Guarani suffer one of the highest murder rates in the world

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.

Recently murdered Guarani include Celso Rodrigues, community leader Nísio Gomes and teenager Denilson Barbosa.

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?’

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FIFA World Cup and rainforest plants: an Amazon Indian in London speaks out

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


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Breaking news: Guarani leader and film-star murdered

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



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They came prepared for war: RCMP crackdown on peaceful Mik'maq protest

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



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Indigenous Peoples Renew Occupation of Belo Monte Dam

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

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EU beef imports threaten uncontacted Indians

Forest inhabited by uncontacted Indians in Paraguay is being destroyed to make way for cattle destined for the European market.

New satellite images reveal that Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora has been felling forest in the north of Paraguay, the ancestral home of Ayoreo Indians.

Some of the Ayoreo are uncontacted and are continually forced to flee from cattle ranchers who have taken over much of their land.

Yaguarete is part of the UN Global Compact, an initiative set up to encourage companies to abide by principles that ‘support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights’.

But the company’s work places the lives of the uncontacted Ayoreo in extreme danger. Uncontacted Indians have no immunity to diseases brought by outsiders and could be wiped out if contact occurs with company workers.

In a recent report submitted to the UN body, Yaguarete reveals it has already begun cattle ranching on the uncontacted Indians’ land, and that some of the beef is being exported to Europe. However, its report makes no mention of the presence of the uncontacted Indians.

Parojnai is one of many Ayoreo who died from disease as a result of contact with outsiders.

© Survival

Survival has written to the European Commission asking it to investigate its beef imports from the company.

In an attempt to ‘greenwash’ its work, the company has set aside part of its land as a ‘private nature reserve’. Yet the land is the ancestral property of the Ayoreo, and they have been claiming title to it for more than 20 years.

Many Ayoreo who have already been forced out of the forest have died in recent years, and many others are terminally ill.

Paraguay’s forests are being rapidly cleared for cattle farming that supplies European, African, Russian and North American markets.

Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Yaguarete is flagrantly ignoring the noble principles to which it has signed up, and the UN is seemingly powerless to intervene. This isn’t the first time the company has been caught doing this – when will Paraguay stop them putting Indians’ lives at risk?’

source : Survival International


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Two Mapuche Communities Obtain Land Rights After 15 Years

In recent days, the Chilean government, through CONADI (Chile’s Indigenous development corporation) has returned title to lands in two different Mapuche communities. In the Mapuche community of Manuel Levinao (located in the Lautaro commune of the Araucanía region), 250 hectares (~1 square mile) were returned after being purchased by the Chilean government for nearly US$ 1.8 million. Meanwhile, the Mapuche community of Los Maitenes de Rihue (located in the Cañete commune of the Araucanía region) was given land title to a small parcel of land (~.04 square miles) valued at US$ 76,000. This small parcel increased the community’s land holdings to 265.3 hectares (~1.02 square miles), which the Chilean government has been slowly acquiring and returning to the community since 1997.

Both communities have been waiting over fifteen years for these land claims to be resolved, and both transfers took place as part of President Piñera’s policy to prioritize the top 115 Indigenous land claims in the country and resolve those claims before the end of his term. With only a few months left in Piñera’s presidency, the Chilean government claims that 110 of the 115 claims have been resolved.

The lonko (traditional leader) of the Manuel Levinao community indicated his happiness with the transfer and a desire for the land to be used for agricultural purposes. Los Maitenes de Rihue’s leader also indicated a desire to move forward with agricultural activities on the new land, but indicated that it may be difficult to do as the land rights received included no right to water on the land. Additionally, power lines run through a portion of the territory and there were concerns about nearby forestry companies polluting the region with various chemicals.

Both communities, according to the Chilean government, will have access to funds to improve the land for the communities’ desired use.

Source : Indigenous News

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Sweden : Ongoing Road Blockade Against Mining in Saami Territory

Ongoing Road Blockade Against Mining in Saami Territory In Sapmi, the traditional territory of the Saami Peoples, a group of indigenous and non-indigenous activists have joined together to stop the

UK-based mining company, Beowulf, from carrying out another drilling program in Kallak (Saami: Gállok), an area of great spiritual and cultural importance to the Saami Peoples.


Since 2006, Beowulf, through its Swedish counterpart Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB (JIMAB--formerly known as Beowulf Mining AB), has been pushing its controversial Kallak mining project forward, ignoring the Saami Peoples rights in addition to Swedish legislation and international conventions

regarding the right to consultation and free, prior, and informed consent.


The Saami began speaking out against Beowulf's mining plans after the company carried out its first drilling program in 2010. With the company breaching its own ethical guidelines, the National Saami Association stated, “In contrast to what Beowulf has reported to its shareholders, the company

has not shown any willingness to cooperate with Saami communities, as required by international conventions. This is demonstrated by the company’s refusal to assist the communities’ participation in impact assessments, which are necessary to obtain knowledge of how the proposed mining would

impact upon the Saami communities and their land uses.”


The Saami went on to explain that the company's proposed mine could devastate the reindeer's grazing lands, severely impacting the their traditional grazing practices, which are an integral part of their cultural

and spiritual identity. The potential impact would be compounded by a large increase in traffic to and from the mine.


Two years later, the company has shown no signs of changing its ways, having continued to disregard the Saami and their rights--a point that was illustrated by the Saami communities of Sirges and Jåhkågasska at Beowulf’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London on July 4th, 2013.


During the AGM, the two communities reiterated their opposition to the mine, stating unequivocally, that, "Given the devastating impacts Beowulf Mining’s proposed mining activities would have on our Saami communities of Sirges and Jåhkågasska, we will never consent to the projects. Rather, we will do

everything possible to protect our lands and livelihoods for future generations. The profits Beowulf is planning to make will be short-term only, but the devastation for the Saami people and their environment will be permanent."


The two communities also pointed out that, "Beowulf has repeatedly broken the Swedish Mining Act. Exploration work plans have been ‘lost’, terrain driving restrictions have been ignored and the environmental act doesn’t seem to mean anything to your company. Beowulf has applied for a mining

concession but the EIA report, reindeer herding analysis report and transport report are so far from complete that all affected parties have rejected the reports."


According to Kamp Kallak, "the Swedish Mining Inspectorate issued their final warning to the company for its disregard of the legislation regarding mineral extraction in Sweden."


On July 30, 2013, five days after the warning was issued, Kamp Kallak continues, "The police arrived to dismantle the blockade set up by demonstrators, at the request of JIMAB, as it hindered their access to the

area. Six demonstrators were arrested. They were bussed to the nearby city of Gällivare where they were questioned and later freed."
source : IWGIA





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Survivors of Yanomami massacre speak out 20 years on

Survivors of a gruesome massacre in which sixteen Yanomami Indians were killed at the hands of illegal gold-miners have spoken out twenty years after the attack, as miners continue to invade Yanomami land.

The massacre at the Yanomami community of Haximu in the Venezuelan Amazon was carried out by 22 Brazilian gold-miners in 1993. In the brutal attack, the miners shot women, children and old people, and hacked a baby with a machete.

Survivors of the massacre, Marisa and Leida Yanomami, said in a rare interview, ‘The gold-miners killed our brothers and sisters, and also killed our father with machetes; some of them were killed with guns … We can’t talk about it much because it makes us very sad. When we talk about the massacre, we remember our father.’

Twenty years on, the Yanomami territories in Brazil and Venezuela continue to be invaded by illegal gold-miners who pollute the rivers with mercury and destroy the forest, and attacks on the Yanomami continue despite an operation by the Brazilian authorities to remove the miners from Yanomami land.

In Venezuela, the Yanomami fear a large-scale invasion of their land, as the Chinese state-owned company CITIC has been contracted to explore, map and catalogue Venezuelan mineral reserves, many of which lie on indigenous land.

COIAM, a network of indigenous organizations in the Amazon, condemned CITIC’s plans and declared, ‘We ask the national government to urgently revise these projects and not allow them in indigenous territories and communities, given their potentially destructive environmental and socio-cultural impacts. The lives and the physical and cultural survival of future generations of indigenous peoples depend on the proper protection of their habitat and lands.’

In Brazil, the Yanomami vehemently oppose a draft mining bill currently being debated in Brazil’s Congress, which if approved, would open up the Yanomami and other indigenous territories to large-scale mining, and bring further invaders onto their territory.

Five of the perpetrators of the Haximu massacre were convicted of genocide, a ruling which has been hailed as unprecedented and historic. But today, only one miner remains in prison. One who served part of his sentence returned to mine illegally on Yanomami land and was recaptured during an operation to remove miners from the territory last year. 

Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami spokesperson, told Survival International, ‘I’ve never forgotten about Haximu. The gold-miners killed sixteen Yanomami and the same miners came back … We were outraged because the gold-miners were never punished and didn’t suffer like we did.’

In the wake of the massacre various bi-national commissions were set up, including one to monitor and tackle illegal mining. However it appears to have been inactive for years. Survival has written to both governments urging them to uphold their agreements to control illegal mining and protect Yanomami land.

The Yanomami number over 30,000 and are the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America, straddling the border between Venezuela and Brazil. A wave of illegal gold-miners decimated the tribe in the 1980s, when one in five Yanomami in Brazil died of violent attacks or diseases brought in by the outsiders.

Stephen Corry, Survival International’s Director, said today, ‘Both Brazil and Venezuela continue to allow illegal gold-miners to operate inside Yanomami land, despite knowing the horrors they have caused. Brazil will soon be welcoming the world when it hosts the World Cup and Olympics – but can its government actually enforce the law inside its own borders?’

Source : Survival International


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Mapuche man killed, community accuses Chilean police of murder

Young Mapuche activist found dead from gunshot wounds to the chest as violence between the indigenous protesters and police continues to worsen.


A Mapuche activist and fugitive was found dead Tuesday with gunshot wounds to the chest in the Araucanía Region, with some residents accusing police in his death.



A Mapuche boy lights candles during memorial for the death of a Mapuche activist killed in 2011. Photo by Sergio / Flickr Rodrigo Elicer Melinao Licán, 26, was an indigenous Mapuche activist

sentenced last year to five years and a day in prison for setting a forest fire and 541 days for attacking a bus and a truck. He had been in hiding since the court sentence, and claimed that the judge, Luis

Chamorro, was persecuting Mapuche defendants.

Melinao’s body was found in the rural area of Ercilla, on land claimed by the local Mapuche but currently under police control. The body was apparently about 160 feet from the main road where the police regularly patrol. The killing comes amid escalating violence between the indigenous population in the southern Araucanía Region, stemming from historical territorial rights.


According to Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick, preliminary details show the fatal shots were fired at close range with a gun that contained a cartridge of lead pellets.

The context of the shooting and the location of the body have led many in Melinao’s community to accuse police of the murder. It has also prompted his family and community to doubt the efforts of the local

officials to investigate the killing.


“This is a moment of great pain, my mother is shattered, Rodrigo left two children and one on the way, his wife is four months pregnant,” Hugo Melinao, brother of the victim told El Dínamo. "Tomorrow we will file a complaint against anyone responsible for the death of my brother, I have no confidence that the district attorney's office of Collipulli will resolve the case, as they are part of the system that has done this to the Mapuche people. The only thing that I ask is justice for Rodrigo."


As painful as this latest incident is for the Melinao family, not everyone is surprised.


"He was a fugitive, he had received a sentence of five years and one day, we knew that at some point this was going to happen,” Luis Melinao, the victim’s cousin, said. “There were direct threats from some

Carabineros [Chilean uniformed police], they were looking for him and militarization here is evident, this is a rural area in which we are accustomed to living with the police."


Luis added that there are many questions to be asked in order to find out what really happened to his cousin.


“We aim our suspicions at the police, but there may also have been other subversive landowners or small groups [responsible],” he said.


The government reaches out


Chadwick, who has been on the forefront of the ongoing conflict between the Chilean government and Mapuche activists, expressed his condolences for the victim’s family and community and insisted the government will do its utmost to bring justice in the case.


“I regret deeply, on behalf of the government, the dramatic death of the villager, who was allegedly killed in the district of Ercilla, on a plot belonging to the Mapuche community,” Chadwick said Tuesday.


He added that there should be a “collaboration of all the police forces at the disposal of the public prosecutor,” in order to solve the case as soon as possible.


However, the minister emphasized that the claims against police and others are currently unfounded, as the investigation is only in preliminary stages. The case is currently being handled by Chile’s

Investigative Police (PDI).


“We don't want to generate any hypothesis or conjecture,” Chadwick said. “The circumstances of this crime are not yet known and we only have a few witnesses who can give accounts of some facts.”


“So far everything that has been said is pure guesswork, pure rumors. We have to have respect for the family and patience to wait for the expert work of the police. Everything would indicate that it was a murder, but as I say these are preliminary investigations and must be confirmed by the district attorney who leads the case,” Chadwick added.


‘A lot of mistrust’


The family has asked a local priest, Francisco Millán, to be present during the investigations to try and prevent misconduct by the local and government officials.


Millán said the family made the request because there was “a lot of mistrust” toward police and the PDI.


“The relationships have really deteriorated,” he told El Mostrador. “The police have not performed very well, there is a lot of repression, a lot of arrogance.”


Much of that mistrust relates to earlier killings of Mapuche protesters by police. Alex Lemun, 17, was killed in November of 2002 during an eviction of Mapuche protesters by Marco Aurelio Treuer Heysen, the head of the local Carabineros at the time, and 25-year-old Jaime Facundo Mendoza Collío was killed by police in August, 2009.


Rodrigo Melinao’s death comes just a week after a U.N. expert condemned Chilean police and judiciary strategies to combat Mapuche land activists. He warned of increased conflict in the Araucanía Region from discriminatory persecution of the local Mapuche through the current anti-terrorism legislation. Minister Chadwick promptly defended the law, saying the expert did not accurately understand the terrorist situation Chile faces in the South.


Source : By Charlotte Karrlsson-Willis (kwillis@santiagotimes.cl)

Copyright 2013 - The Santiago Times



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Indigenous leaders forced to sign away land to major food company

One of Indonesia's largest consumer goods companies, PT Mayora, has been named by traditional Indigenous leaders from West Papua who say they were forced to sign away their lands under threat of being branded as “OPM/separatists” by the Indonesian police.


Ambrosius Laku Kaize, Adat (Customary Chief) of the village of Kampung Yowid, Tubang District, Merauke, Papua, said in a statement from the Marind intellectual group known as Formasi Ssumawoma, that he was forced to sign a document placed in front of him by PT Mayora’s staff. “I was forced to sign, because the villagers of Kampung Yowid had been accused of being OPM members”, he said.


According to Ssumawoma, the company began to turn the screws after villagers from Yowid--as well as Woboyu, Bibikem, Dadalim, Wambi, Wanam, Wamal and Dokib--exercised customary law by erecting markers on their land to prohibit the presence of PT Mayora and PT Astra. During the action, the villagers also put up signs with various messages including “Oppose the companies, because we don’t have much land, and because we want to defend the Marind culture and our children and grandchildren’s future”.


Following this, employees at PT Mayora somehow managed to get a hold of a leaflet that was put together by the Merauke branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) to inform people about the human rights situation in Papua. Ssumawoma says it was little more than "a summary of news from the mass media." Once the leaflet was in PT Mayora's hands, it became something else entirely.


As Adat Kaize explains in the following video testimony that was filmed by Ssumawoma, PT Mayora started claiming that the villagers were OPM separatists, an accusation that often comes with a heavy cost for the accused: They become viable military targets. "Before I signed, they were trying to force me, using political arguments, saying we wanted independence. I felt it would be terrible if the whole community had to run to the forest, and I wanted to try to take steps to prevent that. That's what forced me to sign - so the people would be safe," said Adat Kaize.


In his testimony, Adat Kaize comments on another false allegation made by the company, that the Adat house was being used to store weapons for OPM. "The Adat house is not a place for storing weapons or anything like that," he explains. "The Adat house is for keeping the sacred things our ancestors left for us... The Adat house is not for political purposes."


( {"video_url": "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5atFz8tZM0"} )

Concerning PT Mayora's presence in the region, Ssumawoma comments that some villagers who support the company are also being used to terrorize others into letting PT Mayora stay; However, " monitoring has revealed that Marind people in the affected villages (Yowid, Dokib, Wamal, Dodalim, Woboyu, Bibikem, Wanam and Uliuli) have not received reliable and truthful information about any policy for investment on their ancestral lands in general, and about PT Mayora’s presence in particular. This is an indication that the investment process is... violating the Marind indigenous people’s right to receive information without compulsion and before investment activities commence.


"Aside from that, Marind people from the Woyu Maklew sub-ethnic group have already made clear that they oppose all investment on their ancestral land, because they do not have the skills required to get work with companies. PT Mayora has already brought insecurity into the lives of local people, by going around villages in the area escorted by fully-armed Brimob from Merauke Police Station, and now by inciting individuals from the villages. The company has... created an unsafe situation by sowing fear."


Refusing to simply give in to PT Mayora--a company that exports to 50 countries worldwide, including Canada and the United States--on Jul. 27, 2013, the villagers of Kampung Yowid wrote a letter to the Merauke Regency leader, Papuan Provincial Investment Board and Indonesian National Land Agency explaining that they continues to oppose PT Mayora.


Taking things even further, today (Aug. 12, 2013), approximately 100 people from SSUMAWOMA along with youth and community members from several villages occupied the offices of PT Mayora and PT Astra on Jalan Ternate, Merauke City. As reported by West Papua Media, the ongoing action is aimed at getting both PT Mayora and PT Astra to stop their operations and drop their investment plans.


Intercontinental Cry



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Illegal gold mining exposing Peru's indigenous tribes to mercury poisoning

Indigenous children in Peru's south eastern Amazon, an area where tens of thousands of illegal gold miners operate, have unsafe mercury concentrations over three times the level of their non-native counterparts, a study has found.

The artisanal gold miners, who use mercury to extract the precious metal from river silt, dump more than 30 tons of the toxic metal in rivers and lakes in the Amazon region every year.

Native communities had levels of mercury roughly five times that considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whereas people in urban areas had double the safe limit, the study by theCarnegie Amazon Mercury Project found.

Overall, children were the most vulnerable group with mean mercury levels more than double the safe limit (1ppm – parts per million). Children in native communities had mercury levels more than five times that limit (5.2ppm). Some individuals had levels as high as 34 times the safe limit, according to the research.

Women of childbearing age were also disproportionately affected. Mercury, a neurotoxin, can cause severe, permanent brain damage to an unborn child.

The data was gathered in 2012 from the hair samples of 1,030 people in 25 communities across Peru's Madre de Dios region.

"Native communities rely almost exclusively on fish caught in the rivers and lakes as their primary protein source," said Luis E Fernandez, who led the Carnegie Institute for Science study.

He said mercury levels increased in 10 out of 11 fish species studied in 2009 and then again in 2012. The fish, such as doncella, zungaro and dorado, were the most commonly consumed in the area.

The mercury dumped by miners settles in the sediments at the bottom of the rivers and gets converted into an organic form, Methylmercury, which is absorbed by biological organisms and concentrated up the food chain.

Through the methylmercury in the fish which local people eat they are "exposed to levels which are tens of thousands, up to millions of times more concentrated than the mercury levels in the water in which the fish are swimming," Fernandez told The Guardian.

He added it was a "very serious public health crisis … with very few sources of information for the people to understand what they're being exposed to."

The miners have also deforested around 70sqkm of rainforest, according to official figures. Madre de Dios, known as the "capital of biodiversity," is renowned for its eco-tourism.

     Source :  © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

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 Winner Of The "Rigoberta Menchú Grand Prix"


Gold Fever has been awarded the 2013 Rigoberta Menchú Grand Prix by the Montreal First Peoples Festival. Gold Fever, a documentary film examining the conflict surrounding Guatemala's Marlin Mine, screened at the 2013 festival with film participant and Rights Action director Grahame Russell in attendance.


In its official statement, the festival writes: "Working with conviction among the Indigenous population of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, the directors of this essential documentary have succeeded in fully expressing the words solidarity and resistance. For speaking out against the practices of a gold mining company in rural Guatemala, for showing how the North American corporation, driven by an unhealthy thirst for gold, closes its eyes to the reprehensible activities of the groups mining for it. For its compelling portrait of brave women who defend the Maya people's territorial rights. The First Peoples' Festival 2013 jury awards Rigoberta Menchú Grand Prize to Gold Fever."


Rigoberta Menchú , the award's namesake, is a leading advocate of indigenous rights in the world. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 in recognition of her efforts to raise awareness of the impacts of Guatemala's 36-year armed internal conflict on the country's indigenous Maya.


"This award is a tremendous honor and we accept it on behalf of the people of San Miguel Ixtahuacán," said producer JT Haines. "For their outspoken bravery, Diodora, Gregoria, Crisanta and their neighbors are the ones who most embody the spirit and courage of Rigoberta Menchú."


Source : Rights action : Montréal First Peoples Festival







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Fire devastates roadside camp where Brazilian Indians face ‘mass murder’

 A fire has raged through a Guarani roadside camp, forcing the Indians to flee as their shelters were razed to the ground, their food supplies destroyed and their possessions lost to the blaze.

The fire is reported to have started on the São Fernando sugarcane plantation and mill which are occupying the ancestral land of Apy Ka’y community. According to Brazil’s environmental police force, it has destroyed an area of approximately 1,000 hectares, including the indigenous camp. Its cause is yet to be confirmed.

The destruction took place in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul last Thursday, but full details of the events have only just emerged.

A Guarani spokesman who visited the scene told Survival, ‘The fire was burning for a whole day. There were smoke and ashes everywhere. Our relatives were forced to run from their homes. The children were crying… We are shocked.’

Leader of Apy Ka’y community, Damiana Cavanha, said, ‘Our shelters, clothes, food, pots and pans and mattresses have all been burned! We have lost everything, except our hope to return to our ancestral land.’

The Guarani of Apy Ka’y have little material to rebuild their shelters. Their children are already malnourished, and these latest events will further increase their vulnerability.

Damiana reported that once the fire had died down, the armed security guards employed by the São Fernando ranchers threatened to kill the Guarani. ‘The gunmen told me they will kill all of us. But I’ll continue fighting for our tekoha (ancestral land)’, Damiana said.

The Indians were forced to leave their ancestral land when it was occupied by ranchers almost fifteen years ago. Damiana and other members of the community have been living intermittently on the side of the main road for the last ten years, whilst their lands are used to fuel Brazil’s booming biofuels industry.

They face the constant risk of fatal road accidents as cars and trucks pass at high speeds. Damiana’s husband and three of her sons were run over and killed on the road next to which the community is camped.

Each time they have attempted to reoccupy their land, ranchers have re-evicted them. The community has been attacked numerous times, including one incident in 2009 when gunmen fired shots into the camp and set the Guarani’s shelters on fire.

Gunmen frequently target Guarani leaders and several have been killed following their push to regain their ancestral territory.

Survival International is urging the Brazilian government to fulfil its constitutional duty to demarcate all Guarani lands and return them to the Indians for their exclusive use.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Brazil’s first peoples are consistently sacrificed at the alter of greed, their lives and livelihoods forfeited in the scrabble for economic growth at any human cost. The Guarani have a right to return to their land, but are instead condemned to a life languishing in squalor on the side of the road.’

Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9514



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EU beef imports threaten uncontacted Indians

Forest inhabited by uncontacted Indians in Paraguay is being destroyed to make way for cattle destined for the European market.

New satellite images reveal that Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora has been felling forest in the north of Paraguay, the ancestral home of Ayoreo Indians.

Some of the Ayoreo are uncontacted and are continually forced to flee from cattle ranchers who have taken over much of their land.

Yaguarete is part of the UN Global Compact, an initiative set up to encourage companies to abide by principles that ‘support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights’.

But the company’s work places the lives of the uncontacted Ayoreo in extreme danger. Uncontacted Indians have no immunity to diseases brought by outsiders and could be wiped out if contact occurs with company workers.

In a recent report submitted to the UN body, Yaguarete reveals it has already begun cattle ranching on the uncontacted Indians’ land, and that some of the beef is being exported to Europe. However, its report makes no mention of the presence of the uncontacted Indians.

Survival International has written to the European Commission asking it to investigate its beef imports from the company.

In an attempt to ‘greenwash’ its work, the company has set aside part of its land as a ‘private nature reserve’. Yet the land is the ancestral property of the Ayoreo, and they have been claiming title to it for more than 20 years.

Many Ayoreo who have already been forced out of the forest have died in recent years, and many others are terminally ill.

Paraguay’s forests are being rapidly cleared for cattle farming that supplies European, African, Russian and North American markets.

Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Yaguarete is flagrantly ignoring the noble principles to which it has signed up, and the UN is seemingly powerless to intervene. This isn’t the first time the company has been caught doing this – when will Paraguay stop them putting Indians’ lives at risk?’

Source : Survival International


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West Papuan women 'shield' activists as rally forcibly dispersed by police (Jayapura)

Four activists were arrested by police and nine de-arrested by West Papuan women at pro-independence rallies in Jayapura.


According to witnesses, twenty West Papuan women jumped into a police truck as police prepared to take three men and six women to the police station. A witness told West Papua Media via phone that “the police were confused” by the women’s spontaneous response and immediately released the seven detained activists.


The de-arrest occurred at a demonstration in Jayapura calling for intervention in West Papua by the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Australian and US governments. The protesters also expressed support for the Freedom Flotilla, a land and sea convey currently travelling from Lake Eyre in South Australia to West Papua.


The rally was organized by West Papua National Authority (WPNA), West Papua Melanesian Women Solidarity (SPrMPB), West Papua Melanesian Youth Solidarity (SPMPB), West Papua Child (AWEPA), the Secretariat of Regional Yapen Territory, the Papua Prayer Team Solidarity, Papua Youth Student and Jayapura University of Cenderawasih (UNCEN) Students. The groups are all aligned with the National Federal Republic of West Papua (NFRPB) who declared independence from Indonesia on 19 October 2011.


From beginning to end, the rally was marred by police violence.  Reports from a local stringer via SMS to West Papua Media confirmed that at 7:45am local time, fully armed police blockaded the front of the UNCEN gate entrance, in Waena; where the rally was due to depart from. The police forcefully arrested Benny Sage (23), a student activist and field coordinator of the rally, according to the WPM stringer.


As the rally approached the roundabout at Abepura, several kilometers later, around fifty police personnel, three police trucks and one prisoner police van stopped the march. Police fired several shots into the air to disperse the crowd.


At the Roundabout Mr. Markus Yenu, Governor of NRFPB, Domberai III regency, told demonstrators to stand their ground as he negotiated with police. Yenu told West Papua Media by phone that the police began to forcibly break up the march while he was still negotiating with the police. According to witnesses the orders to disperse the crowd were carried out by Head of local Police Command, Mr. B Rumbiak, and his Deputy, Mr. Kiki Kurnia.


Three activists, Usama Yogobi (37), Alius Asso (30) and Yon Selegani (24), were arrested by police and taken away to Polda Papua headquarters in Jayapura for questioning. It was at this point, as police arrested and beat nine more demonstrators and loaded them into a police van, that the women intervened and jumped into the police trucks and ordered the police to release those detained.


Mr. Yenu told West Papua Media that he deeply regrets the arrest of the three men at the rally and of Benny Sage earlier in the day. “The police should not have done this. Our action was peaceful and honourable. The police were not professional in the way they carried out their duty. Indonesian government must show that it is a democratic country and should allow democratic space for the protesters,” said Yenu.


Those beaten included, Martinus Wandamani, Abner Inngimur, another man and six women from SPrMPB, whose names were not available at the time of writing. Injuries have been reported but no particulars are yet available.


At the same time as police dispersed the rally at the roundabout in Abepura, demonstrators who gathered near Nayak dormitory located at Garuda Kamkei road, were forcibly detained by fifteen police officers who pointed firearms at the demonstrators.


Human rights workers described the police behaviour throughout the day as “vicious”. One person told West Papua Media that there was “no democratic space for peaceful demonstration”.


The Governor of Papua Province, Mr. Lukas Enembe, an indigenous Papuan, has vowed to crack down on all street protests in West Papua. The Governor’s order has received widespread condemnation from activists and human rights groups in West Papua who say it is a violation of people’s democratic right to peacefully protest.


A group of 12 elderly Papuan citizens went to Polda Papua to negotiate for the release of the four activists later, at 4:00pm.  Human rights workers had expressed fears for their safety.  However, by the time this article was published, the four activists – Benny Hisage (23), Alius Asso (30), Usman Yogobi (37), and Johanes Elegani (24) – had been released after a team of elders negotiated with police.


Demonstrations also occurred in the town of Fak Fak on the North-Western coast of the country on the same day.


Source : Intercontinental Cry





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UN official says Chile should stop using anti-terrorism law against Mapuche in land dispute

The U.N. special investigator on human rights and counter-terrorism is asking Chile to stop using an anti-terrorism law against the Mapuche Indians.


Ben Emmerson says the situation is "volatile" in the southern regions of Araucania and Bio Bio, where most Mapuche live. He warns of the danger of conflict there over Mapuche demands for the return of ancestral lands.


Emmerson says Chile's government should come up with a strategy to solve the dispute, speed up the return of land and recognize the country's largest indigenous community under the constitution.


He also says Chile must put an end to violent abuses by police against the Mapuche.


The U.N. official spoke Tuesday at the close of a two-week visit to Chile.


Source : Associated Press, Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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Oil Palm Plantations in Nabire Ignore Indigenous Rights

The Yerisiam people living in Kampung Sima, Nabire Regency, Papua are still waiting for oil palm plantation companies PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri to give clarification and compensation to local indigenous people.

This was the message of a press release written by Simon Petrus Hanebora, a Yerisiam tribal leader, which was received by tabloidjubi.com on Tuesday (30/7) morning.  “Thousands of commercially-valuable trees from 32,000 hectares of the Yerisiam indigenous people's ancestral land have been logged by the oil palm company,” it reads.

Hanebora continues to explain the various attempts he has taken to resolve this issue.  He wrote to the forestry service on 31st July 2012, to ask for clarification of how many cubic meters of wood were contained on PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri's plantation concession.  He also wrote to the Nabire Regency Environment Agency on 31st July 2012 requesting a deferral of PT Nabire Baru's plan to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Simon also wrote to the Papuan police chief on 03 June 2013 to complain about the wood and rattan on PT Nabire Baru's oil palm concession. “The way PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri ignore the Yerisiam indigenous peoples rights is not compatible with legal provisions and violates national and international law on indigenous people's rights”, he said.

According to Simon, the meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment involved relevant government bodies and the company (PT Nabire Baru) but not one member of the Yerisiam indigenous community from the two affected villages was involved. “None of the Yerisiam people have ever been involved in any of the meetings between the Environmental Impact Assessment commission and PT Nabire Baru. What makes it worse is that the people feel the harassment even more strongly as they have no protection whatsoever,” he explained.

Simon sincerely hopes that all community leaders, NGOs, indigenous and religious leaders, can make a positive contribution through advocacy or investigation of how PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggul Mandiri have ignored the Yerisiam indigenous people's rights. “I hope all competent institutions can give advocacy or investigate this problem,” he said.

{AwasMIFEE note: PT Nabire Baru is owned by Goodhope Holdings, a Singapore-based subsidiary of Sri Lankan company Carson Cumberbatch. A longer investigation (in Indonesian) was published in May 2013 by Mongabay Indonesia: }

source : by westpapuamedia



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Great Lakes saved from nuke waste shipments!

Communities and organizations around the Great Lakes received heartening news over the weekend. A plan to ship radioactive waste across the Lakes was officially cancelled after years of community opposition.


Swedish company Studsvik announced that the plan was annulled in its interim report for the first half of 2013.


As you may remember, Bruce Power had proposed shipping 16 bus-size radioactive steam generators across the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean to Sweden for the nuke waste to be decontaminated.


City mayors, U.S. Senators, environmental and nuclear groups, indigenous communities and other civil society groups raised many important concerns about this shipment including the potential for water contamination and the lack of adequate community consultation. The shipment would have passed through British, Danish and Swedish waters and many European organizations and communities spoke out against the shipments.


This is a huge victory for communities around the Great Lakes and shows what can be achieved when people come together with passion and purpose.


However, the need to protect the Great Lakes from nuclear waste is not over. We need to use this victory as fuel for stopping plans to bury nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin. Ontario Power Generation has proposed a plan to bury low and intermediate level waste on the shores of Lake Huron. And there are further plans to find a willing community in Ontario or Saskatchewan that would bear the brunt of a high-level nuke waste site.


Great Lakes Nuclear Hot Spots Map (Credit: Great Lakes United and the International Institute of Concern for Public Health)


Article Adapted for Intercontinental Cry under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA 3.0) license. Originally published at Canadians.org


Source : Intercontinental Cry



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Forceful evictions of Maasai a recipe for tribal clashes in Kenya

Kenya was at it again last Friday when a 33-year old land ownership dispute between the Maasai and Kikuyu in Naivasha, Kenya, took an ugly turn. Reminiscent of the post-election violence of 2007/2008, over 200 youths believed to be members of the proscribed sect Mungiki--under the escort of heavily armed police--descended on the Maasai community in Narasha with all manner of crude weapons, burning and destroying 240 houses. The arsonists, who were protected by the armed police, rendered 2,300 people homeless, killed over 20 calves and over 600 lambs. During the raid, 2 elderly Maasai men sustained bullet wounds as well as cuts from machetes; they are now recuperating in hospitals.


Narasha is the home of the Maasai who suffered massive land dispossession dating back to the 1900s when the colonial government forced the Maasai off 75 per cent of their ancestral land. Subsequent post-independence government-driven initiatives continued to alienate land from the Maasai.


The tussle for ownership is focused on a 15,000 acre area to which the Maasai claim ancestral ownership. The Kikuyu also claim ownership resulting from an allocation by the first post-independence president Jomo Kenyatta, who happens to be the father of the current president of Kenya.


The bone of contention is that the land is rich with geothermal power; government functionaries want to make a killing by displacing the Maasai. Narasha village is sitting on top of lucrative geothermal power potential. A combination of senior government officials, businessmen and the energy giant KenGen are all involved in making sure the Maasai people are moved away from the area. The Geothermal project has attracted both multi-national and bilateral donors with the World Bank being the main financier of the project.


Kenya’s energy giant, KenGen is undeniably at the center of the problems facing the Maasai people in nearby Olkaria. The company has embarked on a new geothermal energy project that will add 560 megawatts of power to Kenya’s national grid. This is so far the largest geothermal project in the world. The Ksh165 billion (US$2 billion) project will require expansion beyond the current land that KenGen’s wells occupy in Olkaria. Narasha community is in the middle of the areas earmarked for the new geothermal wells. KenGen has been negotiating for the last few years with the Maasai in Olkaria on issues of compensation and relocation. Not all is going well with the process; There are big trust issues between the parties.


Ngati Farm, a company owned by the Kikuyu from central Kenya, claims to have bought the disputed land from colonialists in 1964. For the last 33 years, the company and the Maasai (who have called the land home for the last 400 years) have been fighting court battles. With the recent push by KenGen for geothermal power generation, the land is now worth billions of shillings which means the stakes are now even higher for both parties.


Leading the pack behind the evictions is Eddy Njoroge, the former Managing Director of KenGen, who is currently serving as President Kenyatta’s advisor on energy and petroleum. Njoroge is closer to the Maasai-Olkaria troubles than anyone else; He knows the potential of the resources on the ground as well as the ability of the community to fight back. Sources claim that he is planning to buy the disputed Narasha land from Ngati Farm as long as the Maasai problem is brought to an end. Njoroge is also said to be closely associated with a tender by KenGen that will see another geothermal plant developed at Narasha.


The Governor of Nakuru, Kinuthia Mbugua, is said to be the mastermind of the Enarasha attack as well as another attack in recent history. The former Police Commissioner, who claims to be a member of Ngatia Farm, has a long history of hostility with the Maasai in Naivasha. After being elected as Governor, sources say Kinuthia vowed to remove the Maasai from Nakuru County. He is also said to be personally interested in a piece of land that is currently being occupied by the family of Odupoi ole Parsitau. He offered the family Ksh2 million if they would move away; Ole Parsitau declined the offer. Kinuthia is reportedly planning additional evictions in Kedong Ranch – another historically disputed area. Governor Mbugua will benefit greatly from KenGen’s projects.


Amos Gathecah, the new Nakuru County Commissioner, is Governor Mbugua’s foot soldier. He has been used as a go-between in negotiations with Enarasha community. Gathecah recently held a meeting with leaders from Narasha at Nashipae Hotel in Naivasha where he offered the community Ksh31 million to relocate from the area. When the offer was declined, he made a threat that he would use the same money to fight the community and force them to leave. This meeting was triggered by a June 19 petition by the community to the National Land Commission concerning the dispute with Ngatia Farm. The Commission started investigations that will delay any plans for the generation of Geothermal Power in the area.


Helen Kiilu led dozens of policemen to support Governor Mbugua’s hired goons in attacking Narasha. Ms. Kiilu takes orders from Commissioner Gathecah.


Former Councilor Ole Linti, a former area councilor, is said to have changed allegiance in exchange for a share in Ngati farm or the proceeds from the KenGen deals. Ole Linti has a long history of fighting for the community against Ngati Farm and KenGen. He is said to have run out of steam after many years of struggle.


While the government denies knowledge of the evictions, the presence of the police and the manner in which the raids were carried out is indicative of a well-executed plan with backing from state machinery.


Source : Intercontinental Cry



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Development and Adivasi rights

For the first time, tribal communities in India will have a say in implementation of projects that affect them.


In the last six months, two key milestones have been reached in India around the protection of Adivasi rights. The first milestone was a ruling by Supreme Court in April which gave Adivasi communities in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa the final say on plans by a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources and the Orissa state mining company to mine for bauxite on their traditional lands. The judgement was a landmark victory in recognizing indigenous people’s rights in India.


The second, not so well-known, milestone, was a set of amendments proposed by the National Advisory Council (NAC) in December last year to the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (known as PESA). The NAC recommended that the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected Adivasi communities be mandatorily obtained before the government acquires any land for development projects, or decides on rehabilitation packages. Not “consultation”, or “recommendation”, as the PESA currently says, but “prior informed consent”.


These events mark a basic shift in the way India has regarded the rights of Adivasis over their land. For years, communities and rights groups have demanded that FPIC, be made a reality to protect Adivasi rights. The Forest Rights Act mandates the obtaining of consent, but only in the context of protected forest lands. Amnesty International’s work in India has demonstrated that in several contexts where mining projects have been proposed or implemented on Adivasi lands, their voices are rarely heeded. The absence of a consent requirement has contributed to severe human rights abuses, as well as negative social, economic, cultural and ecological consequences for Adivasi communities.

FPIC is now an internationally accepted standard, which has been affirmed by a number of international human rights treaty bodies, including the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination—all of which India is a party to. It is also recognized as being central to the protection and realization of indigenous people’s rights in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), 2007, which India has endorsed.


India is also a party to ILO Convention 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations, which guarantees Adivasi communities the right to participate in decision-making on projects affecting their community and traditional lands. (Yet ILO Convention 169, a more progressive instrument which was drafted to replace Convention 107, and widens the protections given to indigenous communities, has not been signed by India.)


Obtaining FPIC is also being increasingly accepted as a requirement by industry. It was included in the 2012 performance standards of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and by extension the Equator Banks. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require companies to take steps to become aware of, prevent and address adverse human rights impacts, and the UN Experts Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People has recommended that companies consider FPIC in their human rights “due diligence” processes. The UN special rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples has also underscored FPIC’s importance for indigenous people who face the risk of potential impact of mining projects’ on their traditional lands.

So what exactly does “consent” involve? The commitment to FPIC is an explicit acceptance that indigenous people are not just stakeholders for engagement, but holders of rights, which requires that such consent be:

• Free, that is, freely given without manipulation, coercion, threat, fear of reprisal, corruption, or inequality of bargaining power;

• Prior: Indigenous people must be given sufficient time to give their free consent to a proposed activity according to their values, tradition and circumstances.

• Informed: There must be full, clear, objective, and culturally appropriate disclosure of a proposed activity; indigenous people must be informed of their rights (including lands, resources and traditional knowledge) and have the right to obtain independent advice. The greater the impact on the indigenous people—such as, development on traditional lands, relocation, storage of hazardous materials—the greater the onus on those proposing the activity to show that the process was robust.

• Consent means the right to say no; and free, prior and informed consent may be required at different stages of a proposed activity.


And, decision-making must be inclusive and consent should be obtained through the people’s chosen representative structures and decision-making processes. Particular attention needs to be paid towards the effective participation of women in decisions affecting them.

The most critical aspects of FPIC will include the processes leading to consent, especially the need for robust mechanisms of consultation to facilitate mutually acceptable agreements; and monitoring, enforcement and grievance mechanisms.

The process by which local Adivasi communities are deciding the fate of the Niyamgiri mine are being keenly watched the world over. Indeed, Niyamgiri is now a test case. And so are the NAC recommendations to make prior, informed consent part of India’s existing legislation. How these two events play out in the next few months could well impact the lives of India’s Adivasis for decades to come.

Copyright © 2012 HT Media All Rights Reserved


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Chile indigenous seeks Pascua-Lama permit be axed: lawyer

A Chilean indigenous group has appealed a lower court decision on Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua-Lama gold mine to the Supreme Court and asked it to strike down the project's environmental license, a lawyer representing the group told Reuters on Monday.


"Given the harm caused, this environmental permit has proved itself to be illegal and illegitimate," Lorenzo Soto said. "The project has to remain suspended until it is completely re-evaluated."


He estimated the top court could rule around the end of the year.


The Copiapo Court of Appeals last week ordered a freeze on construction of the $8.5 billion project, which straddles the Chile-Argentine border high in the Andes, until the company builds infrastructure to prevent water pollution.


The indigenous Diaguita group Soto represents has deemed the measures insufficient.


Chile's environmental regulator had already suspended Pascua-Lama, citing major environmental violations, and asked Barrick to build canals and drainage systems.


The project's supporters say its environmental impact will be limited, and that the massive mine will provide employment and help boost Chile's mining-dependent economy.


Environmental and social groups counter the mega mining project will damage pristine glaciers, strain and pollute water supply and harm agricultural activity in the area.


Barrick has said it is committed to meeting all the regulator's requirements. It did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Monday.




The Andean country's complex legal system and new environmental regulator makes it tricky to anticipate what will happen to Pascua-Lama, originally forecast to produce 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of gold per year in its first five years of full production.


And while courts have taken a tougher stance on permitting for planned major energy and mining projects in Chile, Pascua-Lama's construction is well under way.


But experts agree the world's top gold miner is facing a protracted legal battle in Chile, where Pascua-Lama is one of the most unpopular mining projects.


"It's hard to predict what the Supreme Court will do," said Paulina Riquelme, a lawyer who specializes in environmental law. One possibility is that the courts decide "to wait and see how Pascua-Lama meets the environmental requirements imposed by the regulator."


source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch


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Belize’s Persistent Denial of Maya Land Rights

Continuing the roller coaster of decisions made regarding the land rights of the Maya people in Toledo district of southern Belize, the Court of Appeal has recently re-affirmed the Maya people’s rights to collective land ownership throughout southern Belize. This came, however, just days after the Government’s decision to grant US Capital Energy permission to conduct oil drilling inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park.


This struggle began in 1994 when without consulting the Maya people the government took an area of nearly 42,000 acres of Maya ancestral land to convert into the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Quickly after this conversion, the government opened up the national park to oil exploration by US Capital Energy Belize Ltd, a wholly owned Belizean subsidiary of American company US Capital Energy Inc.


However, in 1997 the Sarstoon Temash National Park Steering Committee, soon to become the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) was created. This was for the purpose of  co-managing the national park with the Belizean Forestry Department after the communities around the park came together to stake a claim in the management of the land and natural resources in which the were dependent on for their livelihoods.


Since then, a number of important legal decisions have been handed down regarding the situation. In 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a report recognizing Maya people’s collective rights to land traditionally used and occupied in Toledo. Finding that the Government violated Maya people’s right to property and equality under international law, the IACHR recommended that the Government delimit, demarcate and title Maya ancestral land.


In 2007, the Supreme Court of Belize found that the IACHR decision was binding on the Government of Belize, and it ordered the Government to recognize Maya land rights, demarcate and title their land, and cease and abstain from interfering with their right to property. In 2010, the Supreme Court clarified that the 2007 judgment applied to Maya throughout the district and issued an injunction prohibiting concessions. The Government then appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal.


In the meantime, the Government has taken no steps to comply with the Supreme Court or IACHR decisions. Furthermore,  SATIIM has been kicked out of the national park by the Forest Department. The official co-management agreement between SATIIM and the Forest Department expired in 2009, and since then SATIIM has been managing the park based on a verbal agreement with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. In a letter to SATIIM dated July seventeenth, 2013, the Forest Department formally terminates its working relationship with SATIIM as it relates to the management of the Sarstoon Temash National Park. In fact, SATIIM has even been denied access to the national park.


On 25 July 2013, the Court of Appeal affirmed Maya land rights already established through multiple decisions. In an opinion by Chief Justice Manuel Sosa, the Court found that the Maya possessed rights to land and resources in Southern Belize based on their longstanding use and occupancy.


The Court of Appeal unfortunately also concluded that the Supreme Court erred in its 2007 decision which found that the Constitution of Belize imposes a positive obligation on the Government to adopt affirmative measures to protect the rights of the respondents. Based on this conclusion, the Court of Appeal struck out the Supreme Court’s injunction against Government interference with Maya land.


Gregory Cho’c, Executive Director of SATIIM, has explained how the organization is seeking legal redress against the Government’s decision to grant US Capital Energy permission to conduct oil drilling inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Also, that SATIIM plans on continuing to fulfill its side of the co-management agreement, stating:


I want to make clear here, the wishes of the communities of the Buffer Zone that   the park is indigenous land; as a people, we have sacrificed, we have been denied access to the very land that we owned; we have recognized and have always  recognized the importance of protecting and safe guarding our natural resources and I want to tell the Forestry Department and the Government of Belize that SATIIM will continue to manage and protect the National Park because it is our interest and the interest of the Belizean people.


The government of Belize is breaking its own laws in order to continue the repression of the Indigenous Maya. The National Park Systems Act, as well as the 2007 and 2010 Supreme Court’s ruling on the Maya Land Rights case clarify the land rights involved and what government actions are allowed.  Cho’c rightfully claims that the Government never had the authority to grant concession permits on those lands because those lands were never Government-owned lands.  SATIIM is also asking the court to suspend US Capital Energy’s operations in the National Park until the court makes a ruling on the aforementioned issue.


The government of Belize is being urged to end its persistent refusal to  recognize the rights of the Indigenous Maya and implement the court decisions. Cultural Survival has been partnering with SATIIM, and a number of other local organizations in advocating for the rights of the Indigenous Maya in southern Belize.


Source : Intercontinental Cry




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Sacred object handed back to Hopi tribe after ‘shameful’ Paris auction

In a historic handover ceremony, an object sacred to the Hopi people has been returned to Hopi after dozens of katsinam (‘friends’) were sold at a Paris auction house in April 2013 despite repeated requests and litigation.

Representatives of tribal rights organization Survival International and lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber returned the katsina to Hopi.

The katsinam are of cultural and religious significance to the Hopi, who were vehemently opposed to the auction and asked the Paris auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou to cancel the sale on the grounds that the objects are considered sacred to Hopi.

After the auction house ignored the Hopi’s request, attorney Pierre Servan-Schreiber of the firm Skadden Arps (Paris) filed legal papers on behalf of Survival International and the Hopi, asking for the sale of the katsinam to be halted until the lawfulness of the collection was established.

However the Paris Court rejected all attempts to stop the auction and the sale of dozens of sacred objects went ahead on April 12, 2013, in what Hopi tribal chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa called a ‘shameful saga’.

Mr. Shingoitewa added, ‘We are deeply saddened and disheartened by this ruling … It is sad to think that the French will allow the Hopi Tribe to suffer through the same cultural and religious thefts, denigrations and exploitations they experienced in the 1940s. Would there be outrage if Holocaust artifacts, Papal heirlooms or Quranic manuscripts were going up for sale … to the highest bidder? I think so.’

M. Servan-Schreiber then bought one katsina at the auction to return it to the Hopi. He said, ‘It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war. I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything since two of these sacred objects* have been saved from being sold.’

Hollywood actor Robert Redford had also pleaded for the auction to be halted. He said, ‘To auction these would be, in my opinion, a sacrilege – a criminal gesture that contains grave moral repercussions.’

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said, ‘The sale of Hopi katsinam would never have happened in the USA – thankfully US law recognizes the importance of these ceremonial objects. It is a great shame that French law falls so far behind. We’re delighted that at least two of the katsinam have been saved, and can be returned to their rightful owners.’

source : Survival International

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Rallying cry: Dongria stand firm against Vedanta mine

During a rally of defiance, India’s Dongria Kondh have vowed to defend their Niyamgiri Hills against an open pit mine by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, and demanded the release of village leaders ahead of consultations about the mine.

Dongria leader Lodu Sikaka addressed a crowd of thousands determined to save their hills and said, ‘We are not going to let go of Niyamgiri … Let the government and the company repress us as much as they can. We are not going to leave Niyamgiri, our Mother Earth.’

In a landmark ruling in April 2013, India’s Supreme Court rejected Vedanta’s appeal to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, and decreed that those affected by the mine must be consulted.

Watch a video of Lodu’s speech.

But while over a hundred villages will be affected by the mine, only twelve village councils (gram sabhas) around the hills have been invited for consultations, a move condemned by the Dongria and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and the final decision about the mine will lie with the central government.  

Survival International has received worrying reports that police and paramilitaries are exerting pressure on the Dongria by intimidating the residents of the twelve villages. A delegation of Dongria has traveled to the state capital to complain about the harassment and to demand that 150 villages are included in the consultations. 

The Niyamgiri Hills are central to the livelihood and identity of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh, which could be destroyed by the mine. Recently, their leaders have faced increasing harassment and several have been arrested.

Addressing the rally, Lodu added, ‘We believe in the state, in democracy. Let them release all our people who are jailed and then we go for the gram sabha. Otherwise we will not!’

The Dongria’s struggle has been likened to the Hollywood story of ‘Avatar’ and won them the support of many celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Michael Palin. It resulted in shareholders such as the Church of England and the Norwegian government pension fund pulling out of Vedanta.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘Harassing people’s leaders prior to ‘consultations’ about an invasive mine, which the same people have rejected for years, is neither fair nor democratic. It’s another example of how the language of ‘rights’ and ‘consent’ is now being manipulated by governments and companies bent on stealing tribal lands, at any human cost.’

Note to editors:
- Read the letter by India’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs condemning the lack of villages involved in the consultations (pdf, 492kb)
Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9302
source : Survival International


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Brazil: Protestors call on President to uphold indigenous rights

As demonstrators continue to flood Brazil’s streets, Brazilian Indians have joined protestors in calling for an end to the onslaught on indigenous rights by the government. 

Davi Kopenawa, a spokesman for the Yanomami tribe, and the student movement Movimento Passe Livre (MPL), central to the recent protests, have spoken out against moves by the government to dismantle the Indians’ hard-won constitutional rights.

Davi said in a video message, ‘I am angry with the government’s mistakes. The Brazilian authorities are not interested in indigenous peoples living in peace, nor do they want to help the city people.’

He added, ‘In my world, nature is with me and she is listening. She is seeing the errors of the authorities of this country. They should respect our country, respect the peoples of the city, the communities and respect Brazilian indigenous peoples’ rights.’ 

Watch the full video here (in Portuguese).

The student movement MPL also expressed their outrage. In an open letter to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, released before their meeting with her on 24 June, MPL wrote, ‘We hope that this meeting marks a change in the federal government’s position and that this will extend to other social battles: to the indigenous peoples, for example the Guarani-Kaiowá and the Munduruku, who have been attacked by landowners and public bodies.’

Three Indians have been killed in recent protests linked to land disputes. A Guarani man was killed by gunmen after his community reoccupied their ancestral territory in June, one Terena Indian was shot by police during a violent eviction from their land in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul in May and a Munduruku man was shot dead when police invaded a community last November.

After two-and-a-half years in office, President Dilma has not met with an indigenous representative, despite recent promises to meet with all protest leaders. 

Survival International has written to Pope Francis ahead of his visit to Brazil later this month, urging him to raise the critical situation of indigenous peoples with the government.

Stephen Corry, Survival International’s Director, said today, ‘Brazil’s Indians have not faced such an illegal and unconstitutional assault on their rights since the military dictatorship of the 1960s to 80s. As the country prepares to host the World Cup, a papal visit, and the Olympics, the authorities must demonstrate that they govern for all people, including Brazil’s first inhabitants.’

Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9349

source : Survival International



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West Papuans Reject Australian Foreign Minister's Claim That Their Independence Movement Is 'A Cruel Deceit' By 'Self-Indulgent People'

West Papuan Independence advocate, Ronny Kareni, who is based in Melbourne, rejects the Australian Foreign Minister’s comments in Senate Estimates last week, that the people who 'fly the Papuan flags' and who 'talk the language of independence' are part of a 'cruel deceit' by 'self-indulgent people' who are safe in their 'own democracy'.

“For the last 50 years, the struggle has been driven by the Papuans themselves putting their life on the frontline in West Papua and abroad, campaigning against the entrenched brutality by Indonesian security forces” says Ronny Kareni.

“We build solidarity with groups in Australia and abroad but this movement was initiated and is primarily driven by West Papuans in West Papua - who seek an end to the human rights abuses and recognition of their political rights to self-determination.”

West Papua was illegally occupied in December1961 as part of the Indonesian military operation 'Trikora”, which aimed to seize the former Dutch colony 'Netherlands New Guinea'. West Papua's independence was denied by the UN. The UN subsequently granted Indonesia administration of the the region and Indonesia ultimately gained full control in 1969, after the referendum named 'Act of free choice'. Despite this being widely criticised as a sham vote that contravenes international law. “I was born into this conflict, I'm the 3rd generation to face this ongoing struggle for our rights for freedom.” says Kareni

“My parents were forced to flee and live in exile in Papua New Guinea in the early 80s as part of the large exodus of West Papuans. It was and remains very dangerous for West Papuans to peacefully campaign for their human rights and political rights- even raising our Morning Star flag can mean between 3-15 years in prison.”

It is estimated that 500,000 Papuans have been killed since Indonesia took control. Yale University and Sydney University researches have questioned whether this constitutes genocide.

“The West Papuan's struggle for freedom is not as Bob Carr suggests 'a fun little game for the greens party'. It is the West Papuans living in Papua and in exile who are carrying the aspirations for our own people. We ask the international community, Indigenous people in Australia and the Australian politicians to hear the voice of the West Papuans and support us in our struggle.”

“I find the Foreign Minister's comments are discriminatory to the West Papauns, as he implies that it is simply 'self-indulgent' people in 'safe democracies' that are leading this struggle for independence. This is disrespectful of our fight for freedom for the last 50 years. Everyday West Papuans risk their lives in Papua and abroad. Even those of us involved in the independence movement abroad are monitored by the Indonesian intelligence.”

“We call on the people of Australia to put pressure on the Australian government to review it's funding and training of Detachment 88 who are alleged to have committed widespread violence and arbitrary detention of Papuans who peacefully express their political views for independence.”

“Providing access to independent foreign media and a UN fact finding mission is vital so that the international community really knows what's happening in West Papua.”

Source: Rize of the Morning Star


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Philippines: 'Our environment is worth more than palm oil'

The rainforest land and ancestral homes of small farmers and indigenous peoples of the Philippines are under threat, as the Philippine government plans to promote oil palm plantations on a vast scale.


The tropical islands of Mindanao and Palawan are the latest target in the promotion and mono-cultivation of palm oil in the Philippines.


At present, the residents own the land. They grow fruits, vegetables, rice and coconut palms, they use the forests as a source of food and materials for crafts and house construction.


Artiso Mandawa of the ALDAW Indigenous Advocacy and Networking group on Palawan said, “The spreading oil palm plantations are a tragedy for us. They are destroying our ancestral lands and forests and are leaving us destitute.”


“The forest is our children's future. Oil palm plantations only make us poor.”


At the present time, Philippine oil palm plantations cover an area of 50,000 hectares. However, with the latest National Development Plan, a further 304,000 hectares will soon be added, apparently in an effort to eradicate poverty and reduce edible oil imports. According to policymakers, this earmarked land is “unused” or “underdeveloped”.


What the government neglects to mention, however, is that this “unused” land actually belongs to small farmers and indigenous peoples who live there, grow rice and vegetables, and gather fruits, medicinal plants and building materials in the neighboring forests. The rivers in the area provide them with clean water.


Rainforest Rescue spoke to Rubenson Batuto, a member of the Higaonon tribe of Mindanao, who explained, “When they take our land, leave our families to starve and violate our rights, we have no choice but to fight.”


“As an indigenous people, we have a right to our land, even if we have been denied it to this very day,” he added.


Due to the sustainable way of life of these indigenous tribes, the unique biodiversity of their ancestral lands has been preserved intact. Their mangroves and rainforests offer a home to 49 animal and 56 plant species that are threatened with extinction, including the Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), the Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron Napoleonis) and swallowtail butterfly (Graphium megaera).


The entire island of Palawan was declared by UNESCO to be a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1990. But this doesn't stop the Philippine government from spreading these destructive oil palm plantations that contribute little to the people of the country and destroy the natural environment.


ALDAW has started a petition, calling on the Philippine government to put an end to its oil palm plans and protect the rights of the indigenous peoples.


source : Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact


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Indonesia denies it has any indigenous peoples


Indonesia is home to an estimated 50-70 million indigenous peoples, but the government does not recognize the rights of its indigenous peoples and claims that none live in Indonesia. In a response to the United Nations Periodic Review in 2012, a four–year human rights check-up for all countries, Indonesia said: "The Government of Indonesia supports the promotion and protection of indigenous people worldwide... Indonesia, however, does not recognize the application of the indigenous peoples concept...in the country." The UN's report recommended that Indonesia should ratify ILO Convention 169, the only international law for indigenous and tribal peoples. In addition, the UN recommended that Indonesia should secure the rights of indigenous peoples, especially to their traditional lands, territories and resources.

"The Rainforest Foundation Norway thinks President Yudhoyono would show great international leadership by ratifying the ILO 169 Convention. The President has already made a big commitment to reduce Indonesia's green house gas emissions by 41%. We are sure that this ambitious goal would be strengthened if the President also signs ILO 169 and acknowledges the important role Indigenous Peoples play in managing forests sustainably, " says Hege Karsti Ragnhildstveit, the head of Rainforest Foundation Norway's Division for Southeast Asia.

ILO 169 is a convention of the International Labor Organisation, which is part of the UN. The Convention recognizes the land ownership rights of indigenous peoples, and states that they should not be forcibly evicted from their territories. ILO 169 sets a series of standards for the treatment of indigenous peoples and requires governments to consult indigenous peoples on projects that affect them. Governments that ratify the Convention are legally bound to abide by it.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is also an important international tool, setting a benchmark by which the treatment of indigenous peoples can be judged. However, unlike ILO 169, the Declaration is not legally binding.

The incessant international demand for commodities, such as palm oil and pulp and paper, is responsible for evicting indigenous peoples off their lands and for the wholesale liquidation of Indonesia's remaining rainforests. Indigenous peoples are not adequately consulted or compensated for the use of their traditional lands. Large-scale land acquisitions for palm oil operations are rife with social conflicts due to unresolved disputes over land tenure, resource control and environmental degradation. Forest dwelling communities are often faced with violence and intimidation. Some palm oil companies respond to land conflicts with local communities by using company security forces or hiring military units to crack down on dissenters in order to keep their palm oil operations active.

The ILO 169 is the only international law that recognizes the land ownership rights of indigenous peoples. ILO 169 is not just a law for indigenous peoples; it is a law for everyone. It plays a key role in saving the world's natural ecosystems, putting control of the land back in the hands of the people who have looked after it for generations. Indigenous peoples are thoughtful and skillful partners of the natural world; their ways of life have protected and conserved some of the world's most intact natural ecosystems, species and genetic diversity. Indigenous peoples' territories cover up to 22% of the planet's land surface, and they coincide with areas that hold 80% of the planet's biodiversity (Sobrevila 2008). It is no coincidence that so much of the world's rainforests and biodiversity are on indigenous peoples' lands. Scientific studies based on satellite data have shown that indigenous territories are highly effective and vitally important for stopping deforestation and forest fires (Nelson A, Chomitz KM 2011). Using satellite data from forest fires to help indicate deforestation levels, the study showed rates were lower by about 16% in indigenous areas between 2000-2008. Its analysis shows how deforestation plummets to its lowest levels when indigenous peoples continue living in protected areas, and are not forced out.

Recently, the Indonesian Constitutional court ruled that the customary forests of indigenous peoples should not be classed as falling in "State Forest Areas." This means that the State cannot expel indigenous peoples from their customary forests. The court ruling recognizes indigenous peoples' land rights in the archipelago and opens the way for a major reallocation of forests back to the indigenous peoples. The judgment was made in response to a petition filed with the court by the national indigenous peoples' organization AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara). It is time for the President and the government of Indonesia to secure and recognize indigenous peoples' land rights.

Source : Mongabay news





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Guarani man killed in ambush by gunmen

Destructive Palm Oil Plantation Suspended in Cameroon

 A Guarani Indian man was killed yesterday in southern Brazil, reportedly by gunmen working for the cattle ranchers who have occupied his community’s land.

According to the leader of Paraguassú community, Celso Rodrigues, 42, ‘was ambushed by two gunmen whilst he was walking near a stream. His father is very sad and angry, as am I… it is very sad to see our relatives die’.

Last August, the Guarani of Paraguassú reoccupied part of their ancestral land, known as Arroio Korá. They have since suffered numerous episodes of violence and intimidation.

A Guarani man at Arroio Korá told Survival International, ‘Our families were forced off this land. We’ve decided to return; our food is our land. I have had to run from bullets several times. It really hurts that the ranchers continue to threaten us, but we have decided to stay here. The rancher would have to kill us all to make us leave’.

This latest incident illustrates the extreme tension and violence Indians in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul are enduring as a result of the government’s failure to map out their ancestral lands, in violation of the law.

Following the theft of their land to make way for cattle ranches and soya and sugarcane plantations, many Indians live in overcrowded reserves or roadside camps where they are subject to malnutrition, alcoholism and violence.

Yesterday’s murder follows the killing of a Terena Indian by police last month.

Rodrigues was shot whilst a delegation of Terena and Guarani Indians visited Brasília to meet with top ministers and push for their land rights, which the government is threatening to weaken in a series of drastic and controversial reforms which are generating an outcry amongst tribes across Brazil.

The Guarani told Survival after the meeting, ‘The ranchers are becoming richer and richer, illegally, on our indigenous lands, whilst we indigenous people are going hungry and dying’.

Ranchers are planning an anti-indigenous rally in the region tomorrow.

Survival is urging the Brazilian government to fully investigate this murder and bring the perpetrators to justice, and is campaigning for the rapid demarcation of the Guarani’s ancestral lands. Without these lands, more lives will be lost.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘Brazil is lauded as an economic success story; it is celebrated for rapid growth; it is accorded the honour of hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. But how many people know the murky truth? In the scramble for profit at any cost, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost, and thousands of livelihoods destroyed. This murder is part of a series of recent killings. What is the government doing to bring the murderers to justice and prevent further bloodshed? Next to nothing.’
source : Survival International


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