A land deal finalized this week between Paraguayan authorities and a land owner in the country’s central region will allow a long-displaced indigenous community to rebuild in safety and dignity, Amnesty International said today.
For almost two decades, the Yakye Axa indigenous community have fought a legal battle to return to their ancestral lands while around 90 families were forced to live in destitute conditions alongside a nearby highway.
Years ago, private landowners moved in and took over their lands. Indigenous families were dispersed among privately owned cattle ranches, where many were mistreated and exploited.
A lawyer representing the Yakye Axa yesterday told Amnesty International that the families in the community will soon move to the newly acquired land, comprising more than 12,000 hectares within the ancestral lands of the Enxet ethnic group
“The community is very happy. The young people, who can now build a new future, and the elderly, who fought for so many years, are in high spirits,” said Julia Cabello, a lawyer and director of the Paraguayan NGO Tierraviva, which works with the Yakye Axa and other communities of the Enxet ethnic group.
In 1993, the Yakye Axa community started the legal process to reclaim a portion of their ancestral lands.
In 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Paraguay to restore the Yakye Axa’s lands.
Meanwhile the conditions in the roadside encampments remained dire, with the lack of access to basic services contributing to illness and a series of preventable deaths in the community.
Once the Yakye Axa community is resettled, under the terms of the Inter-American Court ruling, the Paraguayan authorities must also set up a US$950,000 fund aimed at community development.
The fund is destined towards educational, housing, agricultural and health projects, as well as the provision of drinking water and sanitation.
“The Yakye Axa can now rebuild a secure and stable community and live in accordance with their culture, free from the dangers they have faced for too long in the precarious roadside camps,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.
This latest indigenous land deal comes several months after another Enxet indigenous community, the Sawhoyamaxa, negotiated an agreement in September 2011 to return to their ancestral lands. The negotiations are still ongoing.
For more than two decades, Tierraviva has been supporting indigenous communities like the Yakye Axa and the Sawhoyamaxa to return to their ancestral lands, which are vital to their cultural identity and way of life.
“We hope the Yakye Axa case becomes a positive example of the direction the Paraguayan authorities intend to take with all the unresolved indigenous land claims in the country and that the authorities will establish an effective mechanism to process such claims and make indigenous rights a key priority,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
Source : © 2012 Amnesty International USA
European leaders have mapped out a bold agenda ahead of the Rio summit, vowing to transform development aid, help provide renewable electricity to the world’s neediest people, and bulk up the United Nations environment body.
The European Union’s ‘Agenda for Change’ proposal calls for pumping foreign aid into sustainable growth and energy access, while European Union officials have also floated the idea of transforming the U.N. Environmental Programme into an agency with expanded influence and greater power to promote research and development.
Janez Potočnik, the EU environment commissioner, on Tuesday reaffirmed the 27-nation block’s pledge to provide the equivalent of 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) for aid to the world’s poorest countries, while urging that there be a focus on sustainable growth.
"The potential for investment and gains are massive compared to official development assistance," he said in a speech. "But at the same time the poorest countries need help, to make this promise good.
"That is why the European Union intends to fully meet our commitments to the poorest countries and will meet the Millennium Development Goal of 0.7 (percent) in 2015."
Meanwhile, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was expected on Wednesday to offer fresh support to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s energy-access initiative.
"Through the promotion of our technology and expertise combined with a targeted use of our aid funding, we will aim to increase access to modern energy services for the world's poorest," Piebalgs said on the eve of an address at the European Parliament.
The pledges reflect officials’ hopes that the EU can be a catalyst in turning the UN Conference on Sustainable Development into a ground-breaking shift towards low-carbon, resource-efficient economic growth after disappointments at recent climate and development summits. The conference is to take place Jun. 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, 20 years after the Brazilian city hosted the first ‘Earth Summit’.
"We are trying to work hard to ensure that we will obtain concrete results," Potočnik said, adding that "a day will not pass by in the coming months where the Rio outcome will not be discussed in our contacts with international partners."
EU officials cite Europe’s commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency as a way to tackle climate change while transforming economies and creating jobs.
Potočnik also said it was a European priority to give the Nairobi-based UNEP more influence and resources.
But the European Commission, the EU’s executive, faces tall hurdles if it is to achieve some of these goals.
Many EU countries are economically stagnant and face rising unemployment. At a summit on Jan. 30, EU leaders pledged to create more jobs and spur growth to address a continent-wide malaise and sovereign debt problems that have forced EU leaders to ask for help from China and other countries with deep cash reserves.
EU leaders have traditionally seen overseas aid as an extension of their ‘soft power’, agreeing in 2002 to provide annual development aid equivalent to 0.51 percent of GNI by 2010, and 0.7 percent by 2015 for the 15 richest EU nations.
Yet there are doubts about whether the EU can really live up to its aid commitments.
A 2011 study by the CONCORD coalition of advocacy organisations said that despite the 54 billion euros (71.5 billion dollars) in aid provided by the EU in 2010, only nine of the bloc’s 27 countries kept or exceeded their promises on aid in 2010. The overall rate is 0.43 percent of GNI. The CONCORD group warns that at current levels of spending, aid will barely move beyond that, to 0.45 percent, by 2015.
"To succeed, Rio will need to put more money on the table to fund the move towards an economy based on sustainable development," Felix Dodds, executive director of the London-based Stakeholder Forum said Tuesday at a development conference organised by the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU body.
Dodds, whose organisation promotes sustainable development, suggests ways in addition to development aid to create greener growth: a tax on financial transactions - backed by the European Commission but opposed by Britain and Ireland - and shifting the estimated 4.7 trillion dollars held by global sovereign wealth funds into green investments.
Dodds said the consequences of inaction are high. Referring to the EU’s aid commitment, he said: "If they do not do that, then seriously we are in danger of losing any trust with developing countries." (END) IPS
When President Juan Manuel Santos was elected in 2010, there was an immediate shift in the country's policy toward Indigenous Peoples. It was welcomed to say the least. However, the despite a handful of good advances, nothing had really changed on the ground, where change is needed most. As Real World Radio observed this week, Indigenous leaders and community members throughout the country are still being murdered and terrorized with impunity.
More murders and attacks against Colombian indigenous people
The Colombian National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) made up by the native peoples of the country is denouncing and rejecting the serious attacks and human rights violations suffered by their communities. Several leaders were murdered these past days, following an end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 with many murders and attacks.
On January 15th, members of the Embera community Herminson and Alexander de Jesus Morales Zamora were murdered in Riosucio, Caldas department.
“We reject this act of violence and demand that our rights and integrity as human beings, as communities, as peoples representing different cultures are ensured”, reads a statement by the Indigenous Government Council of ONIC.
The denunciation by indigenous organizations is addressed to different justice and human rights advocacy groups, NGOs, the civil society and international organizations.
According to the statement, the Embera people is one of the most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. According to authorities of the Indigenous Council Nuestra Señora Candelaria de la Montaña, Herminson and Alexander de Jesus Morales Zamora (29 and 24 years old respectively) disappeared on January 14th. They were members of the Ubarbá and El Rebaño communities. On January 16th, the families of the victims received a note indicating where they were. Their bodies were found n Cerro El Tigre, La Palma community, in a common burial site. They had been shot several times.
“ONIC and the Council denounce these violent acts against our indigenous population and the presence of armed groups outside the law in the communities, who murder and threaten the indigenous people”, reads the statement. “We ask the national authorities to ensure and protect our rights, our lives and integrity of the indigenous population”, read the statement.
A few days before, on January 12th, Jambalo Milciades Trochez Conda was murdered in Cauca department. "It’s not the first time our ancestral territories are attacked by armed groups operating in the region, and it is not the first time we mourn members of our families", reads the statement.
Milciades was shot to death on his way to his car in Santander de Quilichao, in company of another community member. The 39-year-old indigenous leader lived in Loma Gruesa, Jambalo. He was married and he was the father of seven children. He was also an active member of the Indigenous Watch. According to people who witnessed the attack, the indigenous leader was attacked by people riding two motorbikes in Caloto municipality. He was shot ten times.
The Jambalo Indigenous Council and ACIN wrote that in 2001, Milciades was persecuted by armed groups of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Since then, the leader received death threats by that group.
The Cauca Indigenous Regional Council (CRIC) and ACIN consider that it is extremely serious that the Colombian government hasn’t taken the necessary measures to protect the lives and integrity of the indigenous communities of the North of Cauca. There are precautionary measures in force granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHRC) due to the continuous threats and harassment suffered by these communities. The CRIC and ACIN demanded “immediate measures to ensure the right to life, the integrity and security of the indigenous community members of Cauca”.
The end of 2011 and the beginning of this year was as violent in the South of the country, according to information provided by the Indigenous Government Council of ONIC. On December 31st, in Santa Cruz de Guachavez municipality, Nariño, two gunmen murdered Jaime Chazatar, indigenous leader. A few days later, a member of the Awá people was tortured and then murdered, and three women from the same community, among them a 12-year-old, were raped. Other two leaders, Abran Mitis, from De los pastos town, and Hernando Chindoy, from Inga de Aponte, were attacked and "miraculously saved their lives".
Source : Intercontinental Cry
Loggers have invaded the Amazon home of uncontacted Awá Indians, one of whom has reportedly been ‘burned alive’.
Members of the Guajajara tribe, which also inhabits the area, have said that they came across the burned remains of an Awá child in the forest, following an attack by loggers, according to Brazilian NGO CIMI.
Clovis Guajajara, who sometimes sees the Awá in the forest whilst hunting, has reportedly said that he has not seen them since the alleged attack, and he believes they have fled.
The Brazilian government’s Indian Affairs Department, FUNAI, has told Survival International that it is conducting an investigation into the reports, and that the child’s death has not been confirmed.
At least 60 uncontacted Awá Indians are thought to live in this part of the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon – they are one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in Brazil. The Awá rely on their forest to survive, but vast numbers of loggers are illegally invading their land, which now suffers one of the highest deforestation rates in the Amazon.
More than 30% of one of the Awá’s territories has already been destroyed.
Luis Carlos Guajajara told Survival today, ‘There are uncontacted Awá in the area and the loggers are pressurising them. The loggers' presence is very dangerous. Indians in the area are scared.’
The Awá have recently suffered a series of brutal attacks, and loggers have warned that the Indians will be killed if they go into their forest.
Survival is lobbying the Brazilian authorities to evict the invaders from the Awá’s land before the devastation puts the Indians’ lives further at risk.
source : Survival International
The communities of the Makewe territories, who reject the construction of new regional airport in our territory, state the following:
1-.Once again, we begin the claims against this project that invades Mapuche land and life as a true dialogue with affected communities has never been started or continued. We are opposed with our lives to such transnational initiatives.
2 -. We also denounce that various media has bee used by government delegations to hide the true magnitude of the rejection of its new regional airport. Without going further, during yesterday Monday 09
January, Minister Lavin announced a dialogue with communities in the area. This was in a secret conversation, hidden from the communities that truly represent the territory. This media manipulation seems outrageous and even more when it is made out of money itself
3-.As a rejection of these actions, the Makewe territory mobilized since yesterday and we are expressing ourselves by cutting the main road access routes to Temuco. Today however, we have seen the repression of the communities of the area, who were not participating in the demonstrations, went too far: Members of the GOPE and police, entered without warrants to whichever houses they wanted, surrounding the
community with two helicopters that tried countless times to land in our yards, reeking with more than 200 police officers surrounding our homes and even detained two women who were guarding their home from tear gas and police shooting their animals.
4 -. Our lamgen (sisters) were attacked receiving butts in various parts of the faces and bodies INSIDE THEIR OWN YARD, and when they did not allow the police into their land, they were arrested, tearing a child of a year and a half from the arms of his mother leaving him without anyone to care for him and his two siblings, both minors, who witnessed and tried to resist the violent beating and arrest of their mother and sister.
5 -. At this time, the 2 sisters are being held in the third commission of Padre las Casas, awaiting their formalization which will be tomorrow. Even police officers in command, addressed the issue in the national press, declaring that these women had escaped along with hooded protesters who started the rally. These are irresponsible words by the executors of genocide in Mapuche territory.
6 -. We declare that all these accusations are part of a desperate government attempt to criminalize the struggle for the defence of land throughout the Wallmapu(Mapuche territory), first, accusing the Mapuche
movement of being responsible for igniting the forest fires that plague our area and now, by accusing our sisters who this time were the real victims of police repression in the Territory of Makewe that rejects the
7 - However, these measures of repression against the Mapuche people defending their territory do not frighten us and instead, give us more strength to continue in the defense of our life, our sacred natural
spaces and our self-determination within Mapuche communities
Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch
Leaders of an activist group of Chilean indigenous Mapuche people Tuesday denied government accusations they might have set a forest fire that killed seven firefighters last week.
The fire started Thursday at a private estate in the Mininco Forest about 700 kilometers (440 miles) south of the capital, Santiago, in the Carahue commune area.
"In the face of accusations issued by persons from the current government and right-wing members of Parliament, we say -- emphatically -- that the CAM (Coordinadora Arauco Malleco) had nothing to do with events that occurred at the House of Stone estate in Carahue," a statement by the group said.
The Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco is an organization of the Mapuche indigenous people that seeks to reclaim lands in southern Chile they say were taken from them by the government or private owners, such as forestry companies. The Mapuche are Chile's largest indigenous population, making up about four percent of the population.
The group posted the statement on an Internet blog often used by the Mapuche movement. It was picked up by the local media.
Nevertheless, the Mapuche still claim the forest land as their own property.
"We claim this land as ancestral Mapuche territory taken over by the forestry business, which is why we hold them responsible as the only cause of this tragedy," said the statement signed by Hector Llaitul,
political spokesman for CAM.
He is serving a 14-year prison sentence for assaulting a prosecutor in 2008.
The CAM has been blamed for other arson attacks against property or agricultural machinery in the same area, where most of Chile's indigenous communities reside and claim they should be paid restitution
for lands they consider their own under ancestral rights.
Immediately after the deaths of the seven firefighters were confirmed, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the incident demonstrated "criminal intent" and conduct of a "terrorist nature."
Afterward, Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter directed suspicions at Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco and filed a complaint under Chile's anti-terrorism law against the alleged perpetrators of the crime.
Llaitul said invoking the law was a "political strategy" directed "against the Mapuches."
Meanwhile, the US State Department renewed a travel alert Tuesday to American citizens traveling in Chile to beware of regions that have been struck by forest fires in recent days.
The travel alert mentioned the Magallanes, Maule and Bio Bio regions as the areas of greatest concern. The Magallanes region was the site of a devastating fire last week in the Torres del Paine National Park.
The statement urges US citizens "to exercise caution" when traveling to the Torres del Paine National Park or any other affected region.
Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch
Santiago de Chile, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) Social organizations and indigenous representatives on Tuesday will begin demonstrations in several cities around the country, in honor of the Mapuche student
Matías Catrileo, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his death.
On January 3, 2008, Catrileo, 23, was shot in the back by a soldier, while participating in a demonstration demanding the Mapuche people's ancestral lands in the Araucanian region.
A military prosecutor found guilty the policeman who shot him and asked the military court to sentence him to 10 years in prison, but the Martial Court in the southern city of Valdivia sentenced the policeman
to three years and one day with the benefit of probation.
On December, the Supreme Court upheld the local court's decision and accordingly endorsed the benefit of probation for Second Corporal Walter Ramirez, a ruling that caused outrage in indigenous communities.
On Tuesday, the victim's family will participate in a march with the Mapuche in Temuco, capital of the Araucanian region, and other similar demonstrations in memory of Matias Catrileo will take place in the
regions of Bio Bio, O Higgins and in the capital city.
According to the Mapuexpress website, a candle vigil will also be held in Stockholm, Sweden, to demand the trial and punishment of those guilty of crimes against the Mapuche people in Chile.
Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch
Chile's government has suggested indigenous Mapuche activists may have been responsible for a forest fire that killed seven firefighters on Thursday.
The interior minister named a Mapuche group involved in land disputes with forestry companies.
President Sebastian Pinera has invoked an anti-terror law to pursue those responsible.
Mapuche activists have accused the government of trying to criminalise their movement.
President Pinera reaffirmed that many of the recent fires appeared to have been started deliberately.
"Behind this premeditated and criminal conduct there activity of a terrorist nature," he said.
The worst of the fires have been in the Bio Bio and Araucania regions, where indigenous Mapuche groups have been campaigning to recover ancestral lands from forestry companies.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said radical Mapuche group Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM) may have been responsible.
The group has previously been accused of arson attacks, and some of its leaders are in jail.
Other Mapuche activists immediately rejected the link.
The Mapuche Student's Federation accused Mr Hinzpeter of conducting a "media trial" without any evidence and of trying to "delegitimise" the indigenous movement.
The Mapuche say the fires are partly due to the introduction of exotic tree species that have worsened seasonal drought.
The seven firefighters who died in the Araucania region, south of the capital Santiago, were employees of a forestry company.
The forestry workers' union says they were not properly trained or equipped for the job.
Across Chile, wildfires have burned about 500 sq km (190 square miles) of forest and farmland over the past week.
As well as Bio Bio and Araucania, Torres del Paine National Park in the far south of Patagonia has also been badly affected.
source : http://mapuche.nl/mailman/listinfo/nieuws-l
The Flemish Centre for Indigenous Peoples -
Wishes you a joyful 2012,
One of the very few hunter-gatherer tribes in east Africa has been celebrating the recognition of its land rights.
The land titles were formally handed over at a special ceremony held last month in the Hadza community of Domongo.
It is the first time that a Tanzanian government has formally recognized a minority tribe’s land rights.
Doroth Wanzala, the Assistant Commissioner for Land in the Northern Zone told those attending the ceremony, ‘We have resolved that the Hadza should be given official title deeds to ensure that the country’s last hunter-gatherers are not troubled by land-hungry-invaders, particularly in the wake of scramble for land.’
Naftali Kitandu, a Hadza representative said, ‘Invasion by other tribes who bring along herds of cattle and introduce farming in the valley has been threatening the survival of Hadza people who only depend on fruits, roots, honey and small animals for survival.’
Following the ceremony, one Hadza told Survival, ‘We are very happy. Now we need to make sure we get land titles for other Hadza communities.’
The Hadza are a small tribe of about 1,500 hunter gatherers living in north-west Tanzania. They speak a click language.
Until the 1950s they survived entirely by hunting and gathering. Living in small mobile camps, they had no ‘chiefs’ or formal political organization. Since then life has become increasingly hard as larger pastoralist tribes have encroached on much of their land, destroying much of the wildlife and plants on which the Hadza rely for their livelihoods.
A number of NGOs, including the Ujamaa Community Resource Team, supported the Hadza’s long quest for land rights. The organization’s lawyer, Edward ole Lekaita, said: ‘Indeed, this is a great achievement and successful story in the struggle of protecting Hadza’s livelihood for a promising future.’
© Survival International, 1969–2011
Handover of land supports traditional ownership on remote Aboriginal communityHandover of lands support traditional ownership on remote traditional communityland
The Aboriginal people of Hope Vale have been granted 110,000 hectares of freehold title land under the State’s Aboriginal Land Act.
They will also receive an ex-gratia payment of $6.5 million in compensation for the mining royalties collected by the Government from the site.
Natural Resources Minister Rachel Nolan said handing over the Hope Vale Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) formally recognised Indigenous ownership of the land under the State’s tenure system.
“It is a logical step for the people of Hope Vale as Aboriginal people have lived on and used this land from time immemorial,” Ms Nolan said.
“Hope Vale is an Aboriginal community located about 350 kilometres north of Cairns and is home to about 1,000 people.
“There are 13 Guugu Yimithirr clan estates within the Hope Vale DOGIT, which is home to many traditional owners as well as other Aboriginal people.
“The freehold title acknowledges the rights of Aboriginal people to manage, use and enjoy the land now and into the future.”
The deed was presented by Member for Cook, Jason O’Brien to Hopevale Congress Aboriginal Corporation Registered Native Title Body Corporate (commonly known as Congress) at a ceremony conducted “on country” at Hope Vale.
He said Congress would hold title to the land for the benefit of all Aboriginal people associated with Hope Vale including the traditional owners and residents of the community.
“The appointment of the Hope Vale Congress Aboriginal Corporation Registered Native Title Body Corporate as grantee of the land was an important step to allow not just the native title holders but all Aboriginal people, including the historic owners, concerned with the land to be involved in the use, enjoyment and future of this land,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Cape Flattery Silica Mines Pty Ltd operates within the Hope Vale DOGIT and I am pleased to announce that the Queensland government is meeting its commitment to make an ex gratia payment to the people of Hope Vale.
“Considerable work has been undertaken by the Government, with the assistance of P&E Law and KPMG, to establish a funding allocation and disbursement model.
“This will ensure that the families most affected by the mining receive an entitlement, and that a number of charitable trusts are established to provide broader community benefit.
“The community has worked hard to ensure the clans most affected by the mine and the broader community would benefit, and that the benefits are enduring.
“The combined effect of the land transfer and the payment gives the Hope Vale community an extraordinary opportunity to achieve social and economic improvement like never before.
“The grant and ex gratia payment would never have been possible without the hard work of many people; particularly the people of Hope Vale.
“It is a fitting result for their efforts and I especially thank them for the patience and dedication they have shown. Without those efforts we would never have achieved such a successful result.
“With the grant of this land, the Aboriginal Land Act has returned ownership of around 2.5 million hectares to Aboriginal people throughout Queensland.
“That makes this grant a landmark event for all of the State’s Aboriginal people.”
© The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) 2006.
Maliya Suo is more than 90 years old, but she can still skin a squirrel. In her prime, she could shoot a pheasant in flight. She was once the greatest reindeer herder in her tribe.
In her old age, Suo is taking on an even tougher adversary: the Chinese government. A member of the nomadic Ewenki community that lives primarily in China's Inner Mongolia region, Suo has resisted the government's effort to resettle her in the world of buildings, money and cars.
In 2003, Suo and 2,000 fellow tribe members were forcibly relocated from their encampment to a "resettlement site" 200 kilometres away, on the outskirts of Genhe, a dilapidated riverside city. Government officials confiscated their hunting rifles and urged them to leave their herd of reindeer behind.
Suo, wanting no part of modern urban life, soon moved back to the woods, where she has been ever since.
"The city doesn't smell good," said Suo, whose deep-set eyes are cloudy and who wears an old wool vest and a pink-and-beige patterned head scarf. She doesn't speak much, and when she does it's in a pained warble. Yet her manner conveys a matriarchal authority.
After Suo insisted on leaving the resettlement site, several family members said they had no choice but to follow because she was too old to live alone; exactly how old, nobody seems to know.
"We go into the mountains because Maliya Suo is in the mountains," said Zhang Dan, a 37-year-old craftsman. "Nobody is willing to move her."
The Ewenki, about 30,000 strong in China, are among hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders from the country's northern hinterlands who have themselves been herded into permanent settlements.
Government officials say their aim is to provide new opportunities for the nomads while protecting the environment from overgrazing and hunting. In some cases, relocations are a consequence of government-backed initiatives to excavate mines on herders' grazing land, critics say.
Officials say they are promoting diversity by bringing nomadic minorities into mainstream society, but the relocations are strictly carried out only on the government's terms.
According to a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch on the resettlement of Tibetan herders, such relocations "often result in greater impoverishment, and - for those forced to resettle - dislocation and marginalization in the new communities."
"When changes happen to an ethnic group in this way, so quickly, this can be very painful," said Bai Lan, a professor at the Inner Mongolia Academy of Social Sciences.
The encampment where Suo lives, in a patch of sparse forest in the Greater Hinggan mountain range, is an assemblage of four wedding party-style tents near a shallow stream. There are no power lines or cellphone service. Nothing lies between the encampment and the border with Siberia except a 50-mile (80 km) swath of birch trees and frozen ponds.
Suo and four others live there, along with a herd of 400 rein-deer, most of them owned collectively by those at the resettlement site.
The interior of Suo's tent remains dark even during the day and smells strongly of wood smoke. Old rags and fresh meat hang side by side in the tent from lines strung across its metal frame. Plastic trinkets mingle with animal bones on a crude wooden shelf in the corner
Suo, a last link to the traditional Ewenki language and way of life, spends her days sitting on her bed or on the ground in the tent, munching on pine nuts and tending the fire.
Day-to-day life at the encampment, which is packed up and moved every few months, is guided by simple survival. The herders spend many of their waking hours chopping firewood in preparation for the winter, when the temperature can reach 40 degrees below zero and snow piles up waist-high.
Before the Ewenki were resettled in 2003, the reindeer were used mainly to haul teepees and bedrolls on long expeditions to hunt for moose, bear and wild boar. Economic necessity has transformed them from beasts of burden into money makers: The herders now make a modest living selling their antlers for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
The herders subsist on rein-deer milk, a staple of the Ewenki diet, and whatever game they can find in the woods, supplemented by garlic and cabbage from the city.
Squirrel is a special treat, and occasionally one of the hunting dogs nabs a roe deer; the herders immediately eat its liver raw and save the rest for later.
"We've always depended on our hunting for survival," said Ma Lindong, 45, a herder who is married to one of Suo's nieces. "If we don't have that, then what else do we have?"
The resettlement site, called Aoluguya, Ewenki for "grove of poplars," has a different set of problems.
The product of a multimillion-dollar investment by the Genhe city government, the site looks more like a theme park than a community. Road signs describe it as a "Rein-deer-Herding Tribe Culture Tourism Zone." Its perimeter is decorated with giant models of teepees, the Ewenkis' traditional abode.
The government commissioned a Finnish consulting firm to design the site in the image of a Scandinavian ham-let. Its residents live in rows of freshly varnished lodges with front yards and vaulted roofs.
The homes' interiors are spar-tan; most contain nothing more than a few beds, a stove and a television.
"They wanted to attract foreigners, but the foreigners never come," said Ao Rongbu, 63, a former herder who remains in the settlement because of a heart condition.
Aoluguya is plagued by poverty and alcoholism. Its residents survive by selling handicrafts during the summer, mainly knick-knacks carved from reindeer antlers.
"There's nothing interesting about Aoluguya. There are no trees. There are no reindeer," said He Xie, Suo's 47-year-old son, slurring his words after a day of drinking.
Source : Vancouver Sun, McClatch Newspapers
As the UN’s climate change conference begins in Durban, Survival International calls for the ecological knowledge and insights of tribal peoples to be heeded in global decisions concerning climate change.
From the Amazon to the Arctic, tribal peoples typically have the smallest ecological footprints, having practiced sustainable ways of life for thousands of years, but they are also more vulnerable to climate change than anyone on earth, and bear the brunt of mitigation measures such as biofuels, hydroelectric dams and conservation projects. (Download report, pdf, 3.2MB)
Most tribal peoples have developed an intimate knowledge of their surroundings, and observe minute changes in their ecosystems.
Tribal peoples’ observations include:
-Inuit hunters of northwest Canada report thinning sea ice, shorter winters and hotter summers, change to the permafrost and rising sea levels.
-Innu people of northeast Canada report observing birds in Northern Labrador such as blue jays that are typically only found in southern Canada or the U.S., less snow during the coldest months of the year and fewer mosquitoes during the summer.
-Nenet reindeer herders of Siberia report that frozen rivers are melting earlier in the season, which hinders their reindeer’s spring migration, forcing them to swim instead of walk across the ice. They also report fewer mosquitoes.
-Tsaatan reindeer herders of Mongolia report that the growth of lichen and moss that nourish their reindeer is being adversely impacted.
-Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon report a change in the pattern of rainfall in the rainforest. They urge the world to recognize the vital role of the Amazon in the regulation of the world’s climate, and the contribution of deforestation to global warming.
'Climate change has started in our country,’ says Davi Kopenawa, spokesman for the Yanomami people. ‘The rich countries have burned and destroyed many kilometers of Amazon forest. If you cut down big trees and set fire to the forest, the Earth dries up. The world needs to listen to the cry of the Earth, which is asking for help.’
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit activist, said, ‘Hunters have fallen through the sea ice and lost their lives in areas long considered safe. The Arctic is considered the health barometer for the planet. If you wish to see how healthy the planet is, come and take its pulse in the Arctic.’
‘Traditional weather reading skills can’t be trusted any more,’ said Veikko Magga, a Saami reindeer herder. ‘In the olden times one could see beforehand what kind of weather it will be. These signs and skills hold true no more.’
‘Tribal peoples are the world’s original scientists,’ said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International. ‘It’s self-evident: where they have been allowed to continue living on their lands, forest cover and biodiversity can be much higher than in other kinds of protected areas. And without their ecological knowledge, many vital medicines might never have been developed.
‘Now it is vital for us all that their knowledge and views are seen as legitimate. Tribal peoples should have a far greater role in policy decisions regarding climate change mitigation, and their right to the ownership of their land needs to be recognised.’
source : Survival International
Alarming video of Indonesian forces shooting, beating and kicking civilians at a peaceful rally in West Papua has emerged ahead of a US visit to the region.
Ten people are believed to have died when Indonesian security forces broke up the rally of independence activists last month.
Watch footage of the attacks (©SBS TV/West Papua Media, Warning: disturbing content)
The video comes ahead of a visit to Bali by the US President and Secretary of State, for a regional summit. The US has applauded its ‘new partnership’ with Indonesia, but only last week Hillary Clinton criticized its human rights abuses.
The disturbing footage was smuggled out of West Papua exactly one year after scenes of Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuan men caused worldwide revulsion.
These latest clips allegedly show a local police commander giving the order to break up the rally on the outskirts of Jayapura – and the brutal and unprovoked violence that ensued.
Indonesian security forces, many in plain clothes and wearing crash helmets, are seen randomly firing their weapons and arresting scores of people, many of whom are punched, kicked, beaten or forced to crawl along the ground.
Reverend Benny Giay from West Papua says violence has escalated since the Congress was dispersed. ‘I think maybe this is the Indonesian military and police's response to the international pressure. The response is that they are being sent to Papua to kill, terrorize and abduct Papuans, but please do keep on the international pressure. Please tell people what is happening here for the sake of our future, our lives, our culture, our identity and our very existence.'
West Papua has been ruled by Indonesia since 1963, and more than 100,000 civilians are believed to have been killed during its occupation.
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Indonesia’s brutal occupation of West Papua is a catalogue of some of the worst human rights abuses and violations of tribal peoples in recent times. Hillary Clinton should use her visit to the country to highlight the horrific violence that Indonesia is wreaking on all those who dare to oppose its rule.’
source : Survival International
At least four Indigenous Saami communities are standing up to Australian and British mining companies that want to exploit the Saami's customary reindeer grazing lands in Northern Sweden.
Late last week, the communities of Sirges and Jåhkågasska in Jokkmokk warned that the British mining company Beowulf is in breach of its own ethical guidelines for refusing to engage them meaningfully and in accordance with international human rights conventions.
The British company is pursuing a new iron mine that could negatively impact the Saami's grazing lands, "without which they cannot continuously pursue their traditional reindeer herding," says the National Saami Association.
"In contrast to what Beowulf has reported to its shareholders, the company has not shown any willingness to cooperate with Saami communities, as required by international conventions. This is demonstrated by the company's refusal to assist the communities' participation in impact assessments, which are necessary to obtain knowledge of how the proposed mining would impact upon the Saami communities and their land uses," the National Saami Association continues.
"Beowulf's behavior is extremely disrespectful. It suggests both a great reluctance to engage with Indigenous People and a lack of knowledge of indigenous rights. Mineral exploration in an area inhabited by Indigenous People requires indigenous consent to the project. But this also assumes that the company engages with the affected indigenous community, and this is something Beowulf has not done" says Mattias Pirak, Jåhkågasska tjiellde.
"The Sami culture within the municipality is alive and vital. Reindeer husbandry and its ancillary industries have helped to create a living landscape, both historically and into the present, as recently confirmed by the established of the World Heritage area of Laponia, instituted with respect for the unique nature and culture that have long existed in the area. Any mining project will not only affect our communities, but also neighbouring ones" says Jakob Nygard, Sirges Saami community.
A large increase in traffic to and from the mine could also have a major impact on the Reindeer. As the National Saami Association concludes, "Reindeer herding requires large tracts of land in order to survive and the municipality of Jokkmokk is clearly defined as reindeer grazing area," which needs to be held intact.
Meanwhile, two other Saami communities are continuing to speak out against Scandinavian Resources' (SCR's) proposed iron mines in the Kalix River Valley, less than 200km away from Beowulf's proposed project.
On August 28 2011, Damien Hicks, Executive Director of Scandinavian Resources (SCR), stated that his company cannot operate in an area without the support of local communities. These were welcomed words the Saami; however, they want to make sure that the company will abide by them. They also want to make sure it will commit to a process of Free Prior and Informed Consent (something they want from Beowulf as well).
Last week, the Minerals Policy Institute attended SCR's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Perth to reiterate that message on behalf of the Saami communities of Girjas and Laevas, as well as the Saami Council and the National Swedish Saami Association (SSR).
While at the AGM, the Minerals Policy Institute read out loud a written statement that outlines the Saami's concerns and asks whether or not the company will engage in a process of Free Prior and Informed Consent as a prerequisite to mining.
Whether or not the company agrees, the two communities have made it clear that they will not accept any mining on their traditional lands.
The Saami Council also sent another invitation to one of SCR's main bakers, Canaccord Financial Inc., to visit the communities "in order to understand the severity of the human rights breaches concerned and why the communities will never consent to Scandinavian Resource proposed mining activities". The Canadian investment firm has yet to respond to the invitation.
source : Intercontinental Cry
In Peru, over a third of forested lands are used and occupied by indigenous communities. However, their legal rights to their traditional land are frequently undermined, and the REDD+ program threatens to heighten such human rights abuses, say authors of a new report. The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP), the Federation of the Native Peoples of the River Madre de Dios and Its Tributaries (FENAMAD), and the Asháninka Centre of the river Ene (CARE), all indigenous Peruvian organizations, have just released the new report, titled "The Reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between Theory and Practice-Indigenous Amazonian Peoples' Analyses and Alternatives."
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is a global carbon trading scheme that would let wealthier nations offset their carbon output by investing in the protection of forests in developing nations. Disenfranchisement of local people in the development of REDD+ initiatives has long been a controversial issue.
Some of the worst REDD+ abuses to date in Peru include strict confidentiality contracts with no legal protection or oversight for indigenous communities, even for peoples who are not fluent in English (the language of the contracts) or even written Spanish. And those cases involve communities that actually have legal rights to their lands. Hundreds of "invisible" communities have no legal recognition of their own existence, or title to their traditional land. Indigenous peoples often have land use rights, but not title to the land, and their rights have been consistently eroded for the past 20 years, just as their land has been consistently degraded for mining, logging, and oil and gas extraction, the authors emphasize.
The authors cite inadequate readiness for the REDD+ program, noting that a mass land grab could result, particularly for the millions of contested hectares caught up in indigenous land rights cases. REDD+ is progressing much more rapidly at sub-national levels than at the national level in Peru, a recipe for lax oversight and enforcement of protections against human rights abuses, they assert. Existing laws fail to provide adequate protections for indigenous peoples and their land, the authors note, implying that the government of Peru will be unlikely to side with indigenous communities regarding their land rights.
"'Carbon pirates' are convincing indigenous communities to sign away their rights to land and carbon under terms that are highly favourable to commercial interests and offer little or no guarantee for the protection of indigenous peoples' fundamental rights," say the authors. In other cases, community consultation has been taking place only after projects begin.
Without dramatic legal reforms to ensure the land rights of indigenous Peruvians, the REDD+ program will further disenfranchise indigenous people, the authors conclude. Instead of throwing large sums of money at "unproven and unstable carbon markets," they support modest funding to promote community forest development and ensure indigenous land rights." "Only in this way can REDD truly become an opportunity for indigenous peoples instead of a threat," Alberto Pizango Chota, President of AIDESEP, has said. A recent study has shown community forests to be safer than "protected areas," as local people's livelihoods depends on the health of community forests.
Furthermore, biofuel plantations must be excluded from the REDD+ program, the group asserts. Allowing biofuel monocultures to be used as carbon offsets would be an outrageous irony, as these plantations often cause far more environmental destruction than they prevent. The report's authors note that many indigenous Peruvian groups hold that funding REDD+ with carbon offsets de-legitimizes the entire initiative, implying that the program is flawed at its core. Many outside critiques have voiced the same belief, asserting that large-scale carbon trading schemes will maintain levels of pollution consistent with the norm or, due to inevitable corruption and difficulties with oversight, will lead to greater levels of pollution than before, while fueling the growth of a dangerous carbon trading bubble.
Copyright © 2011 The Earth Times
Nearly a year ago, we shared with you the struggle of the Rapa Nui Nation whom are engaged in a collective effort to recover ancestral lands and regain self-government over clan issues. At the time they were being violently evicted from their traditional lands and sacred sites by Chilean armed forces. In October 2010, the Center filed a request for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of about 32 Rapa Nui clans. Precautionary measures are meant to prevent human rights violations and are only granted in situations where human rights are at imminent risk. In February 2011 the Center secured these measures with the IACHR.
With the help of generous donations, the Center was able to send a team of lawyers to meet with Rapa Nui leaders on the island in August 2011. It was the first time that indigenous human rights lawyers provided in depth information on international law standards developed to protect indigenous peoples and how these could be used to protect the Rapa Nui Nation’s human rights. Robert T. Coulter, the Center’s Executive Director, and Leonardo Crippa, Senior Attorney and the Rapa Nui project director, led a series of meetings and dialogues about indigenous peoples land rights and right to self-determination. The full recognition of these rights, among others, is critical for the survival of the Rapa Nui and ensuring that they remain as a distinct people.
Private meetings were organized with Rapa Nui elders, traditional organizations and the Rapa Nui clan leaders the Center represents at the IACHR. In addition, meetings with Chilean government officials were held in order to asses the political will to improve the human rights situation on Rapa Nui Island.
The range of activities provided the Center with important information and we now have a better grasp of the situation facing the Rapa Nui people and the intricacies of their relationship with the State of Chile. We are evaluating how to proceed in our efforts to protect the human rights of the Rapa Nui Nation.
Since the last evictions in early 2011, the Rapa Nui have been engaged in several law-suits relating to the evictions, land rights and human rights violations. Today, police officers involved in past violent evictions are under criminal investigation before domestic military courts.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has lifted the precautionary measures granted to stop the violent use of armed forces against the Rapa Nui clans. We will continue to monitor the situation and are currently conducting research on important issues raised by the Rapa Nui people.
©2010 Indian Law Resource Center
Indigenous peoples are key to preserving the world’s forests, and conservation reserves that exclude them suffer as a result, according to a new study from the World Bank.
Its analysis shows how deforestation plummets to its lowest levels when indigenous peoples continue living in protected areas, and are not forced out.
Across the world millions of tribal people are conservation refugees, but the World Bank says its evidence shows ‘forest conservation need not be at the expense of local livelihoods.’
Using satellite data from forest fires to help indicate deforestation levels, the study showed rates were lower by about 16% in indigenous areas between 2000-2008.
80% of the world’s protected areas are the territories of tribal communities, who have lived there for millennia. This is no coincidence: increasingly, experts are recognizing the link between the presence of tribal peoples and their ability to benefit forests by inhibiting deforestation.
Scientist Daniel Nepstad describes indigenous lands as, ‘currently the most important barrier to Amazon deforestation.’
But despite the World Bank acknowledging the benefits indigenous peoples give to the land, it has backed several controversial projects directly threatening their existence.
Most famously, in the 1970s the World Bank helped fund the Great Carajás Programme after huge iron ore deposits were discovered in Brazil. The development project had fatal consequences for Brazil’s Awa tribe.
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Experts are finally waking up to the fact that upholding indigenous peoples’ right to remain on their land is the best way to guarantee forest conservation. It's a shame that not all conservation organizations have caught on. Aside from the human rights violation that their evictions represent, such action is also counterproductive.’
source : Survival International
Pro-independence Papuans are planning widespread rallies this Thursday to mark 50 years since they first raised their symbolic ‘Morning Star’ flag. A climate of fear surrounds the anniversary as Indonesia continues to brutally suppress any opposition, and hands derisory sentences to security forces implicated in the violence.
It is now a treasonable offense to carry the flag, which has become an emblem of West Papua’s struggle for independence since it was first flown on 1 December 1961.
As recently as October, West Papuans were left critically aware of the risks still involved in proclaiming independence. Up to ten people were killed when Indonesia’s security forces broke up an independence rally. The main officers involved have reportedly received reprimands.
Thursday’s peaceful protests aim to show there is still a strong appetite to end almost half a century of occupation and flagrant human rights abuses.
Since 1963, an estimated 100,000 civilians have been killed under Indonesian occupation.
One of the main rallies will be held in the city of Jayapura, by the grave of former Papuan leader, Theys Eluay. He was killed in 2001 by the Indonesian military. The seven men convicted of his murder were only given paltry jail terms.
The disproportionate use of force by Indonesia, and the clear lack of justice, leaves Papuan protesters fearful ahead of Thursday’s anniversary, says Reverend Benny Giay.
Speaking to Survival International from West Papua, he said, ‘Most of the businesses will close down so people are stocking up on essentials…(and) in Jakarta lots of students are leaving their hostels to go back to their families, as they fear the military. The situation is very tense.’
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Indonesia’s illegal occupation of West Papua is almost unparalleled in its brutality. It’s outrageous that the international community is turning a blind eye on almost half a century of ruthless oppression and unbridled violence against the Papuan people.’
There are growing calls for Australian monitors to enter West Papua ahead of Thursday’s rallies, and for Indonesia to allow foreign journalists back in.
source : Survival International
An indigenous leader in southern Brazil has been shot dead in front of his community, officials say.
Nisio Gomes, 59, was part of a Guarani Kaiowa group that returned to their ancestral land at the start of this month after being evicted by ranchers. He was killed by a group of up to 40 masked gunmen who burst into the camp, witnesses said.
Land disputes between indigenous groups and ranchers are common in Mato Grosso do Sul State.
Mr Gomes was shot in the head, chest, arms and legs and his body was then driven away by the gunmen, community members said. His son was reportedly beaten and shot with a rubber bullet when he tried to intervene.
Unconfirmed reports say two other Guaranis were abducted by the gunmen and may also have been killed. Most of the community's 60 residents fled the camp to hide in the surrounding forest.
The incident happened near the town of Amambai near the border with Paraguay.
Federal Police and representatives of Brazil's main indigenous organisations have travelled to the area to investigate the killing, the Roman Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) said.
"The people will stay in the camp, we will all die here together. We are not going to leave our ancestral land," CIMI quoted one of the Guaranis as saying.
It said the community wanted to recover Mr Gomes's body so he could be buried in the land he tried to defend throughout his life.
The group had been camping on a roadside following their eviction until they decided to return to their land at the beginning of November.
The killing has been condemned by the international group Survival, which campaigns for indigenous rights.
"It seems the ranchers won't be happy until they've eradicated the Guarani," Survival's director Stephen Corry said. "This level of violence was commonplace in the past and it resulted in the extinction of thousands of tribes," he added.
The Guarani are Brazil's largest indigenous minority, with around 46,000 members living in seven states. Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
The group suffers a severe shortage of land in Brazil, which has worsened as a boom in agriculture has led farmers and ranchers to extend their holdings.
Indigenous activists say farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul frequently use violence and threats to force them off their ancestral territory, and that the local authorities do little to protect them.
Indigenous protesters disrupted operations at an Argentine natural gas processing plant operated by U.S.-based Apache Corp , a company source said on Thursday.
The Mapuche Indian protesters, who want the company to leave the area, managed to halt activity at the plant in Neuquen province on Monday. It has been operating at partial capacity since then.
"They're stopping people from getting in. Work is continuing, but with difficulty. At the moment, the plant's operating at 70 percent capacity and we hope this will be resolved soon," the source said, asking not to be named.
Apache is one of the biggest energy companies active in Neuquen, where huge resources of non-conventional natural gas and oil have been found, raising hopes for a transformation in the country's energy industry.
Neuquen, Argentina's most important gas-producing province, accounts for between 45 percent and 50 percent of total output of the fuel.
Argentine natural gas production has been declining since 2004, reaching 47 million cubic meters last year compared with 50.6 million in 2003, according to data from the Argentine Institute of Petroleum and Gas (IAPG).
Source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch
Whether the world’s largest open-cut mine on this island territory of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will resume copper and gold production, after being mothballed for 22 years, will depend on how satisfied matrilineal landowners are with the proposals.
The women landowners are already raising issues about the potential impact on their land and communities if copper mining resumes at the site in the central mountainous district of Panguna.
"What sort of mining and with what process will it reopen?" asks Patricia Tapakau, president of the Panguna Women in Mining, an organisation which represents women in 13 mining affected villages. "We need to know, because we don’t want any more destruction. We have had enough of that."
The Panguna copper mine opened in 1969 when Bougainville was under Australian colonial administration and customary landowners were excluded from the Bougainville Copper Agreement between the Australian government and the mining company, Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia.
For 20 years, the Barapang, Kurabang, Basikang and Bakoringku clans, customary landowners of the mine pit, endured devastation of their land and waterways by waste from what was the mine, community evictions and negligible share in profits.
In 1989, following BCL’s refusal to pay the landowners’ demand of 10 billion kina (454 million dollars) compensation, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) forced the mine to close.
The PNG government, a major owner (19.06 percent) of the operating company, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), alongside British multinational, Rio Tinto (53.58 percent), imposed a blockade on the island and a 10-year civil war followed during which 20,000 people died, communities suffered human rights abuses and infrastructure was destroyed.
Helen Hakena, director of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, a local NGO, counsels women victims of violence and develops leadership capacity and awareness of land rights in communities. She said a significant achievement since the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement was the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005.
"We have our own government in place and a lot has been achieved in terms of peace-building and the laying down of arms," Hakena recounted. "The setting up of businesses here has been a good thing, and schools and other institutions have been opened."
However, the population of Bougainville has doubled from 175,000 in 2000 to over 300,000 now, and with the island’s current revenue deriving mainly from international aid donors, public services remain limited. Many villages lack electricity, clean water and adequate medical services.
The ABG views potential mining revenues as vital to developing services and attaining economic self-sufficiency for the second pillar of the Peace Agreement, a referendum on independence from PNG within the next 5-10 years.
In May, BCL chairman Peter Taylor visited Bougainville with a business delegation and held preliminary discussions with Bougainville President John Morris about reopening the Panguna mine, which the company estimates has reserves of 3.5 million tonnes of copper and 12.7 million ounces of gold.
Taylor stated publicly that he expects the ABG and landowners to lead in mining negotiations. However, women landowners remain concerned that the customary value of land as a source of livelihood will give way to corporate interests that see land as an expendable resource.
"The important thing about the land is that, to us, it is like a mother, because we feed on the land," said Joanne Dateransi. "We always depend on land; it cannot be compared to money."
The women say the economic potential of local industries, such as cocoa, copra and tourism must be fully explored first and unresolved issues, following the mine’s abandonment, must be addressed, including financial compensation and environmental damage.
"The first thing, the government and the company, they have to pay that 10 billion kina, which is part of the (landowners’) demands, then the killings and the damage has to be paid. Then we talk about the mining issue," said Panguna landowner Lynette Ona.
"The chemicals are still there in the river," she said. "No one drinks the water, there is no fish there, it is still the same," said Ona who promotes the participation of women in local politics and plans to be candidate in the 2012 Bougainville elections.
An environmental report on the Panguna mine by Applied Geology Associates (1998) spoke of thousands of tonnes of tailings including toxic metals such as mercury, lead and zinc. Tailings flowing into the nearby Jaba river decimated fish and contaminated water supplies and crops.
"It (BCL) has to come up with a very good plan on how to dispose of toxic waste," stated Coleman. What has happened as a result of the mine being closed is the (improved) fertility of the soil. We never had coconuts (during the mine’s operation) in our own village, now you can see trees full of coconuts."
Long-term political and social unity is also a key issue with reconciliation and weapons disposal incomplete. A survey, supported by PNG’s ‘Post Courier’ newspaper, of 500 families in Central Bougainville affected by the civil war death toll of 1,629, showed households still in possession of weapons.
"We will not take away all the guns," Hakena said. "But there needs to be a priority set by the government in getting those arms out before the (possible) reopening of the Panguna mine."
However, a decision on whether the mine will reopen is still to be made by the ABG, landowners, the PNG government and BCL.
ABG’s chief mining officer, Stephen Burian, said new mining laws were being drafted with assistance from the World Bank, but a review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement, a precondition to mine negotiations, awaits unification of all landowners in mining affected areas under the Panguna Landowners Association and an independent environmental audit made.
The Panguna community also includes the Mekamui hardliners, comprising many former BRA fighters, who control access to the Panguna mine and have not yet agreed to any mining proposals.
What is clear is that the mine’s future is in the hands of Bougainville people who want to see strategies of economic development that preserve human rights, social cohesion, environment and culture.
"We want to develop, but to redevelop from the mistakes, not to repeat the mistakes (of the past)," said Tapakau.
source : IPS
Finland’s Supreme Court support the reindeer farming co-operative, while the UN Human Right Committee support the traditional Saami reindeer herders in the on-going conflict on how many reindeer should be slaughtered.
The livelihood and cultural identity of four Saami reindeer herders from the Nellim area in the northeasternmost part of Finnish Lapland is threatened by a decision by the Ivalo reindeer co-operative that essentially the entire herd of the Nellim group should be forcefully slaughtered.
Finnish Supreme Administrative Court have upheld the decision as legal under the Finnish Reindeer Herding Act. The Ivalo reindeer co-operative has announced that it will enforce its decision.
The situation in Nellim is a direct result of Finland, unlike Norway and Sweden, is not protecting reindeer husbandry as a distinct livelihood of the Saami, says the Finnish Saami Council in a press-release.
The Saami Council says the Finnish Reindeer Herding Act fails to distinguish between reindeer farming, common to Finnish reindeer owners, and traditional Saami reindeer husbandry. Reindeer farms can slaughter more reindeer compared to Saami traditional reindeer herding, as farmers keep their reindeer fenced e.g. resulting in less losses to predators.
Ivalo reindeer co-operative has decided how many reindeer each reindeer owner shall slaughter each year based on what is common in Finnish reindeer farming. For the Nellim group, pursuing traditional Saami reindeer herding, it has, however, been impossible to slaughter the amount of reindeer decided by the farmers, as doing so would eliminate their herds. Now, the Ivalo reindeer co-operative has decided that the Nellim Group has over the years amassed a “slaughter debt” entailing that essentially their entire herd should be forcefully slaughtered, the press-release from the Saami Council reads.
- The decision by the Ivalo reindeer cooperative is clearly absurd with devastating consequences for the Nellim Saami reindeer herders, yet somehow possible under Finnish law, says Mattias Åhrén, Head of the Saami Council´s Human Rights Unit.
He says Saami reindeer herders in Nellim are punished for pursuing reindeer herding in a traditional Saami manner.
– That this is possible under the Finnish Reindeer Herding Act underscores that the Act is racially discriminatory, Åhrén claims.
If the forced slaughter is carried out, this would constitute a brutal violation of the human rights of the Saami reindeer herders in the Nellim area, Åhrén continues.
The Saami Council calls on the Finnish government to immediately take action to prevent the forceful slaughter. We have requested that the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples intervene in the matter, and will also bring this affair up when Finland appears before the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, says Mattias Åhrén.
As mentioned the absurd situation in Nellim is possible because of Finland not protecting reindeer husbandry as a distinct Saami livelihood.
– The Nellim Case illustrates the need for Finland to immediately reform the Reindeer Herding Act to make reindeer husbandry a sole right of the Saami, Mattias Åhrén concludes.
Copyright © 2003 BarentsObserver
Survival International has lodged a formal complaint with authorities in the UK over the ‘highly offensive and ludicrous’ claims in the world’s press that a German tourist missing in the South Pacific has been ‘eaten by cannibals.’
In a letter to British regulator the Press Complaints Commission, Survival suggested that those newspapers that have described the indigenous people of the Pacific as ‘cannibals’ are promoting ‘a false and offensive notion that tribal people are primitive savages.’
At the same time, tribal people around the world have reacted with dismay to the reports. Benny Wenda, a Papuan man from the Lani tribe, said, ‘'We're sick and tired of these stories. The reason they keep using the word 'cannibal' about us is because they think we're savages. It's like calling Germans today Nazis because of their past, or Britain a land where witches are burned at the stake, of child slavery and public executions. It's just lazy, racist journalism.'
Deborah Kimitete, deputy mayor of Nuku Hiva island where the alleged murder took place, told the BBC , ‘We are very hurt by these accusations of cannibalism, which are completely false…. I don’t know why they talk about cannibalism, it’s like saying we found the same thing in England and we talk about cannibalism. It’s terrible to say that. Here, nobody talk about that – it’s not true. It’s not the case at all, and we’re very hurt.’
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Pretending that Stefan Ramin’s reported murder has anything to do with tribal cannibalism is absolute hogwash. It may sell newspapers, but is a highly irresponsible slur on the peoples of the Marquesas Islands. It worked to prop up nineteenth century land theft from tribal peoples, but has no place at all in modern journalism. The 'cannibals' here may include a sole deviant murderer, but in a way include the journalists, unthinkingly shoring up racist stereotypes with no thought for the harm they do to how tribal peoples are viewed and treated.’
source : Survival International
At least seven people are feared dead after Indonesian police opened fire on hundreds of West Papuans at an independence rally close to the province’s capital.
Representatives from tribes all over West Papua were meeting to choose a new leadership and to discuss the political future of the region. West Papua has been ruled by Indonesia since 1963.
Police have confirmed the bodies of five Papuans have been found, two dumped behind an army barracks and three in the mountains. Survival International has spoken to reliable sources from Papua who say at least another two have been killed; their bodies have not yet been found.
Tension mounted as Papuans held their Third National Congress in the town of Abepura. On Wednesday, armed soldiers and police surrounded the venue and, following a declaration of independence from Indonesia, the security forces stormed the stage, firing shots and using tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Survival has been told by sources inside Papua that approximately 300 participants, including women and children, were arrested – many were savagely beaten as they were taken away.
Most have since been released, but the leaders, newly elected at the meeting, remain in custody. Five have so far been charged with treason – a charge that has seen many Papuans sentenced for up to 20 years.
Reverend Benny Giay has been a target of the US-backed Indonesian elite special forces, and has received numerous death threats for his role in exposing human rights violations in the region.
He told Survival, ‘We want the Indonesian government to stop using terror, we need our rights. The Papuans demand a dialogue, mediated by a third party, to settle the conflict. The Indonesians are killing us, it’s time for dialogue.’
Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry said today, ‘This violence comes exactly a year after a shocking video of Papuan men being brutally tortured by Indonesian soldiers was released on the internet. It’s clear that the international outrage generated by that event has taught the Indonesian government nothing about respecting the rights of the Papuan people. Given the history of barbaric treatment at the hands of the army and police in West Papua, we are extremely concerned for the safety of those still in custody.’
source : Survival International
A palm oil company has forcibly evicted an indigenous community from one of the last tracts of rainforest near Jempang in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, reports Telapak, a group that advocates community forest management.
The incident, which allegedly took place last week, pitted villagers of Muara Tae against plantation developer PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa after the company acquired 638 hectares of disputed land. Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa was backed by state security forces.
Abdon Nababan, General Secretary of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Archipelago (AMAN), said the conflict arose from the government's failure to recognize traditional ownership of the forest land, which has been used for generations by Dayak Benuaq people.
Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto, President of Telapak, demanded that the government of Indonesia halt the eviction process.
"The government must immediately stop the activity of PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa,” he said in a statement.
Much of the area around Muara Tae has already been converted for plantations and coal mines. According to Telapak, the establishment of these operations has also resulted in conflict with communities.
Large-scale plantation development -- including oil palm and wood-pulp plantations -- in Indonesia has often displaced traditional forest users. The Ministry of Forestry, which controls roughly 70 percent of Indonesia's forest estate, generally doesn't recognize traditional land claims, despite laws requiring it to do so. Instead, the ministry grants these community lands to developers, who pay for the privilege of converting the forest. When conflicts arise, developers may receive state security forces to intimidate or even forcibly displace villagers.
Oil palm concessions are generally granted by local officials, who have been known to turn a blind eye to strong-arm tactics by developers.
Earlier this year, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the Indonesian President’s REDD+ Task Force, said the government would immediately work to implement a decade-old law that requires recognition of adat or customary rights. The effort will include developing a land tenure map so government agencies can better understand how communities are using land and delineating the legal status of the Indonesia's forest area. Only 12 percent of the Indonesia's forest area has been legally delineated, according to Kuntoro.
Source : Indigenous Portal News
Leaders of Paraguay’s Ayoreo tribe are calling on the government to stop cattle farmers from destroying their forests after signs of their uncontacted relatives were found on a ranch.
The Ayoreo say they overheard uncontacted Indians on the ranch and on further inspection they found ‘fresh footprints and marks on the trees where (their) relatives had been searching for honey’.
Most of Paraguay’s Ayoreo have been forced out of their forests but others, including family members of the contacted Ayoreo, avoid the outside world.
This recent discovery is the second this year to be found on land belonging to Brazilian company River Plate S.A., in Paraguay’s northern Chaco region.
The controversial company made international headlines after satellite pictures revealed it was illegally clearing forest claimed by the Ayoreo as their own.
In a letter the Ayoreo ask the government to protect the uncontacted Indians ‘whose lives are at risk’.
They say as long as their ancestral lands are being ‘violated by bulldozers’, their uncontacted relatives are threatened and ‘forever running and hiding.’
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘If Paraguay recognises non-Indian claims on Ayoreo land (or sells Ayoreo land), then it's violating both the United Nations declaration as well as the international convention on indigenous peoples, both of which it has agreed to. Such claims are illegal and must be roundly rejected if the uncontacted Ayoreo are to be given a chance of survival. If they're not, Paraguay risks damaging its international reputation.’
Earlier this year, Brazilian-owned firms BBC S.A and River Plate S.A. were caught red-handed illegally clearing land inhabited by uncontacted Ayoreo.
source : Survival International
East Timor was still on the list of colonial territories at the United Nations, even though Australia led the World in recognising Indonesian occupation and incorporation.
After the fraudulent 1969 vote, when 1025 hand-picked men we lectured under the shadow of guns and told to step over a line drawn in the dirt as the method of voting, the United Nations accepted Indonesian occupation and the incorporation of half of New Guinea, an area the size of France, into Indonesia.
Recent events in West Papua demonstrate that Indonesia will continue to use brutal force to maintain control, even when people peacefully call for natural justice from a world that has so brutally betrayed them for since 1962, when the United States intervened to rig the theft of West Papua and the slave trade in all her people, to buy an alliance with Indonesia.
In 1957 Australia had signed an agreement with the Dutch to work toward the independence of the whole island of New Guinea, where the outcome could have been one large and strong island nation of Papuans and there were many Australians on the ground helping to prepare the West Papuans for independence.
When Washington told Holland to get out and Australia to butt out, we were deeply humiliated, as we learnt a brutal truth; that we had been a British nation, but were now no more than a vassal state of the United States.
No wonder we have never found the spirit of independence and become a fully independent nation, as we enter an era when we may find ourselves obeying the wishes of Beijing; never having found our own independence, we may all too easily slide into becoming a vassal state of yet another empire.
With China’s hunger for our resources and their need for secure shipping lanes through Indonesia, they are unlikely to look kindly on any political change in New Guinea, especially with their own West Papua type situation in Tibet and on-going demand for the acquisition of Taiwan.
That we stepped out of our colonial responsibilities in Papua New Guinea so swiftly in 1975 and have allowed the emergence of a basket case of poverty, violence, disease and illiteracy in the north, hardly signs our care of the Papuan people, no matter how often we praise the Fuzzy Wuzzy angels who braved Japanese bullets with us on the Kakoda Trail.
The only hope for justice in West Papua and for New Guinea as a whole, is if a wave of rage spreads around the World, against how the West Papuans were enslaved, their lands stolen and all their aspirations so brutally trampled into the mud with the blood of this ancient people.
If a wave of rage goes global to demand justice for the long suffering people of West Papua, then there will be hope of a proper UN run plebiscite on self-determination and Australians may again step forward to help New Guinea, if we can get government stupidity out of the way and justice on the table.
We may even find our independent spirit as a nation and avoid the slide toward vassal status with China; and be able to resist any further expansion of Indonesia, as the geopolitical power of the World steadily shifts to our north.
source : West Papua Media Alerts
A Chilean appeals court has ruled in favour of a multi-billion-dollar dam project in Patagonia, in Chile's south.
The court lifted a suspension order on the HidroAysen project that had been issued following objections by environmentalists, who fear it will damage Patagonia's fragile ecosystem.
The government says the dams are essential to meet Chile's growing energy needs.
The project's opponents said they would take their case to the Supreme Court.
The appeals court in the southern city of Puerto Montt lifted a suspension order it had issued in June to allow time to consider objections filed by environmentalists and social activists.Opponents had filed seven objections to the HidroAysen project, ranging from the detrimental effect they said it would have on the Laguna San Rafael National Park to the dangers it could pose to the Huemul, an endangered Andean species of the deer family.
Two judges ruled to dismiss the objections, while one ruled in favour of allowing them.
The project has sparked a number of protests, some of which have seen violent clashes between demonstrators and the security forces.The five dams would be built on two fast-flowing rivers that run into the Pacific - two on the river Baker, and three on the river Pascua.
They would drain lakes in a region that is famous for its rugged beauty - a landscape of glaciers, ice-fields, mountains and fjords.A joint venture between a Chilean company and a Spanish-owned one, the project is expected to cost some $3bn (£1.85bn) and is designed to generate 2,750MW of power.
HidroAysen says the project "represents a cost-effective, sustainable, reliable and ecologically viable source of energy".It says it involves flooding nearly 60 sq km (23 sq miles) of land, but will provide 4,000 jobs at its peak.
Source : BBC news Latin America
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Friday he was scrapping a hugely controversial plan to build a highway through an Amazon ecological reserve that has triggered widespread protests.
Morales told reporters he had sent an amendment to Congress, controlled by government supporters, halting plans for the road through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).
"Therefore, the issue of the TIPNIS has been resolved," Morales said. "This is governing by obeying the people."
Morales made the announcement just ahead of a meeting with representatives of around 2,000 indigenous people who entered La Paz on Wednesday after a two-month march from their homeland in the Amazon lowlands to press him to cancel the highway.
The decision also "declares the TIPNIS an untouchable zone," which strengthens protection against oil and gas mining and logging in the area, and also allows police to remove any outsiders that may enter the zone.
Amazon natives feared that landless Andean Quechua and Aymara people -- Bolivia's main indigenous groups and Morales supporters -- would flood into the road area and colonize their land.
The marchers, who set out in August and trekked 600 kilometers (370 miles) to the capital, were met as heroes as they entered the city in the high Andes and made their way to camp out near the presidential palace.
Protest leaders however were cautious when they heard the news.
"We must first talk to the president, establish the rules of the game to begin a dialog, and only then we will analyze" Morales's proposal, said Fernando Vargas, one of the leaders.
Therefore the 16 demands of the protesters "remain in effect," he said. "For us, nothing has been resolved."
Other protester demands include an end to oil and gas extraction and exploration in the Aguarague National Park, in southern Bolivia, and the right to seek compensation for the negative effects of global warming.
Government officials have said that those demands will be rejected.
About 50,000 people from three different native groups live in the remote territory in the humid Amazon lowlands.
The Brazil-financed road project was part of a network linking land-locked Bolivia to both the Pacific through Chile and the Atlantic through Brazil, key outlets for Bolivian exports.
The government has said it would be too expensive to build the highway around the preserve.
Morales, the country's first indigenous president, has come under tremendous popular pressure to end the project.
A police crackdown on a march against the highway that left 74 people injured in late September triggered widespread anger, a general strike, and the resignations of several top government officials, including two ministers.
Government ombudsman Rolando Villena congratulated Morales for having "taken such a wise decision, because that puts an end" to months of protest marches.
Indigenous Amazon protesters gathered in the city of Santa Cruz cheered, calling it "a defeat for Evo."
Source : AFP (Yahoo) 22/10/2011