh to assert their native customary rights (NCR) to land being allocated against their will for the Baram Dam site. 

Exactly one year ago, on 23 October 2013, the people of Long Kesseh set up a barricade on an area of native customary land that would be submerged if the 1200MW Baram Hydroelectric Project is built as proposed by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). If this dam is completed, it would inundate 26 villages, including Long Kesseh, flooding 400 square kilometers of land and displacing between 6000 to 20,000 people. In response to SEB’s efforts to begin preparatory work for the Baram Dam, residents of Long Kesseh and surrounding areas symbolically marked their defiance by building a barricade on their own land.

 

The members of longhouses to be affected by the Baram Dam, including Long Kesseh, have never given consent for any timber clearance or other preparatory project works to proceed on customary lands. Yet, agents working with M. M. Golden Sdn. Bhd. are claiming the land is part of a concession they were granted. Although the circumstances related to the issuing of their logging permit remain ambiguous, the company has become associated Sarawak Energy Berhad’s efforts to clear timber around the Baram River and help pave the way for the construction of the proposed Baram Hydroelectric Project. 

Serene Lim of the national human rights group, SUARAM, explained, “Villagers in Baram are defending their customary property rights; they have not granted free, prior and informed consent for their land to be taken by the government or any private firm. That is why the people of Long Kesseh continue to affirm their rights to the area, and why they decided to rebuild the barricade.” She added, “It is unacceptable that the authorities are evidently backing M.M. Golden’s incursion onto native customary lands, while completely disregarding clear legal provisions and precedents protecting the rights of original landholders. Given the complicity of government authorities along with agents hired by logging and energy companies in violating fundamental human rights, we decided to bring this case to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” 

According to Thomas Jalong, a resident of Baram and President of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Network, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), “Sarawak Energy needs access to the area currently being defended by the villagers if they are to proceed with the proposed Baram Dam. Despite the fact that no social or environmental impact assessments for the proposed dam appear to have been approved, SEB is ready to jump into preparatory work. This confrontation at Long Kesseh is appears to have the direct aim of opening up grounds for the Baram Dam to proceed. However, the personnel involved have failed to intimidate the villagers into surrendering their land so that it could first be stripped of timber and then subsumed by a dam.” 

“We are calling on M.M. Golden, SEB and the Government of Sarawak to respect the native customary rights land designation and the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent,” said Tanya Lee of International Rivers. “As a matter of urgency, government authorities, companies and financiers must accept the fact that the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan People of Baram have expressed their widespread opposition to the Baram Dam and to further logging on their land. Upholding national and international law along with industry best practices would mean withdrawing from the area and immediately returning any land already acquired for the purposes of the Baram Dam to the rightful landholders. ” 

source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Argentina : Mapuche Community have been given ‘Benetton Land’ Titles

The National Institute for Indigenous Affairs (INAI) has formally recognised the Santa Rosa Leleque Mapuche community’s ownership of 535 hectares in Chubut, Patagonia. 

The terrain is part of 900,000 hectares that were sold to the Benetton corporation in 1991, in a deal that the Mapuche have always called illegal. The community was evicted from the land in 2002, but returned to occupy it in 2007. 

The decision to hand the titles back to the community brings to a close one of Argentina’s most infamous territorial disputes of recent times. It is also a watershed for the rights of indigenous communities, setting a precedent that activists hope will be followed in similar disputes around the country. 

Veronica Huilipan of the Indigenous People’s Human Rights Watchdog (ODHPI) said: “After a long struggle, led by the community and involving different tactics to highlight the case, such as a trip to Italy and the involvement of Argentina’s Nobel Peace laureate, we have finally seen this decision in favour of the community.” 

The decision is the latest a in series of rulings in favour of indigenous communities in Patagonia. At the end of October, the Campo Maripe Mapuche community, which resides in an area of Neuquén known as

Vaca Muerta, was also given official legal status. Vaca Muerta is home to one of Argentina’s biggest shale oil and gas reserves, which are accessed through the controversial technique of fracking. 

It is hoped that the community’s new status will give them more power to demand their constitutional rights of consultation over the use of natural resources that exist in their terrain be recognised. This right is particularly important in light of Argentina’s new Hydrocarbons Law, which is designed to attract more private investment into the country’s growing energy sector. The law was passed by the Senate on 30th October. 

Huilipan said that the Campo Maripe community are going to challenge the law, as if it passes it will have done so without the communities being given their constitutional right to consultation. 

She is hopeful that they can succeed: “The Mapuche communities have shown us that when they take a political stance, they are highly skilled at organising and mobilising, and have made huge gains and won important struggles in the past … So when the Mapuche confederation organises in such a way, we have high expectations, yes. The community is extremely open to entering into dialogue when they feel they have not been consulted on issues that affect them directly.”

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

 

 

10:46 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

20-10-14

Hydroelectric dams threaten access to water, way of life for Mapuche people

Five rows of a dozen metal chairs lined up toward a projection of breathtaking landscapes from the Mapuche people’s territory in the south of Chile. 

A handful of organizers and about five viewers apart from my friend and I filled the small room in the back of a used bookstore to watch the independent documentary “A Broken Cycle.” With Columbus Day on Monday, this event reminded everyone about the struggles indigenous people face since Columbus’ infamous founding of the New World. 

Quickly, the documentary changed from beautiful scenery to harsh reality. The interviews with Mapuche leaders and sights of protests showed the grave conflict facing the natural beauty that the indigenous people call home — hydroelectric dams. 

The south of Chile, home to Patagonia, is a rainy, beautiful region filled with lakes. All of these lakes create good conditions for hydroelectric dams to generate energy. However, creating these dams

means flooding valleys. This threatens the access to water and the way of life of the Mapuche people, who are already at the bottom of the totem pole in Chilean social society. 

Juana Calfunao Paillaléf, the lonko, or chief, of a Mapuche village in the south, made a short speech after to emphasize the major points of the documentary. Wearing her hair in two braids, she wore the traditional dress and jewelry of the Mapuche. 

The lonko invited me to this event after I first met her on Friday. Paillaléf, anthropology students from the University of Chile and Mapuche activists were holding a meeting at my host family’s house. My host sister works with the lonko in her activist mission. 

Paillaléf is from a Mapuche village in the south of Chile and has been protesting the dams. She wrote an open letter to the president last year. Also, my host father said she is the only woman lonko in the Mapuche nation. 

A main concern of the Mapuche is their access to clean water. The proposed dam in Paillaléf‘s village puts their spiritual grounds in danger. The politics of how the dams are installed is also perceived to be a violation of the Mapuche’s autonomy. 

The Mapuche protest hydroelectric plans that threaten their villages in the south. Protests can turn violent and the police have the reputation of brutality to end demonstrations. During the question and answer ortion of the evening, a Mapuche man from another town described how tense the conflict has become. 

While he talked, the room felt an eerily quiet. He said all of his family is ready to die for this cause — their right for water, their spiritual grounds and most importantly, their respect. 

Even though these dams hurt the people who live directly near them, the dams are still seen as necessary from an energy perspective. Chile imports about 75 percent of its energy in the form of oil, coal and natural gas. Since 2010, the average electricity bill has grown 20 percent, according to The Economist. 

As if the energy problem wasn’t complicated enough, Chile’s energy demands will go up as its economy grows. The foundation of Chile’s economy — the copper industry in the north — consumes about 39 percent of Chile’s electricity, according to The Economist.

 

Hydroelectric power could be seen as an environmentally sound solution because it’s a renewable resource. However, the flooding to create the dams can dramatically change the environment. 

This flooding can threaten natural gems like Patagonia, a backpacker’s dream, and put the nature-lovers up in arms. According to National Geographic, this June, the government canceled developer’s plans for

damming two of Patagonia’s rivers. After eight years of protests from local and environmental groups, the land was protected. However, not all protests are this successful. 

This is only a small glimpse into Chile’s energy crisis and the protection of indigenous rights. Securing clean affordable energy is a long and complicated journey. But still, with a flick of a switch, I can turn on the lights. If only the rest of the process was as easy. 

Danielle Roth is a junior majoring in magazine journalism and international relations. She is following her desires for good food and adventure in Santiago, Chile. Email her at dlroth@syr.edu or tweet at her @danielleroth_.

 

Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch - By Danielle Roth

 

 

 

 

16:11 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Canada, EU strike deal on indigenous-hunted seal products

Joint statement gives Inuit seal products access to European Union market

Four Canadian cabinet ministers, including Nunavut MP and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, announced Oct. 10 in Ottawa that they’ve struck a deal with the European Union to ensure seal products harvested by indigenous people in Canada may be sold within EU member states.

“We are pleased with this result. This joint statement charts out the course for greater market access for Canadian seal products and will help indigenous communities that depend on the seal hunt to provide for their families and maintain their traditional way of life,” Aglukkaq said in a statement.

The Canadian government, in a joint statement with EU officials, said they have agreed to a framework for co-operation in which the two sides will:

• ensure nothing prevents the participation of Canadian non-indigenous persons and organizations from processing, manufacturing and marketing Canadian indigenous seal products;

• explore possibilities for supporting indigenous communities and traditional ways of life through capacity building and the exchange of best practices;

• explore how indigenous communities can benefit from the new opportunities opened up by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to develop their economic, social and environmental potential; and,

• ensure that indigenous seal products imported into the European Union are not limited due to their type or intended purpose.

The two sides also said they will set up an expert group to work out the administrative details required to ensure that indigenous Canadian seal products gain entry to the EU market.

“The exemptions applied to the European Union’s prohibition on the importation of seals and seal products unfairly discriminated against Canadian Inuit, and we are hopeful that today’s announcement marks the commencement of a process that will rectify this concern,” Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna said in a statement.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, International Trade Minister Ed Fast, and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea joined Aglukkaq in the announcement.

Terry Audla, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said in a statement that ITK is “encouraged” by the Canada-EU joint statement and sees it as an important first step in restoring economic opportunities for Inuit sealers.

“We believe that implementing such a plan will take much work and cooperation from all sides. It is critical that Inuit have direct participation as this work proceeds,” Audla said.

Audla said ITK will continue to push for direct Inuit participation in the implementation of the Canada-EU agreement.

And ITK also said that the plans announced Oct. 10 must work for all four Inuit regions and must include a “realistic phase-in timetable.”

“We remain hopeful that the trade of seal products — an abundant, renewable, sustainable and natural resource – be once again a generator of economic growth for Inuit communities,” Audla said.

The Inuit dispute with the European Union dates to May 2009, when the European Parliament voted to ban the importation of seal products within EU member states, with a vaguely-defined exemption for seal products harvested by indigenous hunters.

Canada, Norway and a variety of businesses and Inuit organizations tried and failed to overturn the ban in the European Court.

At the same time, Canada and Norway tried and failed to persuade the World Trade Organizationthat the EU seal ban violates international trade law.

But the Oct. 10 Canada-EU announcement appears to have been crafted to give indigenous seal product producers in Canada a way of using the EU exemption.

__._,_.___

.


16:06 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

01-09-14

The World Bank Moves to Weaken Its Protection for the Environment, Indigenous Peoples, the Poor

 A leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new Safeguard Policies appears to reverse a generation of gains. Despite over two years of input from civil society, project-affected communities, and experts on a wider range of social and environmental issues, the leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of those standards. The proposed policies, which are up for discussion by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations, are not only at odds with the Bank’s stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but they also lower the bar for the entire international community. 

On multiple occasions, World Bank President Jim Kim has promised that this review of Bank policies would not lead to “dilution,” or weakening, of Bank policies. Yet, the leaked draft reveals major dilutions such as gutting requirements that potential negative environmental and social impacts of a project be assessed and made public before the World Bank’s board approves project loans. The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds. In another example of clear dilution, the Bank is proposing a new loophole that allows governments to “opt out” of following requirements related to indigenous peoples, which would be a major blow to indigenous peoples who have counted on the Bank to recognize them when governments refuse. 

World Bank Management has also made promises that the revised safeguard policies would include stronger protections for poor communities and those it terms “vulnerable” or “marginalized” groups. Yet despite this promise, the leaked draft contains only general mentions of the need to consider impacts of projects on those who may be disadvantaged due to age, disability, gender, and sexual orientation or gender identity. No clear procedures are provided to describe what specifically the borrower would need to do to ensure these groups benefit equally from Bank projects and are not disproportionately harmed when projects entail physical and economic displacement. 

Similar Bank assurances that pressing environmental challenges would be adequately addressed in the new policies are also contradicted by the text of the draft policies. For example, despite the Bank’s prominence in warning of the dangers that a warming world poses to development, there is only sporadic mention of climate change in the safeguard proposal and nowhere does it lay out what governments have to do to assess if their projects will exacerbate climate change or how climate change will affect the viability of their projects. Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity. 

Throughout the policies there are many cases in which the borrower and the World Bank are given unprecedented latitude over decisions regarding when, how, and, in some cases, even if these policies will be applied to particular Bank projects. Despite repeated claims that this “flexible approach” will be compensated by expanded supervision and monitoring, there are too few clear requirements in the draft or an accompanying implementation plan to offer any comfort that safeguard objectives on the ground are more likely to be met. As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment. 

While the draft contains some positive advances, such as the adoption of a labor standard—albeit one that is much weaker than those already in place at other Multilateral Development Banks—these advances do not compensate for the numerous instances of procedural and substantive weakening found throughout the draft. Overall, the World Bank has fallen far short of its goal of setting a new global standard when it comes to protecting the poor and the planet.

 

Article originally published at The Bank Information Center. Republished under a Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0) License

 

Download the leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed World Bank Safeguard policies http://www.scribd.com/doc/235070541/World-Bank-Safeguard-Policies

 

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

10:22 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

More uncontacted Indians emerge in Brazil – fleeing attacks in Peru

 Peru criticized for failing its most vulnerable citizens

A second wave of highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians has made contact with outsiders in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, just weeks after Brazilian experts warned of “genocide” and “extermination” of the tribe. The group of around two dozen Indians is believed to include men, women and children who reported fleeing attacks by invaders in Peru. 

According to Brazil’s Ministry of Health, the Indians are in good health and have been residing at the “Xinane” government monitoring post.

The contact follows a similar incident at the end of June 2014, when seven Indians from the same tribe made contact with a settled Asháninka indigenous community and agents of FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, in Brazil’s Acre state near the border with Peru. The Indians were given emergency medical treatment for an acute respiratory infection and briefly kept in “quarantine” before returning to their community in the forest.

Campaigners have criticized the lack of protection of uncontacted tribes’ land in Peru, following the Indians’ reports of being brutally attacked and their elder relatives “massacred” by invaders on their land, believed to be cocaine traffickers. While Peruvian and Brazilian authorities signed an agreement to work together to protect the land of uncontacted tribes in this area in March 2014, illegal loggers, drug traffickers and oil and gas companies continue to put uncontacted Indians at extreme risk of violence and diseases.

An interpreter who accompanied the first contact said, “The majority of old people were massacred by non-Indians in Peru, who shot at them with firearms and set fire to the houses of the uncontacted. They say that many old people died and that they buried three people in one grave."

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Amazon Indian from Acre state, said, “I’m sad to see that my uncontacted relatives are threatened with extermination, and that Peru has failed to take responsibility. Both the Brazilian and Peruvian authorities must provide the necessary funds to protect them, while there is still time, otherwise one more innocent people will be wiped out in full view of the international public.”

Carlos Travassos, head of FUNAI’s Uncontacted Indians unit, told Amazonia Blog, “This may be the last time we see these youngsters, tomorrow they could be dead from diseases or from gunshots.”

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable societies on the planet. They have little or no immunity to common diseases like the cold, flu, or measles and could be wiped out by epidemics or violence from outsiders on their land.

Over 11,000 people have sent an email calling on Peru and Brazil to protect uncontacted tribes’ lands as a matter of urgency.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, said today, “The accounts given by these Indians – of the killing of their relatives, and the burning of their houses – were incredibly disturbing. This appears to have taken place on the Peru side of the border, probably at the hands of the illegal loggers and drug traffickers whose presence has been known of for years. What will it take for the Peruvian government to actually protect these tribes’ territory properly?”

 


source : Survival International

 




 

 

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Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders Chile to annul sentences under Anti-Terrorist Law

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights decided that “Chile violated the principle of legality and the right to the presumption of innocence” of seven members of the Mapuche community and a human rights defender who were condemned as perpetrators of crimes considered terrorism for events occurred in 2001 and 2002 in the Biobío and Araucania regions of southern Chile. 

Segundo Aniceto Catrimán, Pascual Huentequeo Pichún Paillalao, Víctor Manuel Ancalaf Llaupe, Juan Ciriaco Millacheo Licán, Florencio Jaime Marileo Saravia, José Benicio Huenchunao Mariñan, Juan Patricio Marileo Saravia and the activist Patricia Roxana Troncoso Robles were tried in 2003 under Law 18.314 (or the Anti-terrorist Law). They were accused of conspiring, planning and starting fire attacks on the property of forestry companies and farm owners located in various municipalities in Araucania and Biobío, and they were given sentences between five and 10 years in prison as well as restrictions on the exercise of their rights to speech and political freedom. 

These events occurred in the framework of the Mapuche protests claiming for the return of their ancestral lands. The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) annulled the communal properties in 1981 and emphasized private property, benefiting wood companies. 

Approved in 1984, the Anti-Terrorist Law gives harsher sentences for crimes involving fire, homicide and kidnapping, duplicating those established in the Penal Code. The law also allows for the use of “faceless witnesses,” restricts the access to precautionary measures and extends the sentence periods for preventive prison.

 

The court’s ruling, made public on July 29, points out that “in the basis of the convictions, arguments denoting stereotypes and prejudices were used, which implied a violation of the principle of equality and non-discrimination and the right to equal protection of the law.” 

Previous cases 

The case reached the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) between 2003 and 2005 in four separate petitions that were joined. 

In November 2010 the Court reached the conclusion that Chile was responsible for the violation of various articles of the American Convention on Human Rights, including the principles of legality and individual criminal responsibility and presumption of innocence as well as the rights to equality before the law and non-discrimination, the right to freedom of expression and political rights, and right to an impartial judge, among others. The Court recommended “to eliminate the effects of the terrorism sentences of the ,” to review the sentence, provide reparations to the victims and align the Anti-Terrorist law with the rights established in the Convention. 

Since Chile did not comply with the recommendations, in August 2011 the IACHR sent the case to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

The court’s ruling, which is binding and unappealable, orders the Chilean state to annul the sentences against the eight victims of this case. It also orders the State to give the victims free and immediate medical and psychological or psychiatric care, to publicize the sentence, to grant scholarships in public institutions to the victim’s children, regulate the procedural measure of witnesses protection related to the identity reserve and to pay the amount agreed upon by the concept of severance for the material and immaterial damages. 

The Minister of Foreign Relations, Heraldo Muñoz, ensured that Chile will comply with the Court’s ruling, whose jurisdiction it recognizes. 

Pascual Pichún Collonao, son of the lonko Pichún Paillalao, one of the victims of this case who died in 2013, said to the press that “we expected this resolution, for we had proven with previous cases the poor application of the Anti-Terrorist Law against my father and all the peñis (brothers) who reached the Court. At least for us, it isn’t a surprise; confirmation of the serious errors that the State committed and continues to commit against the Mapuche people by jailing and persecuting us with an abusive law to attempt to solve a political problems through the justice system.” 

Article originally published on Latinamerica Press.

 

 

 

 

10:17 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders Chile to annul sentences under Anti-Terrorist Law

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights decided that “Chile violated the principle of legality and the right to the presumption of innocence” of seven members of the Mapuche community and a human rights defender who were condemned as perpetrators of crimes considered terrorism for events occurred in 2001 and 2002 in the Biobío and Araucania regions of southern Chile.

Segundo Aniceto Catrimán, Pascual Huentequeo Pichún Paillalao, Víctor Manuel Ancalaf Llaupe, Juan Ciriaco Millacheo Licán, Florencio Jaime Marileo Saravia, José Benicio Huenchunao Mariñan, Juan Patricio Marileo Saravia and the activist Patricia Roxana Troncoso Robles were tried in 2003 under Law 18.314 (or the Anti-terrorist Law). They were accused of conspiring, planning and starting fire attacks on the property of forestry companies and farm owners located in various municipalities in Araucania and Biobío, and they were given sentences between five and 10 years in prison as well as restrictions on the exercise of their rights to speech and political freedom.

These events occurred in the framework of the Mapuche protests claiming for the return of their ancestral lands. The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) annulled the communal properties in 1981 and emphasized private property, benefiting wood companies.

Approved in 1984, the Anti-Terrorist Law gives harsher sentences for crimes involving fire, homicide and kidnapping, duplicating those established in the Penal Code. The law also allows for the use of “faceless witnesses,” restricts the access to precautionary measures and extends the sentence periods for preventive prison.

 

The court’s ruling, made public on July 29, points out that “in the basis of the convictions, arguments denoting stereotypes and prejudices were used, which implied a violation of the principle of equality and non-discrimination and the right to equal protection of the law.”

 

Previous cases

 

The case reached the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) between 2003 and 2005 in four separate petitions that were joined.

In November 2010 the Court reached the conclusion that Chile was responsible for the violation of various articles of the American Convention on Human Rights, including the principles of legality and individual criminal responsibility and presumption of innocence as well as the rights to equality before the law and non-discrimination, the right to freedom of expression and political rights, and right to an impartial judge, among others. The Court recommended “to eliminate the effects of the terrorism sentences of the ,” to review the sentence, provide reparations to the victims and align the Anti-Terrorist law with the rights established in the Convention.

Since Chile did not comply with the recommendations, in August 2011 the IACHR sent the case to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The court’s ruling, which is binding and unappealable, orders the Chilean state to annul the sentences against the eight victims of this case. It also orders the State to give the victims free and immediate medical and psychological or psychiatric care, to publicize the sentence, to grant scholarships in public institutions to the victim’s children, regulate the procedural measure of witnesses protection related to the identity reserve and to pay the amount agreed upon by the concept of severance for the material and immaterial damages.

The Minister of Foreign Relations, Heraldo Muñoz, ensured that Chile will comply with the Court’s ruling, whose jurisdiction it recognizes.

Pascual Pichún Collonao, son of the lonko Pichún Paillalao, one of the victims of this case who died in 2013, said to the press that “we expected this resolution, for we had proven with previous cases the poor application of the Anti-Terrorist Law against my father and all the peñis (brothers) who reached the Court. At least for us, it isn’t a surprise; confirmation of the serious errors that the State committed and continues to commit against the Mapuche people by jailing and persecuting us with an abusive law to attempt to solve a political problems through the justice system.”

Article originally published on Latinamerica Press.

 

 

 

10:15 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

04-08-14

The World Bank Moves to Weaken Its Protection for the Environment, Indigenous Peoples, the Poor

A leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new Safeguard Policies appears to reverse a generation of gains. Despite over two years of input from civil society, project-affected communities, and experts on a wider range of social and environmental issues, the leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of those standards. The proposed policies, which are up for discussion by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations, are not only at odds with the Bank’s stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but they also lower the bar for the entire international community. 

On multiple occasions, World Bank President Jim Kim has promised that this review of Bank policies would not lead to “dilution,” or weakening, of Bank policies. Yet, the leaked draft reveals major dilutions such as gutting requirements that potential negative environmental and social impacts of a project be assessed and made public before the World Bank’s board approves project loans. The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds. In another example of clear dilution, the Bank is proposing a new loophole that allows governments to “opt out” of following requirements related to indigenous peoples, which would be a major blow to indigenous peoples who have counted on the Bank to recognize them when governments refuse.

 

World Bank Management has also made promises that the revised safeguard policies would include stronger protections for poor communities and those it terms “vulnerable” or “marginalized” groups. Yet despite this promise, the leaked draft contains only general mentions of the need to consider impacts of projects on those who may be disadvantaged due to age, disability, gender, and sexual orientation or gender identity. No clear procedures are provided to describe what specifically the borrower would need to do to ensure these groups benefit equally from Bank projects and are not disproportionately harmed when projects entail physical and economic displacement. 

Similar Bank assurances that pressing environmental challenges would be adequately addressed in the new policies are also contradicted by the text of the draft policies. For example, despite the Bank’s prominence in warning of the dangers that a warming world poses to development, there is only sporadic mention of climate change in the safeguard proposal and nowhere does it lay out what governments have to do to assess if their projects will exacerbate climate change or how climate change will affect the viability of their projects. Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity. 

Throughout the policies there are many cases in which the borrower and the World Bank are given unprecedented latitude over decisions regarding when, how, and, in some cases, even if these policies will be applied to particular Bank projects. Despite repeated claims that this “flexible approach” will be compensated by expanded supervision and monitoring, there are too few clear requirements in the draft or an accompanying implementation plan to offer any comfort that safeguard objectives on the ground are more likely to be met. As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment. 

While the draft contains some positive advances, such as the adoption of a labor standard—albeit one that is much weaker than those already in place at other Multilateral Development Banks—these advances do not compensate for the numerous instances of procedural and substantive weakening found throughout the draft. Overall, the World Bank has fallen far short of its goal of setting a new global standard when it comes to protecting the poor and the planet. 

Article originally published at The Bank Information Center. Republished under a Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0) License 

Download the leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed World Bank Safeguard policies http://www.scribd.com/doc/235070541/World-Bank-Safeguard-Policies 

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

14:04 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Brazil s agribusiness lobby pushes back against indigenous land recognition

 Agribusiness interests in Brazil are facing off against Indigenous Peoples calling for official recognition of territorial claims. During the opening ceremony of the World Cup, a Guarani Indian youth held up a small banner saying, in Portuguese, “Demarcation Now”. Demarcation meaning land recognition. There are over 400 indigenous groups in Brazil waiting for their ancestral lands to be officially recognized but Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby is pushing for changes that would make it so they never are. Lucia Duncan reports. 

Terra Indigena Jaraguá in Sao Paulo is the world’s smallest indigenous reservation – the size of just two soccer fields. Its Guarani residents quickly outgrew the space. They now occupy another plot nearby. 

A young man plays the violin inside of the Opâ, a mud and thatched roof building that is the spiritual gathering space for the community. Chief Karai Mirim explains the meaning of symbols on the altar: “This represents land, this is all of our spirit, ambã, that illuminates our struggle and all the knowledge of our ancestors.” 

Starting in 1934, Brazilian authorities established small reservations like Jaraguá with the expectation that Indians would assimilate into Brazilian society. 

But in 1988, after the end of the dictatorship, Brazil’s new constitution recognized Indigenous Peoples as the original inhabitants of the country – with a right to enough land to continue their culture and way of life. 

Daniel Pierri, an anthropologist who works for a Guarani advocacy group, says the lack of farmland has resulted in the loss of cultivation techniques. “Ways of growing corn and cassava that are unique and super important to their culture are being lost,” he says. "This causes problems like child malnutrition and other health problems. All this results from the lack of land.” 

Last year, the government’s agency for Indian affairs approved expanding the Jaraguá territory. But Brazil’s Attorney General hasn’t signed off on it. So the Guarani living in the disputed area have been given an eviction notice. “We’re a people without life and we feel it,” says Chief Mirim. “Our kids don’t have a future. We’re at the end of the process, and we’re really worried.” 

No new indigenous territories have been recognized under President Dilma Rousseff’s administration. And Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby wants to pass a constitutional amendment to transfer authority over land demarcation from the agency of Indian affairs to Congress. 

Pierri, the anthropologist, compares this to a fox guarding a hen house. “Brazil’s Congress is dominated by large landowners,” he says. “And so there’s a conflict of interest – those who are opposed to expanding indigenous land want to be responsible for regulating it.” 

Last year, the Brazilian Congress decided to consider the landowners’ amendment. And there have been public hearings throughout Brazil. 

Congressman Luis Carlos Heinze is President of the Congressional Agribusiness Caucus. He spoke to small property owners at an outdoor hearing in his home state in the south of Brazil, stoking fears that their land will be subject to expropriation. Video of the event posted to YouTube went viral after he described the interests advocating for indigenous land recognition as “Indians, descendants of runaway slaves, lesbians, and gays; people that are worth nothing. They are all allies and they control the government.” 

Heinze has also encouraged small landowners to arm themselves. 

A Global Witness report says the numbers of environmental and land rights activists murdered in Brazil tripled from 2002 to 2012. But Pierri says the threat of violence hasn’t deterred the Guarani: “They’re now making themselves visible to the broader society. After spending a long time opting to hide, living in the woods that were left, avoiding contact, they are now doing the opposite.” 

The Guarani of Jaraguá have joined with other Indigenous Peoples throughout the country to protest and organize against both the constitutional amendment and other laws that would open up their lands to development and mining activities. “We thought a lot in the beginning about how to create a movement,” says Chief Mirim, adding that indigenous people in Brazil share the same goals. “To win our land. We want the Brazilian government to recognize us as indigenous peoples, with a different culture. We want respect and recognition.” 

In September, the Workers’ Party will hold a Popular Referendum on Political Reform. This is a response to the massive protests in Brazil last June. Changes in campaign finance would be one way to reign in the power of the agricultural lobby, but the referendum is non-binding. 

Source : Originally published at FSRN.org. Republished under a Creative Common (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license

 

 

 

14:02 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

20-06-14

Philippines: Indigenous Peoples pledge resistance

 

Speaking to reporters May 14 from an undisclosed location somewhere in the mountains of Talaingod, Davao del Norte province, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, a group of traditional indigenous elders, or datu, said: "We want peace here in Talaingod. But if they take away our land, we will fight. We will fight with our native weapons." The group was led by Datu Guibang Apoga, who has been a fugitive from the law since 1994, when he led a resistance movement of the Manobo indigenous people against timber and mineral interests, fighting company personnel and security forces with bows and arrows and spears. Wearing their traditional outfits, the tribal leaders threatened to return to arms unless the Philippine government demilitarizes their lands and respects Manobo territorial rights.

Throughout April, the Philippine army's 10th Infantry Division carried out operations in Talaingod municipality, including aerial bombardment, supposedly against guerillas of the New People's Army (NPA). But leaders of the Manobo and other Lumads, as the indigenous peoples of Mindanao are collectively known, say the military operation was actually aimed at intimidating the local populace to allow resource exploitation in the territory. At least 1,300 fled their homes during the offensive, to shelters that were established in Davao City and elsewhere. At the end of April, the army agreed to withdraw its forces to allow the displaced families to return. "We will go home if there will be no more military personnel in our farmland,” said Manobo leader Datu Doloman Dawsay from Davao City. (InterAksyon, May 17; Pinoy Weekly, UCA News, May 16; PIA, May 2; Davao Today, April 30)

Indigenous peoples are facing similar pressures in the Cordillera region of the northern island of Luzon. Under pressure from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), police in Abra province have pledged a thorough investigation on the massacre of a local family of the Binongan people's Ligiw clan. Licuben Ligiw and his two sons were reported missing by their family on March 6. Their remains were found the following day, bound and gagged in a shallow grave near their hut at Baay-Licuan village. The CHRA insists the investigation must extend to the military, as the army's 41st Infantry Battalion was conducting operations in the area when the Ligiws were last sighted. The operations were part of the "Oplan Bayanihan" counterinsurgency program against local NPA forces. (Sun Star, March 11)

An investigation is also underway in the Cordillera province of Ifugao into the March 25 slaying of human rights worker William Bugatti. Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel has condemned Bugatti's murder as a "dastardly and cowardly act," but rights groups protest that no suspects have yet been identified in the case. Ina Dolores Pacliw, chair of the Ifugao Peasant Movement, for which Bugatti worked, said: "We demand justice for Bugatti. We urge an impartial and competent investigation of the case. We will not stop in our call until we see the perpetrators brought to the bar of justice."

Bugatti, a member of the Tuwali indigenous people, was shot three times in a road ambush while on his way home to his village of Bolog in Kiangan municipality. According to the Regional Council of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-KARAPATAN, Bugatti had been on a list of 28 "target personalities" apparently drawn up by the army's 86th Infantry Battalion. In the list, he was described as "utak ng NPA," or "brains" of the local guerillas. (InterAksyon, May 3; Asian Human Rights Commission, April 23; UNPO, March 27)

Article originally published at WW4 Report

 

18:03 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Malian government again "at war" against MNLA after violent clashes in Azawad

 

At least 8 dead after armed clash between Malian army, Tuareg rebels as Malian Prime Minister visited the town · Tuareg sources blame Malian soldiers for having started the clash when suppressing a demonstration · The MNLA says is holding "prisoners of war", several buildings have been re-taken by guerrilla

Clashes between the Malian army and the Tuareg-majority National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) resulted ​​this weekend in at least eight deaths in Kidal, the main town in north-eastern Mali. After the clash, Prime Minister of Mali Moussa Mara said his country was again "at war" against the MNLA, with whom Bamako has been unsuccessfully negotiating a solution to the conflict that erupted in 2012 for control of Azawad (northern half of Mali).

The account on what happened this weekend in Kidal is quite different depending on the sources. The Malian government said on Saturday that an armed clashed between the Malian army and the MNLA left 36 people dead: 8 soldiers and 28 guerrillas. The violent outburst was triggered by the visit to Kidal by Mali's Prime Minister Moussa Mara, who landed on Azawad for the first time since he was appointed last month after the resignation of Oumar Tatam Ly. A part of the Malian press admits that it was a bad idea that Mara visited Kidal, because it was foreseeable that his presence there would raise tensions among the local population.

Tuareg news agency Toumast Press goes for a quite different account. According to it, on Friday Kidal was the scenario for demonstrations against the upcoming visit by Mara. The army opened fire against the protests with fire, and still according Toumast Press, Malian troops then attacked MNLA positions and sparked the confrontation. The result, the news agency argues, was ten Malian troops dead, plus "several" civilian casualties. The MNLA regained control of several buildings, including the radio station, the provincial governorate and the local treasury.

The United Nationsmeanwhile reported six soldiers and two civilians dead.

In addition to the fatalities, Mali said that the MNLA had kidnapped 30 Malian officials in order to exchange them for imprisoned guerrillas. In a statement on its website, the Tuareg guerrilla denies having kidnapped anybody, and only admits having made ​​"prisoners of war arrested after the fighting," for which it blames the Malian army.

Two years of clashes, no final agreement

After an offensive in early 2012, the MNLA gained control of much of Azawad, and declared independence from Mali. But MNLA control over Azawad only lasted for a few months, given that several Islamist groups captured the main cities in Azawad, including Timbuktu and Gao. After a French intervention to save the Malian state from collapsing at the beginning of 2013, the MNLA and Mali reached an agreement under the auspices of Burkina Faso to redeploy the Malian army in Kidal and to garrison MNLA members.

Since last year, however, there have been no more significant advances. The MNLA has agreed to give up independence claims, and has been proposing an autonomous regime for Azawad within Mali instead. The Malian government, however, has not accepted this proposal. The last attempt to find a solution was launched by the Malian government last month, when former Prime Minister Modibo Keita was designated as coordinator of a new round of negotiations that should involve not only the MNLA and Mali, but also neighboring countries Algeria, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, each with their own interests and agendas regarding Azawad.

Moreover, and as usual in previous Tuareg rebellions, splits within the rebel movement have appeared. The most recent one was announced in March, when former MNLA leader Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh left the movement to form his own group, the Coalition for the People of Azawad (CPA).

The CPA is not the only movement speaking in the name of Azawad apart from the MNLA. Leaders and fighters formerly belonging to Tuareg Islamist group Ansar formed last year the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA). Besides, the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) says it is representing the territory's Arab communities. Like the MNLA, it faces internal dissension. MNLA, HCUA and MAA maintain a fragile agreement to jointly negotiate before the Malian state on behalf of Azawadian interests.

Article originally published at Nationalia. Republished under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) License

 

18:01 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Hundreds of Maasai Families under threat of eviction as Geothermal companies invade their land in Kenya

 

Reminiscent of what happened to the Maasai community in Narasha in 2013, Maasai pastoralists in Kedong, Akira and Suswa are glaring at massive evictions arising from a group of concessions awarded to several companies including Hyundai, Toshiba, Sinopec and African Geothermal International (AGIL) for the purposes of developing geothermal projects on the Maasai lands.

According to the local communities--who claim ancestry to the land and have filed cases in Kenyan courts-- African Geothermal International (AGIL) and Marine Power along with Akira I and Akira II1 have disregarded court injunctions instituted by the Maasai, proceeding to deploy their heavy machinery to their proposed project sites without due diligence or consultations with the local communities. The concession areas, which cover hundreds of thousands of acres, are home to thousands of Maasai pastoralists.

The communities feel that their rights have been grossly violated because each of the companies have failed to adhere to Bio-cultural Community Protocols2 that require all external actors to respect Indigenous Peoples’ customary laws, values and decision making processes; particularly those concerning stewardship of their territories and lands.

The companies have also disregarded a current dispute between Kedong Ranch Ltd and the Maasai community3 along with key provisions from the constitution of Kenya (2010). Article 40 of the constitution provides for the protection of the right to property (of any kind) without discrimination and just, prompt and full compensation where acquisition is of national interest. The right to a clean and healthy environment is equally guaranteed under Article 42in addition to the right to a cultural heritage4.

While the Maasai are not against infrastructure development for the country, they are equally distressed over the companies' similar dismissal of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)5,6. By forcefully evicting the Maasai from their land while denying them the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development projects, the companies are also in contravention of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing7.

On top of these concerns, the Maasai decry the use of armed police to enforce the evictions, the destruction of their property, and the outright dispossession of their grazing land which is the only source of their livelihoods..

The Maasai demand the following:

That the current deployment of armed police to enforce the evictions be stopped forthwith.

That the companies be held in contempt for disregarding court orders.

That a clear and documented plan on access to benefit sharing be put in place to ensure the affected families’ livelihoods are sustained.

That the following international donors and companies be held accountable for losses suffered by the Maasai and demand that they put in place safeguards

Sinopec-China

KEC-India

Hyundai-South Korea

Toshiba, Toyota, Tsusho, and JICA-Japan

AGIL

Marine Power

That other bilateral donors that support the projects being undertaken hold consultative meetings with the Maasai community before any further investments are made.

That the current ESIA reports which excluded livestock, homes and cultural rights should not be used and instead a team that includes Indigenous People be reconstituted to undertake another Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

Source : Intercontinental Cry


 

17:59 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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