Ecuador announces a new national park in the Andes

The new Río Negro-Sopladora National Park comprises more than 30,000 hectares of almost-intact alpine plateaus and forests in Ecuador’s Andes and will protect an estimated 546 species of plants and animals.

  • In July 2017, after just 12 days of exploring the area, investigators found three new species of amphibians. Scientists think more species await discovery in the forests and alpine plateaus of the new park.

On January 23, a new national park joined Ecuador’s 54 protected areas. Río Negro-Sopladora National Park lies in southern Ecuador’s Morona Santiago and Azuay provinces within the Cordillera Real Oriental mountain range and next to Sangay National Park. The area is dominated by almost-intact Andean páramos – treeless alpine plateaus – and forests that are home to a great variety of animal and plant species.

Because of the region’s biological and hydrological importance, Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment (MAE) and the non-governmental organization Nature and Culture International (NCI) signed an agreement in 2017 to incorporate 30,616 hectares of the Río Negro-Sopladora area into the state-owned Heritage Natural Areas Subsystem (PANE) and the National System of Protected Areas Project in Ecuador. On January 23 in the city of Macas, in Morona Santiago Province, Minister of the Environment Tarsicio Granizo declared the new national park in front of 300 guests.

Since 1971, Río Negro-Sopladora has been protected under the category of Protected Forests and Vegetation Areas of the Paute River Basin. According to Fabián Rodas, coordinator of the NCI’s Austro program, this is “a very weak conservation category.”

Between Sangay National Park and Podocarpus National Park, which are both areas with global implications for the conservation of biodiversity, there are 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) of almost-unprotected land. “During the last few years, an area with gaps in conservation has been identified,” said Rodas. The new national park is envisioned as a key piece that will connect municipal reserves to the two national parks. Additionally, according to biologist Eduardo Toral, the newly declared park functions as a corridor that connects the páramos to forests at the bottom of the mountains.

There are very few places in the Ecuadorian Andes that have remained relatively untouched by humans. Río Negro-Sopladora is one of those places. Ranchers have been prevented from farming there due to the area’s rugged topography, rainy climate and elevations that vary from 800 to 3,902 meters (2,625 to 12,800 feet) above sea level.

One of the few remnants of human activity in this area is a 45-kilometer (28-mile) trail that was used for commercial exchanges between the Andes and the Amazon by the pre-Columbian Cañari and Ashuarc cultures. Mónica Pesantes, from NCI and the leader of the Study of Management Alternatives for the new national park, says that the trail was reopened 102 years ago for religious purposes by Padre Albino del Curto. Once every year in November, locals and tourists complete a Catholic pilgrimage on the trail, beginning in Sevilla de Oro and ending in Copal.

 The other mark of human presence in the area, which is now more controllable, is the threat of mining. According to Rodas, the area is very rich in minerals. However, NCI was able to facilitate an agreement with the government to declare the area as a national park before large mining concessions were allocated in the area. But Rodas says that they did have to exclude one mining concession located in the southern part of what is now the national park, because it had already been surrendered for mining.

With the declaration of this area as a national park, the extraction of non-renewable resources will not be allowed without permission from Ecuador’s president or the National Assembly, in accordance with Article 25 of Ecuador’s Mining Law.

An area of high biodiversity

In July 2017, biologist Eduardo Toral and his team from NCI entered the unexplored forests of Río Negro-Sopladora. In only 12 days, they discovered three new species of amphibian: a frog, a salamander and a caecilian. This expedition formed part of the biological evaluation required to declare the area as a national park.

The results of the evaluation showed that the area still holds ecosystems in an excellent natural state with a significant number of species, many of which are endemic, threatenet or rare. The researchers say there may be yet more undiscovered species in the new park.

Among the four types of Andean forest and the two types of páramos that are found within the new Río Negro-Sopladora National Park, there are 344 species of vascular plants – one of which the researchers think could be new to science. They also registered 136 species of birds such as Andean condors, 23 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 43 species of mammals like Andean bears and tapirs. Rodas even suspects that they could find jaguars in the park.

“It’s very probable that this is the first biological investigation in this area,” said Rodas, referring to the biological investigation that was carried out to declare the protected area. Because of its inaccessibility, the scientific community does not know much about Río Negro-Sopladora National Park.

New species

Biologist Eduardo Toral discussed how they discovered the new frog, salamander and snake species. For example, the team found a seven-centimeter green frog hiding under a rock on a riverbank after hearing its call. “When we found it, we knew it was something new. It belongs to a group that is being discovered,” Toral said.

 Next, they discovered a new species of salamander. Normally, these amphibians are small and live at altitudes below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level. When Toral and his team found a salamander in the area, they realized that it must be a new species because it measured 10 centimeters and was living at an altitude of 1,500 meters (4,920 feet).

 Toral also remembers that that day in Río Negro-Sopladora, it felt like the sky was going to collapse. It rained all day, which removed earth from the forest floor. Near the Padre Albino del Curto Trail, they saw a snake-like creature gliding across the muddy land. The rain had forced the animal out of its underground home. Toral says that as soon as they saw the creature, they tried to catch it. These legless, blind amphibians are known as caecilians. “These animals are very rarely found. The only caecilian similar to the one we found is on the western side of Ecuador, in the depression towards the coast. We found the new species on the other side,” Toral said.

 Hydrological importance

The Río Negro that runs through the new national park forms part of the Río Paute Basin, which supplies the Paute Integral hydroelectric system. This system delivers 1,757 megawatts of hydroelectric energy to surrounding communities, according to the Electric Corporation of Ecuador.

The region’s rivers also provide water for local human populations. The preservation of hydrological resources is an important motivation for these communities for protecting the forests, according to Rodas. For instance, the area’s Sangay-Podocarpus Corridor project promotes the creation of municipal reserves to connect Sangay National Park with Podocarpus National Park via a corridor of natural protected areas. “With the environmental services that the ecosystem presents us, we can achieve the best interests of the local communities,” Rodas said.

Due to efforts by local communities, researchers, NCI, the Andes Amazon Fund, and the Ecuadorian government – particularly the Ministry of the Environment – Río Negro-Sopladora National Park has received the highest conservation category status in the country.


Source : Global Forest Reporting Network

 by Valeria Sorgato on 7 February 2018 | Translated by Sarah Engel

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Indigenous peoples are recognised by the world's biggest climate fund

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (WGIA) and Denmark have long pushed for the adoption of a “GCF Indigenous Peoples Policy” in the Green Climate Fund, that every year allocates billions of dollars to climate projects. Just recently this policy was finally approved. “This is an important step towards recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights in climate actions” says Senior Advisor Kathrin Wessendorf from IWGIA

In 2020, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) aims to approve more than 100 billion dollars for climate projects in developing countries, but even though many of these projects take place on indigenous peoples’ lands and territories, they often have limited – if any – influence on the projects. Last week, the GCF board unanimously adopted the “GCF Indigenous Peoples Policy” that assists the GCF in ensuring that GCF decisions do not adversely impacts indigenous peoples, respect their rights and promote indigenous peoples’ access to the benefits of the GCF.

“This is a sign of willingness from the GCF to recognise, respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples in climate actions,” said Tunga Bhadra Rai, who comes from Nepal’s indigenous Rai community, and is working together with IWGIA.

A continuous effort is rewarded

In 2010, 197 countries decided to create the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change by financing climate initiatives in developing countries. But only recently has the financing from developed countries been in place and at the 19th board meeting, more than one billion dollars were allocated to 23 different climate projects.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) has observer status in the GCF and has since 2016 worked together with indigenous representatives and with the support of the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark toward getting indigenous peoples recognized and included in GCF’s decision processes. With the approval of “GCF Indigenous Peoples Policy” this finally succeeded to great joy for all involved.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs celebrated it by tweeting;

”Congratulations to GCF with its first ambitious Policy on Indigenous Peoples, ensuring that climate activities are paying due attention #IndigenousPeoples . Thank you to @IWGIA for excellent cooperation leading to the adoption of the policy. #GreenClimateFund”

Opening up spaces for indigenous voices

With the adoption of the policy, a number of principles regarding indigenous peoples’ rights have been approved. These include their rights to free, prior and informed consent in projects appraisal phase and that all projects must respect indigenous peoples’ rights to land, territories and natural resources.

“The adoption of the “GCF indigenous Peoples Policy” is an important step towards recognising indigenous peoples’ rights in climate actions, but now implementation work begin”, says Kathrin Wessendorf, Senior Advisor on climate in IWGIA, who participated in the board meeting.

The first step is to establish an official mechanism in the Green Climate Fund which ensures indigenous peoples’ inclusion in the projects. Four representatives will be elected by indigenous people from Asia, Pacific, Africa, and South America through a self-selection process and will serve as the indigenous peoples’ advisory group to the GCF for the implementation of the policy.

“Indigenous peoples often live in very fragile ecosystems and are vulnerable to climate changes. By recognizing their rights and their contributions to climate actions, they will become an important part of the solution to these challenges that the whole world is facing” ends Kathrin Wessendorf.

 Tags: Climate action
Source : IWGIA


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Philippines 4 IPs killed during ceasefire: Punish peace saboteurs! Stop the killings of indigenous peoples!

End militarization of indigenous communities! Respect IP’s right to ancestral land and self-determination!

While the third round of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is still on going in Rome, Italy, and the Filipino people are aspiring for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER); human rights violations against indigenous communities intensify as big businesses continue to encroach and plunder their ancestral lands alongside the wanton violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Duterte administration. 

On January 20, another indigenous leader was killed. Nico Delamante, a Mamanwa leader and provincial coordinator of Katribu Partylist, was killed in Claver, Surigao del Norte by unidentified men believed to be related to the mining operations in their ancestral territories. Earlier, on January 5, Lumad Datu Vennie Diamante was killed in Norala, South Cotabato after opposing the application of an oil palm plantation in their ancestral lands. On October 10, 2016, Jimmy Saypan, a Mansaka and Secretary General of the Compostela Farmers Association, was gunned down by alleged military troops supporting the mining operations in Montevista, Compostela Valley. And just hours before the suspension of the first uniletaral ceasefire of the Duterte’s Administration on July 30, Makenet Gayoran, a pregnant Lumad woman died after the NIPAR paramilitary group strafed a community gathered in a wedding in San Fernando, Bukidnon. 

Since July 1, 2016, 12 indigenous peoples were extra-judicially killed and 2 were victims of enforced disappearance. Four of the 12 victims were killed during the times when the ceasefire was in place. These atrocities were committed by elements of the military, paramilitary and private security forces of big businesses aggressively operating ancestral lands. 

The communities affected by the continuing military operations, which includes the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), have resulted to frustrated killings and extra judicial killings, and an increasing number of cases of threats, harassments, vilification campaigns against indigenous peoples and peasant communities. These operations, now under AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan, affected indigenous communities in the following provinces: Kalinga; Ifugao; Benguet; Rizal; Davao del Norte; Davao Oriental; Compostela Valley; Bukidnon; Sarangani; Sultan Kudarat; Agusan del Norte; Agusan del Sur; Surigao del Norte; and Surigao del Sur. Most of these started during Aquino’s term and is still being perpetuated under the current administration despite the ceasefire declaration.

This two-faced approach in negotiations should be stopped. Indigenous peoples all over the country are clamoring for the immediate cessation of militarization and plunder of our ancestral lands. We have high hopes for the talks and this should be pursued sincerely by both sides, especially the GRP. By not suspending its military operations and dismantling paramilitary groups, the GRP is only fanning the flames of war. Indigenous peoples prefer peace but we will not back down if this ethnocidal campaign of the government will continue. 

The armed conflict will only be resolved if fundamental social and economic reforms are to be implemented. Those include a genuine land reform program; national industrialization; real independent foreign policy; free social services for all; and respect of IP’s right to self-determination. But the Duterte administration has to veer away from the ruling elites’ dictates, punish the peace saboteurs in their ranks, and pursue the genuine interest of the people.

The road to a just and lasting peace should be pursued sincerely, lest suffer the wrath of the people united for genuine change. #



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Groundbreaking win for indigenous people in Colombia

The Colombian Constitutional Court has found in favour of an indigenous peoples’ centuries-old fight for their territory, granting the petition for the protection of constitutional rights requested by the Embera Chamí people of the Indigenous Resguardo Cañamomo Lomaprieta, in western Colombia.

The Resguardo’s claim was accepted by the Colombian Constitutional Court, the final court of appeal for constitutional matters in Colombia. The court ordered that the Resguardo’s lands must be delimited and titled within one year, during which time all further permits or formalisation of mining activities must be suspended. Any subsequent mining activities proposed on the delimited territories may only proceed on the basis of the effective participation of the Resguardo.

The court also ordered that the map produced by the Resguardo of their land be registered provisionally until it is officially demarcated. This ruling is also relevant for other indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities whose lands are awaiting delimitation. 

In what appears to be a legal first internationally, the court also gave explicit protection to ancestral mining activities carried out by some of the 32 communities within the Resguardo, stating that, although not currently recognised under State laws, this mining conformed to Resguardo laws and could therefore not be considered illegal. Importantly, the court also recognised that the State had an obligation “not to criminalise this type of ancestral activity”. 

Responding to the court judgment, Héctor Jaime Vinasco, ex-Governor of the Resguardo, and the principal coordinator of mining issues for the Cabildo, said: “This is an historic judgment for the indigenous Resguardo of Cañamomo Lomaprieta. For centuries, the different leaders of the Resguardo have been defending our collective land rights and seeking to resolve the problem of land titling with the authorities; this judgment orders that the delimitation and titling of the Resguardo is resolved without further delay.

“This judgment is a great opportunity to resolve issues caused by the lack of land titling, including exercising authority over our lands, applying our laws, thinking about economic development, and opposing projects that affect our survival as indigenous people. It supports the rightful claims of the Resguardo and suspends the existing deals that are going on behind the communities’ backs through mining titles, concessions, processes of legislation and licences and makes clear that no mining activity can be carried out in the territory without our consent.”

These requests are in keeping with international human rights instruments that recognise indigenous autonomy and self-government over ancestral territories, and the resources integral to these.

“This is a landmark decision for indigenous peoples in Colombia and globally,” said Viviane Weitzner of Forest Peoples Programme. “It recognises the legitimacy of indigenous self-regulation of subsoil resources within their territories, lifting the label of criminalisation of a spiritually, culturally and economically important activity that has been conducted without the use of harmful substances for centuries. The court is calling on the State to do more to protect indigenous territorial rights, by applying international standards around demarcation and titling and ensuring future decision-making includes the Cabildo’s free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). We remain concerned however that this decision may increase the risks to Resguardo leaders, some of whom have already suffered a number of recent credible death threats. It is important that the Colombian government ensure that members of the Resguardo are protected in light of this decision, and we urge the State to do everything in its power to ensure the safety of land and human rights defenders involved in this case.”

This historic court win is a critically important first step. But now rigorous implementation of the Court orders must take place for it to achieve its potential in upholding indigenous rights. Héctor Jaime Vinasco added: “We call on our allies and supporters to join the next moment of our journey, the implementation of the Court’s orders, which we know will be the hardest part.”

In 2015, the Resguardo submitted a “tutela” (writ of constitutional protection) to the Administrative Court of Caldas claiming, among other things, violation of the Resguardo members’ fundamental collective rights to their territories and natural resources, to self-determination and self-governance within their territories, as well as to effective participation (including free, prior and informed consent) in relation to activities proposed within their territories. This writ was rejected at first instance and on appeal, but the Constitutional Court has overturned these decisions.

For decades the Resguardo, which was established in colonial times, has been seeking official delimitation of its territories through various administrative authorities in Colombia. In the absence of such delimitation, which was never completed, the National Mining Agency continued to grant permits and licences for gold mining without consulting with or seeking the consent of the Cabildo, the traditional authorities of the Resguardo, on the basis that the Resguardo’s territories were not registered in the official land titles register. 

Gold mining is an ancestral activity of the Embera Chamí people, who have self-regulated this activity even prior to the formation of the Colombian State. The State’s permits both undermine the Resguardo regulations related to mining in their lands, and threaten the livelihoods of those who continue to carry out ancestral mining activities.

The Resguardo Cañamomo Lomaprieta comprises 32 communities (including one Afro-descendant community, some members of which are seeking separate status) and 24,068 inhabitants, according to a 2014 census. The lands currently claimed by the Resguardo total 4,836 hectares. The current territory claimed is significantly less than the original lands granted to the Resguardo in colonial times (which is in turn significantly less than the traditional territories of the Embera Chamí people). 

The Embera Chamí people are an indigenous people from Western Colombia, whose traditional lands extended through the current departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Chocó, Risaralda and Valle de Cauca. Different groups within the Embera Chamí people continue to live across these departments (i.e. the people is not solely located within the Resguardo Cañamomo Lomaprieta).

For more information on the situation in Colombia, see Pushing for Peace in Colombia.


source Forest Peoples Programme


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An indigenous leader has been shot dead in Colombia.

Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela, 43, was a leader of the Wiwa tribe and a campaigner for both indigenous and women’s rights. 

The Wiwa are one of four tribes that live on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a unique pyramid-shaped mountain in northern Colombia. The Sierra Nevada Indians believe it is their responsibility to maintain the balance of the universe. 

Bernal Varela is the latest victim in a long line of attacks against Sierra Nevada leaders, who have been at the forefront of the indigenous movement in South America. Many Indians have been killed by drug gangs, left-wing guerrillas and the army. 

In November 2012 Rogelio Mejía, the leader of one of the other Sierra Nevada tribes, the Arhuaco, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt

José Gregorio Rodríguez, secretary of the Wiwa Golkuche organization, stated: “Indigenous people are being threatened and intimidated. Today they murdered our comrade and violated our rights. Our other leaders must be protected.” 

The problem is not limited to Colombia. Indigenous activists throughout Latin America are being murdered for campaigning against the theft of their lands and resources. The murderers are seldom brought to justice. 

In January, Mexican Tarahumara indigenous leader Isidro Ballenero López was killed. In 2005 he had received the prestigious Goldman prize for his fight against illegal deforestation. 

Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11580

Bron : Survival International


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Leaked report reveals WWF knew about “Pygmy” abuse

An internal report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) into the impact of its conservation work in Cameroon on Baka “Pygmies” has been leaked after WWF denied it existed. It reveals:

- WWF knew that the Baka had not been consulted over the national parks which have taken over their land. However, the organization has since maintained publicly that there was “a high level of … community consent.”

- Some ecoguards patrolling the area “behave like masters and lords” towards the Baka, mounting "crackdowns” that are “terrifying.” Despite this, a WWF spokesman described the ecoguards as “performing their designated function of protecting the forests and securing the access and areas of forest communities, including … the Baka.”

- Many perpetrators of abuses are not disciplined when violations are reported by the communities “despite the communities’ condemnation, with proof.” WWF, however, continues to say publicly, “When unacceptable behavior has come to WWF’s attention… WWF has taken the issue up directly and emphatically with [the government], and improved behavior has seemed to follow.”

- “Most of the local villages are affected [by ecoguard abuse]” – but WWF maintained in a written submission to the OECD that “the possibility of ecoguard abuse does not currently seem to be a high priority for most Baka communities.”

Contrary to its own guidelines, WWF has never released the report, despite requests from Survival International and Baka activists. In an interview with the environmental magazine Mongabay, WWF’s “Head of Issues Management” Phil Dickie denied that WWF had commissioned any investigation into Survival’s allegations.

Survival International lodged a formal complaint in February 2016 with the Swiss National Contact Point of the OECD over WWF’s activities in Cameroon. The complaint was admitted in December 2016, the first time a non-profit organization has been scrutinized in this way.

One Baka man said: “The forest used to be for the Baka but not anymore. We would walk in the forest according to the seasons but now we’re afraid. How can they forbid us from going into the forest? We don’t know how to live otherwise. They beat us, kill us and force us to flee.”

Baka “Pygmy” speaks out as girl dies in the name of conservationBaka “Pygmies” are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the Cameroon and Congo.

This man explains the importance of the forest to Baka life, and recounts how a young girl and elderly man died when their community was attacked by an anti-poaching squad funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “WWF commissions a report to look into its effect on the Baka, presumably including claims of abuse committed by the ecoguards it funds. The report confirms the abuse is widespread and routine. WWF then denies the report exists. It’s time for this big conservation organization to square up to the responsibilities it has to those who have seen their land stolen for conservation. And it’s time the world woke up to the horror that’s going on in the name of conservation. It’s not just Cameroon and not just WWF: the conservation industry has a history of taking tribal people’s land. It’s green colonialism and we’re doing all we can to fight it. Many conservationists know that tribal peoples are the best guardians of the natural world which is why the big conservation organizations should start listening to them rather than conspiring in their destruction.”

A comparison of what WWF’s internal report says about Baka abuse with what WWF have said publicly, and what the Baka say can be seen here. The full report is available on request. 

“Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves.

Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11561

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Statement from the family of Arthur Manuel on his passing:

On Wednesday January 11, 2017 at 11:00 PM, Arthur Manuel, our beloved father, grandfather, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, and teacher passed away. Arthur was one of our most determined and outspoken Secwepemc leaders and activists—a pillar in the resistance, known globally for his tireless advocacy for Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination. He passed on into the spirit world surrounded by many generations of his loving family.

Arthur was the son of Marceline Paul of the Ktuanaxa Nation and George Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation. George was a political leader and visionary who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.

Arthur was born into the struggle and groomed to be a leader and defender of Indigenous rights and title. Coming up as a young leader in the 1970s, he served as president of the National Native Youth Association, leading the occupation of Indian Affairs. He attended Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) and Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto, Ontario).

He returned to his community and was elected Chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee. He was a long-time co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and former co-chair of the Global caucus. He was active in the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More movement and as a board member of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. He was one of the main strategic thinkers of the decolonization movement in Canada. As the spokesman for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, he convinced the World Trade Organization to recognize that Indigenous peoples are subsidizing the BC lumber industry through the non-recognition of Aboriginal title. He was co-author, along with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, of the award-winning Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, with a foreword by his friend and fellow activist Naomi Klein.

He worked selflessly in defence of Indigenous territorial authority and he fiercely opposed any termination of Indigenous land rights. He rejected provincial and federal authority over unceded Indigenous land, and challenged the extinguishment of Indigenous title through the BC treaty process. He fought climate change, battling the imminent threat of pipelines across Secwepemc territory.

He was a world traveller who connected Indigenous nations across the globe to unite in a common vision and defend their rights. He was gifted a button blanket by the Nuxalk nation and has received countless honours for his work around the world.

Arthur was also a teacher and a mentor to many. He was a source of knowledge for youth and young leaders. Through his fierce love for his people, he shone a light on the path to justice for a new generation of activists.

He’s a residential school survivor, having attended the Kamloops (Kamloops BC), St Eugene’s (Cranbrook BC) and St. Mary’s (Mission BC) residential schools.

Arthur is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, by his sisters Emaline, Martha, Doreen, and Ida, his brothers George, Richard, and Ara, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis and Snutetkwe. He is predeceased by his parents, sister Vera, brother Bobby, beloved son Neskie and his grandchildren Napika Amak and Megenetkwe.

In his most recent article on Canada’s 150th celebration, published only a week before his death, Arthur insisted again that Canada was built entirely on the theft of Indigenous lands.

"Our Indian reserves are only .02% of Canada's land and yet Indigenous peoples are expected to survive on them. This has led to the systematic impoverishment of Indigenous people and the crippling oppression that indigenous peoples suffer under the current colonial system.

The .02 land based is used to keep us too poor and too weak to fight back. It is used to bribe and co-opt the Indigenous leadership into becoming neocolonial partners to treat the symptom of poverty on Indian reserves without addressing the root cause of the problem, which is the dispossession of all of the Indigenous territory by Canada and the provinces." – First Nations Strategic Bulletin, August-December 2016 Issue

Wake: Friday, January 13th 5:00 PM and Saturday, January 14th, Adams Lake Indian Band Gymnasium, 6349 Chief Jules Drive, Chase, BC

Funeral Services: Sunday, January 15th 10:00 AM, Adams Lake Indian Band Gymnasium


Condolences to the family and photos of Arthur can be sent to erfeltes@gmail.com



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Obama administration buys time to defuse Native American protests

In a sudden and unexpected action Friday, three major agencies of the US federal government, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced a temporary halt in pipeline construction near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

The Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL), built to ship oil from the Bakken Shale field in North Dakota across four states to connect to existing pipelines in Illinois, would cross the Missouri River just above the reservation, threatening its water supply in the event of a leak.

Besides the environmental concerns, Native American tribes and their supporters have criticized the pipeline for traversing burial grounds and other sacred sites just outside the reservation, land that was taken from the Standing Rock tribe decades ago, but had been used by their ancestors for centuries.

More than 2,000 protesters have settled in an impromptu camp blocking the construction project, and both pipeline and construction officials and the North Dakota state government have sought to disperse them.

On September 3, construction crews began using bulldozers to dig up earth on one of the sacred sites. When protesters tried to block them, they were attacked by security guards using dogs and pepper spray. At least 37 people have been arrested in the North Dakota protests, along with another 30 environmental protesters arrested when they sought to block pipeline operations in Boone, Iowa.

Last week North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, put the National Guard on notice and assigned a dozen soldiers to reinforce state police barricades set up on roads between Bismarck, the state capital, and the encampment in Cannon Ball, in the southern part of the state. The purpose was apparently twofold: to prevent reinforcements from reaching the protest camp, and to stop the Native Americans from carrying their protest to the state capital.

The Standing Rock tribe, which numbers 8,000, had filed a lawsuit against the pipeline project, charging that the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to properly consult with tribal officials before granting permits to the consortium of companies involved in the project, which includes Marathon and Phillips. The suit charged that the pipeline “crosses areas of great historical and cultural significance to the tribe, the potential damage or destruction of which greatly injures the tribe and its members.”

US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington DC granted a partial stay of construction while he heard the case, but on Friday he issued a 56-page ruling backing the Army Corps of Engineers and removing any legal barrier to the completion of the pipeline project.

Shortly thereafter, in a move that was clearly prearranged, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior (which manages federal lands and runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs) and the Department of Justice issued their joint statement.

The Corps delayed issuing permits to dig on federal land near the Standing Rock reservation or the Missouri River crossing point near Lake Oahe, where the Cannonball River flows into the Missouri. The Department of the Interior agreed to further discussions with tribal officials “to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights …”

While Standing Rock tribal chairman David Archambault hailed the reversal as a “an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation,” it is clear that the Obama administration calculated that the escalating protests by Native Americans and their supporters could become an embarrassment in the eight weeks leading to the November 8 elections, and sought to postpone any confrontation until afterwards.

In particular, dispersing the protest encampment at Cannon Ball, the largest mobilization of Native American activists since the American Indian Movement protests of the early 1970s, will allow the federal government and the oil companies to resume the effort later in the year, when the weather will be more onerous for outdoor protests (although more difficult for construction as well).

The tribal leadership is closely tied to the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, with Archambault hosting Barack and Michelle Obama for a visit in 2014, where he proclaimed the Obama administration the best thing that ever happened to Native Americans. This dismisses the real conditions facing Native Americans, who suffer the highest poverty and unemployment rates and the worst health conditions of any section of the US working class.

Archambault also downplayed the significance of the Republican governor calling out the National Guard, saying the troops would only be used for traffic management and not to clear out the protest camp. At least one observer, however, wrote that the roadblocks set up by National Guard troops looked like similar outposts in Afghanistan.

The federal agencies asked the pipeline consortium to “voluntarily pause all construction activity” within 20 miles of Lake Oahe. There was no indication that Energy Transfer Partners, the joint venture managing the project, would agree to this request.

A spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, which represents construction and oil industry companies and the Laborers International Union, said the surprise announcement by the Obama administration was “deeply troubling and could have a long-lasting chilling effect on private infrastructure development in the United States.”

Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the group, declared, “No sane American company would dare expend years of effort and billions of dollars weaving through an onerous regulatory process receiving all necessary permits and agreements, only to be faced with additional regulatory impediments and be shut down halfway through completion of its project.”

 Source : World Social Website

16:58 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Good news on Standing RockHuge news!

Bank DNB announced it is going to sell its assets in the Dakota Access Pipeline project!

It’s clear our message is having an impact. On Tuesday, we delivered hundreds of thousands of signatures right to the Bank’s offices in Norway, and thousands of us flooded its Facebook page with messages in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. 

Two days later, we won. 

The Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council sent us this note:

We are pleased that Bank DNB is weakening its ties to DAPL. It was a wise decision, especially given Energy Transfer Partners’ continuous disregard for our land, water, and sovereignty. Recent comments by Energy Transfer Partners CEO indicate the company seems intent on ramping up aggression, which is why it is of the utmost importance that other banks follow the example of DNB.

This major milestone could only happen because, all around the world, people like you stood in support of the Standing Rock Sioux and the courageous water defenders on the ground right now in North Dakota. And they need our support more than ever with the incoming Trump administration. 

But our fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is not over yet -- we have plans to force other banks to pull out of DAPL, and we promise we won’t stop until we win.

 Thank you for everything you’ve done to support this campaign so far.



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Mohawk band forms indigenous legal system independent of Canada

The Mohawk band council of Akwesasne in Canada has introduced its own legal system independent of the country's federal system. This marks the first instance [Coast Reporter report] of an indigenous people creating its own legal system in Canada. While First Nation band councils have passed and enforced legislation on reserves for years, the new court framework wasdrafted by the community [National Post report] and is not tied to the Indian Act [text] or a self-governance agreement with the Canadian government. Under the proposed legal system, justices and prosecutors are asked to enforce a variety of civil laws, while criminal matters still remain within the purview of the federal or provincial courts. The civil matters range from sanitation to property and wildlife conservation. The new system is also underpinned by concepts of restorative justice, as there are no jail terms and offending parties are to use their skills to benefit the community. Questions still remain as to what extent Akwesasne law will be recognized by the provincial and federal courts.

The rights of indigenous peoples have become a pressing international legal topic in the past decade. In April JURIST Guest Columnist Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan discussed [JURIST op-ed] what is happening with recent leave decisions related to Indigenous rights and Canadian energy regulation. In March Canadian indigenous people, including Inuits of Nunavut and the Chippewa, were granted [JURIST report] an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, challenging the use of seismic testing to find natural gas under the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. In February experts from the UN and the Inter-American human rights systemsurged [JURIST report] Canada to address the "root causes" of the extreme violence and discrimination against indigenous women and girls in that country..

 Source : Don Bain



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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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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


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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


13:57 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |




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. 

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. 


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

11:50 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


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


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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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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:
Source : Survival International


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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.


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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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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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. 


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:



source : Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL

The Netherlands/ Países bajos








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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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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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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



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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





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