02-06-13

International court to rule on indigenous rights abuses in Chile

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will rule this week on cases of abuse by the Chilean government against Mapuche political prisoners.

 

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, Costa Rica, is expected to give its decisions Wednesday and Thursday on several cases concerning human rights abuses against Mapuche political prisoners in Chile. The various cases were first brought to the court by the affected families in August of 2011.

 

A Mapuche representative, left, presents a case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2008. A decesion on a more recent case, presented in 2011, is due later this week. Photo via OAS

The fundamental abuses cited in the claims are: the use of state repression, violence and imprisonment against Mapuche leaders, targeted at those involved in the campaign to regain Mapuche ancestral lands and rights. The claims also cite the historical mistreatment of the Mapuche people as having lasting traumatic social and cultural effects on all levels of the community.

 

A history of struggle

 

After fighting off Spanish conquistadors in the late 1500s, the Mapuche people managed to maintain their independence in the southern Araucanía Region and defend against the invasion of outsiders for centuries. It was not until the Chilean government engaged in the "pacification of the Araucanía" in the 1860s that the state finally took control of the Mapuche territory.

 

Although the Chilean government set up a system of reservations, known as “reducciones,” similar to those created in the United States, a large percentage of Mapuche suffered as a direct result of the looting of soldiers and the loss of land and livelihoods following the Chilean absorption of the Araucanía Region.

 

The reclamation of historical land rights has continued to be a major struggle for the Mapuche community. Individuals are often in the news for a range of crimes, primarily destruction of property, arson and

aggression against police. Many attacks are targeted at the forestry companies currently operating on formerly Mapuche lands.

 

Those caught or accused of participating in these crimes are often charged under the  “Anti-Terrorist Law”, first put in place by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Under this law, the accused can be held

without bail before trial, receive higher penalties for crimes, be sentenced based on anonymous testimony. Cases can also be turned over to military courts. One of the more prominent Mapuche resistance groups,

the Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM), is labeled a terrorist organization by the Chilean government.

 

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been critical of the Chilean government's treatment of Mapuche prisoners, citing instances of torture and mistreatment. Mapuche political prisoners

frequently engage in long hunger strikes as a means of protest or to generate awareness.

 

The plaintiffs

 

Among the petitioners in the current Inter-American Court of Human Rights case are multiple Mapuche leaders from different Lof, Mapuche territorial groups. One of these leaders, Victor Ancalaf, is being

presented by the Center of Justice and International Law, and NGO based in Washington, D.C.

 

The claims brought by Pascual Pichun, Juan Millacheo, Jose Huenchunao and Jaime and Juan Patricio Marileo are represented by the International Federation of Human Rights, based in Paris. Mapuche leader Segundo Aniceto Norin and activist Patricia Troncoso Robles are represented by Chilean lawyer Ylenia Hartog.

 

Forensic experts are also contributing to the case, providing reports on the long-term traumatic consequences of state repression and the impact of the use of the “Anti-Terrorist Law” against the Mapuche community. Ruth Vargas Forman, a clinical psychologist, is among the experts

providing analysis on behalf of the Mapuche families.

 

source : Mapuche Foundation | FOLIL

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B C: Enbridge Pipeline Rejection - Coastal First Nations Congratulate Premier Christy Clark For "Doing The Right Thing"

First Nations reaffirm ban on oil tanker traffic on BC's North Coast


The Coastal First Nations are congratulating the BC government for rejecting the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline at the conclusion of JRP hearings for the proposed project, and they are reaffirming their ban on oil tanker traffic on BC's North Coast.


"The BC government has done the right thing by rejecting the Enbridge pipeline for the company's failure to protect the environment," said Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. "Coastal First Nations are celebrating this victory today by reaffirming our unequivocal opposition to oil tanker traffic on BC's North Coast."


The Coastal First Nations have banned oil tankers from their traditional territories in the Great Bear Rainforest, and have invested more than $300 million dollars over the past decade to establish a sustainable economy on the coast. They say this investment now appears to be more secure.


"Enbridge would like to move forward on a promise, and the BC government is absolutely right in saying that we can't trust them to do that. The review is over, and the company never met the five conditions, including legal requirements regarding Aboriginal rights and title," said Sterritt.


"We commend Premier Clark for her strong position on the environment and commitment to building relationships with BC's First Nations."


Source: Coastal First Nations

 

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Brazil Police Shoot Indians – More Violence Feared

Police in southern Brazil yesterday killed a Terena Indian and wounded several others while violently evicting them from their land. Members of the tribe had returned to live on part of their ancestral territory currently occupied by a rancher who is also a local politician.


Elsewhere in Brazil, an eviction order was served on Kayapo, Arara, Munduruku and Xipaia Indians occupying the controversial Belo Monte dam site. Armed police have surrounded the protesters and tensions are rising amid fears that there will be similar violence.


Munduruku Indians are also protesting construction of a dam on the Tapajós river. One Munduruku was shot dead when police invaded a community last November.


Paygomuyatpu Munduruku said, ‘The government is preparing a tragedy. We will not leave here. The government has ignored us, offended us, humiliated us and assassinated us… They are killing us because we are against the dams.’ The Brazilian constitution and international law enshrine the right of tribal peoples to be consulted about projects on their land. Yet a raft of bills and constitutional amendments proposed by a powerful agricultural and mining lobby threaten to undermine these land rights. Indians are angry that, despite being in office for two and half years, President Dilma Rousseff has yet to meet any Indians.


Survival International is calling on President Rousseff to halt the eviction of indigenous protesters, to consult with the Indians, and to recognize the territories of Terena tribespeople immediately.


Survival’s director Stephen Corry said, ‘History is repeating itself. The Figueiredo report, chronicling the genocidal atrocities of a past generation, has been unearthed at exactly the same time as new attacks on the Indians are unleashed. Killings of Indians should not be tolerated anywhere, let alone in a country planning to host world sporting events.’


Source: Survival International

 

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Botswana government at war with San

Despite court defeats and international condemnation, the government of Botswana is continuing its assault on the San by attempting to forcibly relocate another community from land they have occupied for decades, says the Khwedom Council, a non-governmental organisation advocating for the rights of the San (or Basarwa) people.

 

“It is another sad season for the San in Botswana as the government seems to have declared war on our people,” said Keikabile Mogodu, Director of the Khwedom Council. “It appears that the government will never tolerate San in Botswana and will do everything it can to destroy any trace of the first people of this land.”

 

The latest confrontation between the state and the San is taking place at Ranyane, around 220 km south of Gantsi, where there is a San community of more than 600. The community has access to a borehole but lacks all other basic services since the government has always refused to recognise it as a settlement.

 

Now, instead of ensuring that the San in Ranyane gain access to clean water, sanitation, health care and education, the government has chosen – without consultation – to relocate the people on the pretext that they are living on an animal corridor within a Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

 

“Ranyane is surrounded by commercial farm land and that is why the government is planning to relocate the San,” said Mogodu. “For decades, our people have been pushed from one area to another to make way for commercial farmers, and now the government is threatening to do the same thing again.”

 

This is not the first time that the government has acted in such a ruthless manner towards the San. Most recently, the San were forcibly and violently removed from their ancestral home in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR). At the time, the government justified this inhumane conduct by claiming that the presence of the San in the CKGR was incompatible with the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity within the park, ignoring the fact that the San people have been the custodians of the land, plants and animals in the Kgalagadi for centuries.

 

“It is clear that the government wants to use ‘nation-building’ to force the San to assimilate into the dominant Tswana culture so as to permanently erase their language and culture,” said Mogodu. “In the process, the government aims to take all our land away and use it for cattle farming or tourism.”

 

The Khwedom Council has made repeated attempts to open a dialogue with the government, including the president and ombudsman, but to no avail.

 

So with no end in sight to the government’s campaign against the San and with another round of forced relocations on the horizon, the Khwedom Council would like to know:

 

When will the relocation of the San people end?

When will the San be able to live at peace without fear of relocation?

Is this all that the San can expect from independence and democracy?

When will the San be treated as equal citizens of this country?

What will it take for the government to recognise that the San have the same basic rights as all other citizens – including the right to be treated with respect and dignity?

 

Source : Article originally appeared at www.osisa.org - Survival International

 

 

 

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Bangladesh : 21 families of indigenous Chak community left their village following harassment of land grabbers in Naikhyongchari

Indigenous villagers of Padujhiri Chak Para of Alikkhying mouza under Baishari union of Naikhyongchari upazila in Bandarban district abandoned their village following disturbances, harassments and threats of outsider land grabbers. A total of 21 families belong to indigenous Chak community were compelled to leave their village. Most of the evicted indigenous Chak families are Jum cultivators (traditional shifting cultivator).

 

It is reported that prior to ‘Sangrai’ festival, a traditional national festival of indigenous Chak community, on 9-10 April 2013, the Chak families left their village as influential land grabbers including rubber companies, different commercial companies and fundamentalist militant groups have been inciting hired miscreants and Bengali labourers to conduct theft, robbery and intimidation on indigenous villagers long time with the intention to evict them from their village and occupy their ancestral land and homesteads. Most of the evicted indigenous Chak families took shelter at premises of Baishari Upar Chak Para and other families at Baishari Headman Para under Baishari union.

 

It is learnt that the miscreants often beat indigenous Chak villagers and seize their valuables while the villagers come from and go to the market. Even miscreants commit eve teasing and sexual harassment on indigenous women and girls at elsewhere they catch them. The miscreants also frequently destroy Jum farm and orchard of indigenous Chak villagers to disturbance them. Due to unendurable harassment of land grabbers, the Chak villagers abandoned their village prior to start their Sangrai festival.

 

It is also learnt that earlier five years ago, the indigenous villagers of another village named Longadu Chak Para under Baishari union fled from their village following unbearable harassment of outsider Bengali land grabbers. Another 13 poor indigenous Mro families from Amtali Para village of Fasiakhali union under Lama upazila in Bandarban district were forced to evacuate the village in 2012 due to the alleged persecution of the land-grabbers.

 

It is worth mentioning that different companies and outsider Bengali businessmen made rubber plantation on hundreds acres of land. In some cases, they planted rubber on the land belonging to indigenous villagers. Besides, more than 11 business companies including Destiny Group occupied thousands acres of lands recorded and owned by permanent residents of CHT including indigenous Jumma people. The business companies include Mostafa Group, Laden Group, Shahamin Group, S Alam Group, PHP Group, Meridian Group, Exim Group, Babul Group, Agme Group etc. These business companies continue to occupy lands in order to extend its business and area. They occupied hundreds acres of land just by hanging signboard on the land and threatened the indigenous villagers and permanent Bengali residents to leave the area. In some cases, hired miscreants of land grabbers attacked the villagers. However, local administration has been playing passive role which encourages the outsiders to occupy more land freely.

 

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12-04-13

EU Calls for New Plans Past the MDGs

The European Commission has unveiled a blueprint for global development aid and called on world leaders to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with an international aid framework based on sustainable and inclusive development tackling poverty at its roots.

While praising how the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had “inspired an unprecedented global movement for development,” the European Report on Development 2013 – an independent report commissioned by European states and setting out recommendations for the post-MDG aid agenda – said its replacement would need to go much further to provide help for poor nations.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels as the report was released Tuesday, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: “Efforts to end poverty in the post-2015 world must go hand in hand with sustainable development. It is vital that aid is used in the best way to make effective change.

“Aid alone is not sufficient. We need to look beyond just financing.”

The independent report was prepared by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). The European Commission (EC) stresses that it is not a reflection of any policy it may have on post-2015 aid and is designed to add to current debate on global development aid.

Pedro Martins of ODI told IPS: “What the report is trying to do is to look at some of the things that are not being so widely talked about – sustainability, social inclusion, inequality – in the global development debate and give a voice on those issues. We don’t think it is the final answer, just a contribution to thinking.”

Piebalgs said though that the report “complemented and supported” the EC’s aid work.

The report identified a number of key failings with the MDGs which its authors say must be fixed in any future global aid programme.

The MDGs mask inequalities and omit some issues of key importance to development, including the need for productive employment, issues related to climate change, governance, migration, conflict, security and disability, according to the report.

It also criticised rich countries for not fully honouring MDG commitments and said that there was often a mismatch between national policy needs and MDG targets which meant that some aid was essentially squandered.

Third sector groups monitoring development aid and its effective use have previously been critical of the fact that in a bid to meet targets or specific aims projects have been undertaken which, while well-intentioned, have been poorly thought through and resulted in ‘white elephants’ or been virtually useless to the people who they are aimed at.

But its authors stated that, crucially, the biggest failure was that the international community had not reached an agreement on key issues such as climate change and trade, nor had it managed to create a stable and transparent international financial system.

Since the UN set up a High Level Panel (HLP) to draw up a successor to the MDGs, independent development aid groups and representatives of some of the world’s poorest countries have said that these issues are arguably the chief barriers to eradicating extreme poverty.

There is concern that states in Africa – one of the world’s richest continents in terms of natural resources, but its least developed – for example, are losing precious revenues as corporations manipulate tax regimes and use offshore financial havens as well as taking advantage of unfair royalty agreements on commodities to pay little or nothing in taxes and fees to governments.

Meanwhile, some of the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped nations continue to be blighted by environmental disasters robbing them of essential crops and foodstuffs and exacerbating existing problems.

Dr Shamshad Akhtar, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, speaking at the report’s launch, said: “The economic course adopted by some countries which has allowed them to become some of the most developed in the world has also led them to being some of the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the world as well.

“The economic development of some countries is indeed on a collision course with the need to protect the environment and climate in a sustainable way.”

The ERD clearly states that richer countries, such as those in the EU, need to extend collective action in all areas important to development, including drawing up international financial regulation, beneficial agreements in trade, helping deal with problems connected with migration, including improving conditions for economic migrants, as well as climate change.

They also say there is a need for a new understanding of poverty to address issues of relative poverty incorporating aspects of social inclusion and inequality.

By doing this, the report’s authors argue, global aid can grow to include a wider range of instruments than simply official development assistance – the main tool of the MDGs – and encourage the foundation of a new approach to development assistance.

However, Jan Vandemoortele, a co-architect of the MDGs and now an independent author and lecturer, warned that while it was quite right to look at including issues such as climate change, social inclusion, new definitions of poverty and others, it would be impossible to produce a global aid framework to satisfy everyone.

“It’s not possible to have a concise, global aid framework that is also completely comprehensive and that gives a clear list of targets while at the same time covering all the complexities of development,” he told IPS.

 
 

Source : IPS

 

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Honduras: Rio Blanco communities take action to defend rivers, territory, and life

At 5am on the first of April, the indigenous communities of Rio Blanco, Honduras, with coordination of COPINH (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras), gathered on the main access road leading to the proposed "Agua Zarca" hydroelectric dam, blocking access to the construction that has already begun. On the second of April they issued an ultimatum to the company, demanding the immediate removal of construction equipment and permanent abandonment of the project.

 

The communities of Rio Blanco, as well as many communities down stream of the river Qualcarque, were not adequately consulted nor allowed to participate in the process leading to the project, as is international law. Only the mayor of the municipality and some well-compensated individuals of lesser affected communities ratified the project. The right of indigenous peoples to determine their own process of development is guaranteed by ILO convention 169. The construction and completion of this dam will cause widespread environmental destruction, flooding inhabited and utilized areas, restricting the access of water to many thousands of people in Rio Blanco and downstream, cause the degradation of pristine natural areas, produce huge quantities of greenhouse gases through the decomposition of submerged biomass, and cause water and land contamination as a result of the construction. Simply put, this dam is a death sentence to the indigenous communities that have lived here for generations.

 

This type of so called "green development" has been greatly accelerated after the 09' coup, where ex-president Zelaya was disposed by the military and elite classes largely as a result of his proposed social and land reforms that favored landless and marginalized communities. Since the coup, the flood gates have opened to transnational and neo-liberal exploitation of natural resources (there have been around 360 development concessions, 30% of which are on indigenous lands). Within this neo-liberal framework, dam projects secure a dual purpose. SIEPAC (Central American Electrical Interconnection System)--part of the Mesoamerica Project (previously called Plan Pueblo-Panama)--connects the electrical grids of all Mesoamerica allowing cheap energy to be transported to the energy hungry USA. In addition, dams are necessary to redirect the enormous quantity of water needed for mining operations. For these reasons resistance to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam (and dam projects in general) is extremely important because they open the door to exponentially worse environmental degradation and exploitation of indigenous cultures.

 

The amount of danger the communities of Rio Blanco face can not be understated. For example, the land reclamation action 3 years ago in Bajo Aguan has seen the murder of over 100 participants and counting. International solidarity plays an extremely important role in defending the human rights of those in defense of mother earth and indigenous culture. In addition to any form of solidarity action imaginable, the communities of Rio Blanco and COPINH are asking for email and twitter denouncements addressed to President Pepe "Lobo" (Twitter, facebook), Presedente de congreso national, minstro de serna and (INA) National Agocia Intitute.

 

source : info@intercontinentalcry.org

 

 

 

 

 

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30-03-13

UNCERD Raises Concerns Over Discriminatory Impacts of US/Mexico Border Wall

 The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recently issued an Early Warning and Urgent Action letter to the United States government over the discriminatory impacts of the construction of the US/Mexico border wall on the Kikapoo, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tigua) and the Lipan Apache (Ndé) indigenous communities in Texas.

 

Responding to a petition that was prepared by students at the Human Rights Clinic in collaboration with Dr. Margo Tamez, in coordination with the Lipan Apache Women Defense (LAW) and members of the Lipan Apache Band, the UNCERD commented:

 

"The United States Congress began enacting legislation allowing the Government to build a wall along the border between the United States of America and Mexico, with the purported aim of preventing the entrance of alleged terrorists, undocumented immigrants, and drug traffickers. Pursuant to the adoption of the REAL ID Act and the Secure Fence Act in 2005 and 2006 respectively, the Department of Homeland Security has reportedly waived 36 Federal and State laws to proceed with the construction of the wall, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Reparation Act, the American Indian Freedom Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

 

"Subsequently, the border wall has allegedly been built on sensitive environmental areas and lands inhabited by indigenous communities, without sufficient and effective prior consultation with the affected population, and apparently continues to damage the land, the ecosystem, and the cultural and traditional way of life of indigenous communities. It has also been reported that while the wall has been built on the lands of indigenous peoples, it has skipped border areas with lucrative properties owned by business, such as the River Bend Golf Resort.

 

"The Committee expresses its concern regarding the potentially discriminatory impact that the construction of the border wall might have on the Kikapoo, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Lipan Apache indigenous communities, including their access to tribal lands located north and south of the border and to resources required for traditional ceremonies.

 

"In particular, the Committee is concerned by the situation of the Lipan Apache, a tribe which reportedly remains Federally unrecognized, given the information received that the construction of the wall through its land has allegedly damaged ancestral burial sites, reduced the tribe’s access to elders and other knowledge keepers, led to severe decline in biodiversity, and may lead to the disappearance of the tribal identity altogether as the community may be forced to leave the land.

 

"Moreover, the Committee is concerned that, based on the information before it, the border wall has been constructed without the fiee, prior and informed consent of the affected communities, and that no effective judicial remedies or compensation have been provided to date. With regard to the latter, it has been reported that the Government’s use of eminent domain powers cannot be effectively challenged in court, and that courts have not allowed claims‘ to be brought regarding the potentially discriminatory impact of the wall."

 

The UNCERD goes on to request a formal detailed response regarding the impact of the border wall on the rights of indigenous peoples, "any recent or future measures envisaged to consult with and consider the requests of the affected communities", "information on any compensation provided to affected communities to date, and any measures envisaged to reverse the negative impact of the construction of the border wall."

 

In addition, the UNCERD requested additional information and updates on two previous cases that were examined under the early warning and urgent action procedure, namely the impact of the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort Project on the San Francisco Peaks and the situation of the Western Shoshone.

 

Concerning the Arizona Snowbowl, the Committee requested "information on any further measures envisaged to engage with the operator of the Arizona Snowball Ski area to encourage the use of sources other than reclaimed waste water to produce artificial snow; and information on the outcomes of the appeal submitted to the Ninth Circuit."

 

The Committee also observed that the government has not provided additional information in its periodic report since 20 November 2011. There have, of course, been several developments since then, as documented at ProtectThePeaks.org and IndigenousAction.org.

 

The follow up concerning the Western Shoshone was a little more comprehensive. The Committee requested "substantive responses to the issues raised by the Committee in its Decision 1 (68) of 11 April 2006 in particular those identified in paragraph 7 of the decision." Those issue are as follows:

 

1) Legislative efforts to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers;

 

2) Destructive activities which are conducted and/or planned on areas of spiritual and cultural significance to the Western Shoshone peoples, including 3 federal efforts to open a nuclear waste repository at the Yucca Mountain, the alleged use of explosives and open pit gold mining activities on Mount Tenabo and Horse Canyon, and the alleged issuance of geothermal energy leases at, or near, hot springs;

 

3) Resumption of underground nuclear testing on Western Shoshone ancestral lands;

 

4) Conduct and / or planning of all such activities without consultation without and despite protests of the Western Shoshone peoples; and;

 

5) Difficulties encountered by Western Shoshone peoples in appropriately challenging all such actions before national courts and in obtaining adjudication on the merits of their claims, due in particular to domestic technicalities.

 

Sadly, the UNCERD's requests for information are not likely to result in anything substantive; that is, even if the US government can even be bothered to respond. Nevertheless, it's reassuring that the Committee is continuing to purse these matters, especially the struggles of the Western Shoshone, which have been all but forgotten by the international community.

 

source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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UN demands ‘immediate suspension’ of Amazon gas plans

The United Nations has demanded an immediate halt to the expansion of a major gas project in the Peruvian Amazon, over concerns that it poses a grave risk to the lives of uncontacted Indians living nearby.

In a letter to the Peruvian government, the UN’s Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) requested the ‘immediate suspension’ of plans to expand the existing Camisea gas project further into the Nahua-Nanti reserve, as it ‘threatens the physical and cultural survival of the indigenous peoples living there.’

The call follows an appeal to CERD by Peru’s indigenous organizations AIDESEP, ORAU and COMARU, who are also launching legal action against the government and companies involved in the $1.6 billion project.

Camisea is run by a consortium of companies including Argentina’s Pluspetrol, US’s Hunt Oil and Spain’s Repsol, and is one of the largest gas projects in the Amazon.

The gas project lies in the heart of the Nahua-Nanti Reserve that was created to protect the land and lives of uncontacted Indians.

Now the companies plan to carry out seismic tests in the forest – detonating thousands of explosives – and to drill more than twenty exploratory wells.

The work will have a devastating impact on the local inhabitants, who rely on the rainforest and its game for their survival. Any contact with the uncontacted Indians could prove fatal.

In 2003, a Supreme Decree was passed, as a condition of a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank, which prohibited any further expansion of the project. But in flagrant violation of the Decree, Peru’s Ministry of Energy approved part of the expansion of Camisea in April 2012. The Ministry is imminently set to approve the next phase of expansion, costing $480 million.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Peruvian government promised the Inter-American Development Bank that it wouldn’t expand the Camisea project, and even passed a Supreme Decree to write the pledge into law. Now it’s doing exactly what it promised not to. Small wonder the UN has demanded this reckless project be stopped.’



 

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Redeveloping the Millennium: Indigenous Colombians Unveil Five New Millennium Development Goals

Colombia’s indigenous organizations have revealed five new ‘millennium development goals’ (MDGs), presenting the world’s first national framework for realizing indigenous rights in response to the Millennium Declaration. The move challenges the country’s authorities to record their progress in meeting the new targets, with indicators for the realization of each goal published in a report funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

 

The original eight MDGs, criticised by indigenous Colombian organizations for ignoring ethnic and social groups, were integrated into the national development program in 2005. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, the Indigenous Confederation of Tayrona, the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon, together with traditional indigenous authorities, cooperated to produce the additions.

 

Their indigenous goals seek the achievement of:

 

1) the protection of indigenous territory;

2) indigenous self-government;

3) the self-development of indigenous communities on the basis of equilibrium and harmony;

4) free, prior and informed consent as a condition for developments on indigenous land; and

5) the ‘institutional redesign’ of the state in its relations with indigenous peoples.

 

Colombian Deputy Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez de Soto welcomed the launch of the project’s 200 page report: Another Vision, Indigenous Peoples and the Millennium Development Goals: “The Government has made a major effort to put ourselves in the place of another”, he said, adding: “This document confirms that we cannot move forward if we do not understand.”

 

The government’s commitment to indigenous rights is questioned, however, by indigenous lawyer Asdrúbal Plaza, one of the two co-authors of the report:

“The Environment Ministry continues to grant mining licenses to indigenous land without consultations”, he said, adding that the state: “wants to continually interfere in our territories and our resources.”

 

While a number of recent court judgements in the country have ruled in favour of indigenous peoples in their disputes with mining, energy, and infrastructure companies, the International Labour Organization consistently criticizes Colombia for not protecting indigenous rights or applying the ILO Convention it signed on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. The country’s indigenous territories are under pressure as the thirst for their resources increases due to Colombia’s booming economy. ONIC Secretary General Juvenal Gonzalez Arrieta was recently asked by Colombian daily El Nuevo Siglo whether delays caused to the activities of multinationals on indigenous land by recent court rulings ordering consultations with local people meant that indigenous groups were opposed to the country’s development. He responded that 30% of Colombia is indigenous territory containing 52% of the country’s natural resources, and: "We don’t just protect the natural resources for indigenous people but for society and humanity”.

 

The indigenous goals are overall targets, subdivided to provide specific objectives. The third goal, of achieving self-development on the basis of equilibrium and harmony, for example, covers subcategories such as indigenous women’s rights, education, indigenous and intercultural health services, and harmony between mankind and nature. The education sub-theme includes the specific indicator of the number of teachers in a given territory who are teaching through indigenous languages. The harmony with nature sub-theme includes the indicator of the number of hectares of indigenous land replanted with native species.

 

Such values in a development program might be seen to contrast with the investment-oriented, export agriculture and mining-focused model of the current Santos government. Does the author Asdrúbal Plaza see any grounds for shared development objectives? “It will be difficult but not impossible”, he says. “In our territories we have our own economies, and our own idea of development which corresponds to our own worldview. For us, we envision the ongoing cultural, physical and spiritual development of ourselves as indigenous peoples. This contrasts with the government’s ethos of development, which is based on consumerism.”

 

He argues that a shared understanding of development will depend on the government’s acceptance that “the environmental authority in our territories is the relevant indigenous authority.”

 

He sees the five indigenous goals as central to this negotiation between the parties: without achieving the first goal of the protection of indigenous territory, “we indigenous people will have nothing”, Plaza warns. He then points to the second goal of achieving indigenous self-government, adding that “if the government doesn’t respect our decisions, we can’t advance.”

 

While the report has grown out of the difficult relationship between indigenous peoples and the Colombian government, it has also drawn on the engagement with the original MDGs by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The report’s supporters plan to send the report to indigenous rights organizations around the world, saying it will help reframe development debates in the run up to the 2015 date for the realization of the original MDGs. Plaza is proud of the ‘pioneering’ nature of the project, but cautions that for indigenous development in Colombia, “if the state doesn’t change, and if it doesn’t learn to respect indigenous authorities, then nothing is possible.”

 

source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Panama: Police brutality signals impending storm over Barro Blanco hydroelectric project

“Last year, on the day that Jeronimo Rodriguez and Mauricio Méndez were killed, I was one of the injured

Luis Jimenez, a young Ngabe man who lives on the banks of the Tabasará river in western Panama, rolls up his trouser leg to reveal the scars of several old wounds. The ugly lacerations on his right calf have left him in pain and unable to walk to properly.

 

“I can’t work, I can’t walk, and I have my family to support and everything…”

 

Two years ago, Luis had accompanied this journalist on a research trip into the rugged hills and valleys of the Tabasará watershed, investigating the impacts of the controversial Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. Today, he struggles to walk across the meeting hall.

 

Disturbingly, Luis is just one of many individuals who have suffered at the hands of the Panamanian police, who now freely assault protesters with rubber bullets, batons, tear gas, and shot-guns. He was crippled for daring to stand up for his rights, and for daring to defend the natural resources which his community has enjoyed for generations.

 

Based in an annex of the semi-autonomous Comarca Ngabe-Buglé, the Movimiento 10 de Abril (M10) is the front-line in a resistance movement that has successfully fought off hydroelectric development on the Tabasará river for more than 13 years.

 

Today, a Honduran-owned company, Generadora del Istmo (Genisa), is months away from completing the 28.85 megawatt dam that will destroy several indigenous communities and take food from the mouths of Panama’s most marginalized peoples. M10 are continuing to mount resistance, and as tensions escalate, fears of violent police reprisals are becoming reality.

 

Last Tuesday 19 March, riot squads attacked a protest camp at Vigui, close to the dam site in Veraguas province. Witnesses reported a sudden swarm of some 150 armed police, who descended on the 30-strong vigil before dusk. The police dispersed the protesters with bird-shot, tear gas, and rubber bullets, aggressively pursuing them as they fled into the hills of the Comarca.

 

The attack comes after confrontations the previous week, when three protesters were arrested, incarcerated, and allegedly beaten in police custody.

 

Protests over a range of civil, labour, and human rights issues have been gathering pace across Panama in recent months. Worryingly, police reactions to the unrest appear to be becoming ever more harsh and uncompromising. Panama’s security forces have long enjoyed the privilege of impunity and now seem to be running out of control.

 

Last year, tensions between the Ngabe-Buglé peoples and the Panamanian government reached a notorious and bloody climax. Three unarmed protesters, who had been peacefully expressing grievances over the Martinelli’s administration’s mining and energy policies, were shot and killed by police on the Panamerican Highway. The killings sparked national outrage and scenes of civil disturbance.

 

Following several days of conflict, peace agreements were finally negotiated between the government, the Cacica (Chief) of the Comarca, and Genisa. The so-called San Lorenzo accord included a series of steps aimed at resolving the long-standing conflict over Barro Blanco.

 

The first step included a UN field study, which reported its findings earlier this year. Their study proved conclusively that the project is set to inundate indigenous lands protected as part of the Comarca Ngabe-Buglé, directly impacting at least three communities and indirectly impacting scores more.

 

According to their measurements, the dam will create a 258 hectare reservoir, permanently flooding the communities’ most productive farmlands, numerous homes, a specialized Ngabere language school, a church, a cemetery, and several archaeological sites. It will also kill off the river’s diadromous fish and shrimp species, which form a staple of local diets.

 

None of these impacts have been included in Genisa’s environmental impact assessment, and none of the affected communities have provided their free, informed, and prior consent to the project. As such, Barro Blanco is an unlawful development.

 

The second part of the San Lorenzo accord demands the intervention of an independent expert to investigate the damages in more detail. Yesterday, Wednesday 20 March, the Panamanian government dismissed calls to suspend construction whilst the expert convenes, breaking the spirit of San Lorenzo. The project is currently 40% complete and without a halt to works it will cut off the river in a matter of weeks.

 

As the government and Genisa play for time, protesters are again preparing to take to the streets. Bloodshed can be avoided, but only if the police are brought to discipline, and only if Genisa, the government, and Barro Blanco’s markedly silent financial backers – the German Investment Corporation (DEG), the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), and the Central American Development Bank – choose to respect the law.

 

Source : Interncontinental Cry

 

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Panama: death of protester puts Ngabe 'on alert'

An indigenous Ngäbe protester, Onesimo Rodriguez, was killed last Friday 22 March 2013 in the hamlet of Las Nubes, Chiriquí province, after attending a rally against the controversial Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. It was World Water day.

 

According to Manolo Miranda, a leader of the Moviemiento 10 de Abril (M10), the Ngabe and campesino resistance movement currently defending the Tabasará river, a migrant labourer from Hato Chami, 20-year-old Onésimo Rodríguez, was viciously attacked at a bus stop in the late afternoon after participating in a 200-strong solidarity march in the nearby town of Cerro Punta. Sr Rodríguez had also allegedly taken part in a protest camp near Vigui, broken up by riot squads last week.

 

According to M10, his bludgeoned and strangled corpse was recovered from a ditch on Saturday morning, along with a second seriously injured protester, apparently left for dead but now being cared for at an undisclosed location.

 

M10 have openly accused the police of orchestrating the murder, which they say was committed by four plain clothes officers wearing ski masks. The police have said the death was due to drunkenness.

 

The incident, which has been reported sparsely in the Panamanian media, occurs at a time of heightened tensions. The Ngabe – who number 200,000 and live in remote mountain communities across central and western Panama – are currently mobilizing to discuss further actions. As yet, the scale of their mobilization is unclear and it is not known whether they intend to close the country’s highways.

 

Your vigilance is requested at this uncertain time. 

 

source : intercontinentalcry.org

 

 

 

 

 

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Kalahari Bushmen launch new legal battle

Bushmen in Botswana are taking the government to court for illegally refusing them access to their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). Approximately 700 Bushmen who were evicted from the CKGR in 2002 won a marathon High Court battle in 2006 for the right to return, but the government has since done everything it can to limit the number of Bushmen who can live there.

- The government claims the ruling applies only to the 189 Bushmen named in the original court papers – it refuses to allow the others to enter the reserve without a permit. Permits last just a month, after which the Bushmen risk arrest if they ‘overstay’.

- Even the children of the 189 Bushmen named in the court papers are only allowed free entry to the reserve up to the age of 16, after which they too are only allowed in on month-long permits.

- Wildlife scouts are prohibiting the passage of livestock and donkeys essential for transport.

- No Bushmen have been given hunting permits in the reserve, making their subsistence hunting impossible.

One Bushman told Survival International, ‘[Having to apply for a permit] makes me feel homeless. We don’t know when we will be stopped or our permits taken away. I want to be at my own home and not have to depend on someone else’s permission to be there.’

This will be the third time the Bushmen have been forced to resort to the courts in their struggle to live in peace on their land.

The historic 2006 judgement confirmed that the Bushmen have the right to live and hunt inside the CKGR – without having to apply for permits to enter it.

Harassment, intimidation and arrests of Bushmen for hunting have also been on the rise in recent months. In November last year, two Bushmen were badly beaten and tortured for hunting, and three Bushmen children were arrested for carrying antelope meat in January.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘The government is continuing to defy Botswana’s highest court and its constitution, for no apparent purpose. The people of Botswana are hardly likely to welcome another complete waste of taxpayers’ money on fighting yet another court case. The government has been trying to evict the Bushmen for over 30 years. Isn’t it about time that Botswana’s first citizens were allowed to live on their own land in peace?’

source : Survival International

 

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Guarani trapped on ‘island’ celebrate land breakthrough

A Guarani community in Brazil is celebrating after the government recognized their land as indigenous, for their exclusive use.

The 170 members of Pyelito Kuê/ M’barakay community, living on an ‘island’ between a river and a soya plantation, can now stay on part of their ancestral land until the formal demarcation process is complete.

One community spokesman told Survival, ‘We are very happy. We have been fighting for our land, because it is ours. My grandfather is buried here. We have been threatened by the ranchers but we are not giving up; we will stay strong because we need this land.’

Another Guarani man said, ‘This a first step for us. It’s a victory. We need our land so we can plant and our community can thrive and grow’.

This success comes after the Guarani’s international declaration that they would rather be killed than be removed from their land.

The Guarani have suffered a series of brutal attacks since they reoccupied this part of their territory in August 2011.

The Guarani’s land was occupied by ranchers in the 1970s, forcing the Indians to live in appalling conditions in overcrowded reserves.

This violence and intimidation by the ranchers’ gunmen has forced the Guarani to make a dangerous river crossing using a narrow cable, in order to travel to and from their land, to obtain food supplies.

The Guarani are now urging the government to complete the demarcation process as fast as possible and allow them to live on all of their ancestral land where they can plant crops and no longer be exposed to the constant risk of violence.

Survival is lobbying the Brazilian government to map out all Guarani land, as it is legally bound to do.

Source : Survival International 

 

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Cambodia: Fighting to save Cambodia's Prey Lang forest

Developers and loggers are threatening to permanently destroy Cambodia's Prey Lang forest, one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining lowland evergreen woodlands. One rural woman is leading the fight to save the region.

When people first meet Mao Chanthoeun, they might not associate this small, slight woman with the dangerous fight to save Cambodia's Prey Lang forest.

But appearances can be deceiving.

The 32-year-old has gone from being a traditional farmer in rural Cambodia to a highly visible and committed advocate for the forest, although her work toward preserving this natural resource has come with a good deal of personal sacrifice.

Chanthoeun's fight for Prey Lang is personal; she grew up along the forest's edges. And her activism comes not just from a desire to protect the wilderness, it's a matter of maintaining her and her community's way of life.

"If Prey Lang disappears, my community and my family will lose everything," she told DW, at a protest in Phnom Penh. "We absolutely depend on the forest and if it's gone, we will have no way to earn a living."

A unique natural environment

Prey Lang, which means 'our forest' in the indigenous Kuy language, used to cover some 3,600 square kilometers across four provinces in Cambodia's north. But the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest on the Indochinese peninsula is succumbing to developers' bulldozers and loggers' saws, which for Chanthoeun and her community spells catastrophe.

"They get food like vegetables, mushrooms, and honey there but also traditional herbs for medicine and construction materials," said Seng Sokheng of the Community Peace-Building Network, a Cambodian NGO that works on natural resource issues. "It is like the bank for the local community."

At the moment, weak existing regulations on forest protection are rarely enforced and international observers have estimated that if the current rate of deforestation continues, Prey Lang could vanish in two to five years. That would deprive the nation of a crucial watershed, an important fish breeding ground and a huge carbon dioxide absorber.

"The Kuy people also won't be able to make their living collecting non-timber materials from forest," said Svay Phoeun, a member of this ethnic minority which makes its home in and near the forest in interview with DW. "More of us will have to migrate to look for work elsewhere."

Taking a stand

Activist Mao Chanthoeun, who’s one-half Kuy herself, says she saw several years ago what was happening and decided to take action.

She began working the local NGOs on environmental issues, learning about forest issues and the players involved. Slowly, an activist network began to emerge, which became the Prey Lang Community Network. Chanthoeun built up a women’s group within the larger organization, and started playing a more active role. It was unusual in rural Cambodian society, which is still largely patriarchal.

In 2011, she began participating in forest patrols to stop illegal loggers. Despite the fact that she was six months pregnant, she joined others in confronting powerful companies, who often don't look kindly on activists. Sometimes those involved in the illegal logging are even armed.

"Of course, I am afraid of being shot sometimes," she said. "But I simply can't think like that. I'm trying to take care of the forest for my child’s generation, not just my generation."

Her son was born in the forest in January 2012, and she named him Ros Prey Lang, which means 'Prey Lang lives.' Just weeks after the birth, Chanthoeun was back on patrol duty, her son on her hip.

While she has served as an inspiration to many, especially other women, her activism has taken its toll. Her husband didn't approve of her activity in support of the forest, asking her repeatedly not to join the patrols. She didn't listen, and he left her while she was pregnant. Her activism also takes her away from her small plot of farmland, cutting into an already modest income.

Uncertain times ahead

Mining is gaining popularity in Prey Lang too, as the area is rich in minerals

Prey Lang still faces huge challenges from agribusiness and a recently announced railroad, steel mill and port project that could make conservation in the area almost impossible.

While the Cambodian government did draft legislation in November 2011 that would provide some protection to the forest, Chanthoeun and others have real concerns about enforcement and some of the draft law's provisions. They're lobbying the government to allow the community to co-manage the forest with the authorities.

Despite the uncertainty, Chanthoeun says she remains optimistic that her son's generation and successive ones will know at least part of Prey Lang. She says she will continue to farm when she can, but when the forest calls, she'll put down her tools, and head back into the forest she loves and needs.

"If this movement stays alive, the forest will stay alive, too," she said.

Source: DW.DE – Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact




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Chile Mapuche leaders demand autonomy

After a meeting on March 21 in Temuco, the capital of the southern Chilean region of Araucanía, indigenous leaders called for the rapid implementation of self-government for the Mapuche, the country's largest indigenous group. The leaders also repeated their rejection of plans announced by the government of rightwing president Sebastián Piñera for an indigenous council, a consultation process and a special law for Araucanía. Piñera, Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick and other officials made the proposals in January after an outbreak of violence in the region exacerbated a longstanding struggle between the Mapuche and settlers and forestry companies over lands that the Mapuche claim. Indigenous leaders responded to Piñera's proposal by holding a summit at the Cerro Ñielol park in Temuco on Jan. 16 and forming a new alliance, the Mapuche Pact for Self-Determination.

 

The March 21 meeting was part of a series of meetings by the alliance. The leaders had planned to hold a march in Temuco the next day, but they postponed it until after their next meeting, scheduled for April 11,

because of the sudden death of a famous lonko (local leader), Pascual Pichún, from a heart attack on March 20.

 

Pichún, who headed the community Antonio Niripil de Temulemu in Traiguen, near Temuco, was tried on an arson charge in 2004 under an "anti-terrorism" law from the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto

Pinochet. He was convicted of making threats of terrorism and served four years in prison; the trial was the subject of a 2007 documentary, "El Juicio de Pascual Pichún." Pichún insisted on his innocence and

filed a complaint with the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish) of the Organization of American States (OAS); his case is still open before the court. Some 500 mourners attended Pichún's funeral on March 23. (Radio Bío Bío, Chile, March 22; Radio Universidad de Chile, March 22; AP, March 24, via Windsor Star, Canada)

 

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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19-03-13

Amazon Indians unite against Canadian oil giant

Amazon Indians from Peru and Brazil have joined together to stop a Canadian oil company destroying their land and threatening the lives of uncontacted tribes. 

Hundreds of Matsés Indians gathered on the border of Peru and Brazil last Saturday and called on their governments to stop the exploration, warning that the work will devastate their forest home.


The oil giant Pacific Rubiales is headquartered in Canada and has already started oil exploration in ‘Block 135’ in Peru, which lies directly over an area proposed as an uncontacted tribes reserve.

In a rare interview with Survival, a Matsés woman said, ‘Oil will destroy the place where our rivers are born. What will happen to the fish? What will the animals drink?’

The Matsés number around 2,200 and live along the Peru-Brazil border. Together with the closely-related Matis tribe, they were known as the ‘Jaguar people’ for their facial decorations and tattoos, which resembled the jaguar’s whiskers and teeth.

Despite promising to protect the rights of its indigenous citizens, the Peruvian government has allowed the $36 million project to go ahead. Contractors will cut hundreds of miles of seismic testing lines through the forest home of the uncontacted tribes, and drill exploratory wells.

The government has also granted a license for oil explorations to go ahead in ‘Block 137’, just north of ‘Block 135’, which lies directly on Matsés land. Despite massive pressure from the company, the tribe is firmly resisting the oil company’s activities in their forest.

The effects of oil work are also likely to be felt across the border in Brazil’s Javari Valley, home to several other uncontacted tribes, as seismic testing and the construction of wells threaten to pollute the headwaters of several rivers on which the tribes depend.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘The Canadian state was founded on the theft of tribal land. When Europeans invaded Canada, they introduced alien diseases, seized control of natural resources, and brought about the extinction of entire peoples. It’s a great irony that a Canadian company today is poised to commit the same crimes against tribes in Peru. Why doesn’t the Peruvian government uphold its own commitments to tribal rights? History tells us that when uncontacted peoples’ land is invaded, death, disease and destruction follow.’

Source : Survival International


 

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Cambodia: Indigenous communities receive land titles

Phnong minority villagers in Mondulkiri province, who have long feared they could be divided and swept off their land by powerful elites, breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when their communities became just the fourth and fifth in Cambodia to ever receive communal land titles.

Communal titles were granted to two communities from O’Chra and Gaty villages in Keo Siema district’s Sre Preah commune, comprising over 70 families.

Minister of Land Management Im Chhun Lim took the occasion as an opportunity to hand out gifts of money, kramas, salt and other small items after formally declaring the two communal titles, which total more than 1,000 hectares.

“Providing land titles to indigenous communities is the way to protect their land and also help those people use their land to support their daily living and develop their community too,” he said in a speech.

The titles fall under the 2001 Land Law’s provisions for communal land titles designed to address the specific needs of Cambodia’s ethnic minorities, including their practice of slash and burn farming.

But while the legal provisions are solidly in place, a burdensome application process coupled – at times – with pressure from local authorities to apply solely for individual titles has made the titles a rarity. The adoption of a sub-decree in 2009 sped up the process.

But even with improved measures in place, it wasn’t until the very end of 2011 that the first collective land titles were distributed, and titling continues to move at a snail’s pace.

At times, indigenous communities themselves have been torn between members who have sought a communal title and others more interested in individual titles. But Lev Kroeung, a 63-year-old Phnong man from O’Chra village, said his community realised that companies could manipulate them if they didn’t band together.

“If we get individual land, it is easy for a company to take it, because people will sell that land, and sometimes we have no power against them. If we have the community land, we have a strong voice,” he said.

For the Phnong villagers in Sre Preah, who returned to the area in 1979 after they were relocated to a nearby district by the Khmer Rouge, the land has a special significance because it contains their traditional burial grounds, and because they believe important spirits occupy its forests.

Gaty villager Kheung Preung fears that powerful businessmen would obliterate their cultural heritage – as has happened in many parts of the northeast – said the “hard title” had mollified community concerns.

“This land title not only means that our land is protected, it also [means the] conservation of our traditions and culture,” he said.

Tim Coulas, a land administration expert from the Canadian-funded Cambodia Land Administration Support Project, which has worked to implement communal titles and systematic land registration, praised Cambodia for permanently addressing minority claims.

“Other countries in the area tend to offer registration of rights to the land, which are of a specific duration of time, and after that duration of time they have to reapply for the rights again,” he said.

Source:The Phnom Penh Post


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The Harper government continues to prevent the UN special rapporteur on Indigenous peoples from visiting Canada.

James Anaya, the special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, says the federal government continues to ignore his year-old request to visit Canada to investigate the “human rights situation of Indigenous peoples,” according to a Feb. 20 letter he sent to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).

“I have communicated with the government of Canada to request its consent for me to conduct an official visit to the country to examine and report on the human rights situation of Indigenous peoples there,” writes Anaya, in the letter. “I initially made the request in February of 2012 and am still awaiting a response from the government.”

Anaya has written the federal government at least three times requesting permission to visit the country.

Anaya says in the letter that Canada has issued “a standing invitation” to special rapporteurs that hold mandates from the UN Human Rights Council, but he can’t enter the country on an official visit without the formal consent of Ottawa that would include an agreement on dates and terms of the visit.

Anaya says he will find away to meet with First Nations leaders through unofficial channels if the government continues to ignore his request.

“If I do not receive a positive response from the government in the coming months, I can explore ways of meeting with First Nations leaders from Canada outside the context of an official visit,” writes Anaya.

Anaya’s letter came i n response to an invitation from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC.

Anaya’s term ends in May 2014.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

 source : APTN National News


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Asia Indigenous Peoples’ raise alarm on the worsening landgrabs and violation of their rights

Indigenous peoples in Asia are raising alarm on the worsening violation of their collective rights. With Asia becoming the new economic hub for extractive industries and foreign investments, landgrabbing of indigenous lands is now becoming the order of the day such as in India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia.  The growing  physical and economic displacement of indigenous peoples is being ignored inspite of the protests and objections of indigenous communities. Projects such as dams, mining, bio-fuel and agricultural plantations are being implemented in indigenous territories  without the  free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the affected indigenous communities. Thousands of indigenous peoples have been displaced by these projects with little or no compensation. Some were moved to resettlement areas with clinics but no medicines, schools but lacking teachers and small plots of land that are barely enough for the communities to utilize for their livelihood.

The systematic violation of the rights of indigenous peoples especially to their lands, territories and resources  is  leading to conflicts and resulting to  intimidation, threats  arbitrary arrests and detention; and killings among others.  Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of indigenous communities, militarization has been the common response by governments to be able to impose their own development agenda and targets. This action is backed by national security measures and policies such as the “Oplan Bayanihan” in the Philippines, “Operation Green Hunt” in India and the “Operation Uttaran” in Bangladesh among others.

In the Philippines, 33 cases of extrajudicial killings were recorded during the last 2 and a half years of the Aquino administration. Sixteen (16) of these were active members of peoples organizations who were defending their rights against mining and other imposed  projects in their territories. Children were not also spared in this as among those 33 recorded cases, four (4) of them were children. Some are also being used as human shields by State forces.

Indigenous women suffer from these violations more severely. They bear the brunt of the loss of livelihoods and are particularly impacted by extractive industries operations as they are frequent victims of sexual harassment and abuses. Access to justice for indigenous women has been very difficult both within their communities and with the State’s legal system given the patriarchal nature of societies and the long tedious processes of courts. Displacement has also a special impact on indigenous women. They lose their means and status while not having access to job opportunities, which makes them vulnerable in either sex work or domestic work in nearly slavery conditions.

Indigenous peoples though are not taking these violations sitting down

Amidst all these violations, indigenous peoples have initiated actions within their communities to defend their right to their lands, territories and resources. These actions in combination to sustained lobby work of indigenous leaders at the UN level have resulted to the adoption by the UN General Assembly in 2007 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was voted favorably by most of the the states in Asia. However, its incorporation and implementation at the national level remains a huge challenge.

At the regional level, the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is a welcome albeit disappointing development. The adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) in November 2012 does not at all provide hope for indigenous peoples who contribute to the acclaimed diversity of the ASEAN. There is no mention at all in the AHRD on indigenous peoples nor any reference to their rights.

At the national level, indigenous peoples welcome and appreciate the increased attention and engagement of national human rights institutions with indigenous peoples.  The incorporation of indigenous peoples rights in the work of national human rights institutions is a very positive development towards the respect, recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Much has yet to be done but indigenous peoples will persevere in asserting for the recognition and respect of their rights as enshrined in the UNDRIP.

source : Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact ,
Research and Communication Development Programme

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18-02-13

Northern Territory : Koongarra - Fulfilling A Promise To Traditional Owners - Land Protected From Uranium Mining

After 34 years, Kakadu traditional owner Jeffrey Lee sat in the House of Representatives to watch his ancestral lands be protected forever.


Mr Burke this morning introduced a bill to repeal the Koongarra Project Area Act – an Act created to make uranium mining economically feasible after Koongarra was excluded from Kakadu's original boundaries in 1979.


"In 2010, the Government promised Mr Lee that we would incorporate Koongarra into Kakadu National Park, to ensure that the threat of mining was banished forever," Mr Burke said.


"This Labor Government continues the legacy of previous Labor Governments of preserving and protecting the environment for future generations.


"It was Bob Hawke's Government in the 1980s that protected Coronation Hill and recognised that this spectacular natural and spiritual environment is no place for mining.


"The Koongarra lands are not only of enormous significance to Jeffrey Lee and to other traditional owners – but international and Australian visitors would be horrified if mining were to occur within sight of Kakadu's magnificent rock art galleries and stunning bush walks at Nourlangie Rock.


"The exclusion of Koongarra has meant there has always been a hole in the heart of the boundaries of Kakadu.


"The decision of Jeffrey Lee means that finally the progress made by the Hawke Government is concluded and Kakadu national park will be complete."


Koongarra lies in the shadow of Nourlangie Rock, one of Kakadu's most popular visitor destinations, with rock art galleries that bear witness to the close relationship Aboriginal people have with their land and spiritual heritage.


On its other side, Koongarra faces Lightning Dreaming, home of Namarrgon or Lightning Man, the creation ancestor responsible for the dramatic electrical storms on the Arnhem plateau.


"The Government worked with Mr Lee to secure World Heritage recognition for Koongarra in 2011, and since then with the Northern Land Council to finalise the legal steps to make Koongarra part of Kakadu National Park," Mr Burke said.


"I'm pleased to announce that the Koongarra area has now been added to the park lease and will soon be formally proclaimed part of Kakadu National Park.


"Koongarra will then have the full protection of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 and as part of Kakadu, mining will be prohibited forever.


"This historic moment is testament to the untiring work of traditional owner Jeffrey Lee, who has fought for years to preserve his country for future generations. We are proud to honour the wishes of the land's traditional owners and to protect one of Australia's most magnificent national parks for our children and grandchildren."


 Source : Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

 

 

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SUCCESS: Gas giant backtracks on exploration in UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol has publicly backtracked on plans to expand the notorious Camisea gas project in southeast Peru into one of the most biodiverse places on earth, following a shock exposure this week by The Guardian newspaper and Survival International.

The company has released a statement in which it admitted planning what it described as ‘superficial geological studies… for scientific interest,’ in Manu National Park, but promising that it had now abandoned these plans.

The Peruvian national parks authority Sernanp has also released a statement following the media storm, confirming it had denied Pluspetrol’s request to work in the area on the grounds that the Manu’s protected status ‘expressly prohibits the exploitation of natural resources’.

A leak had previously confirmed Pluspetrol commissioned a report by environmental agency Quartz Services S.A., which stated its plans ’will contribute not only to the continuity of activity on Block 88, but also to the development of the protected Manu National Park.’

The Camisea project is one of the biggest natural gas projects in the Amazon and is located in in an area known as ‘block 88’, the majority of which lies inside the Nahua-Nanti reserve for uncontacted Indians.

Any expansion of Camisea is prohibited by a 2003 Supreme Decree, but last year Peru’s Ministry of Energy approved further gas exploration inside block 88 in violation of the Decree and international law.

Expanding Camisea’s operations would put uncontacted tribes living near the gas block at extreme risk from disease, and would threaten to push them away from their homes as they flee the noise and destruction of the project.

Jose Choro, a former Nahua leader, told Survival, ‘All the time we hear helicopters. Our animals have left, and there are no fish.’

Peru’s key Amazon Indian organizations AIDESEP, ORAU, FENAMAD and COMARU recently appealed to the UN to stop the expansion of Camisea.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is a resounding success for the indigenous people of Manu National Park and their supporters around the world. A company that was clearly planning to explore for gas in the park has, as a result of being exposed, categorically stated that it will not be carrying out further exploration activities. It is now time to focus attention on the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, where exploration continues apace. It, too, should be subject to the same restrictions as Manu National Park.’

Source : Survival International

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Child labor caught on film at palm oil plantation in Indonesian Borneo

School-age children were caught on camera working for a palm oil plantation company, PT Sinar Sawit Andalan (SSA), in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province.

Hovek, a resident of the area, recorded video of the children working when he visited the plantation to investigate claims that the company’s permit area overlapped with indigenous land. He said he saw about 60 children working – filling 10-kilogram polybags with soil – at the company camp in West Kalimantan’s Sintang district.

“They were actually still school age,” Hovek said in Pontianak on Wednesday. “But they were already pushing carts of polybags from the soil depots to the nursery. The children who were not yet capable of lifting 10-kilogram polybags were just pulling weeds.”

After talking with the children, Hovek discovered that most of them were from the nearby Kesange village. They had been forced to leave school and were accompanying their parents, who also worked on the plantation. The children were paid Rp 500 ($0.05) per polybag, though Hovek added that for the past three months the children have not received their wages.

“Many of them stopped working because they did not receive the wages that were promised to them by the company. The company has not yet paid around 37 thousand polybags [worth of wages] to the child workers,” he said.

PT SSA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) officer, Yohanes, denied that the company employed underage workers. “There is no way the company employs child workers in the plantation. Every month we send a report [with our employment records] to the Manpower and Transmigration Department [Disnakertrans], which is used to arrange for Social Security, Sinarmas insurance, and other things.”

Yohanes said the children often accompany their parents to work because no one is there to care for them at home. In one village, he said, the company has actually helped set up a daycare in one of the local houses. “It is managed by the village government, but the babysitters are paid for by the company,” he said.

Alik Rosyad, head of the West Kalimantan Commission for Child Protection (KPAID), said there are legal requirements, including limitations on working hours and type of work, that must be followed by companies who employ underage children. First and foremost, he said, work must not interfere with a child’s education.

“These children have a right to receive an education. Because of that, children are not recommended to work. However, sometimes for economic reasons, children are required to make money. So, if there’s an economic reason, what needs to be ensured is that the work does not keep them from going to school. If this happens, the company has taken away the child’s right to go to school,” Alik said in Pontianak.

PT SSA acquired a 20,000-hectare permit area in Sintang district in 2008. The company is controlled by PT Agro Harapan Lestari, a unit of Singapore-based Goodhope Asia Holdings.

Source : Mongabay.com

 

 

 

 

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09-02-13

Victory for ‘human safari’ campaign as court bans tourists

Survival International’s campaign to stop ‘human safaris’ in India’s Andaman Islands has gained an important victory, after the Supreme Court banned tourists from traveling along the road which cuts through a tribal reserve.

Survival has been campaigning for many years for the road through the Jarawa tribe’s reserve to be closed. It first alerted the world that tour operators were treating the Jarawa like animals in a zoo in 2010. Survival, and Andaman organization Search, had called for tourists to boycott the road .

The Supreme Court had ordered the local administration to close the road in 2002, but it has remained open.

The latest court order comes a year after the world was shocked by an international exposé of Jarawa women being forced to dance in exchange for food.

In July last year, India’s Supreme Court ordered the Andaman authorities to implement a Buffer Zone which was introduced to protect the Jarawa from exploitation by tourists. The Court explicitly ordered two tourist attractions – a limestone cave and a ‘mud volcano’ – to close. Tourists driving through the Jarawa reserve are ostensibly visiting the caves and volcano, although many will openly admit that the main attraction is seeing the Jarawa by the roadside.

However, the Andaman authorities ignored this ruling and allowed the caves to remain open, as highlighted in a letter sent by Survival International to the judges of the Supreme Court earlier this month. In the letter, Survival accused the Andamans of committing a ‘serious and continuing contempt of court’ through these ‘flagrant breaches’, and appealed for the Supreme Court to take action.

Last week the Andaman administration attempted to circumvent the Supreme Court’s July ruling by announcing a watered-down version of the Buffer Zone. The new Buffer Zone would allow the limestone caves and mud volcano to remain open – and therefore for the human safaris to continue.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This new order is positive, but it will be meaningless if the Supreme Court allows the Andaman authorities once again to ride roughshod over its ruling. It’s vital that the order is upheld and the human safaris end – the Jarawa themselves must decide if, when, and where outsiders traverse their land.’
source : Survival International


 


 

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Commission for Dialogue With Mexico's Indigenous Peoples Created

The Mexican government has established the Commission for Dialogue with Mexico’s Indian Peoples so it can satisfy a “historical debt” owed to the nation’s indigenous, Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said.


“We must try to make it so that the indigenous peoples, in practice, enjoy the same rights and opportunities as the rest of Mexicans,” Osorio Chong said during a recent press conference in Mexico City. “We have to guarantee access to justice, education, health care and infrastructure to reverse the unjust situation of their rights and the gap that keeps them from enjoying the well-being they deserve.”


President Enrique Peña Nieto said he wants the government to maintain a constant dialogue with the country’s indigenous, according to Osorio Chong.

 

Source :  Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources


 

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Chilenos in the UK The militarisation of Mapuche regions in Chile A bad idea

On the heels of political controversy in Chile over the treatment of the Mapuche people in Araucanía (Southern region of Chile), political scientist Claudio Fuentes gives his considered view on the recent

'anti-terror' announcement by Chilean President Sebastían Piñera.

 

Is it advisable to militarise Araucanía? Although the Government has not for the moment invoked any state of emergency, it has taken two steps. A decision was made to restrict the freedom of individuals that began with major police roadblocks and involving the armed forces with intelligence

work. Indeed, in addition to an increase in the number of police officers, the President announced that police would establish a "special area of control and security in those places that have been most affected by these crimes, so as to establish permanent control daytime and night, both vehicular traffic and the identities of persons travelling in the most affected areas. "

 

The question that immediately arises is under what legal framework this "special zone of control and security" will be defined. The Criminal Procedure Code clearly states the circumstances under which the police can make an ‘identity stop’ [without a warrant from a prosecutor, the police may require citizens to show their identity cards]: (a) when it is considered that the person has committed an offence, (b) when it

could provide useful information to investigate a crime, (c ) or if the person is wearing a hooded top. Unless we proceed from the premise that all people in the area are suspected of a crime, of course undoubtedly ridiculous, the President's announcement is problematic for two reasons:

first, it significantly affects the rights enshrined in the Constitution (freedom of movement, for example), second, this decision is not supported by any legal framework that could validate the action of the

police who, in fact, have already established identity checks at various points in the area.

 

The classic dilemma of security versus freedom is not resolved by providing a blank cheque for police. We know that too much discretion carries abuse, therefore delivering more power to police institutions

ought to be backed by regulatory bodies governing their actions. By what criteria will a police officer decide to stop a person in the street tomorrow? The colour of their skin? The type of clothes they are

wearing? The nervousness that they show interacting with armed police? The Guarantee Court of Pichilemu has already ruled against "nervousness" being a legitimate basis to justify an identity stop and subsequent arrest of a suspect (20/02/2011).

 

A second announcement by the President is also worrying. He said, "I have asked the director of the National Intelligence Agency, within its legal mandate, to collect information of a residual or complementary nature that the Armed Forces may have, and that is useful in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the fight against terrorism and violence in the region".

 

If the Armed Forces are gathering "complementary information" about events that are clearly internal matters for the police then they are violating the Law of National Intelligence. This delimits the functions

of military intelligence to matters strictly having to do with "national defence" with two exceptions: concerning police functions that correspond to the naval and air authorities over maritime and air

controls. Therefore the call made by the President is also inappropriate because it is not the place of the Armed Forces to hold intelligence on things that are obviously internal in nature.

 

The next step, proposed by the presidents of UDI and RN, has been the establishment of a state of emergency in the area, that will allow the restriction of freedom of assembly and movement and appoint a Chief of National Defence in the area. Besides constituting an extreme measure, the main difficulty is that since the amendment of the normative constitution of the Estados de Excepción [akin to state of emergency], so far a new Act to regulate them has not been established. You read correctly. Since August 2005 the provision emanating from the Constitution issued to establish a new regulatory framework for states of extraordinary circumstances, emergency and disaster has not been complied with. We have  states of emergency that have been reformed during democracy, but the law that regulates these is from 1985.

 

In short, to establish a zone of "control and security" and to request "complementary" information from the Armed Forces are two steps of dubious legal status and will militarise the area. We hope that these

announcements are reevaluated and rationality prevails given that their eventual implementation will exacerbate tensions in the area and will force, again, the courts and the Constitutional Court to assess whether these actions conform to the rule of law.

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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Bushman children arrested under renewed government repression

Three Bushman children have been arrested by paramilitary police in Botswana. The arrests are the latest signs of a new government policy to intimidate Bushmen who have returned to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

The children were jailed last week for being in possession of antelope meat in the CKGR. All have since been released, but further reports of harassment and intimidation have surfaced, and there have been a growing number of Bushmen arrests.

On Wednesday, wildlife scouts beat up and confiscated fruit and berries from one Bushman, Amogelang Segootsane, telling him the food is ‘for animals, not humans!’ He was being treated in hospital last week.

One Bushman told Survival International, ‘The Bushmen are being hunted and their rights are being denied because of tourism (….) Police are given guns to go out and hunt and arrest Bushmen gathering bush food. The Bushmen of the CKGR cannot eat, cannot drink. How will they survive without food?’

The Bushmen are becoming increasingly desperate as the government is making their lives in the CKGR impossible.

The tribe relies on hunting game and gathering fruit and berries to feed their families. In 2006, the High Court confirmed the Bushmen’s right to live and hunt on their ancestral land in the CKGR, but not a single hunting license has been issued since.

They now risk starvation, or will be forced to rely on government handouts only available in the resettlement camps outside the reserve which they call ‘places of death’.

In November, two Bushmen were arrested and tortured for killing an antelope, and were fined US$190 each. Another four men await trial this week for hunting in the reserve.

The Botswana government has repeatedly targeted the CKGR’s indigenous inhabitants, often citing wildlife conservation as its motive. Yet the Bushmen have survived for centuries alongside Botswana’s game.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Conservation has long been the excuse used to terrorize the Bushmen into leaving their desert home and it’s no coincidence that President Khama is on the board of one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, Conservation International. The American NGO obviously knows its board member’s atrocious human rights record. Does Khama really believe that a few hundred Bushmen endanger the welfare of the CKGR (an area twice the size of Rwanda) more than a diamond mine? Who knows? The only certainty in this case is Survival’s determination to do whatever it takes to back the Bushmen. Boycotts, protests, demonstrations, or supporting a court case: we will rule out none of these if this increase in harassment doesn’t end now.’


Read this online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8919



 

 

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28-12-12

Mapuche Indians Fight New Airport in Southern Chile

This is a project that reflects the occupation…of Mapuche territory,” said Iván Reyes, an indigenous leader staunchly opposed to the construction of an international airport in the southern Chilean region of Araucanía.

Reyes, an agricultural technician, said the construction project was approved thanks to an environmental impact study “based on lies” that was carried out by Arcadis Geotécnica, the Chilean subsidiary of a Netherlands-based international consulting and engineering company.

The study “says there will be no impact on communities in the area. But in a later analysis, we detected that the base line and measurements had been manipulated,” he said.

The new airport, whose construction was actually approved in 2005, is now one of the most high-profile projects of the right-wing government of Sebastián Piñera. It is being built in Quepe, 20 km from the city of Temuco and nearly 700 km south of Santiago.

The La Araucanía New International Airport, which will replace the Maquehue Airport, will have a 2,440-metre runway and a 5,000-square-metre passenger terminal.

The Chilean company Belfi, which was granted the concession for 20 years, is building the new airport.

“This is an emblematic project for this region,” the governor of La Araucanía, Andrés Molina, told IPS.

“Our Maquehue Airport is one of the worst-situated in the country, with a runway that is hard to land on, and with a difficult approach, because of the fog over the hills of Temuco,” he said.

Temuco, which is halfway between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes foothills, is in the middle of prairies, pasture and farmland, and forests.

The new airport will be built in this agricultural and forested area, at a cost of more than 120 million dollars. “Tourism in this area is growing by 30 percent a year, which offers interesting prospects,” Molina said.

He proudly noted that 700 million dollars were invested in projects in the region in 2012, up from 79 million dollars in 2009.

Although a few Mapuche communities support the new airport, which they see as a step forward for the region in terms of economic and cultural development, many others are staunchly opposed, arguing that it will undermine biodiversity and the environment, and will destroy their ancestral territory.

The Mapuche, Chile’s largest indigenous group, number nearly one million in this country of over 16 million people, and the struggle for their ancestral land in the south of the country has frequently pitted them against large landholders, logging companies and other private interests.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, in terms of economic interference in Mapuche territory,” Fidel Tranamil, a traditional “machi” or healer, told IPS. “We already have the logging and hydroelectric companies…We are culturally invaded by politics and religion, and the life of the Mapuche people would be put at further risk by the new airport.”

At the age of 23, Tranamil is already a Mapuche leader, in charge of the religious life of his community, Rofue. He is tenaciously opposed to the construction of the airport, which he describes as “a gateway to invade Mapuche territory.”

Tranamil, or “machi Fidel” as he is known by the local community, is one of the most active indigenous leaders in the area. He has been arrested several times, and his home is frequently searched by the police. Since 2005, his mother has been living with seven pellets in her right knee, after a harsh police crackdown on a protest.

Many of Tranamil’s “peñis” (brothers and sisters) have been prosecuted under Chile’s draconian counter-terrorism law, inherited from the 1973-1990 military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

The law, which has been widely criticised by international bodies such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has been used to squelch activism by Mapuche people demanding the return of their ancestral land.

The house where Tranamil and his mother live is warm and quiet. They raise pigs and chickens, and have a small vegetable garden.

“But soon, airliners will be landing every minute. That will not only violate our spiritual life but also our culture and harmony,” he said.

He also said that to build the airport, “between 200 and 300 hectares of native (old-growth) forest will be cut down, and lost forever. It would take 400 years for the trees to grow back to their current height.”

But Molina argued that opposition to large projects like the airport is the work of “leaders who have emerged under the wing of leftist parties, and who don’t care about their communities, but are motivated by ideological concerns.”

Meanwhile, construction of the airport is moving ahead, despite attempts by Mapuche activists to block it, including cases brought in court, which were dismissed.

In September 2011, Tranamil himself turned to the United Nations Human Rights Council to denounce that the airport was being built “without consultation with the concerned communities, in contravention of” International Labour Organisation Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal peoples.

But Molina maintained that the communities were consulted. He said that a working group was set up and that the government had been providing support “in the areas of productive development, infrastructure and housing.”

Despite his opposition to the project, Reyes said “the world is not going to end because an airport is built.

“Do you hear the noise from the highway? Later we’ll have the noise of the airplanes, just like we have the high-voltage power lines, and the railroad,” he said, with a resigned tone.

“The important thing is that the airport has reawakened the dormant Mapuche activism and mobilised our communities once again,” he said. “In the wider context, planes flying 100 or 50 metres over our heads are a minor problem.”

  Source : IPS

 

           

 

 

 

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Guyana MPs Support West Papua’s Right Of Self-Determination

Today, 1st December is the 51st anniversary of West Papua’s freedom. It is the day of recognition of West Papua’s identity, symbols and right to be a separate and independent sovereign state.


Our dream of being a free and independent people was crushed by the Indonesia invasion and military occupation in 1963. For 50 years the world has stood by while we defend ourselves with bows and arrows against modern bombers and fighter jets supplied by the western powers. 500,000 Papuans have died. Amnesty International has already confirmed 100,000 deaths.

 

Today is a new day of hope for us. Members of the Guyana Parliament representing 6 parties, have made a series of passionate and principled statements in support of West Papua’s right of self-determination and condemning Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua. Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, stated that the MPs were proud to stand in solidarity with the people of West Papua. Drawing on Guyana’s own experiences of resistance against slavery, indentureship and colonialism, Dr Roopnaraine said, “History tells us that oppressed people will not remain oppressed forever……….We tell the oppressors of the people of West Papua that we know oppression is going to be defeated as long as the fire of freedom burns brightly in the hearts and minds of the oppressed.”


Ms Deborah Bakker, the Deputy Speaker, and a representative of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) representing 5 parties acknowledged that large sections of the population of West Papua remain committed to an independent West Papua. She confirmed that APNU would continue to support all legitimate and peaceful activities of the free West Papua Campaign. Mr Nagamootoo of the Alliance for Change expressed outrage that Indonesia should seek to stamp its authority on West Papua as a coloniser.


In a written statement, Rashleigh Jackson, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Guyana and a former President of the United Nations Security Council said: “It is time to bring to a successful end the persistent and courageous struggle of the people [of West Papua] for freedom and independence. They deserve international support from the UN and other international organisations, from global civil society, from governments and from non-state actors, and indeed from individuals the world over. The campaign to free West Papua is eminently worthy of support which I give wholeheartedly.”


It was with sorrow that we learned of the arrest of Victor Yeimo, Alius Asso and Usman Yogobi, during a peaceful march yesterday. The MPs demanded their immediate release as well as the release of Filip Karma and other political prisoners.


Despite being in prison, Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni sent a message thanking the Guyana MPs for their support: “1. On behalf of West Papuan people, we want to thank to goverment of Guyana welcoming West Papua independence leader to Guyana. 2. We want to thank you all cross Party Parliamentarian support West Papua right for independence 3. We also thank you for people's of Guyana supporting our struggles for independence. 4. We support International Parlementarian for West Papua in Guyana. 5. Please be our voice.”


As I leave Guyana to continue my journey seeking support around the world, I would like to again say thank you to the people of Guyana, the Government and the MPs from the different parties who gave me a warm welcome with open hearts. The Guyanese people have a proud history of standing up against colonialism. I go with a good spirit and I will tell my people that we are no longer alone in our fight for justice and freedom against colonialism.


Benny Wenda

West Papua Independence Leader

 

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Christmas crisis for Canada’s iconic reindeer herd

A reindeer herd which was once the largest in the world has shrunk to a fraction of its former size, official surveys have revealed.

Canada’s George River Herd once numbered 8-900,000, but a recent government survey found only 27,600 animals survive.

The herd’s unprecedented and dramatic decline has left local indigenous people fearful for its survival.

A ‘tsunami of factors’ has been blamed for the decline, which government ministers have called ‘significant and frightening.’

The reindeer, known as caribou in North America, is central to the lives and culture of many indigenous peoples in the sub-Arctic. The 63% population drop just in the last two years has left many of them shocked.

Speaking to Survival, George Rich, an elder from northeast Canada’s Innu people, said, ‘one of the major factors is continued mining and mineral exploration.

‘For example, Quest Minerals has recently announced that it wants to build a road through the heart of the calving grounds, as well as flying helicopters and planes back and forth from exploration sites.’

Canada’s promotion of industrial projects on its land has destroyed large tracts of the reindeer’s grazing grounds, heavily disrupting migratory routes.

The herd’s decline has led some biologists to blame indigenous hunting practices. However the Innu, who have co-existed with the caribou for thousands of years, have been quick to defend themselves.

Rich said, ‘the government always blames the Aboriginal people, but we are deeply connected to the caribou and have lived with them for generations.’

Many Innu are calling for greater control over their territories and resources, and to be treated as equals in decisions that affect their lands and the animals that live there.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director said today, ‘It’s easy to blame indigenous peoples for over-hunting because they’ve usually no voice to defend themselves from these accusations. Yet it’s been proven in countless studies that they are the world’s best conservationists. When will governments and scientists realize this? We need to start listening to what indigenous peoples have to say about matters on their own land: they know best.’

 Source : Survival International

 

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