12-08-12

International Day, at Headquarters on 9 August, Will Shine Spotlight on Role Of Indigenous Media in Helping Preserve Cultures, Challenge Stereotypes

This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August) will shine a spotlight on indigenous media — television, radio, film and social media — and their role in helping to preserve indigenous cultures, challenge stereotypes and influence the social and political agenda.

An event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the theme “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” will feature remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Grand Chief Edward John, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and others.  It will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives of indigenous media organizations from across the world and video clips produced by indigenous peoples.

The panel, moderated by Amy Stretten, will include Kenneth Deer, founder of the newspaper The Eastern Door; Nils Johan Heatta, Chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and radio producer; and Angel Tibán Guala, Director of Television for the Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).

“From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the Internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity,” Secretary-General Ban said in his message for the Day.  “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world.  Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.  Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous peoples reflect the world’s cultural diversity and are the custodians of its biodiversity.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination (Article 3), as well as their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms.

“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions,” the Secretary-General said.  “They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience.  They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.”

The event will also include a screening of the film Voices through Time, produced by Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú (Chirapaq) and documenting the efforts of indigenous men, women and youth to use radio and new communications technologies as means to build networks and make their cultures, demands and aspirations visible.
Bron : United Nations

 

 

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Mapuche People Warn of Paramilitaries in Chilean Araucania

Indigenous spokespersons warned today of the presence of paramilitary groups in the Chilean Araucania region, acting surreptitiously to blame the Mapuche community for violent acts.

 

Spokesman for the autonomous Temucuicui community of Ercilla town, Jorge Huenchullan, denounced that "the paramilitaries are the children of farmers and retired police officers that are frightening us and generating this type of situations in order to accuse the Mapuche

communities."

 

Huenchullan remarks to AND Radio Chile were made in the wake of a government meeting convened today to discuss the "escalation of violence" in the Araucania.

 

Regarding the very much talked about "security summit", human rights organizations and opposition members of Parliament urged the Executive to avoid measures meaning a stepped up militarization in the area.

 

Local analysts also warned of increased pressure by private business people and big landowners for La Moneda to declare a sort of siege on the Araucania in order to serve their interests.

 

Rather than "security policies", what we need is a policy for a comprehensive solution by the Chilean State regarding the longstanding social and cultural demands of the Mapuche people, said an experienced local radio and television commentator.

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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22-07-12

Gujarat's indigenous tribes to get brand registration for tribal medicines

Indigenous tribes from Gujarat would become India's first tribal community to get their age-old medicinal knowledge branded and registered under trademark and geographic indication (GI). The state government has initiated a tribal branding project to create and promote a tribal-made product pool to protect tribal community knowledge.

ET has learnt that the forest department will create a pool of brands for local herbs found in Dangs along with the local tribes to improve the latter's income levels and to efficiently utilise the vast natural resources of the region. This will include value-addition by using modern processing, packaging and marketing system. The proposed brand for the herbs is in addition to the existing brand 'Dhanvantri' that belongs to
Gujarat Forest Development Corporation.

"Currently, middle-men collect herbs from the locals who in turn end up getting exploited. We will create a dedicated marketplace for processed hubs that could be bought by ayurvedic pharma companies," S K Chaturvedi, chief conservator of forest of Valsad and Dang districts.

The Dangs has more than 350 species of medicinal plants scattered over 311 villages and has 60 Bhagats (tribal healers).

The forest department will train the tribals in scientific method of herbs and its preservation, Chaturvedi says. "Modern processing units will be set up to add value to the raw herbs and special training will also be imparted to tribals to improve the productivity of the plants," he said.

Dangs is home to herbs like harde, baheda , mahuda, charoli, shatavri, citrak, white musli, jivanti, kaucha and galo amongst others. "Unlike
Ayurveda, the medical knowledge of the tribals has never been documented by the Bhagats. The knowledge has been passed on to subsequent generation verbally," says Dr Deepak Acharya, director of Abhumka Herbal, that is deciphering tribal knowledge into finished products and sharing profit with the tribal community.

Bio-piracy in the region began in 1990s but reached its peak in 2000. Later, local administration and tribal healers sprung into action to find means to plug it. Registration will empower owners of the said intellectual property to restrict others from using similar intellectual property, says advocate Aayush Modi working with
Nanavati Associates that is working on this state government initiative. The firm along with the State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) has begun applying for trademark registrations for various products manufactured or sold by the tribals. "It will enable sales and promote specific brands emerging from the region," adds IPR specialist Mr Pranit Nanavati.

Abhumka has so far introduced over 12 medicinal products from the region -- herbal cattlefeed DudhNahar, vitality capsules Teranta and StonOff, for removal of kidney stones -- for instance.

 

© 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

 

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09-07-12

Shell scraps controversial biofuels plan after Brazilian Indian protest

A biofuels company set up by Shell in Brazil has scrapped controversial plans to source sugar cane from land stolen from an indigenous tribe after a vociferous campaign by the Indians and Survival International.

The company, Raizen, was established in 2010 as
a joint venture of Shell and Brazilian ethanol giant Cosan to produce biofuel from sugar cane.

But some of its sugar cane is grown on land claimed by the
Guarani tribe, one of the most persecuted and impoverished in South America. Their leaders are regularly killed by gunmen acting for the sugar cane growers and cattle ranchers who have taken over almost all their land.

Now Raizen has agreed to stop buying sugar cane from land declared as indigenous by the Ministry of Justice. Sustained campaigning by Survival, and pressure from Brazil’s public ministry kick-started negotiations between Raizen and
FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian affairs department.

The breakthrough also sees Raizen vow to consult FUNAI, to avoid further investment or expansion in conflict areas that could be recognised as indigenous land in the future.

 

Guarani Indians have welcomed the news. Many of the tribe live in appalling conditions, in overcrowded reserves or camped on roadsides after being forced from their land.

Valdelice Veron’s community in Mato Grosso do Sul state is directly affected. Guarani here report that their rivers have been polluted by pesticides used in the plantations. She says, ‘We’ll be able to drink water from our land again. We'll be able to start afresh.'

Raizen has acknowledged the sensitive range of issues faced by the Guarani and promises to carry out a ‘social investment programme focused on the indigenous population.’

Raizen told
Survival, ‘We want to use our withdrawal as a good example for other companies to follow. We are committed to respecting indigenous land declared by the Ministry of Justice.'

The landmark decision could set a precedent in Brazil, and will see Raizen’s buying of sugar cane from land declared as indigenous, ‘definitely cease’ by November 25.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Raizen’s decision is excellent news for the Guarani, who have been left to die on the roadside, and squeezed off their land by sugar cane production. Other companies must follow Raizen’s example, and stop bankrolling the theft of Guarani land. It’s time the world woke up to the fact that Brazil’s biofuel is tainted with Indian blood.’

 

Source : Survival International

 

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Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site

Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples from the Xingu River Basin have occupied a Belo Monte Dam construction site on Pimental Island in the Xingu River.

The protest began on June 21th, just a few short days after the Xingu+23 anniversary gathering came to a close. The gathering, which ran parallel to the Rio+20 Summit, marked the first major victory against the Belo Monte Dam in 1989.

Initially the protest was led by a group of about 150 Xikrin Peoples; but after successfully managing to paralyze work at the construction site, the group was joined by representatives from the Juruna, Araweté, Assurini and Parakanã.

According to Amazon Watch, The Xikrin simply "set up a peaceful encampment in the middle of the earthen coffer dam, confiscated keys to various trucks and earth moving equipment and stopped all construction works in the area."

It's no permanent solution, but it was more enough to get everybody's attention. Movimento Xingu Vivo (Xingu Alive Movement) reports that Indigenous representatives from all 34 villages in the middle of Xingu River basin are now expected to join the protest in the coming days.

At the center of the protest is the failure of The Norte Energia consortium (NESA)--the group behind the Belo Dam--to resolve any of the project's impacts on the Xingu River Basin's inhabitants. Among the many concerns cited by the indigenous leaders are a decline in fish stocks; a reduction in water quality; an increased risk of negative health impacts like malaria and dengue fever; and a heavy restriction on travel as a result of the dam.

Rather than sit down sit down with the protesters, NESA ran to the courts to ask for an eviction order to have the protesters removed from the construction site.

Fortunately, the Judge ultimately decided not to satisfy NESA's heartless request. On Monday, June 25, the Judge ruled (PDF, Portuguese only) that the Indigenous Peoples' grievances were legitimate and that the government and companies associated with the dam need to sit down with the Indigenous Peoples and address their concerns.

Amazon Watch reports that "officials from the Brazilian government agency FUNAI and Electronorte (State-owned power company and the main stakeholder in the dam) are [now] scheduled to travel to the occupation to dialogue with the communities."

This action is taking place amidst a new campaign of persecution aimed at leading members of Movimento Xingu Vivo. According to Amazon Watch, Brazilian authorities--at the request Electronorte--are trying to obtain arrest warrants for at least 11 local activists and residents including members of Movimento Xingu Vivo, a priest, and a fisherman whose house was destroyed for the dam. The hearing for the arrest warrants was held on June 27. A decision is expected to arrive sometime today.

Construction of the Belo Monte Dam began amidst considerable international upheaval, in January of this year. Should it be completed, the controversial dam would divert 80% of the Xingu River's flow and submerge up to 400,000 hectares of land. In addition to the aforementioned concerns of Indigenous leaders taking part in the Pimental Island protest, the dam would also displace at least 20,000 people.

The Belo Monte is but one of 30 hydro dams currently planned for the Amazon basin and 60 dams for all of Brazil.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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China Plans to End Nomadic Life in Tibet, Uyghur and Inner Mongolia

Earlier this month, a US-based human rights group condemned the Chinese government's recently-adopted plan to extinguish what remains of the nomadic way of life in Occupied Tibet, Inner Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

A May 30th statement posted on the official website of the Central People’s Government of the People's Republic of China, outlines the bare essentials of the settlement plan. You can view that outline, roughly translated to English, by visiting the following link: Twelfth Five-Year Plan for the Project on Resettling Nomadic People within China.

Below, a report by Radio Free Asia, cross-posted from Mines and Communities.

China Plans to End Nomadic Life

By Luisetta Mudie / Radio Free Asia

5 June 2012 - Authorities point to 'overgrazing' but make way for mining and 'unfair' development.

A U.S.-based rights group has hit out at plans by the Chinese government to force three ethnic minority groups to abandon the last traces of their nomadic lifestyles in the next three years.

An undated photo shows dead livestock, run over by heavy vehicles and bulldozers in Inner Mongolia's diminishing grasslands. Photo courtesy of SMHRIC, RFA

"The Chinese Government continues to aggressively pursue and expand its national project for displacing nomadic herders off their traditional lands and resettling them in agricultural and urban areas," the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

Citing a statement posted on the official website of China's central government, the group said it marked "a major and seemingly final step toward eliminating the remaining population of nomad herders and eradicating the thousands of years-old nomadic way of life in China."

SMHRIC, which campaigns for the rights of ethnic Mongols in China's Inner Mongolia region, said the resettlement policies would affect nomadic herders in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet.

It said the statement confirmed Beijing's determination "to permanently end the nomadic way of life of these regions."

"The Party Central Committee and the State Council have especially emphasized the socio-economic development of pastoral areas, bringing a remarkable improvement to the herders' living conditions and mode of production, causing the majority of herders to be resettled in static locations," the government announcement said.

It said China's 12th Five-Year Plan aims to resettle the remaining nomad population of 1.157 million people by 2015.

Broken commitments

SMHRIC said these policies violate China's obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

According to the Declaration, "indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories."

Experts say that deep-seated cultural ties to the grasslands and traditional nomadic ways of life lay behind a wave of protests that swept across Inner Mongolia in May 2011.

Chinese authorities poured armed police and security forces into Inner Mongolia to contain protests sparked by the death of a herdsman from the Shiliin-Gol (in Chinese, Xilin Meng) region who was run over during clashes with mine company trucks.

Thousands of students were locked in campuses at major schools, colleges, and universities in the regional capital, Hohhot, following demonstrations by hundreds of ethnic minority Mongolians across the region.

Mongolian commentators said the protests reflect a deep and widespread anger over continuing exploitation of the region's grasslands, the heartland of Mongol culture

Environmental destruction

Environmentalists point to large-scale environmental destruction in Inner Mongolian regions where mining is taking place, as well as to more subtle ecological pressures in other areas.

Open-cast, or strip, mining is one of the most environmentally destructive forms of mining, destroying the surface ecosystem over a wide area and releasing pollutants into the air.

Ethnic Mongolians, who make up almost 20 percent of Inner Mongolia's 23 million population, complain of destruction and unfair development policies in the region, which is China's largest producer of coal. The overwhelming majority of the residents are Han Chinese.

Ninety percent of China's 400 million hectares (988 million acres) of grassland now show some degree of environmental degradation, according to official figures, and the government has pointed to over-grazing by nomads as a key contributing factor.

Last year, Beijing rolled out a slew of tax breaks and funding for enterprises in rural areas that implement environmentally friendly programs and technological innovations in the field.

But SMHRIC and other overseas campaigners have said that Chinese authorities and companies are continuing to exploit the grassland in spite of slogans like "grassland protection" and "economic growth."

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Amazon Indians demand Italian priest’s expulsion over ‘Death Road’

Amazon Indians in Peru have demanded the expulsion of a controversial Italian priest, accusing him of ‘racism and aggression’ over his role in promoting the construction of a new road, which the Indians have labeled ‘the Road of Death’.

Father Miguel Piovesan, parish priest of the tiny town of Puerto Esperanza in Peru’s far south-east, has recruited a host of powerful allies to back his plan to connect the town to Peru’s road network, including influential Congressmen.

But the region’s indigenous people are firmly opposed, fearing that if built, the road would open up the area to illegal logging and goldmining, already rampant in the region. The road would cut through three protected areas established to safeguard the province’s numerous
uncontacted tribes.

 

Local Indian organization FECONAPU has called for Piovesan’s expulsion from the region for his ‘aggressive’ promotion of the road project, declaring, ‘Piovesan is using his magazine and radio broadcasts to label us pigs and worms, who don’t know how to think’.

Piovesan routinely attacks any form of opposition on his radio station, accusing the local Indians of being ‘brainwashed’ by ‘foreign organizations’ including
Survival International, who he has charged with ‘financing local [indigenous] NGOs’. In fact, Survival does not fund any organization in Peru.

Peru’s Amazon Indian organization,
AIDESEP, insists the road project is a ploy ‘to benefit illegal logging mafias’. Survival has seen disturbing evidence that illegal logging has already started along the projected path of the road.

 

Amazon Indian organization Fenamad said last week, ‘If the road project goes ahead it could lead to the extinction of the uncontacted peoples’.


Father Piovesan is pressing Peru’s Congress to pass a law declaring the road a ‘public necessity’ to enable it to go ahead.


Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Where roads are built through the Amazon, deforestation and colonization inevitably follow. What does this mean for its tribal inhabitants? Invariably disease and destitution; frequently, death. As those who stand to lose most from Piovesan’s ill-fated project, Peru’s indigenous peoples don’t want it to go ahead. It’s time they were listened to.’
source :Survival International

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Alarmed UK MPs urge Brazil to save Earth’s most threatened tribe

Dozens of British politicians are calling on Brazil to save Earth’s most threatened tribe by halting illegal logging and land invasions in their territory.

Expressing their ‘concern’ and ‘alarm’ to the UK Parliament, the MPs say Brazil must take action before the Awá tribe are driven to extinction.

In the parliamentary motion, the MPs ‘urge [Brazil] to bring a halt to illegal logging and stop invasions of the Awá’s land.’

Only 460 Awá live in Brazil’s north-eastern state of Maranhão, and their land is being 
destroyed faster than any other Amazon tribe.

As nomadic hunter-gatherers, the Awá depend on their forest to survive.

One Awá man told Survival, ‘The loggers are destroying all the land… This is Indian land… I am angry, very angry with the loggers, extremely angry. There is no game for me to hunt, and my children are hungry’.

Since Survival launched its campaign to save the Awá tribe, an investigation into illegal logging has been ordered, and Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department (
FUNAI) has vowed to make the tribe a top priority.

However, despite these pledges, thousands of illegal loggers are still believed to be operating in the area, and the start of the logging season has renewed fears.

The Awá are
appealing to Brazil’s Justice Minister to do more to protect their territories, which, despite being legally recognized, are being ravaged by deforestation.

The Awá are particularly concerned about the impact land invasions are having on their uncontacted relatives, who are vulnerable to disease.

But the tribe remain determined not to lose their strong connection to the land. One Awá man said, ‘We are nothing without our land... it will not be destroyed, because we are here.’

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘British Parliamentarians are right to be concerned. It’s vital Brazil’s Justice Minister takes action straight away: if he can’t manage to enact Brazil's own laws, the Awá will soon be destroyed.’

source : Survival International

 

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16-06-12

Cree Nation of Mistissini says NO to uranium development

The Cree Nation of Mistissini has once made their position clear. They are unequivocally opposed to any uranium development in Eeyou Istchee (Cree for "The People's Land").

On June 5, Chief Richard Shecapio carried the words of his community to a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) public hearing in Mistissini, Quebec.

"We want to put an end to the question of uranium development once and for all, right now. We know where this is going and we don't want any uranium mining at all".

Those words will sound familiar to anyone keeping a close watch of the mining industry's very Canadian adventures. Indeed, This is the third time in less than two years the Cree Nation has asserted its position.

That position isn't going to change any time soon.

Chief Shecapio went on to explain that his Council will do "whatever it takes" to implement a moratorium on uranium development. "In light of the lack of social acceptability, cultural incompatibility and the lack of a clear understanding of the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining, it would be reckless for us as a people to move forward and allow the licensing of Strateco's advanced exploration project. We are seeking a moratorium on uranium mining and exploration on our traditional lands as well as in the province of Quebec", said Chief Shecapio.

Strateco Resources Inc. is trying to establish an underground exploration program at its Matoush Project in northern Quebec [Here's some propaganda from Strateco about the project]. The recent CNSC hearing was in regards to the company's application for a license to go ahead with the exploration program.

Chief Shecapio continued, the Cree Peoples "have always been the guardians and protectors of the land and will continue to be. For the Crees of Mistissini, the land is a school of its own and the resources of the land are the material and supplies they need. Cree traplines are the classrooms. What is taught on these traplines to the youth is the Cree way of life, which means living in harmony with nature. This form of education ensures our survival as a people. Any form of education that leads to survival is a high standard of education. Cree form of education teaches us to be humble, respectful, responsible, disciplined, independent, sharing and compassionate".

"Because our people are still active on the land, hunting, trapping and consuming the animals, we are concerned that traditional foods may become contaminated with radionuclides, posing a threat to those who eat them. High levels of radionuclides in moose and caribou tissues have been reported in animals near uranium mines. This indirect exposure can lead to serious health issues for the people who eat contaminated animals", expressed Chief Shecapio.

The CNSC maintains a very different perspective on the matter. The Commission, which is supposedly in charge of protecting "the health, safety and security of Canadians as well as the environment" asserts that Strateco's project is low risk.

Government officials in India and Tanzania said the same thing about uranium development projects there, and, well, look how that turned out.

Perhaps it doesn't matter. As long as the Cree Nation of Mistissini remains steadfast and their support-base grows, the project will undoubtedly put to rest.

When it comes to uranium, even "low risk" is too much risk.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Mick Jagger drawn into row over ‘illegal gas grab’ in Peru’s Amazon

Music legend Sir Mick Jagger has been drawn into a bitter row over an ‘illegal gas grab’ in the Peruvian Amazon.
 
Peru’s government has provoked fury from indigenous groups after it was discovered that it is attempting to
explore for gas in an Amazon reserve despite explicitly promising never to do so.
 
The reserve is the territory of several vulnerable
uncontacted tribes, and a crucial buffer zone for the Manu National Park, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for having a biological diversity that ‘exceeds any other place on Earth.’
 
After visiting the Manu region Mick Jagger was made an Environmental Ambassador by Peru, who described him as a ‘great support in our fight to protect our ecology’. Survival International has written to the Rolling Stones' frontman, saying ‘Peru’s last uncontacted tribes are in imminent danger… please ask the Peruvian government to stop endangering their lives.’
 
Peru’s plan to expand its massive
Camisea gas project has been clouded in secrecy. Nine years ago it confirmed it would never expand the project eastward into the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, home to several uncontacted tribes, and passed a Supreme Decree confirming the pledge. 

 

 

But the government has now reportedly created a new exploration block in the reserve for state oil firm PetroPeru, and Survival has received information that it is trying to revoke the Decree.
 
Ironically, the new block is named Fitzcarrald – after the rubber baron whose activities in the region a century ago contributed to the deaths of thousands of Indians from epidemics and mistreatment.
 
And in a twist of fate, in 1982 Mick Jagger was due to star in Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo about the rubber baron and filmed several scenes in the Peruvian Amazon, before being replaced.
 
In a letter to Survival, Peru’s vice-Minister for Culture, whose ministry is responsible for indigenous affairs, pledged to protect isolated Indian groups. But neither the Energy Ministry, nor PetroPeru, responded to Survival’s enquiries.
 
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘It’s ironic Peru’s newest gas project takes a name that epitomises the reckless plunder of indigenous land. Peru should stop and remind itself why these areas are protected, and Mick Jagger should use his honorary title to demand some answers.’
 
Note to Editors:


Survival has written to Sir Mick Jagger appealing for his help.
 
Peru’s 2003 Supreme Decree prohibits any new development of natural resources inside the Nahua-Nanti Reserve. It was agreed after the Inter-American Development Bank loaned Peru $135 million for the Camisea project. If Peru revokes the Decree, it will break the conditions of the loan.

 
source : Survival International

 

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29-04-12

Violently Police Raid of Mapuche Community in Chile

Santiago de Chile, Apr 20 (Prensa Latina) Special Police Forces violently burst into the Mapuche community of Temucuicui n the region of Chilean Araucania on Friday.

 

According to information uploaded to the blog of the community, from 10:00 local time (07:00 GMT), numerous soldiers burst into the community, even without knowing the reason for the raid.

 

The text added that the lonko (highest authority) of the community, Victor Queipul, was shot without any reason.
 

He further claimed that there were gas cannons in the attack, as it is customary in the area.

 

The werken (spokesman) of the community, Jorge Huenchullan stressed that they do not know the cause of such violent action. "We have no idea of the reasons. They burst without saying anything to anyone and

intimidate and humiliate our people," he said.

 

sgl/isa/mgt/tpa

Modificado el ( viernes, 20 de abril de 2012 )

 

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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Treaty rights recognized by the OAS

April 22, 2012: On Friday, April 20th, a historic consensus decision adopting strong language on Treaty Rights was taken by the States attending the 14th session of negotiations for the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Washington DC. The proposed American Declaration has been under negotiation by Indigenous Peoples and the 35 member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1995.

Indigenous Peoples see the proposed American Declaration as an opportunity to further strengthen and supplement the recognition of rights affirmed in the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which, since its adoption in 2007 has been the minimum standard and basis for these negotiations. When adopted, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be applicable in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The language in Article XXIII on Treaties, Agreements and other Constructive Arrangements has been under discussion for many years. Considerable progress was finally made in the last negotiating session in January 2011, leaving only the first paragraph still to be decided.

Strong pressure was exerted on the States to officially adopt the final remaining language for Article XXIII as proposed by Indigenous Peoples. It included all of the language in Article 37 of the UN Declaration, adding international redress for violations and recognizing the “true spirit and intent” and the understanding of Treaties by Indigenous Peoples. The final text of Article XXIII as officially adopted is as follows:

Article XXIII, Treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance, and enforcement of the treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with states and their successors in accordance with their true spirit and intent, in good faith, and to have the same be respected and honored by the States. States shall give due consideration to the understanding of the Indigenous Peoples in regards to treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.When disputes cannot be resolved between the parties in relation to such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, these shall be submitted to competent bodies, including regional and international bodies, by the States or indigenous peoples concerned.

2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements

Chief Wilton Littlechild, Ermineskin Cree Nation and International Chief for Treaties 6, 7 and 8, played a key role in the negotiations. He considers the adoption of Article XXIII as a major victory. It builds upon the strong language on Treaties in the UN Declaration, developed in a UN working group that he co-chaired, by strengthening important elements for the Cree Nation and its elders who began their work for international recognition of Treaty rights 39 years ago.

Chief Littlechild, who is also a member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stated: “It was an honor to secure the dreams and fulfill the original instructions of our elders through the wording that was adopted. This was a long and difficult journey but it was a goal well worth if for the Maskwacis Cree. The adopted language strengthens the UN Declaration by recognizing the true spirit and intent of Treaties, the understanding of Indigenous Peoples, and ensuing that disputes can be submitted to international bodies. Now we must ensure that all the other articles of the OAS Declaration are also fully adopted and implemented before the 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.” 

Francisco Cali Tzay, Mayan Kaqchikel, attended the session representing the government of Guatemala. Guatemala and Costa Rica were among the strongest proponents for the adoption of Article XXIII, despite the reluctance of some other States to move forward at this session. He stated: “Indigenous Peoples such as the Cree, Lakota and the International Indian Treaty Council began the work in the international arena many years ago to achieve recognition of their rights under the Treaties and Agreements they made with the States. It is very important that the OAS member States decided to take a strong position on this provision. The Guatemalan government was very committed to support the adoption of this Article without any further delay.”

Despite the historic strides made at this session with the adoption of Article XXIII, there was little other progress made overall, leaving a number of other provisions still undecided.  The Navajo Nation’s offer to host the next negotiating session was accepted by the OAS member States and strongly supported by the Indigenous delegations.

Source : IITC

 

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Thousands demonstrate in support of “New Guinea Council: First Steps” conference in Netherlands

Demonstrations were held in Jayapura on April 5 in support of a groundbreaking conference held in The Hague, The Netherlands, to examine  pathways to the reinstatement of the New Guinea Council or Nieuw-Guinea Raad, the original Parliament of West Papua from 1961 until Indonesia’s invasion.

Jayapura was again brought to a standstill by the demonstration organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), where several thousand people gathered hear speeches and to voice their solidarity with the “Nieuw-Guinea Raad: the First Steps” Conference.

Indonesian security forces were in attendance in large numbers at the rally, but no act of violence or provocation were reported by rally organisers.

In The Hague, speakers at the conference organised by the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and held at the Dutch Parliament, included exiled UK-based independence figure Benny Wenda, Dutch Parliamentarians including Harry van Bommel, Cees van der Staaij, and Wim Kortenoeven.  International Lawyers for West Papua (IPWP) Co-ordinator and international human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson also spoke, demanding The Netherlands honour its “sacred trust” of its promise of independence for the West Papuan people, and assist West Papuan to fulfil their human right to self-determination.

The New Guinea Council (Nieuw-Guinea Raad) was established on April 5 1961 whilst under Dutch administration as the concept of a more democratic mode of administration started to develop, as a body that was to be the basis for a independent West Papuan parliament.  According to the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, “The establishment of regional councils came from the requirement that the Charter of the United Nations imposed on the Netherlands: that the interests of the inhabitants of Dutch New Guinea had to be paramount.”

“The Netherlands was to respect the right to self-rule and had to take the political aspirations of the indigenous people into account. They were also meant to support the Papuan people with the gradual development of their own political institutions.  There are documents. We are not speaking of vague promises, but we are speaking of real firm commitments for the independence of the West Papuan people,” explained a spokesperson for IPWP.

“Unfortunately by signing the New York Agreement (1962) the Dutch governments abandoned the West Papuan people,” the spokesperson said.

source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

 

 

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Penan communities demand Norwegian CEO respect their rights

Six Penan communities have sent letters to the Norwegian CEO of Sarawak Energy (SEB), the Malaysian power company behind the controversial dam projects in Sarawak, demanding that all work surrounding the proposed Baram mega-dam be halted.

If completed, the 1,200 MW dam would flood the Penan's ancestral lands and villages, affecting a total of 20,000 people and a rainforest area exceeding 400 km2.

Penan ask Norwegian manager to respect their rights

(SARAWAK, MALAYSIA) The six Penan communities of Long Lutin, Long Pakan, Long Lilim, Ba Abang, Long Kawi and Long Item have sent letters to Torstein Dale Sjotveit, CEO of Sarawak Energy (SEB), the Malaysian power supplier in charge of the implementation of Sarawak’s dam projects, demanding that a stop be put to all further work on the proposed Baram mega-dam. The people are against Torstein Dale Sjotveit’s plans for the dam, since the 1,200 MW Baram dam would flood their ancestral lands and villages, affecting a total of 20,000 natives and a rainforest area of over 400 km2.

“My husband, my children and my brothers and sisters, we will not survive if they build the Baram dam. It is better to kill us with a knife right away than to build the dam”, whispers an old woman at Long Lilim in despair. Another villager asks: “They tell us that the dam will bring development. But how can drowning us be development?”

Torstein Dale Sjotveit is going ahead with his dam projects despite these concerns. He seems to be prepared to violate international social and environmental standards: forcing such mega-projects through without the agreement of the affected communities runs counter to standards like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Equator Principles, which Torstein Dale Sjotveit himself claims to comply with.

The Penan communities of Middle Baram have never been given any information about the plan to flood their lands and displace those living there, and have certainly never been consulted on the matter. If they had had the chance to participate, Torstein Dale Sjotveit would be aware of the fact that the Penan want genuine development and not dams, as the headman of Long Pakan states: “If they want to develop us, they should build a proper road for us, clinics and schools, this is what we want. We don’t want to be flooded.”

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

 

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Panama: Wounaan attacked by loggers for defending endangered Cocobolo trees

Two people have died and three others are injured following a confrontation (es) between indigenous peoples and loggers of an endangered tree in Panama.

The conflict began began on March 30, when a group of Wounaan attempted to burn logging equipment that was being used by a group of loggers working for Maderera company to cut Cocobolo timber, a type of rosewood that's prized around the world.

The endangered hardwood is often used to make gun grips, knife handles, police batons, high-end billiard cues, marine equipment, chess pieces and various musical instruments (marimbas, clarinets, xylophones, acoustic guitars). It is also sought after in China for use in furniture.

Details of the attack are still limited, but according to recent testimony (es), one of the loggers began firing a weapon at the Wounaan leader Aquilino Opúa was gravely injured during the attack.

The injured leader, it was said, walked through the mountains for at least an hour before making it back to his community, where he soon passed on. The enraged community quickly mobilized to confront the loggers. Upon their arrival, a second melee followed, which resulted in the death of Ezequiel Batista, one of the tractor drivers.

At least three other Wounaan were injured during the two confrontations.

Prior to these events, Wounaan leaders had issued a statement an ultimatum, giving the Panamanian government until April 19 to issue collective titles to their lands as guaranteed by Law 72 of 2008. They also demanded the complete removal of all settlers in the Chiman zone (who had already clashed with the Wounaan on two other occasions this year) and the end of all indiscriminate logging in the area.

"We demand the government to remove the settlers of our land and take responsibility for what happens, because we are willing to defend our land with blood," said Edilberto Dogirama, president of the Embera-Wounaan General Congress.

Panama's National Environmental Authority (ANAM) had then suspended all logging permits for two weeks to avoid any conflicts in the region. It had also ordered an eviction of all persons involved in the timber industry.

At least one logging group--that is, company--did not comply with the official order.

Javier Tejeira, Deputy Minister of Government, yesterday said that Police carried out a weekend raid to evict the remaining loggers.

An inquiry into these events is currently onoging. So far, no arrests have been made.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

 

 

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Mapuche Issue at the European Parliament

Economically Empowering Indigenous Communities: The Case of the Mapuche in Chile

 

In 2011 at the first European Parliament conference on the Mapuche in Chile an urgent need was declared to ‘‘start a new phase in awareness raising on the problems of the Mapuche people, the situation, the criminalisation, the unfair trials in which they are sentenced, and the human rights situation…we want to open doors so that we can look for the alternative solutions.’’

 

Moving beyond awareness-raising and to develop a constructive agenda for change, Ana Miranda MEP (Greens/EFA) will convene the second European Parliament conference examining the situation of the Mapuche with the support of Izaskun Bilbao Barandica MEP (ALDE) and

Antonio Fernando Correia de Campos MEP (S&D). Entitled ‘Economically Empowering Indigenous Communities: The Case of the Mapuche in Chile’this second conference will open at the European Parliament in Brussels from 9.00–12.30 on Thursday, 26 April 2012 in collaboration with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

 

Mapuche people in Chile remain a case study of an indigenous group marginalized by outdated and inefficient state policies. In spite of Chile’s ongoing democratisation, discrimination and social exclusion of the Mapuche continues. In a bid to debate and discuss these deep-rooted

problems, the conference will present constructive ideas on how indigenous people can economically empower their communities, preserve culture, identity and sustainable relation to their land.

 

Experts including Victor Naguil Gomez (International Delegate of Wallmapuwen) and Alexia Peyser (Education and Training Project Manager, BIEF) will discuss the socio-economic status quo of the Mapuche community in Chile, while Ellen Desmet (Research Fellow, K.U.

Leuven) and others will discuss solutions to sustainably empower indigenous communities. Along with economic empowerment, Arauco Chihualaf (Mapuche academic) and Francisca Quilaqueo Rapiman (Mapuche economist) will highlight the need of preserving the Mapuche identity in a changing Chilean economy.

 

The discussion of possible solutions to economically empower the Mapuche is particularly topical in 2012, given the upcoming EU-LAC Santiago Summit in May and the Rio+20 Conference in June, which will deal respectively with matters related to the Mapuche community and sustainable economic development.

 

 

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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Lukoil Threatens Arctic Reindeer

An oil spill in northern Russia from a joint venture between Lukoil and Bashneft has damaged fragile reindeer pastures in yet another blow to the indigenous Nenets people. Environmental activists have warned about such disasters for decades but few precautions have been taken by the oil companies.

Lukoil, which is now Russia’s largest oil company, and Bashneft are currently drilling for oil in the Trebs oil field in the Nenets Autonomous District which is estimated to hold 153 million tons of oil.

Vladimir Bezumov, chief of the local office of the Russian Environmental Agency, estimates that some 2,000 tons of oil gushed out of an exploratory well in the oil field this past weekend damaging as much as 14,000 square meters of land.

Oil exploration started in the region in the 1960s and expanded after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Activists warned that environmental problems were bound to get worse. "Western Siberia is already an ecological disaster area because of its many oil mishaps. Any oil accident would have serious consequences, that could reach upriver to the North Polar Sea," Ellen Schmidt wrote in a 1996 report for the World Wide Fund for Nature and a German environmental group called the Association for World Economy, Ecology and Development (AWEED) at the time.

Gail Osherenko, a Vermont-based anthropologist who works with the Nenets peoples, told IPS at the time that the idea oil drilling in the region would have only minimal impact was "wishful thinking."

And Russian and indigenous groups sent out an appeal in 1996 to ask the public to lobby the World Bank not to finance projects in the region. "We ask everyone to help us prevent an environmental nightmare. We ask you not to allow the use of your tax dollars, marks or kronor to facilitate further destruction of the environment," wrote Alexei Grigoriev of the Socio-Ecological Union in Russia in Taiga News.

The warnings were mostly ignored.

An Associated Press investigation by Nataliya Vasilyeva in late 2011 described some of the damage caused by the estimated half a million tons of oil spilled every year that make their way into the Arctic ocean, roughly two-thirds of the quantity of oil spilled in the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. “On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam,” she wrote.

The indigenous communities say their traditional way of life has been devastated by the oil industry. “There is no future for us. People are dying. If oil companies behaved correctly, they would ask us, where drilling is possible and where not, which river is spawning, where fish comes for winter cabin. Fish comes to this bog in the autumn. And now all the rivers are blocked here, and fish has nowhere to go,” Valdimir Vello, a reindeer herder told Greenpeace recently for a report titled “Is there a life after oil?” “I think that there is no future. If the oil companies leave us, we can manage to save something here, to recover this place.”

Politicians are starting to pay attention. Last week, Yuri Trutnev, Russia’s minister for natural resources and ecology threatened to sue Lukoil rival, Anglo-Russian oil producer TNK-BP (owned jointly by British Petroleum and a consortium of the Alfa, Access and Renova groups) for numerous oil spills in Siberia. Trutnev said the company has 784 accidents last year.

"The land is practically flooded with oil," he said after a recent trip to the Khanty-Mansiisk region, according to a report by Gazeta.ru. "We didn't have to look for polluted places, we had to look for places that hadn't been touched by pollution."

The drilling ventures are hugely profitable so they are unlikely to be stopped but there is more than enough money to minimize some of the worst impacts. Since 2003, British Petroleum has paid out an estimated $19 billion in dividends, more than ten times more than it would cost to repair the aging infrastructure, according to an estimate by Gazprombank.

Source : Corpwatch

 

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Diné and Hopi protest further dismantling of their basic right to water

A group of Diné and Hopi people ( including traditional people and elders) upset by the latest colonial attack on indigenous peoples water rights, gathered to protest the visits of two US Senators to the Navajo Nation today.  The people had gathered to say “no deal” to s2109, the bill that would allow for more water to flow into Arizona for the benefit of companies and urban growth.

Protesters chanted “water is life”, “free indian water ends now”, “let the water flow”, “sewage water for McCain and Kyl”, other chants were said in Diné.

Protesters waited for Navajo president Ben Shelly and US senators McCain and Kyl to exit the meeting in Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation. Earlier protesters marched in the streets of Tuba City, as Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly met with the senators to discuss the further dismantling of Navajo and Hopi water rights.  Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly has left the meeting and said that there is no deal yet made, and that they are going to hear input from 7 of the 111 chapter houses (similar to districts) and council delegates.

Senators McCain and Kyl were in Tuba City to gain official support from the Tribal governments for their bill, Senate Bill 2109, described in a Native News Network article as:

Senate Bill 2109 45; the “Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012? was introduced by Kyl and McCain on February 14, 2012, and is on a fast track to give Arizona corporations and water interests a “100 th birthday present” that will close the door forever on Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security and self-reliance.

S.2109 asks the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority Water Rights to the surface waters of the Little Colorado River “from time immemorial and thereafter, forever” in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply minimal amounts of drinking water to a handful of reservation communities.

The Bill – and the “Settlement Agreement” it ratifies – do not quantify Navajo and Hopi water rights – the foundation of all other southwestern Indian Water Rights settlements to date – thereby denying the Tribes the economic market value of their water rights, and forcing them into perpetual dependence on uncertain federal funding for any water projects. 

The fight for Diné and Hopi water rights continues as several indigenous struggles persist across Arizona to protect sacred sites, stop cultural genocide, and prevent further destruction of the earth and its people for corporate profit. 

Source : IndigenousAction.org.

 

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08-04-12

On Chile tightens security after officer killed following raid of Mapuche community

A Chilean police officer has died after being shot in a Mapuche Indian community, and the government says it's taking measures aimed at boosting security.

 

The authorities said police Sgt. Hugo Albornoz died on Monday night after being shot in the neck following a raid in an indigenous community near the town of Ercilla.

 

Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter traveled to the region to discuss measures to control such violence.

 

During the raid, the authorities said a man and two women had been detained as part of an investigation into violent acts in the area.

 

The Mapuche organization Meli Wixan Mapu said that during the raid, police ransacked and damaged eight homes.

 

The police officer's death came after other violent incidents in recent days. On Friday, two logging trucks were burned by unidentified attackers.

 

Small groups of Mapuche Indians have periodically attacked police while demanding land rights and autonomy. Police have also been accused of violent abuses in the indigenous communities.

 

Hinzpeter didn't detail the government's plans for new security measures but said a committee was being formed in the region of Araucania to consider responses.

 

Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

 

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Myanmar helping thousands of people learn to resist forced labour

Myanmar's new quasi-civilian government has pledged to end to forced labour in the Southeast Asia country by 2015. What's more, it is backing up the pledge with something tangible.

As the independent journal Mizzima observes, the government is also permitting the distribution of leaflets that will help thousands of people throughout the country learn to resist forced labour.

For decades, the Burmese military recruited 'ethnic' civilians to word under slave-like conditions, cleaning military camps, building military structures and walking ahead of troops in areas filled with landmines.

Despite the end of outright military rule last year, the problem with forced labour is ongoing, particularly in Karen state, where the military has set up close to 200 military camps.

Burma signs another one-year agreement to end forced labour

(Mizzima) - Burma has restated its committment to end forced labour in the country by signing another one-year agreement with the International Labour Organization, enabling the agency and government to move forward on efforts to cease the practice. 

Deputy Labour Minister Myint Thein signed the memorandum of understanding with an ILO liaison officer on Friday in the Naypyitaw, the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported.

“Myanmar has signed MoUs with the ILO and has been cooperating with the ILO in combating forced labour and is committed to eradicate it from the country,” the official newspaper said.

In June last year, the ILO Rangoon office said it had received 506 complaints related to forced labour since the start of 2010 – more than double the number during the previous three years.

It said the increase was because of an ILO-government campaign to raise awareness about human rights.

The ILO said that forced labour is sometimes caused by a lack of proper funding for projects demanded by rural authorities. However, most incidents male adults and youth conscripted into the military.

The ILO office has been engaged in distributing information and brochures and conducting workshops with government officials and civil society groups at all levels. The government has permitted the distribution of leaflets that will help thousands of people in the country’s ethnic enclaves learn to resist forced labour.

The leaflets offer residents in ethnic minority areas a chance to file complaints with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) about the human rights abuses they endure at the hands of government troops or local officials. 

The Shan ethnic minority is one of the first to benefit from this new education campaign. The one-page, A-4-size sheets of paper have been distributed since January in the local Shan language – stepping away from the policy of previous military regimes to suppress ethnic languages, according to a story this month by the Inter Press Service (IP).

Following the distribution of nearly 30,000 leaflets in the Shan state over the past two months, the ILO has set its sights on raising awareness about its "complaints mechanism for forced labour" in six other ethnic areas, according to the IPS.

Consequently, the plight of forced labour victims in the ethnic areas was not forgotten during the early round of peace talks that the country’s largest rebel groups – the Karen and the Shan – have had with the Thein Sein administration since late last year.

The Karen National Union (KNU) demanded an immediate end to forced labour as the sixth item in an 11-point plan for peace talks with Burma’s railway minister, Aung Min, head of the government negotiating team.

"Fighting in the Karen area has resulted in a lot of forced labour, so we wanted it included in the early round of talks," David Tharckbaw, KNU vice-president and head of the movement’s peace committee, told IPS. "They [the Burmese government] accepted these concerns in principle."

"As of February 2012, forced labour was ongoing in five villages in the Tantabin township," the Karen Human Rights Group said in a Mar. 12 field report.

In an interview in May 2010, Steve Marshall, the ILO liaison officer in Rangoon, told Mizzima: “Myanmar is a large country with a variety of communication constraints. The information brochure agreed to with government has and continues to be widely distributed though government departments, INGOs, NGOs and CBOs and its content is regularly promulgated through the media both internal and external.

“It would be expected, however, that still a large portion of society would not yet have access to that knowledge. It is hoped that an agreement to produce the brochure in other national (ethnic) languages will be reached as this would help considerably. Joint government/ILO awareness sessions of government officials (civilian and military) continue and the ILO has started running monthly workshops for community-based organizations.”

He said there are areas in the country, because of their geographic location, or their economic situation or their political situation, which have had more serious histories in respect of forced labour.

He said, “Chin [State], I would say, is an area that because of its geographic location, and possibly because of some of the political environment, has had serious issues in the past. I do not see it as necessarily being worse than any other similar part of the country, but again I have to say that we are working towards the future, and we are not concentrating purely on what has happened in the past.”

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Mexico Supreme Court says Tarahumara have Constitutional right to participate in projects that would affect them.

Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled that a Tarahumara (Raramuri) community in the state of Chihuahua has the Constitution right to participate in the decision-making of any project that would affect them. The little-noticed decision could have far-reaching effects across the country.

Chihuahua News: Court Upholds Indigenous Rights

In a little-noticed decision with possible national repercussions, Mexico’s high court has come out in favour of an indigenous community in the state of Chihuahua. In a ruling publicized this month, Mexican Supreme Court justices determined that the community of Huitosachi has a right to participate in the decision-making of the Copper Canyon Trust Fund, an organization spearheading tourism development in Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara region.

Huitosachi’s leaders earlier went to court to protect their lands from development in a zone adjoining the small indigenous community. Two federal judges initially ruled against Huitosachi before the Mexican Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in 2011.

The Supreme Court justices declared that the Mexican Constitution guarantees the participation of indigenous communities in the type of projects that would affect Huitosachi. The high court’s members also stated that relevant national law is similar to the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 169, which protects the rights of indigenous communities and tribal peoples. Mexico is among 22 nations that have ratified the international agreement. The United States is not one of them.

Situated in the municipality of Urique, Huitosachi is part of a large zone that state and federal officials, in conjunction with Mexican and international investors, are gradually developing as one of Mexico’s next big tourist attractions. The so-called Copper Canyon-Sea of Cortez Tourist Circuit has proceeded in fits and starts, variously impacted by changing political administrations, outbreaks of narco-violence, declines in foreign tourism, fluxes in investment and periodic protests by indigenous Raramuri communities that claim exclusion or injury from the project.

Nonetheless, important parts of a tourism development strategy mapped out back in the 1990s move forward. This week, for example, Chihuahua Governor Cesar Duarte inaugurated a new highway aimed at inter-connecting mountain towns and increasing visitation to the Baseseachi Falls. Likewise, the Chihuahua state tourism department is promoting the 2012 International Adventure Tourism Festival, an event which is expected to include marathon races and bicycling in the Sierra Tarahumara as part of the roster of activities.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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18-03-12

Oil Drilling Threatens Indigenous Mapuche in Argentina

While new techniques of hydrocarbon drilling, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in new areas are lauded by some as a solution to Argentina’s energy imports, the indigenous communities who live in areas where these resources can be found argue the activity is a threat to their communities.

Members of the Mapuche community say the Argentine government’s aggressive push to increase energy supplies by allowing oil companies to explore in their lands will cause irreversible environmental and social damage.

According to Argentina´s Energy Secretariat, close to 87 percent of Argentina’s energy is generated from fossil fuels. The government agency said that in 1988 Argentina had enough gas supplies for 36 years. But by 2009, this outlook was slashed to seven years. Oil supplies fell from 14 to nine in the same period.

Additionally, starting in 2003, when the economy was stabilizing after its financial collapse two years earlier, consumption of fossil fuels increased sharply. A report of the US Energy Information Administration said that the use of oil and oil products increased more than 37 percent between 2003 and 2010 in Argentina, while gas consumption increased 23 percent in the same period. To cover its energy needs, Argentina’s fuel imports, mainly of liquefied natural gas, gasoil and fuel oil, increased more than seven times, from US$549 million to US$4.5 billion, according to Argentina’s Economy Ministry.

In December 2010, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, or YPF, owned by the Spanish firm Repsol, announced it found a large shale gas reserve, in Loma de la Lata in the southern Neuquen province, and then it found an even bigger one in the same site.

Now other oil companies, including the US-based Chevron, Exxon and Apache, and the France´s Total, are exploring in Neuquen.

According to the US Department of Energy, Argentina is home to the world’s third-largest potential reserves of unconventional gas, with a potential 774 trillion cubic feet, behind only to China with 1.28 trillion cubic feet and the United States with 862 trillion cubic feet.

There is also hydrocarbon exploration in Rio Negro province. The provincial governments of Mendoza and Chubut are evaluating whether to allow for exploration there, too. The Entre Rios province, which has no history of gas exploration, signed an agreement with Repsol-YPF in 2009 for unconventional hydrocarbon exploration, and established an agreement with Uruguay for cross-border exploration with the state oil company Ancap.

New conflicts emerge

But there are consequences for the indigenous groups who live in the path of the expansion.

“There is no doubt that all of the official announcements about these mega-fields are a direct and clear threat to the life and culture of the affected Mapuche communities,” said Jorge Nahuel, a member of the Xawvnko Area Council of the Neuquen Mapuche Confederation.

Last November, members of the Gelay Ko community in Neuquen blocked work on a gas well on their land that US oil company Apache had been drilling, saying that they were not previously consulted of the project. They demanded that the provincial government create two commissions, one to evaluate the social, cultural and environmental impact, and the other for control and monitoring.

Fracking uses millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand at high pressure, to break through rock like shale to free natural gas and oil.

“There is no policy in place to measure the impact of this new technology,” said Nahuel. “That is what the communities are reacting to, in Loma de la Lata and in the central part of the province.”

Oil and gas exploration began 60 years ago, and indigenous residents estimate that there are 200 wells there and they have been demanding an end to the activity in the area for the last decade.

Mapuche community authority Cristina Lincopán of the village, said the government brings water each month in trucks to the area from Zapala, a city 60 kilometers (38 miles), because the water is so contaminated from the oil industry.

She said that community members are suffering from blindness, skin diseases and diarrhea.

“The truth is the company Apache is killing us day after day,” she said.

In September 2001, German consultancy Umweltshutz provided the Kaxipayiñ and Paynemil communities an environmental impact study that found 630,000 cubic meters of soil contaminated with chromium, lead, arsenic, naphtaline and pyrene, as well as other heavy metals in the water above legally accepted levels.

Gabriel Cherqui, a werken, or spokesman from the Kaxipayíñ community, said that since early 2011, they blocked YFP from exploring in the region because local government officials failed to clean up the current environmental damage. In 2002, his community, along with the neighboring Paynemil village filed a lawsuit against Repsol-YPF for social-environmental and cultural damage. Back then the cleanup cost was estimated at US$445 million, and is now at US$1.6 billion, according to Cherqui.

Even though Argentina ratified Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous peoples, one of whose main points is the previous consultation of indigenous groups, the state has not ensured this.

Now it is an issue local courts are evaluating. In February, Judge Mario Tommasi in Cutral Có town in Neuquen rejected an injunction request by Petrolera Piedra del Águila to do seismic testing in the Huenctru Trawel Leufú Mapuche community. Meanwhile, in March, the provincial Supreme Court approved an injunction against Chinese company Emprendimientos Mineros for copper exploration in the Mellao Morales community.

James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, who visited Argentina in late 2011, said the country’s institutions need to do more to defend indigenous peoples’ human rights.

In a press conference, he said the government needs to regulate the consultation process before extractive industry projects can receive a green light.

Other encroachments on indigenous lands

According to figures from the Neuquen Observatory on Indigenous Peoples’ Indigenous Rights, there are 59 Mapuche communities in the region, 19 of them affected by the oil industry or on the radar of companies looking to expand exploration.

Five of them – Logko Purrán, Gelay Ko, Antipan, Kaxipayiñ and Paynemil – are home to gas exploitation. Oil is being extracted from Wiñoy Folil, Maliqueo and Marifil; and in 11 others, there are concessions for exploration of either.

Salta, in northern Argentina, is also the scene of conflicts over extractive industry in or near the lands of indigenous peoples. In October and November of 2011, the Wichí Lewetes Kalehi and Lote 6 communities in the municipality of Rivadavia Banda Norte tried to stop seismic testing on their lands and reported being harassed by the company Wicap, which was contracted by the Unión Transitoria de Empresas Maxipetrol, as well as by police.

In the Chubut province, in Patagonia, an exploration/exploitation concession in Ñirihuau Sur, in June 2011, put Mapuche Tehuelche communities on alert. In mid-October, they held a trawun, or parliament, to evaluate the impacts of the industry, in which Neuquen Mapuche also participated.

It was a similar story in Chaco, where the province was divided into 12 blocks, some of them including Wichi, Qom and Moquit lands. In mid-2011, the Servicios Energéticos del Chaco-Empresa del Estado Provincial and Argentina Energy Service, a state-owned company, started exploring for hydrocarbons.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Namibia: Indigenous Coalition Opposed to New Dam

If the Namibian government thought it had enough on its hands after indigenous Himba leaders issued a powerful statement listing a host of human rights violations and calling on the UN to intervene, it now has another campaign by indigenous groups to worry about - and a real fight on its hands over plans to build a new dam in the Baynes Mountains.

The Namibian government was forced to back down the last time it tried to construct a dam - the notorious Epupa hydroelectric dam - after widespread oppostion and a concerted campaign by indigenous groups, which helped to convince the World Bank and other backers to withdraw their support. But it seems as if the government did not learn its lesson - and now it is trying to bulldoze through another dam just downstream from Epupa in the Baynes mountains.

And once again, indigenous groups are up in arms - particularly the most affected groups, the Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimb and Ovazemba.

Leaders of the four groups signed a statement cataloguing the government's disregard for their rights and demanding that the project be axed. The statement … reads:

"When Namibia wanted to build the Epupa Dam, we objected. Today, we object again, this time against the new plans of the government to build a dam, this time at Orokawe in our Baynes Mountains. We, the most directly affected Indigenous Peoples say NO!

In several meetings between us and the government, we made our refusal to this dam very clear. We don't understand why we have to repeat ourselves over and over again, and the government is still not listening to us, and is continuing to push for the construction of the dam without our consent.

We collectively refused the money offered to those communities and families that would have to relocate if the government is going to build the dam; they better kill us first before they do that. This is our land. We are the original inhabitants and the owners of the area that would be destroyed and flooded by the dam.

But since independence, the Government has dispossessed us from our rights to our land and our rights to decide what is being with and on it. Our traditional leaders, our representatives that we choose, are not recognized by the government, violating the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If they build the dam, many of us will drown ourselves in the dam. Other of us will fight, and Namibia will have civil war in our area.

We don't want to face the negative impact that comes with such a large scale construction i.e. large trucks, shops owned by strangers, foreign traders, big town, prostitution, theft, crime, diseases, the loss and destruction of land, and the flooding of our grave sites of our ancestors. We don't want the river being blocked. Water is life. It is not only us objecting to this dam. The people in Angola that would also be affected by the dam strongly object to it as well.

We demand that the government halts immediately any further plans to construct Baynes Site dam without our free, prior informed consent.

We request that Namibia allows the Special Rapporteur on the rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples to visit us in Namibia.

We insist that the president of Namibia, the Minister of Mines and Energy, the Ombudsman and other relevant high level officials conduct a meeting with us, in our area, on our soil - but without the police and military forces that we don't want here (UNDRIP Article 30).

Source : © 2012 AllAfrica

 

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Long live Wirikuta! Mexico judiciary suspends mining concessions on Wixarika lands

The Wixarika people, after campaigning for seventeen straight months to protect their sacred territory, have been granted a major reprieve by the federal courts in Mexico.

As of this moment, The intention to exploit natural resources through 38 mineral concessions in the sacred territory of Wirikuta is suspended.

No further mining permits can be granted as long as the core of the matter remains unresolved.

Below, a statement by the Wirikuta Defense Front

The judiciary grants the Wixarika people a suspension to detain mineral exploitation by the La Luz project in the Catorce municipality of San Luis Potosí

Feb. 26, 2012 - The federal courts have definitively granted the suspension of the violations claimed by the Wixarika (Huichol) People in order that no exploitation permit be granted for the La Luz mining project, in the Municipality of Catorce in San Luis Potosí, so long as the core issue remains unresolved.

Given the failure of the Mexican government to guarantee their human rights and with the immovable objective of the integral protection of the sacred territory of Wirikuta, given the agroindustrial and metalurgical mining threats, the Wixarika people presented the judiciary with an injunction for legal protection demanding respect for the rights that the Mexican government had committed itself to protect at the national and international levels.

Wirikuta, sacred territory of the Wixaritari (Huichols), covers the municipalities of Catorce, Charcas, Matehuala, Villa de Ramos, Villa de Guadalupe y Villa de la Paz en el Estado de San Luis Potosí, was declared in 1994 a Natural Protected Area and Natural Sacred Site by the government of San Luis Potosí and includes approximately 140,000 hectares, a place where the federal government has granted at least 38 mineral concessions to exploit the mineral resources, putting at risk the biodiversity, the continuity of the Chihuahua Desert ecosystem, the water quality, the health of the population and the Wixarika people.

The territorial rights of the indigenous people recognizes not only the lands or surfaces in which the peoples are established, but also contemplates the spaces and territories where they traditionally have access, which includes the habitat and surroundings, meaning the integrity of the natural elements that conform the ecosystem.

The territory of Wirikuta represents for the Wixarika cosmogony the place where the essences of life and the birth of the sun are founded, which represents and indispensable element of their cultural identity and for their subsistence as a native people. In this context it is indispensable that the Mexican government consult with the Wixarika people to obtain their free, previous and informed consent in agreement with the current legislation, in order to guarantee in an effective manner their fundamental rights.

The demand for the rights of the Wixarika people has been accompanied by the National Commission for Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Mexico, who have shown their interest and disposition for the defense of the sacred territory.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

 

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Judges allow Guarani to remain on ancestral land

Judges in Brazil have allowed a Guarani community to stay on its ancestral land, which it reoccupied having been forced to live in a makeshift camp for over a year and a half.

The judges have suspended an eviction order which threatened to force the Indians to leave their land and face appalling living conditions on the side of a road or in an overcrowded reserve.

The 170 Guarani of Laranjeira Nanderu community can now remain on a small patch of their land, until further land studies are carried out. Their territory is currently being occupied by a ranch.

Ten Guarani representatives traveled to São Paulo to attend the meeting where the judges made their decision.

A Guarani man from Laranjeira Nanderu said, ‘This is our dream, nothing else. Just for the studies to be done to show that we have the right to our ancestral lands’.

The ruling follows interventions from the Guarani, as well as Survival International, Brazilian NGO CIMI, and other organizations.

The Brazilian authorities are responsible for mapping out and protecting all Guarani land for the Indians’ exclusive use.

source : Survival International




 

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Illegal loggers seized days after photos of uncontacted Indians released

Peru has raided an illegal logging site in the Manú National Park, just days after the world caught its first detailed glimpse of the uncontacted Mashco-Piro tribe.

The discovery followed Survival’s release of close-up pictures of the tribe to raise awareness of the threats illegal logging poses to their survival.

In an operation led by SERNANP, Peru’s Department for Protected Areas, park guards and police uncovered more than 3,000 feet of illegally harvested timber.

SERNANP’s two-day operation led to the arrest of a group of men and confiscation of their tools. The men face prison terms of three to six years.

Sightings of the Mashco-Piro have risen in recent months, with many blaming illegal loggers for pushing the tribe out of their forest homes.
 
FENAMAD, the regional indigenous organization, is now working with local communities to set up a guard post close by, to help protect the Mashco-Piro from intruders, and has criticized tour operators for taking tourists close to where the sightings have been reported.

FENAMAD also welcomed the results of the raid, saying it was, ‘working with national and local authorities, including SERNANP, to ensure security for uncontacted tribes.’

More than 100,000 people have already signed a Survival petition calling on Peru’s government to do more to protect uncontacted tribes from illegal logging on their land.

Petition at:
www.survivalinternational.org/news/8078?utm_source=Survival+International&utm_campaign=0706b47a07-E_news_Feb_20122_15_2012&utm_medium=email

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘A week ago very few people had heard of the uncontacted Mashco-Piro. Now their faces are recognised worldwide, and the dangers facing them are known. Catching illegal loggers red handed clearly shows the very real threats facing uncontacted tribes in Peru.’

source : Survival International


 

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27-02-12

Indigenous Peoples withdraws from participation in World Intellectual Property Oganization Inter Governmetal Committee

Lack of inclusion on equal terms with states has resulted in the descision of the delegates of indigenous peoples to withdraw from active participation in the World Intellectual Property Oragnization (WIPO) Inter Governmental Committee

FINAL STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS FORUM AT WIPO

WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION
Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and FolkloreTwentieth Session, Geneva, February 14 to 22, 2012

We, the Indigenous Peoples and Nations present at the International Indigenous Forum during WIPO IGC 20, have evaluated our participation in all of the proceedings of this Committee, and we note with concern the continued reduction of the amount and level of our participation in this process.

We Indigenous Peoples have participated as experts in the IGC sessions, we have worked in good faith, and we have made efforts over the years to submit to the IGC sessions our collectively developed and sound proposals, which have been ignored or left in brackets in negotiation texts.The IGC, in its overall procedures, has systematically ignored our rights, as Indigenous Peoples and as Nations with internationally recognized collective rights, to self-determination and full and equitable participation at all levels.The draft study of the Secretariat on the participation of observers before the IGC does not contain modifications proposed by the Indigenous Peoples to WIPO’s rules of procedure. The States have obligations under their constitutions that have not been observed in the IGC, nor have they submitted proposals that could resolve the existing deficiencies in order to improve our participation.

Distinguished delegates: we, the Indigenous Peoples, are the titleholders, proprietors and ancestral owners of traditional knowledge that is inalienable, nonforfeitable and inherent to the genetic resources that we have conserved and utilized in a sustainable manner within our territories. For this reason, we appeal to the States to acknowledge that the discussion on intellectual property rights and genetic resources should include Indigenous Peoples on equal terms with the States since the work will directly impact our lives, our lands, our territories and resources, and will reach to the very heart of our cultures, which are the inheritance of future generations.

Therefore, the Indigenous Peoples present at IGC 20 have reflected seriously on our role in this process and have decided, unanimously, to withdraw our active participation in the work developed by this Committee until the States change the rules of procedure to permit our full and equitable participation at all levels of the IGC and until the instruments recognize and are consistent with the existing international frameworks for the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples within the scope of the IGC.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
February 21, 2012
Source: The website of AIPP - IWGIA

 

 

 

 

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Ethiopia: Land grabs are fueling violence in Gambela

The Ethiopian peripheries, with their abundant, fertile farmlands and water reserves, have become centres of land grabbing, forcing tens of thousands of indigenous people to relocate their ancestral villages, farmlands and grazing areas without proper legal remedies and without their prior consent or consultation. The livelihoods of indigenous people are under threat, as are their traditional ways of life and the environments they have protected and preserved for generations. The government has so far leased out about 3.6 million hectares to national companies and foreign private and state-backed investors, mainly in the regions of Gambela, Omo Valley, Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia.

The policy has drawn critical attention from international media, research institutions and NGOs. In response to widespread grave human rights violations-- systematic genocide, arbitrary detentions, rape, forceful relocations of indigenous people from their ancestral lands to make way for large scale agricultural investments-- insecurity, mistrust and fear has once again returned to Gambela region, one of the major targets of land grabbing, towards the newly independent state of South Sudan.

Since the 2003 genocide committed against indigenous Anywaa people by Ethiopian national defence forces alongside some members of  the Ethiopian highland community, the region has been seeing and experiencing increased tension, insecurity, displacement and unspeakable human misery. Various organisations that support the indigenous people in Gambela, including the Anywaa Survival Organisation (ASO), are drawing attention to the impacts of the government's inconsiderate and deliberate destruction of the cultural identities and traditional ways of life of the indigenous people in the country.

A number of recent calls have been made to increase awareness on land grabbing and the associated human rights issues and potential conflicts in remote regions that have been underdeveloped and marginalised for centuries. They have come in the form of documentary videos (Grabbing Gambela: a joint video by ASO, GRAIN, and EJOLT) and written reports (Peace, Bread and Land: Agricultural Investment in Ethiopia and the Sudans by the Chatham House, Understanding Land Investment in Africa-Ethiopia by the Oakland Institute, Waiting Here for Death: “Villagisation in Ethiopia’s Gambela Region by Human Rights Watch, etc.). Yet the Ethiopian authorities have ignored the genuine concerns over human suffering, displacement, environmental impacts, and instability.

In Gambela region where indigenous people are threatened to the point of extinction, despite the return of relative normalisation and stability in the region since the 2003 indiscriminate killings of Anywaa indigenous people in their own traditional homeland, the government has failed to bring perpetrators to a court of law and justice, and categorically refused to serve apologies and compensation to families of victims.

The authorities instead prevent indigenous people from achieving decent livelihoods by leasing out their traditional farmlands, hunting and fishing grounds, forests and woodlands. Since the 2008 international financial crisis and rising commodity prices in the world market, the Ethiopian authorities have, without concern for the ways of life of indigenous people or the environment, allocated the lands of these people to foreign and national investors. India's Karuturi Global was allocated 100,000 hectares of land, with an option to increase to 300,000 hectares. This land lease deprives about 5000 Ilea indigenous people from the lands they use for farming and from their sacred village along the Openo River, which they have protected in accordance with their traditional customs and beliefs for generations. The Ilea people were not even consulted about the deal.

Similarly, the Saudi business tycoon Al Amoudi was given 10,000 hectares of farmland in Gambela which his company intends to increase to 500,000 hectares. This land deal deprives the people of Pokedi village, along the Alworo River in the Abwobo district, of their traditional farmlands and environment.

The land deals are undermining the survival and cultural identities of indigenous peoples on a similar scale to the 2003 genocidal massacre of  the Anywaa, and they are fueling anger among local farmers and young men across the region, thus increasing tension and insecurity.

The last few months have seen a return of sporadic attacks on government institutions in Gambela, such as an attack on the police station at the Gog and Abwod checkpoints, Pinyudo town, in the Jor district, 30 km from Gambela town.

The attack in Jor district destroyed the police station and communication infrastructures. The attackers took cash and ammunitions belonging to the administration. This was followed by another attack in Pinyudo town leaving an Ethiopian highland woman dead and one Anywaa person and Ethiopian highlander wounded.

A recent incident on 16 February 2012 at about 8:00pm at Abwod checkpoint claimed the life of police officer Opiew Ojulu and Obang Amau Ochudho, a member of the Ethiopian special forces. At around the same time, an Ethiopian highlander, reported to be a staff of the Al Moudi operation, sustained serious injuries when the car he was travelling in was ambushed at the Abwod checkpoint. He was airlifted by Al Amoudi to Addis Ababa for treatment.

Though not directly linked with land grabbing and human rights issues in the region, an Ethiopian highlander, working for Gambela town municipality in charge of finance and administrative affairs, Getachew Ankore, was gunned down by an unidentified group of people last month. Investigations suggest a personal dispute with an Ethiopian highlander who gave himself up to the authorities, but growing tensions and suspicions among the communities in teh region likely contributed to the incident.

The growing insecurity and violence in Gambela, seen in the recent loss of innocent human lives and the attacks on government institutions by unidentified groups, should be seen as a clear warning to foreign and national investors about the dangers involved in the large scale agricultural investments taking place in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.  

Source: ASO

 

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Canada: Discrimination against First Nations

During Canadas periodic review in February over 20 Indigenous nations and organizations, are holding Canada accountable and CERD has delivered scathing criticisms over the government's treatment of First Nations and recent changes to the country's immigration system. Members on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, questioned why headway has not been made in resolving the ongoing disparities between First Nations communities and the rest of the country.

An "Alternate Report" was submitted by the Chiefs of Ontario to identify gaps, misrepresentations, and assumptions made in Canada's official report. It is stressed that the observations and recommendations made within the Alternate report are by no means new. Indigenous nations and organizations have been raising awareness and advocating action on these priorities for years.

Source : IWGIA

 

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Six men face charges for Guarani murders in legal ‘milestone’

 Six men are being brought to trial for the murder of two Guarani Indians who were killed in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state in 2009.

The case has been described as ‘an important milestone’ by a public prosecutor.

Genivaldo Verá and Rolindo Verá were victims of an armed attack, after their Y’poi community attempted to reclaim its ancestral land from ranchers.

Brazil’s Public Ministry has announced that ranchers and politicians are among those facing prosecution. The charges they face include: homicide; hiding a body; shooting a firearm; and bodily harm against an elderly person.

One of the men under investigation, cattle rancher Firmino Escobar, also
held the Guarani of Y’poi hostage in 2010, imprisoning them on their land and cutting off food and medical supplies.

Survival International has a recording of him refusing an undercover Survival campaigner entry to the site. He also falsely denied any Indians were on the land.

The Public Ministry is considering opening another police investigation into other people who may have been involved in the fatal attack in 2009.

Speaking to Survival, a
Guarani man from Y’poi community said, ‘This is really good news. That is what we were hoping for.’

Guarani communities
face regular attacks from gunmen employed by ranchers to evict them from their land, but the perpetrators are rarely apprehended.

Public Prosecutor Thiago dos Santos Luz described the decision as a crucial step in ‘the fight for the effective protection of the fundamental rights of the Guarani Indians of Mato Grosso do Sul state, who are victims of constant violence.'

One of the few previous times a Guarani murder case went to court was in 2011. It related to the murder of
Marcos Veron, an internationally respected Guarani leader who was beaten to death in 2003.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This investigation is encouraging, but the Brazilian government should remember that there are many more Guarani deaths that go uninvestigated. Ranchers have long attacked the Guarani with impunity – the tribe should not be under threat of murder for taking back land that is rightfully theirs.’


Source : Survival International

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