A leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new Safeguard Policies appears to reverse a generation of gains. Despite over two years of input from civil society, project-affected communities, and experts on a wider range of social and environmental issues, the leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of those standards. The proposed policies, which are up for discussion by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations, are not only at odds with the Bank’s stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but they also lower the bar for the entire international community.
On multiple occasions, World Bank President Jim Kim has promised that this review of Bank policies would not lead to “dilution,” or weakening, of Bank policies. Yet, the leaked draft reveals major dilutions such as gutting requirements that potential negative environmental and social impacts of a project be assessed and made public before the World Bank’s board approves project loans. The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds. In another example of clear dilution, the Bank is proposing a new loophole that allows governments to “opt out” of following requirements related to indigenous peoples, which would be a major blow to indigenous peoples who have counted on the Bank to recognize them when governments refuse.
World Bank Management has also made promises that the revised safeguard policies would include stronger protections for poor communities and those it terms “vulnerable” or “marginalized” groups. Yet despite this promise, the leaked draft contains only general mentions of the need to consider impacts of projects on those who may be disadvantaged due to age, disability, gender, and sexual orientation or gender identity. No clear procedures are provided to describe what specifically the borrower would need to do to ensure these groups benefit equally from Bank projects and are not disproportionately harmed when projects entail physical and economic displacement.
Similar Bank assurances that pressing environmental challenges would be adequately addressed in the new policies are also contradicted by the text of the draft policies. For example, despite the Bank’s prominence in warning of the dangers that a warming world poses to development, there is only sporadic mention of climate change in the safeguard proposal and nowhere does it lay out what governments have to do to assess if their projects will exacerbate climate change or how climate change will affect the viability of their projects. Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity.
Throughout the policies there are many cases in which the borrower and the World Bank are given unprecedented latitude over decisions regarding when, how, and, in some cases, even if these policies will be applied to particular Bank projects. Despite repeated claims that this “flexible approach” will be compensated by expanded supervision and monitoring, there are too few clear requirements in the draft or an accompanying implementation plan to offer any comfort that safeguard objectives on the ground are more likely to be met. As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment.
While the draft contains some positive advances, such as the adoption of a labor standard—albeit one that is much weaker than those already in place at other Multilateral Development Banks—these advances do not compensate for the numerous instances of procedural and substantive weakening found throughout the draft. Overall, the World Bank has fallen far short of its goal of setting a new global standard when it comes to protecting the poor and the planet.
Article originally published at The Bank Information Center. Republished under a Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0) License
Download the leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed World Bank Safeguard policies http://www.scribd.com/doc/235070541/World-Bank-Safeguard-Policies
Source : Intercontinental Cry
Agribusiness interests in Brazil are facing off against Indigenous Peoples calling for official recognition of territorial claims. During the opening ceremony of the World Cup, a Guarani Indian youth held up a small banner saying, in Portuguese, “Demarcation Now”. Demarcation meaning land recognition. There are over 400 indigenous groups in Brazil waiting for their ancestral lands to be officially recognized but Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby is pushing for changes that would make it so they never are. Lucia Duncan reports.
Terra Indigena Jaraguá in Sao Paulo is the world’s smallest indigenous reservation – the size of just two soccer fields. Its Guarani residents quickly outgrew the space. They now occupy another plot nearby.
A young man plays the violin inside of the Opâ, a mud and thatched roof building that is the spiritual gathering space for the community. Chief Karai Mirim explains the meaning of symbols on the altar: “This represents land, this is all of our spirit, ambã, that illuminates our struggle and all the knowledge of our ancestors.”
Starting in 1934, Brazilian authorities established small reservations like Jaraguá with the expectation that Indians would assimilate into Brazilian society.
But in 1988, after the end of the dictatorship, Brazil’s new constitution recognized Indigenous Peoples as the original inhabitants of the country – with a right to enough land to continue their culture and way of life.
Daniel Pierri, an anthropologist who works for a Guarani advocacy group, says the lack of farmland has resulted in the loss of cultivation techniques. “Ways of growing corn and cassava that are unique and super important to their culture are being lost,” he says. "This causes problems like child malnutrition and other health problems. All this results from the lack of land.”
Last year, the government’s agency for Indian affairs approved expanding the Jaraguá territory. But Brazil’s Attorney General hasn’t signed off on it. So the Guarani living in the disputed area have been given an eviction notice. “We’re a people without life and we feel it,” says Chief Mirim. “Our kids don’t have a future. We’re at the end of the process, and we’re really worried.”
No new indigenous territories have been recognized under President Dilma Rousseff’s administration. And Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby wants to pass a constitutional amendment to transfer authority over land demarcation from the agency of Indian affairs to Congress.
Pierri, the anthropologist, compares this to a fox guarding a hen house. “Brazil’s Congress is dominated by large landowners,” he says. “And so there’s a conflict of interest – those who are opposed to expanding indigenous land want to be responsible for regulating it.”
Last year, the Brazilian Congress decided to consider the landowners’ amendment. And there have been public hearings throughout Brazil.
Congressman Luis Carlos Heinze is President of the Congressional Agribusiness Caucus. He spoke to small property owners at an outdoor hearing in his home state in the south of Brazil, stoking fears that their land will be subject to expropriation. Video of the event posted to YouTube went viral after he described the interests advocating for indigenous land recognition as “Indians, descendants of runaway slaves, lesbians, and gays; people that are worth nothing. They are all allies and they control the government.”
Heinze has also encouraged small landowners to arm themselves.
A Global Witness report says the numbers of environmental and land rights activists murdered in Brazil tripled from 2002 to 2012. But Pierri says the threat of violence hasn’t deterred the Guarani: “They’re now making themselves visible to the broader society. After spending a long time opting to hide, living in the woods that were left, avoiding contact, they are now doing the opposite.”
The Guarani of Jaraguá have joined with other Indigenous Peoples throughout the country to protest and organize against both the constitutional amendment and other laws that would open up their lands to development and mining activities. “We thought a lot in the beginning about how to create a movement,” says Chief Mirim, adding that indigenous people in Brazil share the same goals. “To win our land. We want the Brazilian government to recognize us as indigenous peoples, with a different culture. We want respect and recognition.”
In September, the Workers’ Party will hold a Popular Referendum on Political Reform. This is a response to the massive protests in Brazil last June. Changes in campaign finance would be one way to reign in the power of the agricultural lobby, but the referendum is non-binding.
Source : Originally published at FSRN.org. Republished under a Creative Common (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license
Speaking to reporters May 14 from an undisclosed location somewhere in the mountains of Talaingod, Davao del Norte province, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, a group of traditional indigenous elders, or datu, said: "We want peace here in Talaingod. But if they take away our land, we will fight. We will fight with our native weapons." The group was led by Datu Guibang Apoga, who has been a fugitive from the law since 1994, when he led a resistance movement of the Manobo indigenous people against timber and mineral interests, fighting company personnel and security forces with bows and arrows and spears. Wearing their traditional outfits, the tribal leaders threatened to return to arms unless the Philippine government demilitarizes their lands and respects Manobo territorial rights.
Throughout April, the Philippine army's 10th Infantry Division carried out operations in Talaingod municipality, including aerial bombardment, supposedly against guerillas of the New People's Army (NPA). But leaders of the Manobo and other Lumads, as the indigenous peoples of Mindanao are collectively known, say the military operation was actually aimed at intimidating the local populace to allow resource exploitation in the territory. At least 1,300 fled their homes during the offensive, to shelters that were established in Davao City and elsewhere. At the end of April, the army agreed to withdraw its forces to allow the displaced families to return. "We will go home if there will be no more military personnel in our farmland,” said Manobo leader Datu Doloman Dawsay from Davao City. (, May 17; , , May 16; , May 2; , April 30)
Indigenous peoples are facing similar pressures in the Cordillera region of the northern island of Luzon. Under pressure from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), police in Abra province have pledged a thorough investigation on the massacre of a local family of the Binongan people's Ligiw clan. Licuben Ligiw and his two sons were reported missing by their family on March 6. Their remains were found the following day, bound and gagged in a shallow grave near their hut at Baay-Licuan village. The CHRA insists the investigation must extend to the military, as the army's 41st Infantry Battalion was conducting operations in the area when the Ligiws were last sighted. The operations were part of the "Oplan Bayanihan" counterinsurgency program against local NPA forces. (, March 11)
An investigation is also underway in the Cordillera province of Ifugao into the March 25 slaying of human rights worker William Bugatti. Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel has condemned Bugatti's murder as a "dastardly and cowardly act," but rights groups protest that no suspects have yet been identified in the case. Ina Dolores Pacliw, chair of the Ifugao Peasant Movement, for which Bugatti worked, said: "We demand justice for Bugatti. We urge an impartial and competent investigation of the case. We will not stop in our call until we see the perpetrators brought to the bar of justice."
Bugatti, a member of the Tuwali indigenous people, was shot three times in a road ambush while on his way home to his village of Bolog in Kiangan municipality. According to the Regional Council of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-, Bugatti had been on a list of 28 "target personalities" apparently drawn up by the army's 86th Infantry Battalion. In the list, he was described as "utak ng NPA," or "brains" of the local guerillas. (, May 3; , April 23; , March 27)
At least 8 dead after armed clash between Malian army, Tuareg rebels as Malian Prime Minister visited the town · Tuareg sources blame Malian soldiers for having started the clash when suppressing a demonstration · The MNLA says is holding "prisoners of war", several buildings have been re-taken by guerrilla
Clashes between the Malian army and the Tuareg-majority National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) resulted this weekend in at least eight deaths in Kidal, the main town in north-eastern Mali. After the clash, Prime Minister of Mali Moussa Mara his country was again "at war" against the MNLA, with whom Bamako has been unsuccessfully negotiating a solution to the conflict that erupted in 2012 for control of Azawad (northern half of Mali).
The account on what happened this weekend in Kidal is quite different depending on the sources. The Malian government that an armed clashed between the Malian army and the MNLA left 36 people dead: 8 soldiers and 28 guerrillas. The violent outburst was triggered by the visit to Kidal by Mali's Prime Minister Moussa Mara, who landed on Azawad for the first time since he was appointed last month after the resignation of Oumar Tatam Ly. A part of the Malian press admits that it was a bad idea that Mara visited Kidal, because it was foreseeable that his presence there would raise tensions among the local population.
Tuareg news agency Toumast Press . According to it, on Friday Kidal was the scenario for demonstrations against the upcoming visit by Mara. The army opened fire against the protests with fire, and still according Toumast Press, Malian troops then attacked MNLA positions and sparked the confrontation. The result, the news agency argues, was ten Malian troops dead, plus "several" civilian casualties. The MNLA regained control of several buildings, including the radio station, the provincial governorate and the local treasury.
In addition to the fatalities, Mali said that the MNLA had kidnapped 30 Malian officials in order to exchange them for imprisoned guerrillas. , the Tuareg guerrilla denies having kidnapped anybody, and only admits having made "prisoners of war arrested after the fighting," for which it blames the Malian army.
Two years of clashes, no final agreement
After an offensive in early 2012, the MNLA gained control of much of Azawad, and declared independence from Mali. But MNLA control over Azawad only lasted for a few months, given that several Islamist groups captured the main cities in Azawad, including Timbuktu and Gao. After a French intervention to save the Malian state from collapsing at the beginning of 2013, the MNLA and Mali under the auspices of Burkina Faso to redeploy the Malian army in Kidal and to garrison MNLA members.
Since last year, however, there have been no more significant advances. The MNLA has agreed to give up independence claims, and has been proposing an autonomous regime for Azawad within Mali instead. The Malian government, however, has not accepted this proposal. The last attempt to find a solution was launched by the Malian government last month, when former Prime Minister Modibo Keita as coordinator of a new round of negotiations that should involve not only the MNLA and Mali, but also neighboring countries Algeria, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, each with their own interests and agendas regarding Azawad.
Moreover, and as usual in previous Tuareg rebellions, splits within the rebel movement have appeared. The most recent one was announced in March, when former MNLA leader Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh to form his own group, the Coalition for the People of Azawad (CPA).
The CPA is not the only movement speaking in the name of Azawad apart from the MNLA. Leaders and fighters formerly belonging to Tuareg Islamist group Ansar formed last year the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA). Besides, the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) says it is representing the territory's Arab communities. Like the MNLA, it faces internal dissension. MNLA, HCUA and MAA maintain a fragile agreement to jointly negotiate before the Malian state on behalf of Azawadian interests.
Hundreds of Maasai Families under threat of eviction as Geothermal companies invade their land in Kenya
Reminiscent of what happened to the Maasai community in Narasha in 2013, Maasai pastoralists in Kedong, Akira and Suswa are glaring at massive evictions arising from a group of concessions awarded to several companies including Hyundai, Toshiba, Sinopec and African Geothermal International (AGIL) for the purposes of developing geothermal projects on the Maasai lands.
According to the local communities--who claim ancestry to the land and have filed cases in Kenyan courts-- African Geothermal International (AGIL) and Marine Power along with Akira I and Akira II1 have disregarded court injunctions instituted by the Maasai, proceeding to deploy their heavy machinery to their proposed project sites without due diligence or consultations with the local communities. The concession areas, which cover hundreds of thousands of acres, are home to thousands of Maasai pastoralists.
The communities feel that their rights have been grossly violated because each of the companies have failed to adhere to Bio-cultural Community Protocols2 that require all external actors to respect Indigenous Peoples’ customary laws, values and decision making processes; particularly those concerning stewardship of their territories and lands.
The companies have also disregarded a current dispute between Kedong Ranch Ltd and the Maasai community3 along with key provisions from the constitution of Kenya (2010). Article 40 of the constitution provides for the protection of the right to property (of any kind) without discrimination and just, prompt and full compensation where acquisition is of national interest. The right to a clean and healthy environment is equally guaranteed under Article 42in addition to the right to a cultural heritage4.
While the Maasai are not against infrastructure development for the country, they are equally distressed over the companies' similar dismissal of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)5,6. By forcefully evicting the Maasai from their land while denying them the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development projects, the companies are also in contravention of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing7.
On top of these concerns, the Maasai decry the use of armed police to enforce the evictions, the destruction of their property, and the outright dispossession of their grazing land which is the only source of their livelihoods..
The Maasai demand the following:
That the current deployment of armed police to enforce the evictions be stopped forthwith.
That the companies be held in contempt for disregarding court orders.
That a clear and documented plan on access to benefit sharing be put in place to ensure the affected families’ livelihoods are sustained.
That the following international donors and companies be held accountable for losses suffered by the Maasai and demand that they put in place safeguards
Toshiba, Toyota, Tsusho, and JICA-Japan
That other bilateral donors that support the projects being undertaken hold consultative meetings with the Maasai community before any further investments are made.
That the current ESIA reports which excluded livestock, homes and cultural rights should not be used and instead a team that includes Indigenous People be reconstituted to undertake another Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
Source : Intercontinental Cry
The May 30 announcement by the St. Regis Tribal Council that it had reached a "settlement" with New York State is one of the strangest in Native land claims history.
The settlement begins with a bold lie: that of the three Mohawk governing councils at Akwesasne, this most factionalized of Native communities, one-the New York State created St. Regis Tribal Council -has decided that it would unilaterally bring a "forever" end to all Mohawk claims against the US and the State without consultation, consensus or approval of the Mohawk Nation Council or the Canadian based Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
Never mind that there are over 40,000 Mohawks living on seven territories: Ganienkeh, Kanesatake, Kahnawake, Tyendinaga, Wahta, Ohsweken and Akwesasne and none of them, with the exception of a few Tribal officials, knew anything about the agreement. Their opinions were never solicited nor is there any provision for their approval in a settlement which wipes out their valid claims against the US and New York for the blatant theft of over 9,000,000 acres of aboriginal Mohawk territory and the forcible removal of their ancestors from our homelands.
That the Tribal Council would assume it has the authority, never given, to represent all Mohawks on this most vital and delicate of issues is nothing short of pure arrogance without basis in history or fact.
Yet New York State will go ahead and enter into the settlement since it maintains that a single signature by any governing agency located on Mohawk territory is sufficient to extinguish all Mohawk claims which was its exact position in 1797 when Joseph Brant betrayed all Mohawks by unilaterally signing away our native lands when it was abundantly clear to the Americans that he had no such authority.
Since then the Mohawks have lived on restricted reservations, confined at times by force of arms by a vindictive New York which has taken a hostile, active role in opposing the unification of the Mohawks on any issue particularly land and jurisdiction. Hence, the creation of the St. Regis Tribal Council in 1892 by the State Legislature and the pouring of millions of dollars in support to that colonial entity.
It is therefore no surprise that a State agency, the Tribe, would be given the power by the US to once again cede all of Mohawk lands for less than a pittance and a weird pittance it is.
In the May agreement, the Tribe agrees to the following:
-elevate a county, St. Lawrence, to equal jurisdictional status with a supposed "sovereign" tribal entity
-agrees to abide by all county, state and federal regulations on lands returned to the "Tribe"
-agrees to pay $4,000,000 annually and forever to St. Lawrence County with additional money to be given to nearby Franklin County
-agrees to pay nearly $4,000,000 more to St. Lawrence and Franklin counties from its casino operation
-agrees to compensate both counties for lost tax revenues and school fees on lands returned to the "Tribe"
-agrees to surrender any claim on the highly lucrative hydro electricity generating dam on contested lands in St. Lawrence County
-agrees to abandon any liability claims against St. Lawrence County and New York State for the generations long extraction of natural resources on contested Mohawk lands and despite the enormous financial benefits both the county and state have profited from those lands
-agrees to pay the New York Power Authority millions of dollars in "reduced" electrical rates despite the fact that NYPA uses Mohawk resources (both land and water)
-surrenders any right to have St. Lawrence County or New York to do environmental assessments or clean up contaminated soils and water on Mohawk territory
-agrees to waive and surrender any claim to hold the county, New York State or the US federal governments liable in any way for the displacement of Mohawk people, the subsequent harm to culture and health or in any way provide compensation to any Mohawk entity for such harm
As is well known, and elementary, in any negotiation that what is not expressly cited is considered excluded. So the Tribe, in another strange decision, decided not to protect Mohawk jurisdiction or freedom from external taxation. The Tribe made no mention of the vital trade and commerce issues nor did it exempt itself from the criminal or civil laws of either county or state.
It is hard to see what exactly benefits the Tribe in this very bad agreement. The Tribe may get 3,000 plus acres of land but only under highly restrictive conditions. It gets $2,000,000 a year from the NYPA but must immediately pay that back in hydro fees. If New York, the real culprit, gives anything at all it is from money the Tribe gives to the state under the provisions of the National Indian Gaming Act.
So the odd, disturbing and outright bad agreement awaits the signature of a Tribal official. But which one of the three "trustees" would sign such a deplorable agreement when it provokes more internal dissension and will spark years of litigation?
Which trustee will sign away the birthright of all Mohawks and wipe out the seventh generation? And which one will be condemned by history for doing so?
After their organizational meeting, HRC President Ambassador Baudelaine Ndong Ella (Gabon) announced his decision on Tuesday, May 8, at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland to appoint Tauli-Corpuz and 18 others as members of the UN Special Procedures.
The special procedures are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. It is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social.
“These posts (were) recently left vacant by previous mandate holders,” added Ndong Ella in a media release at the UN website.
Among the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples are to promote good practices, including new laws, government programs, and constructive agreements between indigenous peoples and states, to implement international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.
The rapporteur also reports on the overall human rights situations of indigenous peoples in selected countries and addresses specific cases of alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples through communications with Governments and others.
In 2001, the predecessor of the HRC then known as Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint in 2001 a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as part of the system of thematic Special Procedures, which was then renewed in 2004 and in 2007.
Tauli-Corpuz will take over the post to be left vacant by outgoing Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights Prof. James Anaya, an American Indian.
When she was nominated last month for the position, various personalities, like Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, extended congratulatory statements for her appointment.
It is an honor of the Cordillerans that we have our own as a representative to the UN HRC, said human rights lawyer Jose Mencio Molintas, an Ibaloi and a former member of the UN HRC Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).
While waiting for her task to officially start on June 1, Tauli-Corpuz said she’s open to conduct consultations with various groups. “I would be happy to have some informal consultations with groups and persons even before officially assuming this post,” she said.
A nurse by profession, she involved herself to social activism by joining non-government organizations upon her graduation at the University of the Philippines, where she spent most of her prime years. She is executive director of Tebteba Foundation, a global advocacy group for indigenous people’s rights, and former chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII), a body under the UN Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).
Source : UBIC
José Antonio Gómez, Chilean Justice Minister met with relatives of the Mapuche prisoners, that are on hunger strike in the prison of Angol.
The prisoners Luis Marileo, from the Cacique José Guiñón community, Cristian Levinao Melinao, from the community of Rayén Mapu and Leonardo Quijón Pereira from Chequenco haven’t been eating for 30 days now and have already lost about 15 kilos.
The Mapuches are asking to be transfered to a Gendarmerie work and study center and, most importantly, the review of their trials, due to their opinion, that the application of the Antiterrorism Law against them was executed arbitrarily.
Furthermore, there is a request for humanitarian clemency for Llanca José Mariano Tori, who suffers from a terminal illness being incarcerated in the prison of Angol.
After pressure from the prisoner’s families, it was possible to arrange a meeting with the governmental representative minister Gómez.
For one of the relatives, Fredy Marileo, this meeting is a chance to find concrete solutions and sees it not only as a chance for the government to dilate the situation any more. As Marileo said, the reason
for the encounter is “more than anything to find a solution to the issue, because we believe that the Government is already fully informed of requests by the peñi (Mapudungun word for brothers), hopefully they do not turn a blind eye on us, as the mayor Huenchumilla did when he visited the prison.”
One of their main arguments is based on a report by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations, Ben Emmerson, who said that the current legislation is not in conformity with international human rights standards.
“We come to fix this issue, we do not want the Government to continue procrastinating. In that sense we are clear that the Government must have a solution or they have to say yes to all our requests after having the hunger strike by our peñi in Angol prison”, explained Marileo.
Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch
Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and Duane Smith, President of Inuit Circumpolar Council – Canada (ICC Canada) jointly reaffirmed their opposition to the European Union’s 2009 import ban on seal products today as the World Trade Organization (WTO) begins hearing an appeal by Canada and Norway to a WTO decision to uphold the ban.
The WTO dispute settlement panel acknowledged in November 2013 that the EU ban’s so-called Inuit exemption discriminates against Canadian Inuit. But Canadian Inuit have, from the start, taken the position that the ban must be annulled, and that any legislative measure affecting the economic and social rights of Inuit must be designed in consultation with Inuit.
“The EU continues to use its political and so-called moral weight to abolish the seal product trade to the detriment of Canadian communities that depend on the harvest and use of seal, including trade in seal products,” said Audla. “As far we are concerned, there is nothing morally wrong with sustainably harvesting an abundant species for purposes that serve the essential needs of our communities in terms of food, clothing and livelihoods.
“Inuit should be able to engage in free and open trade that is unrestricted by cultural and moral bias. We are citizens of the 21st century and participants in a modern economy, and the EU’s Orwellian trade obstruction is a relic of a distant era when lawmakers unilaterally determined the tastes of a nation.”
The ban has destroyed the market for Canadian seal products – its real objective. This renders the exemption for seal products from Inuit hunts an unworkable option for Canadian Inuit because it fails to overcome the negative effects of the ban on Inuit hunters and communities.
“In principle, such a comprehensive ban is destructive because it paints a black mark and stigmatizes products and the people who harvest and trade these products,” Audla continued. “We are therefore not immune from this bias, and we are not immune from the negative impacts this has on our communities, on our culture, and on our wellbeing.”
“The ban itself is unethical, legally defective and deeply hypocritical,” said Smith. “The process of developing the legislation and the effect of the ban undermines legal and policy frameworks, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the international community has repeatedly endorsed.”
ITK together with students of the Ottawa-based Nunavut Sivuniksavut Training Program will host a peaceful demonstration and sealskin fashion show on Parliament Hill at noon on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in support of Inuit culture, Inuit livelihoods and Inuit sustainable use and trade of seal products.
“For 40 years now we have seen the spread of false information and propaganda by animal rights groups to gain political and public support in Europe and end hunting and trade of seal,” added Audla. “The whitecoat seal pup, as one example, is still being used in propaganda campaigns to this day, although it has not been a part of any product trade for the past 30 years.”
“The EU went from banning the seal pups of two subspecies of seal in 1983 to outright banning all seal species in 2009, despite the growing and abundant population of seals in the Arctic and North Atlantic,” continued Smith. “On a biological, management and trade level, this sledgehammer approach is completely unwarranted and it appears that such an outright ban has been created only to punish small communities for their way of life.”
ITK and ICC Canada are not participants in the hearing, which will be heard March 17-19 in Geneva, but are looking to the Government of Canada’s appeal to effectively apply more pressure against the EU and the ban.
ITK and other plaintiffs have appealed the April 2013 dismissal by the EU General Court of an application for annulment of the ban. No date has been set for a hearing on this appeal.
Seal populations are abundant, and seal harvests are sustainable in regions where seals are harvested. Animal products are used and traded throughout the world on a regular basis. Seals are no different. The seal harvest provides important economic value to individuals and communities, as well as sources of income much needed to help sustain livelihoods and ways of life.
source : Indigenous Peoples resources
A Bushman from the Central Kalahari is traveling 5,000 miles from his home in Botswana to tell the Prince of Wales, ‘We’re not poachers – we hunt to survive.’
In February Botswana’s President Khama was an honoured guest at a global anti-poaching conference in London, alongside Prince Charles and Prince William. The initiative resulted in the launch of Prince William’s United for Wildlife, drawing together seven big conservation organizations, including US-based Conservation International (CI). President Khama is a CI board member.
But President Khama has banned all hunting nationwide, even for Bushmen who hunt to feed their families, under the pretext of clamping down on poaching. However, it has emerged that trophy hunters who pay up to $8,000 to hunt giraffes and zebras are still being allowed to hunt.
Jumanda Gakelebone, 40, will go to Prince Charles’s residence on Tuesday morning with a letter appealing to the Prince to help stop Botswana’s violent regime against the country’s indigenous Bushmen.
British barrister Gordon Bennett will join Gakelebone at Clarence House, in his first meeting with his Bushman clients since being banned from Botswana in 2013. Bennett was barred after he and the Bushmen won three court cases against the Botswana government’s persecution of the tribe.
Prince Charles first met with the Kalahari Bushmen during a trip to Botswana with his friend and mentor Sir Laurens van der Post in 1987. Sir Laurens was Prince William’s godfather.
He later wrote, ‘What I discovered was the profound and intuitive ties that bind the Bushmen to their land; their awareness of the workings of the natural world and of the delicate balance between life, physical surroundings and inner spirituality that they had maintained for so long in the harshest of environments… The Bushman is an innocent victim of what, far too glibly, too many of us would call ‘progress’… We all lose if the Bushman disappears.’ (*)
The Bushmen’s letter to Prince Charles states, ‘We have survived alongside the animals of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve since the beginning of time. We know how to look after them and we hunt them for our survival, not for entertainment like many tourists from your country do. We know that you walked with Mr Laurens van der Post and Bushmen a long time ago. You know who we are. We are begging you to talk with President Khama, and ask him to stop persecuting us the Bushmen. Let us live and hunt on our ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve like our fathers and their fathers before them. We want our children to live off the fat of this land, in peace’.
Source : Survival International
Recent developments have shown that violations of human rights in the Land of Papua have continued to occur systematically for the past fifty years, that is to say since 1963. This makes it even more crucial for investigations to take place as stipulated in Articles 18 and 19 of Law 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts.
Similar investigations have been undertaken by the National Human Rights Commission in accordance with Article 44, paras (1) and (2) of Law 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for the Province of West Papua.
However, although investigations have been carried out by the National Human Rights Commission, it does not mean that such an investigation should not be carried out throughout the whole of the territory of West Papua by a special rapporteur of the United Nations.
This is clearly required bearing in mind the speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Moana Carcassess at the UN General Assembly in September last year, as well as statements that were made in the presence of the Secretary-General of the UN and the chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council on 4 March this year. In his speech, the Vanuatu Prime Minister called on the UN to appoint a special mission to undertake an investigation of the systematic human rights violations that have occurred in West Papua in the past fifty years, which have become even more systematic in the recent past.
Speaking as a human rights defender who is active in the Land of Papua, I strongly urge the UN Secretary-General and the UN Human Rights Council to carry out an investigation into human rights violations which have occurred in West Papua during the past fifty years and call on the UN Secretary-General and the UN Human Rights Council to draft a resolution calling for an investigation of human rights violations in the Land of Papua over the past fifty years.
The National Human Rights Commission should also be able to undertake such in investigation as an independent agency, which should also involve civil society organisations which operate in the Land of Papua.
Speaking also as a recipient of the John Humprey Freedom Award in Canada in 2005, I would like to call upon President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to guarantee unfettered access for such an investigation throughout the Land of Papua. This should also include giving access to organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and TAPOL to carry out such an investigation in accordance with international standards that are acceptable in accordance with the rule of law around the world.
I strongly believe that with the goodwill of the SBY government and support from the indigenous Papuan people, a decision taken by the Indonesian government along these lines would help restore social and political reconciliation. This can only be achieved if it is done within the context of the Special Autonomy Law of 2001 and its stipulations on human rights and if undertaken in accordance with basic human rights values that are applicable both nationally and internationally.
source : Indigenous Peoples issues and resources
Requirements to mitigate impacts remain unmet; Indigenous peoples call for immediate suspension of construction
Altamira, Brazil: As the hurried construction of the controversial Belo Monte Dam nears 50% completion on the Amazon's Xingu River, a new report revealed that more than 80% of legally required actions to mitigate project impacts on indigenous peoples and their territories are mired in noncompliance. The report coincides with renewed protests among local indigenous groups over the failure of the Norte Energia (NESA) dam consortium and federal government agencies to fulfill legal obligations to protect their lands and livelihoods from the devastating impacts unleashed by Belo Monte.
According to the report by the Brazilian NGO Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) – which cites official information published by regulatory agencies that take part in the licensing process – only 15% of key actions to ensure the territorial rights of indigenous peoples affected by Belo Monte have been effectively implemented, citing grave negligence on the part of the NESA dam consortium and government agencies. This includes demarcation, enforcement and removal of illegal occupants on their tribal lands. As a result, indigenous lands have become increasingly vulnerable to illegal logging, hunting, fishing and deforestation for cattle pasture – pressures on natural resources that have been greatly intensified by the construction of Belo Monte.
Despite neglecting its legal responsibilities, NESA expects to receive a definitive operating licensing from IBAMA for Belo Monte by mid-2014.
"Indigenous territories and protected areas are important sections of forest, rich in biodiversity, which suffer immense pressure from the arrival of large projects like Belo Monte," said ISA lawyer Biviany Rojas. "Measures to protect these territories should be preventive in their nature, before the start of expected impacts. To leave protective measures and territorial surveillance until after damage is done risks their losing meaning and effectiveness."
The meeting on Feb. 14 brought together 300 indigenous leaders, the federal government and Norte Energia
According to a declaration issued last week by nine indigenous groups, one of the most serious examples of negligence in Belo Monte concerns a formal agreement between NESA and the federal indigenous agency FUNAI, guaranteeing financial resources for an action plan to mitigate impacts on indigenous peoples. The agreement was to have been signed by July 2011, but three years after the beginning of dam construction it still doesn't exist. In the meantime, NESA created a scaled-down "operational plan" without indigenous participation.
"Our principal demand is that Brazil's judicial order be respected, that the law be followed," states a letter from indigenous leadership. "Norte Energia doesn't lack technical capacity, money, or political influence to implement [mitigation measures]. What it lacks is will, interest, and respect for indigenous peoples and the law."
The ISA report also notes that NESA has neglected its obligations to strengthen the institutional presence of FUNAI in the Xingu region, for the agency to fulfill its constitutional mission to protect indigenous peoples and their lands, which includes monitoring the implementation of Belo Monte. Due to a lack of institutional capacity, FUNAI has not issued a monitoring report on Belo Monte since May 2013; meanwhile, the federal environmental agency IBAMA has dismissed the indigenous component of its bi-annual evaluations of Belo Monte as "non-pertinent."
After occupying NESA headquarters in the city of Altamira for nearly a week, indigenous protestors demanded a meeting with NESA, FUNAI president Maria Augusta Assirati and other authorities. At the meeting held in Altamira on February 14th, representatives of the nine tribes called on FUNAI to immediately revoke its endorsement of Belo Monte's installation license. A local representative of Brazil Federal Public Prosecutors Office, also in attendance, supported the demand. Assirati responded by promising that FUNAI will sign a satisfactory agreement with NESA by mid-March, two and a half years overdue, or the agency will adopt "much harsher" measures.
Source : International Rivers Network
The Amungme, like other highland Papuan tribes, have faced serious human rights violations at the hands of Indonesian soldiers.
A speech by two Papuan activists which was being broadcast live on the internet mysteriously went silent when they started to denounce Indonesian human rights atrocities.
The two were special guests at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Oregon, the world’s most important environmental law conference.
The Papuans are members of the Amungme tribe, whose land is home to Grasberg, the world’s biggest copper and gold mine. They were highlighting the problems facing the tribe in the face of massive environmental damage and human rights violations.
Indonesia has occupied Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) since 1963, and more than 100,000 Papuans are believed to have been killed since then.
In 2010, the website of tribal rights organization Survival international was attacked and temporarily taken offline after it posted shocking video of Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuan tribal people. Other organizations who posted the footage were also attacked.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry, in a separate speech at the conference, highlighted the role of ‘conservation’ in the continuing destruction of tribal peoples, and showed how conservation theories grew with ‘scientific’ racism, which underpinned colonial genocides and the Holocaust.
He also denounced the false claims, promoted by popular science writers Steven Pinker and Jared Diamond amongst others, that tribal and indigenous peoples are ‘like our ancestors’, and ‘more violent’ than us.
Source : West Papua media news
Having fought tirelessly against the unlawful Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam, the indigenous Ngäbe communities on the banks of Panama’s Tabasará river are today threatened with forced eviction at the hands of Panama’s notoriously brutal security forces.
The 29 MW dam, built by a Honduran-owned energy company, Genisa, received funding from three development banks: the Dutch FMO, the German DEG, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CBIE). The project was approved by the Panamanian government without the free, prior, and informed consent of the affected indigenous communities, who now stand to lose their homes, their livelihoods, and their cultural heritage.
Aside from providing precious sustenance in the form of fish and shrimp staples, and as well as supplying rich silt loam ideal for plantain cultivation, the Tabasará river symbolizes the spiritual lifeblood of the Ngäbe communities on its banks, including the community of Kiadba.
Earlier this year, Kiadba hosted a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ‘discovery’ of the Ngäbe writing system. Bestowed in dreams and visions to the followers of the prophetess Besiko – a young woman who sparked a Ngäbe religious movement called Mama Tata – the written language of Ngäbere is today disseminated in only a handful of schools, including the educational facility in Kiadba.
Attended by hundreds of followers, the conference culminated in a solemn ritual at the site of ancient petroglyphs on the river, whose abstract carvings describe myths and history of the river, including the story of a Tabasará King, who ruled the region prior to the Spanish conquest. Neither the petroglyphs nor Kiadba’s language school are cited in Genisa’s impact assessment – a deeply flawed document according to a UN study in 2012, which concluded that both would be lost forever under reservoir waters if construction of the dam was completed.
Facing the threat of inundation, the Ngäbe have now established blockades and camps on the river bank to prevent Genisa’s machinery from encroaching on their land. The company recently crossed the water to an 800m wide strip dividing the communities of Kiadba and Quebrada Caña, and commenced felling lumber in the gallery forests. The government has now issued a formal warning demanding that the Ngäbe vacate their lands – today, 17 February 2014, is their deadline.
Sadly, there have been episodic clashes between the police and Panama’s indigenous minorities throughout the four year tenure of President Ricardo Martinelli, who is set to stand down after elections in May. All of those incidents have resulted in injuries to unarmed protesters, and in several shameful instances, permanent injury or death. Despite the disturbing ease with which Panama’s security forces commit acts of violence, the Ngäbe are standing firm. They ask solidarity and vigilance from the international community at this uncertain time.
Source : Indigenous Peoples Magazine
Loud protests at an anti-poaching conference in London today highlighted the devastating impact of a hunting ban on Africa’s last hunting Bushmen in Botswana. Ian Khama, President of Botswana, was reported to be attending alongside Prince Charles and Prince William.
Protesters outside the ‘London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014’, chanted slogans and carried placards reading ‘Botswana: Bushmen hunters are not poachers’.
Botswana is persecuting the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the name of wildlife conservation by stopping them from hunting game. But the Bushmen pose no threat to the wildlife of the CKGR, alongside which they have lived sustainably for centuries.
The Botswana government’s hypocrisy was recently exposed by revelations that large parts of the CKGR have been leased out for fracking, and a mine by Gem Diamonds is projected to start operations inside the CKGR in October 2014.
A 2006 high court ruling confirmed the Bushmen’s right to live and hunt in the CKGR, but the government continues to intimidate, torture and arrest Bushmen for hunting. The majority of Bushmen are forced to apply for restrictive permits to enter their ancestral land in the CKGR – a policy which has been likened to the hated Pass Laws under apartheid South Africa.
A high court judge involved in the 2006 court case said that the government’s refusal to allow the Bushmen to hunt ‘was tantamount to condemning the [Bushmen] to death by starvation.’
Survival has launched a travel boycott of Botswana and an ad campaign highlighting the government’s drive to deport the Bushmen from their land. The boycott has been supported by thousands of travelers and by celebrities Gillian Anderson, Quentin Blake, Joanna Lumley, Sophie Okonedo, and Mark Rylance.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘President Khama should not hide the persecution of the Bushmen behind the mask of conservation. To ban the Bushmen from hunting while at the same time opening up the reserve to fracking and mining is sheer hypocrisy.’
source : Survival International
Which Brazilian tribal women suckle orphaned monkeys? Which North American Indian women have enjoyed equal status with men for centuries?
Tribal women have known brutal displacement, fear, murder and rape at the hands of invaders for generations. They have seen their lands taken from them, their self-respect annihilated and their futures become uncertain.
Survival’s gallery includes the stories of:
- Pocahontas, a Powhatan Indian who married an Englishman and was introduced to King James I in London during the 17th century;
Angata, an indigenous leader from Easter Island, who stirred rebellion against their Chilean colonists;
- Damiana Cavanha, a Guarani woman from Brazil who recently spearheaded a courageous take-over of the Guarani’s ancestral lands;
- Little Butterfly, a young girl from the nomadic Awá people, the Earth’s most threatened tribe.
Sophie Grig, senior campaigner at Survival International, said, ‘Tribal women have complex, evolving societies that flourish when they are able to pursue the self-sufficient and diverse ways of life they have developed over centuries.
‘The gallery shows some of the courageous women who are fighting for their lands to be returned to them and for their fundamental human rights. Survival’s work has been preventing the annihilation of tribal women and their communities for the last 45 years.’
Source : Survival International
Peru has approved the highly controversial expansion of the Camisea gas project onto the land of uncontacted Amazon tribes – despite international outrage, the resignation of three ministers, and condemnation by the United Nations and international human rights organizations.
Peru’s Ministry of Culture, tasked with protecting the country’s indigenous population, has approved plans by oil and gas giants Pluspetrol (Argentina), Hunt Oil (US) and Repsol (Spain) to detonate thousands of explosive charges, drill exploratory wells and allow hundreds of workers to flood into the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, located just 100km from Machu Picchu.
The expansion could decimate the uncontacted tribes living in the reserve, as any contact between gas workers and the Indians is likely to result in the spread of diseases or epidemics to which the Indians lack immunity.
Pluspetrol itself recognizes the devastating impact the expansion could have. In its ‘Anthropological Contingency Plan’ the company states that any diseases transmitted by workers could cause ‘prolonged periods of illness, massive deaths, and, in the best cases, long periods of recovery.’
When oil giant Shell first started explorations in the area, it led to the death of nearly half the Nahua tribe. One Nahua man recounted, ‘Many, many people died. People dying everywhere, like fish after a stream has been poisoned. People left to rot along stream banks, in the woods, in their houses. That terrible illness!’
The project violates Peruvian and international laws which require the consent of any projects carried out on tribal peoples’ land.
Last year, protests were held around the world to stop the expansion of Camisea, and more than 131,000 Survival supporters have sent a message to Peru’s President Humala demanding a halt to the oil and gas work on uncontacted tribes’ land. Today, Survival handed the list of the thousands of petition signatures to the Peruvian embassy in London.
As a result of the high profile campaign by tribal rights organization Survival International, local organizations AIDESEP, FENAMAD, COMARU and ORAU, and others, to stop the expansion, seismic testing has been averted from riverways and the location of one well was moved from the land of an isolated tribe.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Thirty years ago workers prospecting for the Camisea deposit penetrated deep into the territory of the Nahua people – and soon after, half the tribe were wiped out by flu and similar diseases. Has the Peruvian government really learnt nothing from history, that it is prepared to risk this happening again for the sake of a few more gas wells?’
Source : Survival International
USA (24 January 2014) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, today met with Leonard Peltier at the federal penitentiary located in Coleman, Florida where Mr. Peltier is incarcerated.
Mr. Peltier is an activist and leader in the American Indian Movement and was convicted in 1977 following the deaths of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during a clash on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. After a trial that has been criticized by many as involving numerous due process problems, Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences for murder, and has been denied parole on various occasions. Pleas for presidential consideration of clemency by notable individuals and institutions have not borne fruit.
In his 2012 report, "The situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America", Professor Anaya recommended that measures of reconciliation with the country's indigenous peoples should include efforts to identify and heal particular sources of open wounds that they continue to experience, including new or renewed consideration for clemency for Leonard Peltier.
Source : UN
A Mapuche Indian leader who became the face of Chile's environmental movement was found floating in a reservoir she spent a decade trying to prevent from being created, and authorities said Wednesday they were awaiting autopsy results although the death appeared accidental.
While there was no official cause of death yet for Nicolesa Quintreman, a 73-year-old who was nearly blind, prosecutor Carlos Diaz said that "she apparently slipped, fell into the lake and died."
"Police informed me that from first glance and based on their expertise, the cadaver showed no signs of injury attributable to third persons," Diaz told Radio Bio Bio.
Quintreman was found Tuesday, a day after she went missing. Forensic pathologists returned the body to her family Wednesday in preparation for a funeral Friday. A day of mourning was declared in the community of Alto Biobio.
With her sister Berta, Quintreman became a national figure in Chile during protests against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on tribal land in the forested mountains of southern Chile. They led a
public fight against the European power company Endesa at a time when Chile's environmental enforcement was lax and its indigenous protection law wasn't closely followed.
"I'm going to tell it like it is. My sister fell into the lake, she won't ever come back," Berta Quintreman said, her voice breaking, in a radio interview. "This company should leave, and pull everything out. I
want to emphasize this point — things have to keep progressing because my sister was a tireless fighter, and now my sister has left me all alone."
Hundreds of other families supported the women initially, but gradually gave in to the pressure and traded their land for other properties beyond the flood zone. Finally, Nicolesa Quintreman also traded her
small plot in 2002 for an undisclosed sum and a larger property 9 miles (15 kilometers) away.
"People who said they were my friends abandoned me," she said then. "If they had stayed with me, I could have kept up the fight."
The project authorized by the center-left government of President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagble then flooded the Mapuches' valley, generating more of the electricity Chile needed to power a growing economy.
The Quintreman sisters remained known as the founders of a new environmental movement in far southern Chile, one that now counts on the support of many international civic groups, which have gone to court to stop the construction of more dams. Among those being challenged is the HidroAysen project, which would block some of the world's last free-flowing rivers and carve a path through the forests for
high-tension power lines running for thousands of miles.
Source : Associated Press
On 5th December, Wilmar International, one of Asia’s biggest agribusiness corporations and the world’s biggest palm oil trader, announced a broad new environmental and social policy, including a commitment to no deforestation and the principle of Free, Prior Informed Consent when dealing with indigenous communities.
As these new ethical criteria would apply not only to Wilmar’s own plantations but also other companies who supply the palm oil, sugar and soy that Wilmar trades, it would seem that this pledge might have a big effect on the plantation industry’s environmental record – especially for palm oil where Wilmar controls 45% of world trade.
The question is, will it be implemented? This new policy was launched at the same time as a deal between Wilmar and food and household products giant Unilever, which has its own target to only use traceable palm oil by the end of 2014. As more multinationals come under pressure to use less environmentally-damaging ingredients, the commercial benefits to Wilmar of appearing to be an environmental leader are clear.
However the company has frequently been accused of violating ethical standards that is has signed up to in the past – for example as a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and recipient of funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation(IFC). That means many groups with experience of the company’s track record are sceptical about this new commitment.
PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara: a test of whether the new policy is serious.
In West Papua Wilmar has plans for two 40,000 hectare sugar-cane plantations in Merauke and two more in neighbouring Mappi regency, and these could be a key test for the company’s new policy. If these plantations for ahead, they will clearly contravene the ethical standards. Let’s take a look at the situation with PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara (PT ARN), one of those plantations:
No deforestation. Wilmar has committed to end deforestation in High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value forest. The definition is quite broad and includes most forest that has not been cleared within the last ten years. PT ARN’s concession is an ecologically-rich area, largely forested, with some grassland and swamps.
No peat. Wilmar says it will not start plantations on peat of any depth. Data from Wetlands International shows intermittent shallow and medium peat within PT ARN’s concession.
Respect the rights of local and indigenous people to give or withhold their Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC). PT ARN has been trying to convince communities in the area to hand over their land for two years now, but many people are still determinedly opposed. A recent study in four villages affected by PT ARN revealed that the company was falling far short of FPIC principles. Where people have clearly not consented, the company keeps making its approaches, until the community feels it really has no choice. Often Wilmar only speaks with community and clan leaders individually, which was causing the seeds of conflict within the village. Security forces brought to discussions also have an intimidating effect. There are other tools of deception too – in one village PT ARN’s Public Relations Manager even pretended to be a priest to get the people’s support.
Wilmar’s policy covers a number of other areas, such as workers’ rights and dealing with land conflict. The full text can be read here.
What about the Ganda Group?
Wilmar commits itself to stop deforestation and development on peat immediately, and will not start buying from any suppliers who are deforesting or developing peat. Existing suppliers have until the end of 2015 to comply. Of particular interest is to see how this will affect the Ganda Group (Agro Mandiri Semesta Plantations), a palm oil company which sells its produce to Wilmar.
Wilmar has a special relationship with Ganda Group, which is owned by Ganda Sitorus, the younger brother of Wilmar founder Martua Sitorus. In recent years the Ganda Group have taken over plantations which do not meet Wilmar’s previous ethical commitments to the RSPO and IFC. The most notorious case is in Jambi, Sumatra, where after going through the motions of two years of IFC-facilitated mediation to resolve a land conflict with the indigenous Suku Anak Dalam Batin Sembilan, Wilmar suddenly sold it’s subsidiary PT Asiatic Persada to the Ganda Group, rather than abide by any agreements produced by that mediation. On Saturday 7th December, the Ganda Group once again violently evicted Suku Anak Dalam communities which had reoccupied their ancestral land in the plantation.
The Ganda Group also has plans for two plantations in Merauke: PT Agrinusa Persada Mulia and PT Agriprima Cipta Persada. These companies are also accused of deceiving local villagers and paying shockingly low compensation rates, as well as clearing forest for an oil palm nursery before receiving a plantation permit. The plantations, which also involve clearing natural forest, would clearly not meet the RSPO standards which Wilmar has signed up to in its bid to be seen as a responsible company, but the Ganda Group is unencumbered by such commitments.
However now Wilmar’s policy states that it it won’t be buying from companies that are clearing forests. Does that mean the Ganda Group are going to have to look elsewhere to sell their tainted palm oil?
AwasMIFEE wrote to Wilmar on 6th December to ask whether its new ethical policy would mean that it would be cancelling its plans in Merauke. No response was received by the time this article was published.
source : West Papua Media Alerts
Tama tu tama ora (those who stand live) – Raglan Maori are asserting their rights over their customary fishing waters, as oil multinational Anadarko has started their drilling process off the west coast of New Zealand. Angeline Greensill, the environmental spokeswoman for Tainui hapu, has disclosed the possibility of a trespass notice and legal action against the Texas oil corporation.
They are actually within our customary fishing area of the whole west coast, so we're just contemplating going out ourselves. They need to be served notice that they are trespassing on our rohe moana (ocean boundary). (1)
It has been a frustrating time for Raglan Maori, as they were not informed of Anadarko’s ultra-deep sea oil drilling plans; the first drift of news came through an article in the Waikato Times.
Greensill is highly disappointed that Tainui wasn’t mentioned or informed by the government in regards to corporate drilling off the West Coast, a move that evidently undermines the Treaty relationship between Maori and the Crown under Treaty of Waitangi.
We have not been consulted as Tainui... As far as we are concerned, we are the community affected and we have a say. (2)
The threat posed to the New Zealand environment and Iwi customary fishing waters is not worth the corporate capital promised by the government. 1520m is the mammoth depth that Anadarko is aiming to drill towards, with ultra-deep sea oil drilling (1500m or deeper) bringing a 1 in 19 chance of a major oil spill.
The site will be the deepest oil well ever drilled in New Zealand. Coupled with the fact that it’s off the tough West Coast, New Zealand’s Maritime oil spill response is ill-equipped which makes this an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Anadarko’s drilling ship, the Nobel Bob Douglas, started drilling today at 2.30am.
Raglan Maori are not alone in their protest against Anadarko and the New Zealand government. A Greenpeace flotilla of six small boats has been protesting around the site since Anadarko’s drilling ship arrived in the area. There is strong solidarity with the local community, and the flotilla is staying put in defiance to the government’s partnership with the Texas oil giant. Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said that the New Zealand government...
"...and Anadarko have made a big hoo-ha about how incredibly careful they're being and how the industry's been put through the wringer, which frankly is a load of rubbish, so we'll see if they're just going to go ahead and drill." (3)
In light of the Greenpeace flotilla, Angeline Greensill said that the protesting yachts were "really making a difference.”
Two days ago, Gareth Hughes, from the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, released a statement regarding the risk to the environment. The Greens have been a big supporter of Maori indigenous rights and guardianship over land and water.
“New Zealand waters are a lot rougher than the Gulf of Mexico, and help is very far away if anything goes wrong, so the Government should not be allowing risky deep sea drilling to happen off our coast.” (4)
There is no doubt that local Maori will never give up in the protection of their customary fishing waters. It was only last year that East Coast Maori managed to ward off Brazilian oil giant Petrobras with their partner, Greenpeace. There is now a growing accord throughout the NZ public that emanates solidarity with Maori and the sustainable guardianship of the environment. The weekend just witnessed mass protests on West Coast beaches with ‘Banners on the Beach’ gathering thousands of people in opposition to deep sea oil drilling.
If one thing is certain, the fervor of indigenous tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) is just getting warmed up. Whether it is through haka (war dance), songs, flotillas, hikoi (mass land march) or through the legal system, Maori have no intention of backing down. This will remain true, even if the government’s oil deal with Anadarko is merely the beginning of a courting process that is bound to shape geopolitics post-TPP (Trans-Pacific-Partnership).
source : Intercontinental Cry
Six Waorani Indians have been arrested over the killing last April of an unknown number of uncontacted Taromenane Indians in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park.
The Waorani and Taromenane are inter-related tribes from Ecuador’s east Amazon region. Waorani were contacted and settled into communities by missionaries from the 1950s, but the Taromenane continue to resist all contact with mainstream society.
The alleged attack occurred in April 2013 following the murder of a Waorani couple, Ompore Omeway and his wife Buganei Cayga.
The Waorani have been charged with entering the Taromenane’s forest and carrying out a revenge attack.
It is also alleged that two children were captured during the attack. One of the children has since been taken into police custody; the other is reported to be in hospital.
Ecuador’s government has been heavily criticised for its failure to prevent the revenge killings of the Taromenane that many had predicted.
Indigenous organizations in the country have blamed the intense oil exploration and drilling in the area and the illegal colonization of Waorani lands for exacerbating inter-ethnic tensions, and for bringing once-separate groups into close proximity.
In November, President Rafael Correa opened up the Yasuni Park to oil exploration following a failed attempt to gather international support and finance to protect the land and keep the oil underground.
Source : Survival International
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the region’s top human rights body, has called for the forced relocation of thousands of tribal people in Ethiopia to be halted, and has raised concerns over the denial of rights of Botswana’s Bushmen.
The Commission urged Ethiopia to stop the forced resettlement of the Lower Omo Valley tribes to make way for vast plantations, while it investigates allegations of human rights violations.
Ethiopia’s policy of ‘villagization’ is enforced by the military, and numerous reports of killings, beating, rapes, and imprisonment of local tribal people have surfaced – which both Ethiopia’s largest single donors, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and USAID, are aware of.
A recent report, ‘Ignoring abuse in Ethiopia: DFID and USAID in the Lower Omo Valley’ by the Oakland Institute, revealed that despite investigations by the donor agencies which uncovered grave human rights violations, the agencies failed to take any action and have called the allegations ‘unsubstantiated’.
The report further states, ‘These agencies give virtually unconditional financial, political, and moral support to the Ethiopian government and DFID currently spends a larger proportion of its overseas aid budget on Ethiopia than any other country … they are wilful accomplices and supporters of a development strategy that will have irreversible devastating impacts on the environment and natural resources and will destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people.’
The ACHPR has also sent an ‘urgent appeal’ to the President of Botswana for denying the Bushmen their right to legal counsel. The Bushmen’s lawyer Gordon Bennett was barred in July from entering the country ahead of a vital court case concerning the Bushmen’s right to their land.
The Botswana government is doing everything in its power to drive the Bushmen from their land: as a result, Survival International has called for tourists to boycott the country. Recent revelations of large-scale fracking concessions on Bushman land have reinforced fears that the government is clearing the area for natural resource extraction.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘If they won’t listen to international protests, perhaps Ethiopia and Botswana may at least listen to what the African Commission has to say. Otherwise both countries risk becoming pariahs in the public’s eyes.’
Source : Survival International
Peru’s Ministry of Culture (MINCU) has issued a report that blocks, at least temporarily, the expansion of the country’s biggest gas project in the Amazon rainforest in a Reserve set aside for the protection of isolated indigenous peoples.
One of the reasons given by MINCU is that the company leading the expansion of the Camisea gas project, Pluspetrol, wants to conduct 3D seismic tests in a region which it ‘assumes’ – on the basis of its own fieldwork and previous studies – is inhabited by indigenous Machiguenga people who live in ‘isolation’ from outsiders and are at ‘high risk’ from introduced diseases to which they have little or no immunity.
As a result, MINCU requests the modification of the area scheduled for 3D seismic testing ‘in such a way that the probable populations in isolation will have adequate protection’.
However, the block is only temporary as MINCU’s report, dated 27 November 2013, follows a much more detailed MINCU evaluation, dated 11 July 2013, which ‘disappeared’ within hours of being made public and was later officially downgraded. The July report warned that Pluspetrol’s expansion plans could make Nanti and Kirineri indigenous people living in ‘isolation’ ‘extinct’, and could ‘devastate’ Nahua indigenous people living in ‘initial contact.’
Instead, much of the latest report is concerned with the fact that, in its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Pluspetrol underestimates the impacts its operations will have and must explain how it intends to mitigate such impacts.
Indeed, the November report makes no mention of ‘isolated’ people in the south of Lot 88 where the 2D seismic tests are planned thereby implying that no such people exist, nor does it recommend exclusion of other areas of the Reserve from seismic testing and drilling which are known to be inhabited by other isolated peoples.
As a result, the report has faced severe criticism including a briefing issued by the MINCU official who authorized the July report and resigned in the wake of its downgrade.
The briefing highlights a series of methodological and technical shortcomings with the latest assessment including its failure to consider the impact on all the peoples within the Reserve and even for bringing into question the existence of some of its isolated inhabitants.
It concludes that the November report ‘sets a precedent to remove the untouchability of the Reserve, therefore proceeding to authorize the company’s activities’.
“Modifying the location of the 3D seismic tests is important”, says Joji Cariño, director of the international human rights NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP). ‘However, if Peru is to meet its national and international legal obligations to respect indigenous peoples’ rights the assessment must insist that Pluspetrol abandon its expansion plans altogether.’
74% of Pluspetrol’s concession, Lot 88, overlaps a supposedly ‘untouchable’ reserve for indigenous peoples in ‘voluntary isolation’ and ‘initial contact’, as Peruvian law refers to them. In addition to the 3D seismic tests, which will involve detonating 1000s of explosives underground, Pluspetrol wants to conduct 2D seismic tests, drill 18 exploratory wells at six different locations, and build a 10.5 km flowline.
In order for Pluspetrol to go ahead with its expansion plans, its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be approved by MINCU. MINCU’s July report stated that the planned wells and 2D seismic tests, as well as the 3D seismic tests, posed serious, ‘critical’ threats to the indigenous people in ‘voluntary isolation’ and ‘initial contact’, including ‘extinction’ and ‘devastation.’
In March this year, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Peruvian government to ‘immediately suspend’ the expansion of the proposed gas development. Operations in Lot 88 are run by a consortium led by Pluspetrol and include Hunt Oil and Repsol.
source : Forest Peoples org.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami says the World Trade Organization's decision to uphold a European Union ban on seal products is outrageous.
ITK, which represents 55,000 Inuit Canadians, says the EU ban is discriminatory against Inuit.
Although the ban exempts Inuit hunters, ITK president Terry Audla says it's not working because the exemption was never negotiated directly with Inuit.
"They are taking away the market, and what do Inuit have left?" Audla said. "It's something that we have always been arguing, that the market can't be taken away, that Inuit have the right as indigenous hunters to be able to put food on the table."
The president of the Canadian Sealing Association, Eldred Woodfordagrees that the exemption is useless.
"How the seal market works, is that the Inuit only harvest a small number of animals and provides a small number of products," Woodford said. "Unless you have a decent commercial hunt elsewhere to provide the needed marketing of those products, the exemption will be useless, even to Inuit hunters."
The World Trade Organization report says since the ban came into effect in 2010, only Inuit in Greenland have applied for the exemption.
While the panel found that the ban violated the international trade agreement, it was valid because of a controversial public morals clause.
Aaju Peter, an Inuit activist and a member of the Sealing Network, said that saddened her.
"To me what is really immoral is having Inuit communities go hungry, the hunter's feeding the communities themselves," she said.
Yukon MP calls ban discriminatory
In parliament today, Yukon MP Ryan Leef said the battle isn't over.
"The European Union has placed a discriminatory ban against seal products. Our government will continue to fight for the Canadian seal hunt in whatever arena possible," Leef said.
"We are proud to protect a traditional, sustainable and historic way of life for Canadian sealers across this great country."
The Canadian government says it will take advantage of a 60-day window in which to appeal the World Trade Organization's decision.
Source : CBC
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the assassination of iconic Guarani leader Marçal de Souza Tupã-i, Survival International has released shocking new figures exposing the extent of violence suffered by Brazil’s Guarani tribe at the hands of gunmen.
According to Brazilian NGO CIMI, the majority of Indians killed in Brazil are Guarani. In 2012, the rate of assassinations of Guarani was 4 times that of Brazil’s national homicide rate – which is already one of the highest in the world.
Guarani leader Marçal spearheaded the Guarani’s struggle for their land and brought the tribe’s plight to the attention of Pope John Paul II and the United Nations. He was killed on November 25, 1983, by a gunman reported to have been hired by a local rancher.
Before his death, Marçal said, ’I’m marked to die … We Indians live here and suffer injustice, poverty, persecution and hunger because the land we occupy doesn’t allow us to survive.’
30 years on, the Guarani continue to fall victim to violence and targeted attacks by gunmen following the tribe’s attempts to reoccupy their ancestral lands, which were stolen for ranches and sugar cane plantations. Despite national and international legal obligations, the lands have not been returned to the Indians.
Rosalino Ortiz, a Guarani man who led the reoccupation of his community’s land at Yvy Katu last month, told Survival, ‘Things are very tense now. The landowners are rich and have money to contract gunmen to carry out a massacre in Yvy Katu.’
Local ranchers have announced that they are raising more money to be used against the land reoccupations; the Guarani fear these funds will finance ‘armed militia groups’ such as the notorious security firm Gaspem.
As a result of the violence and loss of their land, the Guarani’s suicide rate is 34 times Brazil’s national average. The most recent suicide victim was Valmir Veron – the son of Marcos Veron, another iconic Guarani who was assassinated by gunmen in 2003.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘Guarani leaders are being assassinated one by one. It’s little wonder given that officials admit a cow is worth more than a Guarani life. These statistics are overwhelming, but we mustn’t forget there’s a very simple solution: uphold Guarani rights to their ancestral land. Brazil’s economy is set to receive an $11 billion injection of cash from World Cup tourists’ spending. Will any of these gains be used to help the country’s first peoples?’
Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a Yawanawá Indian from the Brazilian Amazon, came to London to learn English and in 2013 joined Survival International to speak out for indigenous rights. Nixiwaka plans to raise awareness of the threats to Amazon Indians ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2014, as Brazil continues its onslaught against indigenous peoples’ rights to their land.
The land of the Yawanawá – meaning ‘the People of the Wild Boar’ – is in Acre state, western Brazil, which is home to several tribes, including at least 6 that are uncontacted. Most rely on their lands to sustain themselves physically and culturally. All are threatened by a set of controversial draft bills, which would open up indigenous territories for mining, dams, army bases and other industrial projects.
In an exclusive interview for Survival International, Nixiwaka provides fascinating insights into the Yawanawá ways of life in the rainforest, the devastating impact that the introduction of alcohol had on his community, and his tribe’s strong sense of ecological responsibility.
Nixiwaka also reveals:
- How outsiders and missionaries forced the Yawanawá to change the way the tribe prayed, dressed and spoke and called their rituals the ‘devil’s work’
- The rainforest knowledge of Amazon Indians: e.g. the sap of a plant concoction called ‘Hukâshupa’ is worn as a perfume to attract a lover
- Yawanawá recipes: include a typical lunch of manioc, green bananas and mashed plantain
- Nixiwaka’s perceptions of London: a city ‘rich in history and filled with ghosts’.
- His views on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest
- His plea, in the run up to FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, for the Brazilian government to respect the rights of tribal peoples such as the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe
Nixiwaka Yawanawá said, ‘Our land is our home, our house. It is our friend, our comrade. We have a lot of respect for our land, and we have a responsibility to look after it.’
‘Survival is very important for tribes like ours, as it is a promise of change. We are not backward, or primitive: it is now time we make our own decisions.’
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, said, ‘Nixiwaka’s worldviews are representative of many tribes not only in Brazil but the world over who have been brutally oppressed – and even driven to extinction – by material greed, racist policies and the march of so-called ‘progress’.
‘With all eyes on Brazil in 2014 it is essential to remember that Brazil’s economic advancement comes at a price; one that has involved the lands and lives of Indians for centuries. Real ‘progress’ actually starts with recognising the diversity of tribal peoples and respecting their human rights’.
Notes to Editors:
Nixiwaka Yawanawá is available for interview
- A proposed constitutional amendment would give Brazil’s Congress – heavily influenced by the anti-indigenous farming lobby – the power to participate in the demarcation of indigenous lands.
- More high-res photographs of Nixiwaka in London are available to download here.
Source : Survival International
Guarani Indian leader and film-star Ambrósio Vilhalva was murdered on Sunday night, after decades of campaigning for his tribe’s right to live on their ancestral land.
Ambrósio was reportedly stabbed at the entrance to his community, known as Guyra Roká, in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state. He was found dead in his hut, with multiple knife wounds. He had been repeatedly threatened in recent months.
Ambrósio starred as the main character in the award-winning feature film Birdwatchers, which portrays the Guarani’s desperate struggle for their land. He traveled internationally to speak out about the tribe’s plight, and to push the Brazilian government into protecting Guarani land, as it is legally obliged to do.
He said, ‘This is what I most hope for: land and justice… We will live on our ancestral land; we will not give up’.
The Guarani of Guyra Roká were evicted from their land decades ago by ranchers. For years they lived destitute on the roadside. In 2007 they re-occupied part of their ancestral land, and now live on a fraction of their territory, but most has been cleared for enormous sugar cane plantations. One of the principal landowners involved is powerful local politician José Teixeira. The Guarani are left with almost nothing.
Ambrósio spoke out passionately against the planting of sugar cane on his community’s land, and against Raízen, a joint venture between Shell and Cosan which used the sugar cane for biofuel production. His community’s campaign with Survival International forced Raízen not to use sugar cane grown on Guarani land.
A Guarani spokesman told Survival today, ‘Ambrósio fought hard against the sugar cane. He was one of our main leaders, always at the forefront of our struggle, so he was being threatened. He was an extremely important figure in the Guarani land campaign, and now, we’ve lost him’.
The police are investigating the killing, and two suspects have reportedly been detained.
Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Guarani have one of the highest murder rates in the world and land theft is at the heart of all the violence. In spite of this, the land demarcation process is stalling – the authorities are doing far too little to challenge ranchers who have taken the tribe’s ancestral land. How many more gruesome killings must the Guarani suffer before their territory is mapped out and protected?’
Source : Survival International
Just two days after UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya's Canadian tour concluded, hundreds of RCMP officers raided a peaceful Mik’maq protest camp at SWN Resources Canada's proposed shale gas development site near Rexton, N.B.
As revealed by a continuous stream of videos and photos on twitter and facebook, The RCMP, --enforcing an injunction that was obtained by SWN Resources Canada--came prepared for a war. In one photo that appeared early in the day, an RCMP Sniper is hiding in a ditch, possibly pointing his rifles at a woman.
In at least one instance, an RCMP officer attempted to incite a violent response from nearby protesters, saying "The Crown land belongs to the Govt, not the F*cking Natives."
Despite the heavy presence of children, women and elders, as the day rolled on, the RCMP indiscriminately shot tear gas, plastic bullets, and pepper spray at the protesters, leading to an unknown number of injuries.
The RCMP also blocked medical personnel from entering the area to tend to the injured.
At the time of this writing, the RCMP have arrested more than 40 people, including the Elsipogtog First Nation Chief, several journalists and all members of the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society. They are also enforcing a media blackout, preventing reporters from gaining access to the area and documenting possible human rights abuses.
Some protesters responded in kind. Earlier in the morning, "Molotov cocktails were thrown from the woods in defense of the land and peoples. The RCMP, some with long rifles, entered the woods. Shots were fired, and screaming was heard." reports EF! Newswire. Later on, a total of Six RCMP vehicles were set ablaze.
The RCMP raid is widely being considered a preemptive action to prevent the October 18 day of action that was issued 5 days ago by the Mik’maq Warriors Society.
In the call to action, Suzane Patles, an Ilnu woman and member of the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society calls for physical support at the blockade, solidarity actions across Turtle Island on Oct. 18th and a flooding of Kanadian official representatives' phone and mail lines in protest of the court injunction that the RCMP enforced today.
In response to today's raid, at least two additional solidarity blockades have been organized, Six Nations closing Highway 6 and Tobique First Nations blocking off the Trans Canada highway.
Numerous solidarity actions are also being organized across in Canada and the United States:
source : Intercontinental Cry
Some 150 indigenous people affected by the construction of the Belo Monte dam complex in the Brazilian Amazon occupied one of the project's principle work camps yesterday, halting construction activities on a section of the world's third largest dam. Members of the local Parakanã and Juruna indigenous communities blocked a main access road to demand that the dam-building consortium Norte Energia respect its obligation to remove land invaders from local indigenous territories in compliance with mandated conditions meant to mitigate the dam's serious socio-environmental impacts.
After negotiations with local authorities, indigenous leaders agreed to travel to Brasilia to meet today with President Rousseff's Chief of Staff Gilberto Carvalho and the President of Brazil's Indigenous Foundation FUNAI Maria Augusta Boulitreau Assirati in an effort to secure their demands.
The mobilization marks the eighth time Belo Monte has been occupied since 2012 as indigenous and local communities increasingly resort to direct action to attempt to force Norte Energia and the Brazilian government to recognize their legal and constitutional rights. After staging a 17-day occupation of Belo Monte in June, Amazonian indigenous leaders were flown to Brasilia to meet with a group of ministers including Mr. Carvalho, only to learn that the government would not meet their demands, nor respect their constitutional right to be consulted prior to the initiation of dam survey and construction activities.
Speaking of his meeting with FUNAI's President in June, indigenous leader Temekwareyma Parakanã said: "They promised to remove illegal settlers from our land by the 10th of September and we have come [to occupy the dam] to insure this is carried out."
Leaders from the Juruna Paquiçamba indigenous territory, one of the most affected by Belo Monte given its proximity to the dam's work camps and its placement on a devastated stretch of the Xingu River, are demanding that their territory be enlarged and protected from increasingly frequent invasions by outsiders.
The indigenous protestors contend that the removal of illegal settlers from their territories was a prerequisite of Belo Monte's construction, yet while the project has neared completion the invasion of their lands has only worsened. In a declaration issued before the occupation of the dam's work camp on the Xingu River, the Parakanã people state: "We are telling the federal government and Norte Energia that we are tired of waiting for you to resolve the fact that our lands have been invaded illegally by farmers, land grabbers, miners, loggers, and colonizers who for many years have destroyed our traditional territory, preventing us from hunting, planting, or caring for our children, while threatening our people...The government does not care about our territory, it does not care about indigenous people, it does not care about our suffering; it only cares about Belo Monte."
"This protest shows yet again the indignation of indigenous populations that have had their rights systematically disrespected," said Antonia Melo of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement. "Two years passed with no resolution nor implementation for protection of their lands as was promised. The government is leaving them in an extremely vulnerable situation while making it clear that they do not care about traditional populations."
The latest occupation comes at a time when the consortium faces mounting court challenges over its handling of legally required conditions placed upon the dam's environmental licensing, facing major fines if it continues to neglect its responsibility to the region's affected indigenous peoples. Brazil's Federal Public Prosecutors (MPF) have recently filed lawsuits demanding accountability from the Norte Energia consortium for noncompliance with mandated mitigation measures concerning local indigenous groups affected by Belo Monte. In a groundbreaking decision, the Federal Court of Pará State responded last week by giving Norte Energia 60 days to purchase the Juruna land and deliver health care or face daily fines of R$200,000 (US$87,000).
Since construction initiated on the mega-project in 2011, tens of thousands of people have migrated to the lower Xingu region in search of work. As only a small percentage of migrants have found direct employment on Belo Monte, many have sought alternative livelihoods in the region's protected areas, greatly exacerbating land conflicts and causing illegal deforestation to soar. While Norte Energia is required to mitigate these conflicts through the implementation of project "conditionalities" the consortium has reneged its responsibility, benefitting from lax oversight by the federal government. Its negligence has increased social instability and permitted the widespread invasion of indigenous territories, prompting the latest of a series of indigenous-led occupations aimed at halting the project.
Source : Amazon Watch