Indonesia: Palm oil company forcibly evicts indigenous community in Indonesian Borneo

 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


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Indians demand action after Paraguay's 'hiding tribe' spotted

 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


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Global outrage may be the only hope for West Papua

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


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Chile court lifts suspension of Patagonia dam project

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.

Divisive dams

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



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Bolivia cancels controversial Amazon highway

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

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3 Mapuche, 3 Police Injured;2 Mapuche Arrested in Ercilla

November 2nd, more violence broke out in Ercilla resulting in multiple injuries and arrests. Although the details and timeline of the incidents are disputed, according to multiple reports rubber bullets were fired by both Mapuche individuals as well as police officers in the area of Chequenco on Wednesday. The initial confrontation appears to have started in relation to the presence of forestry vehicles — with police protection — operating in the area. By the end of the day, in addition to injuries, two Mapuche individuals were taken into custody on the one hand, and the Mapuche community of Wente Winkul Mapu was considering a lawsuit against the police on the other.


While it appears that there were multiple confrontations between police and Mapuche individuals throughout the day, the most details have come out of one that took place between two masked Mapuche individuals and the police. According to various accounts, the police were guarding forestry vehicles in the area when two masked individuals began firing rubber bullets on the officers. The police returned fire — also using rubber bullets. By the end of the confrontation, three police officers had been injured — including one with a serious eye injury. Additionally, the two Mapuche individuals were arrested and two weapons — a shotgun and a revolver — were confiscated. In addition to the physical violence, some reports also indicated that the attack was accompanied with road blocks designed to prevent forestry vehicles from entering the area.


In addition to this confrontation, Daniel Melinao, the wekren (spokesperson) for the Mapuche community of Wente Winkul Mapu, indicated that at apprxoimately 6 p.m. local time, another incident occurred in

which three community members were injured and required medical attention. This incident involved around 20 police officers who, according to Melinao opened fire without provocation, resulting in

injuries to three Mapuche individuals. There were also allegations of tear gas being used in the area and Melinao stated that the village was under “heavy police surveillance.” Given the seriousness of the

incident, the community is considering brining a lawsuit against the police for their actions.


These incidents — while the details remain unclear — are part of a larger ongoing story of violence in Ercilla that has its roots in land rights.

source : Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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UN Report Outlines Economic, Social And Cultural Rights Violations Faced By The Mapuche In Argentina

UNPO Alternative Report written in collaboration with the Mapuche community in Europe to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights highlights marginalization of the Mapuche in Argentina.

UNPO has submitted an Alternative Report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) ahead of Argentina’s review at the 47th Session in November 2011.  This report to the Treaty Body monitoring committee underlines the difficulties faced by the Mapuche as a result of the denial of their right to self-determination and insufficient assistance from the state resulting from racial discrimination.

The Mapuche in Argentina have had their historic lands stolen from them through historic military campaigns and discriminatory state policies favoring corporations and unfettered resource extraction.  Despite their recognition as an indigenous people in Argentina, the Mapuche face social and economic marginalization and their identity and culture have suffered from state assimilation policies as well.  The Mapuche communities concentrated in Río Negro and Neuquén disproportionately experience poverty, lack access to infrastructure and services, such as hospitals, and have higher than average rates of illiteracy, chronic disease and unemployment. 

Argentina has agreed to temporarily halt evictions of Mapuche from contested lands under Law 26.260 which was passed by the Argentinean Parliament in 2006.  Under this law, no evictions would take place for four years while courts review ownership.  However, the report cites multiple instances of evictions continuing, despite this law.   Furthermore, these evictions had been accompanied by police brutality.

Due to the valuable natural resources available on traditional Mapuche lands, Mapuche communities have often been forcefully relocated into isolated and underdeveloped areas where they lack access to state institutions and cannot maintain a sustainable standard of living.  Due to resource extraction by corporations, often conducted in violation of national environmental legislation, Mapuche communities face health risks from contaminants. 

UNPO’s report proposes a series of recommendations and questions to be posited to Argentina’s delegation at the 47th Session of  the CESCR.  They include:

-enforcing indigenous rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Labour Organization Convention 169

-improving infrastructure in areas populated by Mapuche communities to assist their sustainable growth and development in an environmentally sensitive manner

-addressing the lack of both national laws and international agreements that protect indigenous land rights against encroachment by business and other interests

-enforcing existing national legislation and international covenants which protect the Mapuche’s right to free expression of culture and religion by allowing unrestricted land access

The full report can be downloaded here.  Further information related to the review at the 47th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights can be found here.

Source : UNPO

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Paraguay: Aché Community Defends Their Traditional Lands with Bows and Arrows

On Tuesday, October 11th, members from the Aché community of Chupa Pou sent individuals armed with bows and arrows into a 2,000-hectare (nearly 5,000 acres) area to defend it from Brazilian farmers who were on the land. The Chupa Pou community not only claims the land as their traditional territory, but that in 2007 the Paraguayan government — after a struggle of many years — purchased the land for the Aché people, thus giving them legal title as well. Although there were no reports of bloodshed, the Community’s maneuver did successfully get 250 Brazilian farmers to leave the area, although they told the media that they would return.

The heart of this conflict is 2,000 hectares of land near the Brazilian border. The Aché people claim that the land is theirs traditionally and that the Paraguayan government recognized that fact and purchased the land in 2007. Despite this, the Aché people say that the land has been invaded repeatedly by Brazilians who illegally cut down trees and farm the area.

The land is also claimed by two Brazilian citizens – Luis Carlos and Volnei Ricardi — who say that they have rights to 6,000 hectares in Paraguay, including the lands in question. Regardless of whether the Brazilians have any rights or not, there have been several hundred people farming on the lands. In order to stop this, a leader from the Chupa Pou community, Marciano Chevúgi, said that their community was going into the area armed with bows and arrows to defend their territory. Chevúgi also indicated that six additional Aché communities were called to join them.

Upon reaching the site where more than 250 Brazilian farmers were, the Chupa Pou community announced that they would use force if necessary. Fortunately, no force was necessary as a prosecutor, Alba Bogado de Duarte, assisted in negotiating the removal of the Brazilians from the land. Despite the temporary victory, the Brazilians said they would return.

In addition to the Aché people’s statements that the land was handed over to them in 2007, at least one lawyer who spoke to the media indicated that there were multiple reasons why the land in question could not be taken from the Aché people. Antonio Alonzo, the attorney who handled the Chupa Pou’s case in 2007, stated that both the constitution of Paraguay and international law are on the side of the Aché. Specifically, according to Alonzo, anyone else using the lands in question would amount to an unconstitutional taking of property, which is clearly illegal.

source : Intercontinental Cry

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Largest abandoned uranium mine cleanup on Navajo Nation announced

The U.S. EPA announced Thursday it has approved a plan to clean up 1.4 million tons of radium and uranium contaminated soil at the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest and highest priority uranium mine on the Navajo Nation.

Northeast Church Rock mine operated as a uranium ore mine from 1967 to 1992.

Under EPA oversight and in conjunction with the Navajo Nation EPS, General Electric conducted two prior cleanups at the site to deal with residual contamination, including the remove and reconstruction of one building in 2007 and removal of 40,000 tons of contaminated soil in 2010.

The new approved plan is based on six years of work and more than 10 public meetings with the local community, the Navajo Nation and others. During the public meetings, residents expressed concern that the disposal of mine waste with nearby United Nuclear Corporation Mill site tailings could cause groundwater contamination, uneven settling of the tailings, or other problems with the current impoundment.

The multiyear cleanup will be conducted in several phases. Design of the disposal facility will take place over a three-year period. Construction of final mine sign cleanup will be completed by 2018. The cleanup will place the contaminated soil in a lined, capped facility.

"Consolidating the waste into one repository will return the land to the Navajo Nation for their traditional use," said David Martin, New Mexico environmental secretary. "The cleanup will also endure long term stewardship to protect public health and the endowment."

"This is an important milestone in the effort to address the toxic legacy of historic uranium mining on the Navajo Nation," said Jared Blumenfeld, administrator of EPA's Pacific Southwest Region.

The cleanup plan will provide unlimited surface use of the mine site after cleanup; send waste containing high levels of radium or uranium off-site for reprocessing or approved disposal; cleanup the contaminated drainage area east of Red Water Pond Road; provide voluntary housing options during the cleanup for community members living near the mine; provide job training and employment during the cleanup; and use the most stringent uranium mine cleanup standard in the country.

Mill site owner United Nuclear Corporation/General Electric has agreed to: hire locally through a Navajo hiring preference; provide a scholarship program for Navajo students to attend universities; improve Pipeline Canyon Road near the area of the mine and mill sites; and provide building materials for ceremonial hogans requested by the Red Water Pond Road community residents.

Source : Moneyweb Holdings Limited, 1997 - 2010


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Ethiopia’s ‘bulldozer’ government arrests 100 tribal people over dam

Survival International has received reports that around one hundred Ethiopian tribespeople have been arrested and jailed for opposing Ethiopia’s controversial Gibe III dam.

Plans for the dam and irrigated land plantations nearby are gathering pace, along with rising repression and intimidation to any opposition.

A policeman reportedly told one indigenous community that the government was, ‘like a bulldozer, and anyone opposing its development projects will be crushed like a person standing in front of a bulldozer.’

is leasing out large tracts of tribal lands in the South Omo region to foreign and state run companies for the growth of sugar cane, crops and biofuel plantations. These will be fed by water from the dam.

a climate of fear is growing in the region as opposition to these leases is being brutally suppressed by the country’s secret police and military.

Survival has learned that security forces are encircling and intimidating indigenous communities whose grass huts are built on the land proposed for development.


Those with criminal records over the last ten years are being arrested, and anyone caught voicing opposition, beaten or threatened with imprisonment.

There are also reports of women being raped, and herds of cattle stolen.

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Ethiopian government and its foreign backers are bent on stealing tribal land and destroying livelihoods. They want to
reduce self-sufficient tribes to a state of dependency, throw all who disagree into prison, and pretend this is something to do with 'progress' and 'development'. It's shameless, criminal, and should be vigorously opposed by any who care about fundamental human rights.’

The 100 arrested at the end of September were from the Mursi and Bodi tribes.

The Lower Omo Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains two national parks, and is
home to approximately 200,000 agro-pastoralists.

One Suri pastoralist said the Gibe III dam, and tribespeople being driven from their land, signaled, ‘the end of pastoralism in southern Ethiopia.’

 source : Survival International

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Burma suspends Myisone dam

Environmental activists in Burma are cautiously welcoming President  Thein Sein parliamentary announcement to suspend construction of a  controversial hydroelectric dam in the north.


Although the Chinese-backed Myitsone dam project has been opposed by  pro-democracy groups and local residents, the rare government  concession came as a surprise to many.


The president said the project would be terminated because it is  against the will of the people, but no official documentation has been  issued to corroborate the announcement.


"If they really stop the project it is a victory of the people," said  Ahnan, a representative of the Thailand-based Burma Rivers Network who  like many in Burma goes by just one name. "But, we cannot trust at 

all. We don't see any official statement and we don't see any change  in the construction site, so we don't know is that really [a] stop or  not."


Activists have long criticized the project for a lack of transparency,  public consultation, and its potential impact on the unique  environment along the Irrawaddy River. Its construction also would 

have displaced thousands of villagers in an area where Burma  military has been clashing with ethnic Kachin rebels.


Unusually candid criticism of the project surfaced in the media and in  small street protests, and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi wrote a  letter urging the dam's suspension.


But until Friday, authorities largely ignored those concerns and said  construction would go ahead.


According to Ahnan, Beijing, which backed the project and was expected  to purchase the electricity it generated, has yet to issue an official  reaction to new announcement.


The president said Burma would negotiate with the Chinese company  building the dam, but he gave no further details. China Foreign  Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Friday had no immediate reaction to the 

decision, explaining that he needs to learn and verify the information.


Regardless of official confirmation that the project will indeed be  terminated, U Ohn of the Forest Resource Environment Development and  Conservation Association called the decision the best news of the year  for the biodiversity hotspot.


"I'm very glad to hear that this dam is going to be stopped," he said.  "We can get money from other, smaller dams in our areas instead of a  big dam which is very very devastating to the environment physically,  culturally, historically."


The $3.6 billion dam was the largest of seven being constructed by the  China Power Investment Corporation. Activists say the decision-making  process for all of the dams must be transparent, include public  participation, and consider the environmental and social impact on the  people.

source : Internationalrivers


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Brazilian tribe’s ‘unequalled’ suicide rate highlighted on World Mental Heath Day

On World Mental Health Day (October 10) Survival International has warned of the fatal and lasting consequences land loss can have on indigenous peoples.

An epidemic of suicide unique in South America has beset one tribe in Brazil – 
the Guarani. More than 625 Guarani have taken their lives since 1981, the youngest just 9 years old.

The tribe has seen virtually
all its land stolen in recent decades by farmers and cattle ranchers.

According to the World Health Organization, ‘indigenous peoples often have elevated suicide rates compared with the general population in their countries. Depending on the place and age group, the suicide rate can be over 100/100,000 per year, and two, three or more times higher than the general population.’


This is particularly prevalent amongst the Guarani. A study initiated by Brazil’s Ministry of Health found the suicide rates amongst the tribe to be 19 times higher than the national average. It also noted a disproportionate effect on young and adolescent Guarani.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘What could be a clearer sign of these people’s desperation than their children killing themselves? It’s a shameful indictment of Brazil’s economic ‘miracle’ - stealing Guarani land destroys their livelihoods. Their mental health remains intact when they are granted the legal right to their land.’

For further information on the effects loss of land and imposed ‘development’ can have on tribal peoples, see Survival’s
‘Progress can kill’ site.

source : Survival International



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10 Thousands Mapuche Indigenous march against country's capitalist system

Thousands of indigenous Chileans marched in the streets of Santiago on Monday to call for more rights and protest against the country's capitalist system.


Nearly 2,000 Mapuche gathered in the capital to mark the Indigenous People's Day, which protests the anniversary of the arrival of European explorers in the Americas. The indigenous demonstrators, many dressed in traditional costumes, demanded territories they say were stolen from

them over the past 500 years by colonizers.


Member of the Meli Wixan Mapu Organization, Isolina Paillal, said protesters were against the country's capitalist government. Crippled by poverty, the Mapuche lost lands to the newly formed states of Argentina and Chile in the early 19th century after fending off Spanish colonizers for generations.


Some Mapuche also protested against police repression and the right of Chilean officials to try them under Antiterrorist Laws created during the military dictatorship to target political opposition.


The Mapuche, which means "Earth People" in the Mapudungun tongue, have often clashed with police in land rights disputes, with some indigenous people setting fire to crops, trucks and forestry machinery in their battle to reclaim ancestral lands. Chilean police action against the Mapuche has drawn criticism of some human rights groups, who blame authorities for discrimination and using undue force.


Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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Brazil Judge suspends work on Belo Monte dam over risks to local fishing

A Federal judge in Brazil has suspended work on the controversial Belo Monte dam project, citing concerns that it would impact local fish stocks and harm indigenous peoples who rely on fishing.

In his ruling, Judge Carlos Castro Martins explicitly forbade Norte Energia, the consortium behind the dam, from "building a port, using explosives, installing dikes, building canals and any other infrastructure work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river, thereby affecting local fish stocks" .

Judge Martins also warned Norte Energia that it will face a daily fine of over US$100,000 if it fails to comply with the ruling.

However, according to the BBC, any work on the dam that wouldn't effect local fishing can still continue, including the construction of "accommodation blocks for the project's many workers".

The consortium is also expected to appeal the ruling, even though it protects thousands of Indigenous Peoples and others in the Amazon region who rely on the Xingu river for subsistence.

The Belo Monte dam would divert about 80% the Xingu river, flooding about 500 square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest and displacing more than 20,000 people.

In June of this year, Brazil's environmental agency, IMBAMA, granted a license for the dam's construction by dismissing these and many other impacts and risks stemming from the project.

Four months earlier, another federal judge said no to the construction, until the government met 29 environmental and social conditions. The government still has not met those conditions.

Stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam! Take a moment to send a message to Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, urging her to defend the Amazon and its people by stopping the Belo Monte Dam!

source : Intercontinental Cry


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Demonstrators arrested at anti-oilsands rally on Parliament Hill

RCMP officers quickly started making arrests Monday as protesters against oilsands development and TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Keystone XL pipeline into the United States made their presence felt on Parliament Hill.

A crowd of about 500 cheered "let them pass" as a small wave of protesters tried to get by a security fence.


The first group was taken away by police, as activists on the sidelines shouted, "Thank you."

As the second wave of protesters moved toward the barrier, six of them sat on the ground in defiance of the 50 RCMP officers lining the barrier.


Some officers knelt next to the protesters, recording information from their passports. One officer held a camera to record the protest. Dozens of officers stood around the protest.


Among those arrested was Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians.

The Greenpeace-organized demonstration is being held against the 2,700-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to Texas, a project environmental activists and First Nations groups oppose. Among the demonstrators on the Hill is Green Party leader Elizabeth May.


Brent Patterson, political director of the Council of Canadians, said the organization anticipated mass arrests so activists had legal briefings as a precaution.


"There's so much concern right across the country around the tarsands, the destruction of water, the impacts on First Nations people and the amount of climate emissions released. There's concern that the Harper government isn't listening and actively promoting the expansion of the tarsands. This (protest) brings the message directly to Parliament Hill," Patterson said.


Brigette DePape, the former page who held up a "Stop Harper" sign in the House of Commons in June, told the crowd she was happier being with the group of activists Monday than in the House and insisted they were on the verge of forcing change "for another possible Canada," she said.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a Greenpeace climate expert, said that if she brought samples of the water her Cree Lubicon First Nation in northern Alberta has access to, no one would drink it.

"Our way of life is no longer the same. Our ecosystem is destroyed," she said.Her family members living in the community had burning eyes, headaches and nausea after they relied on the water, food and berries they used to collect on their territory.She said she later learned that an oil spill had tainted their waters."The government denied the severity of an oil spill," putting communities and her family at risk, she said.


Jada Voyageur, of the Fort Chipewyan community in Alberta, said her region has seen a high rate of cancer since 2005.


"One of the biggest things is that they're allowed to take water, they're allowed to discharge, they're allowed to mine, and this is infringing on our treaty rights," she said.

She said record amounts of mercury and other chemicals were found in the water.

"This is the water we drink," she said.


© Copyright (c) Postmedia News




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Brazilian Indian killed and abandoned by ‘ranchers’ gunmen’

A Guarani man in his 20s has died of his wounds following a violent attack, allegedly by gunmen employed by Brazilian cattle ranchers.

Teodoro Ricardi was left fatally injured, and died at the side of a road in the central-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul on Tuesday.

He had been stabbed seven times and his body was covered with bruises.

The attack occurred close to the São Luiz ranch, from where two Guarani witnesses say they saw men running into the forest after the incident.

The ranch occupies the Guarani’s ancestral land.
Teodoro’s community, Y’poi, has been besieged since it reoccupied part of its land in 2010.

The Guarani are trapped by the ranchers, who are restricting the Indians’ access to medical care.

A Guarani from Y’poi told
Survival International, ‘We are being persecuted. We are treated like animals, killed and thrown on the streets.’


The Guarani of Mato Grosso do Sul, who are desperately trying to recover a fraction of their original territories, face bitter and violent resistance from wealthy ranchers and soya and sugar cane plantation owners.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Guarani have suffered enough without Teodoro’s murder adding to their grief. His death, like those before him, could have been prevented if the Brazilian government had allowed the Guarani to live on land that is in fact rightfully theirs.’

In 2009 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay displayed her shock at the Guarani struggle, by describing the tribe as ‘astonishingly invisible.’

source : Survival International

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UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be fully implemented

Four years ago today the United Nations acted on almost 30 years of advocacy by Indigenous Peoples around the world and adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda says progress on its implementation has been slow.

Commissioner Gooda said the Declaration, which recognises the fundamental rights enjoyed by Indigenous peoples around the world, had been opposed by Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada when first adopted but was formally endorsed by Australia on 3 April 2009.

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were involved in campaigning for, and drafting, the Declaration which contains minimum standards for the survival, dignity and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“Although opposition to the Declaration is now confined to history, we need to remain determined in our efforts to make sure our communities, our governments and our legislators know how to use it in their everyday lives.

“We need to increase people’s understanding of what it means to ‘implement the Declaration’ and one of the best ways to do this is through education,” he said.

“We’ve had some great successes over the last couple of years that are consistent with the spirit of the Declaration, such as the establishment of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and the current consultation towards recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.

“However I’d like to see a sustained commitment by the Australian Government to apply a holistic and coordinated approach to giving full effect to the Declaration,” he said.

“For example, I’d like to see an explicit acknowledgement in the National Human Rights Framework currently being developed by the government, that the framework will use the Declaration to guide its operation in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We would like to see the Government engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to negotiate and develop an action plan to give full effect to the Declaration,” he said.

Mr Gooda said implementing the standards in the Declaration would foster strong relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the larger community and with the government.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed education materials on the Declaration which can be used to inform discussions about what full and proper implementation of the Declaration looks like.

Source : Copyright © Australian Human Rights Commission 


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‘Trucks of men’ brutally attack indigenous Brazilians

Survival International has received reports that truckloads of armed men are violently driving Brazil’s Guarani from their land, leaving them in fear of their lives.

Guarani anthropologist Tonico Benites told Survival, ‘People’s lives are in imminent danger. A child could die at any moment.’

Benites reported that his uncle was left blind in one eye following a recent attack on the Guarani communities of Pyelito Kuê and M’barakai, south of the Brazilian Amazon.

Those caught up in the violence have described how they were forced to run to safety after their huts were set alight, clothes burnt and families threatened.  

One Guarani man recounted, ‘Small lamps and torches were flashing in all directions, and the children and elderly people could not run. There are tears in my eyes as I write this. We have almost
no more hope of surviving in this Brazil'.



Gunmen are reported to have blocked roads, destroyed a bridge that provided access to the Indians’ camp, and surrounded the Guarani, preventing food and medical supplies from reaching them.

This is one of a series of attacks on these Guarani since the beginning of August 2011. It follows attempts by the Indians to reclaim their ancestral land, which was seized by ranchers in the 1970s and has been occupied ever since.

The Guarani also faced persecution in 2003 and 2009 when they made similar moves to reoccupy their land.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘It’s shocking that the Guarani should be repeatedly persecuted for
attempting to return to land that is rightfully their own. The Brazilian government needs to act swiftly before more innocent lives are lost.’

Brazil’s government has condemned the violence. Survival has written to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calling for urgent measures to be taken to protect the Guarani, and to Brazil’s Ministry of Justice, urging that Guarani land is mapped out and protected, as set out in Brazil’s own constitution.

To read this story online: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/7692

Source : Survival International

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Papua New Guinea Begins Commission of Inquiry into Rainforest Land Grabs

Once again Ecological Internet’s true global rainforest action network contributes to questioning and obstructing the dominate paradigm that primary rainforests exist to be industrially logged


Papua New Guinea has launched a Commission of Inquiry into foreign land grabs of pristine, indigenous owned primary rainforests for clearcut logging and supposed oil palm development. PNG has the world’s third largest rainforests, but sadly industrial logging and oil palm are booming, and large, intact old rainforest ecosystems are dwindling fast. An entrenched and voracious Malaysian timber-mafia has until now virtually owned the government and the nation’s rainforests.


“Special Agriculture and Business Leases” (SABL) covering 5.2 million hectares (12.8 million acres) were granted 74 times in recent years by former Prime Minister Michael Somare. These agriculture projects skirted forestry laws and customary land ownership, allowing clearcuts of primary

rainforests on customary land without consent, for oil palm which may or may not get planted. Local national led NGOs such as the highly successful ACT NOW![1] and others expressed concern that SABL leases were improperly executed and would result in large scale logging without providing agricultural development.


After nearly a year in country, patrolling and investigating the situation, Ecological Internet’s global network launched an affinity alert in support of local NGO demands in June of 2011, whereby 3,197 people from 81 countries sent 137,133 protest emails to PNG rainforest decision-makers in a short

time[2]. Past evidence and scholarship has shown displays of global concern when closely supporting local rainforest protection demands are highly effective. The start of the investigation has been aided by the transition of government from Michael Somare’s deeply corrupted government to new Prime

Minister Peter O'Neill.


“Thankfully PNG’s once great founder, but recent foreign corruption shill, Michael Somare is off of the PNG political stage. It is shocking that Somare-era grotesque stealing of customary land for clear-fell rainforest logging have taken so long to stopped and investigated. This foreign land grab has undermined landowner customary land rights which are largely respected. These standing rainforest are priceless and landowners must resist foreign occupation to instead pursue indigenous protection and community eco-forestry. Let’s be watchful and ensure the investigation is done properly,” comments Dr. Barry, Ecological Internet’s President.


While ACT PNG and Ecological Internet acknowledge there is reason for optimism and celebration, there is good reason to remain skeptical. The Commission of Inquiry has been given only three months to complete its work, which is unrealistic given PNG’s challenging logistics, particularly given

many files have already been identified as having gone missing. This is not enough time to identify and fix failings in the Department of Lands and the truth about foreign ownership of land titles. Yet Ecological Internet believes it is important to acknowledge success and forward movement in rainforest protection campaigns, while remaining eternally vigilant.

Source : ecological internet




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Peru Government Commission Confirms Oil Contamination by Maple Energy in the Amazon

A special Peruvian Government Commission has officially confirmed Maple Energy's role in environmental pollution and health problems affecting two indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

After spending four days with the Shipibo villages of Canaán de Cachiyacu and Nuevo Sucre, the recently formed commission agreed with the Shipibo's long-standing complaints that Maple Energy is negatively impacting their lands and failing to properly remediate their oil spills.

"During site visits to the community streams and Maple’s oil fields, the commission confirmed the presence of vegetation 'impregnated' with crude, nearly two months after the most recent spill," says the Accountability Counsel, a California-based organization that's working with the two Shipibo communities. "Government experts also observed poor maintenance on the Maquia oil field, noting probable contamination from crude residue and waste products that drain into the community’s creeks with every rain."

A doctor from the Peruvian National Institute of Health, after reviewing available health records from the two communities, further "noted high levels of digestive, skin and vision problems immediately following the July 2011 spill in Nuevo Sucre."

The Shipibo only learned about the July spill after some children, who were bathing on the banks of the Mashiria River, saw some oil floating on the water. Maple Energy didn't tell anyone that one of their pipelines had ruptured.

To make matters even worse, the company, which is backed by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), then hired 32 villagers to  clean up the toxic mess without any protective equipment. "Maple further refused to provide villagers with potable water and food after contaminating their primary source of water and fish," adds the Accountability Counsel.

The spill and the events that surround it, actually took place while Maple Energy was negotiating with the Shipibo over the impacts of five other oil spills on Shipibo lands. The Shipibo ultimately terminated those negotiations, on August 11, after it became clear that Maple Energy wasn't acting in good faith or willing to take responsibility for any of the spills.

"Maple is expanding their business all over Peru and has denied responsibility for the contamination for many years, but now, under the new President Ollanta Humala, the Peruvian government is paying attention and is addressing Maple's abuses for the first time. This is historic and incredibly significant for the two indigenous Shipibo communities that have been living with the consequences of Maple's activities for years," says the Accountability Counsel.

“We hope for a prompt response from the government of President Humala,” says Raul Tuesta, chief of Nuevo Sucre. “We feel they have a willingness and interest in ensuring that companies comply with the laws of this country.”

According to the Accountability Counsel, the government commission has agreed to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the Shipibo's concerns and "Take the necessary steps to ensure transparency of documents and information, and coordinate with local and regional governments to improve development efforts in the communities."

At the moment it's not clear if that will include remediation efforts, health assistance, or any kind of compensation for the damage and suffering the Maple Energy has caused.
Source : Intercontinental Cry


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Painkillers and pens used to placate Peru’s Indians as gas giants move in

Isolated Indians in southeast Peru are being ‘bribed’ with painkillers and pens, as industry giants seek to open up their land to explore for gas.

Survival International has learned that even members of INDEPA – the government agency set up to protect Peru’s tribes – have put pressure on communities so research can be carried out in the reserve where they live.  

Workers from Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol have been into the Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve to conduct environmental tests on the land’s suitability. The reserve was created in 1990 to protect the territorial rights of vulnerable tribes.

Enrique Dixpopidiba Shocoroa, a Nahua leader, said his tribe have been given medical equipment, stationery, and promises of temporary work.

This worrying development comes as Peru’s President Ollanta Humala approves an
historic law designed to guarantee indigenous peoples the right to prior consultation about any projects affecting them and their land.



But around 15 tribes have chosen to resist contact in the Peruvian Amazon, and several are inside the reserve. All face extinction if their lands are opened up.

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry said, ‘Oil and gas drilling in uncontacted tribes’ reserves make a mockery of Peru’s new law.  It also risks jeopardizing the government’s promise to protect
uncontacted tribes, who are especially vulnerable’.

Half of the Nahua died after their land was first opened up by Shell for oil exploration in the 1980s. Today, uncontacted tribes still living in the region are at extreme risk of succumbing to diseases brought in by outsiders.
source : Survival International

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Kalahari Bushmen Finally Have Access To Drinking Water On Ancestral Land!

The Kalahari Bushmen are celebrating a major victory in their struggle to return home with their Indigenous rights intact. For the first time in nine years, the Bushmen have access to drinking water!

This welcomed news stems from a new partnership between Gem Diamonds Botswana and the non-profit organization Vox United. The aim of the partnership, which came about last June, after consultations with the Bushmen, is to provide the indigenous residents with access to water at four villages located on their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The names of those four villages are Mothemelo, Gope, Metsimanong and Molapo.

The partnership itself arrived just three months after another major victory, in January, when Botswana’s Court of Appeal overturned an unfortunate High Court ruling in 2010 that overtly denied the Bushmen’s legal right to water on their lands.

As Survival International reported at the time, the Court of Appeal found that:-
-the Bushmen have the right to use their old borehole [the Mothomelo well)
-the Bushmen have the right to sink new boreholes
-the government's conduct towards the Bushmen amounted to 'degrading treatment'.
-the government must pay the Bushmen’s costs in bringing the appeal.

A few days after the key ruling was handed down by the Court of Appeal, Botswana decided to approve a massive $3 billion diamond mine near the village of Gope. The approval was reportedly issued on the condition that the diamond deposit's owner, Gem Diamonds, refused to provide the Bushmen with any access to water.

Whether or not the government issued that condition, Survival International confirms that the Bushmen now have at least one fully-operational, solar-powered well.

As it turns out, Vox United re-drilled the same well that the Appeals Court singled out--the very same well that the government sealed during their forced relocation of the Bushmen in 2002.

Ever since the relocation took place, the Bushmen have been struggling in court for their right to return home.

Four years after the relocation, a more reasonable High Court ruled that the Bushmen have the legal right to live on their ancestral lands and that the government acted illegally by taking them against their will. Botswana promised that it wouldn’t appeal the ruling, however, since the 2006 ruling, they have continuously obstructed the Bushmen’s full return; in part, by making them pay their own way back, by arresting hunters and by banning the Bushmen from using the old well.

"The Bushmen have been waiting for water for a very long time," said Rebecca Spooner, a campaigner for Survival International, "And although Mothomelo is the site of the original borehole, it’s fantastic news they’ve managed to reinstate it here."

Vox United has already drilled other wells; however, they will require desalination equipment before the Bushmen can use them day to day. "[It's] going to be very expensive,” said Spooner.

Fortunately, with Gem Diamonds making good on its end of the deal with Vox Uninted, there's no reason to think that they won't come through here as well.
Source : Survival International

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Imprisonment of Leonard Peltier in new UN Human Rights Council report

A new report to the UN Human Rights Council from Special Rapporteur James Anaya states that imprisoned Indian activist Leonard Peltier is in poor health and placed in substandard conditions in the maximum security prison in Lewisburg, Penn.

The United Nations human rights report focuses on abuses of indigenous peoples around the world, including the threats to the safety of individuals and dangers to the land and environment of indigenous peoples.

Anaya's report states that Peltier, an indigenous activist serving life sentence, suffers from severe health problems.

"According to the information received, Mr. Leonard Peltier, aged 66, an indigenous Anishinabe/Lakota activist, had been serving two life sentences in a United States federal prison, after being convicted in 1977 for the murder of two FBI agents. Over the years, Mr. Peltier has maintained his innocence, asserting that he was politically persecuted for his activities as a member of the American Indian Movement. Mr. Peltier reportedly suffers from severe health problems that require urgent and immediate medical treatment. In addition to his health situation, Mr. Peltier reportedly lives in substandard conditions at the maximum security prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Lewisburg prison is allegedly known for violence among inmates," according to the statement dated July 2, 2011.

In the US, the report includes the plan to violate sacred San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona, with snow made from wastewater. The report also includes the case of the need to protect sacred Sogorea Te (Glen Cove in Calif.)

The international cases of human rights abuses in Anaya's August report include the Wixarika (Huicholes) in Mexico struggling to protect their sacred lands from mining, along with cases from indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Chile, Israel, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Thailand.

The UN Human Rights Council report was issued as protests increased against the tar sands in the US and Canada, with 1, 252 arrests at the White House during the past two weeks."

According to the information received, the TransCanada Corporation has obtained permission from the Alberta Utilities Commission to build the pipeline, in the absence of the Lubicon Lake Nations consent or recognition of the Nations asserted rights of the area. This has also been carried out in the absence of adequate consideration to the Lubicons concerns over the health, safety and environmental impacts of the project. In addition, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern over allegations about the broader issues of the land rights and social and economic conditions of the Lubicon people," Anaya said.
Source : Brenda Norrell

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Honduras: Indigenous Leaders Protest Dams, Promote Autonomy

Lawrence, KS.  Leaders of the Miskitu and Tawahka Indigenous peoples will be at Haskel Indian Nations University this week to promote their campaigns to stop dam construction and to exercise Indigenous autonomy in Honduras’ vast Moskitia wilderness. 

Miskitu leaders Norvin Goff and Donaldo Allen, and Tawahka leader Edgardo Benitez will address the Human World Geography Conference, “Communities and Ethics,” as their communities in Honduras prepare for a major mobilization later this month to stop construction of dams on the Patuca River.

“Dams on the Patuca River mean ecocide and homicide,” warns Goff, president of the Miskitu federation, MASTA. The Patuca River flows through the largest expanse of intact tropical forest in Central America, connecting Patuca National Park, the Tawahka Asangni Biosphere Reserve, and the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve. These protected areas are among the last refuges of endangered species like the harpy eagle and the giant anteater.  Miskitu and Tawahka communities depend on the Patuca for transportation, commerce, and subsistence. 

During their stay in the US, Goff, Allen, and Benitez hope to persuade officials at the Inter-American Development Bank to reject Honduras’ application for funds to build infrastructure to support construction of dams on the Patuca. Honduras contracted Sinohydro, the company that built China’s controversial Three Gorges dam, to build the first of three proposed dams on the Patuca, but the Indigenous leaders say their communities have not been consulted as required by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

2010 Cultural Survival. All rights reserved.


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Colombia Promises ‘Action’ Over Outrageous Wayuu ID Card Mockery

Colombia's National Civil Registry has finally promised to take action to correct thousands of outrageous identity cards that government notaries issued to the Indigenous Wayuu People.

The head of the National Registry, Ariel Sanchez, upon hearing a
video report (Spanish only) from Elespectador.com, expressed that anyone who has been identified in a humiliating and degrading way "obviously" has the right to correct their names. "The registry is prepared to proceed accordingly to correct the names that generate inconsistency or appear to be ridiculous," Sanchez said.

According the report, as many as 50,000 Wayuu have received official ID cards that don false and degrading names like "Tarzan", "Alka-Seltzer," "Pocket," "clown," "gorilla," "heroine," and "cappuccino" among many others.

Estercilia Simanca Pushaina, a lawyer, writer, and Wayuu leader, told Elespectador.com that the practice of falsely identifying the Wayuu has been going on for generations. "I saw many names that violate human dignity," she said.

Pushaina explained that many ID cards also identify the Wayuu as being illiterate, even if they can read or write. The cards also frequently list a common birthday of December 31.

Earlier this year, a documentary film titled "We were born on December 31st" put a spotlight on the shameful Wayuu mockery.

Shortly after it was released, the film's director explained that "When the officials asked them in Spanish what name they wanted, they clearly didn't understand and remained silent, and then the officials imposed these names on them," along with the false information.

Fortunately, the so-called "joke" seems to be a thing of the past. According to Sanchez, the last degrading ID's were issued before 2000. But even so, the existing ID's continue to leave a stain on the Wayuu People.

It's legally mandatory for all citizens in Colombia to carry their ID card with them at all times and to present it to authorities upon request. They must also present the card when taking part in elections, which is something the Wayuu are known to do, strategically, to help their families and communities.

At this point, it's not clear how the Registry is going to correct replace "thousands" of ID cards. Under normal circumstances, it costs about $50.00 for one new card. Two thousand cards would cost more than $100,000 and that doesn't even include travel expenses. Sufficed to say, the Wayuu would quickly find themselves bankrupt.

It appears that the Registry is willing to waive the usual $50.00 fee; but there's still the matter of getting the Wayuu to fill out a new application form and getting translators for those who don't understand Spanish.

At the same time, it's doubtful anyone will be held accountable for mocking the Wayuu. According to Sanchez, it's just not clear where the responsibility lies.

Source : Intercontinental Cry

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BANGLADESH: Battle lines drawn over “indigenous” label

Human rights activists are abuzz over the implications of the possible removal of the word "indigenous" from official documents relating to some of the poorest and most marginalized ethnic groups in Bangladesh.

Talk of eliminating the term comes after a constitutional amendment, passed on 30 June 2011, recognizing “small ethnic groups”, without referring to them as indigenous.

Member of Parliament Hasanul Haq Inu of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples said the amendment's much anticipated passing was bittersweet, as groups in question prefer to be described as “indigenous” rather than tribal groups or ethnic minorities.

“For 25 years we have fought for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples. The first phase of the struggle has been won, now the second phase is to use the right name - indigenous,” he said.

In the wake of the amendment, the rift between those in the government who object to the term, and some MPs and human rights campaigners who favour it, has resurfaced.

The current Awami League government came to power in 2008 with a
promise to improve the plight of the nation’s “indigenous people”. According to Bangladesh's now disputed 2011 census, of the country's more than 142 million inhabitants, just 1.2 percent are described as indigenous. Most live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), an area with rates of infant and child mortality among the highest in the country.

Raja Devavish Roy, “king” of the Chakma circle, the nation’s largest ethnic minority, and a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, told IRIN he had often witnessed a pendulum of interest and disinterest in indigenous rights, but he believes this most recent debate is semantics.

Devavish Roy believes the government will ultimately not ban use of the term indigenous in official documents, but he said successive governments had shown “an erratic policy on indigenous issues” since the International Labour Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention
107 was ratified in 1972.

Flawed accord?

The signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997 was considered a major step forward when it ended a 25-year low-intensity guerilla war between 11 ethnic groups in CHT and the government, and allowed for regional autonomy. However, a recent study by UN Rapporteur Lars Anders Bar found the Accord has not been fully implemented, and human rights violations continue.

The government rejected Bar’s report: A Foreign Ministry statement objected to the term “indigenous”, stating: “The ethnic Bengali population… are more indigenous to their land than the tribal peoples” and that the demand for “indigenous” recognition was aimed at “securing a privileged status”.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni says the “indigenous” debate was a distraction hindering the government’s implementation of the Accord.

Deleting the term from official documents would have little effect on the Accord and ILO Convention 107, said Devavish Roy: “The Accord’s provisions are not dependent on changes in terminology. ILO Convention 107 applies to indigenous and tribal populations… and the government is not denying the existence of `tribal’ groups.”

Opposition activists insist the term “indigenous” is useful: “We will continue to fight,” said MP Rashed Khan Menon, chair of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous issues.

Copyright © IRIN 2011. All rights reserved.


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15 Papuans mistreated and tortured by army and police

TAPOL strongly condemns the use of violence and torture against Papuan detainees

A report has been released following a joint investigation into the maltreatment and torture of a group of 15 Papuans in connection with two criminal incidents that occurred recently in West Papua.  The report, published by Papuan church leaders, the NGO network Foker and the Papua Human Rights Commission, states that 15 Papuans were arrested in Jayapura on 31 August and were mistreated and tortured for nine hours by a joint force of military and police.  They were reportedly beaten with  rifle butts, punched, kicked in the stomach with army boots and subjected to continual verbal abuse in an attempt to force them to
confess to the as yet unsolved murders at Nafri and Skyline in Jayapura.

One of the men said he had been threatened with death if he failed to confess to owning items including a bullet and some documents which he said he had not seen before, and another was reportedly tortured until he confessed to the murders and named another of the men as his accomplice.  During police interrogation, the two were threatened with death if they did not confess to the crimes. They were then charged with the murders and remain in detention.

After the remaining thirteen men were released, they said that they had also been forced to lie on their backs on the ground facing the blazing sun for seven hours. They further commented that they felt as though they were being treated like cattle. They were deprived of water and food for lengthy periods while being beaten and tortured and no attention was paid to the injuries and bruises that they suffered during their ordeal. They said that they were weak and in some cases fell ill as a result of their treatment but were denied access to a toilet and ordered to urinate and defecate out in the open.

Apart from the appalling treatment to which they were reportedly subjected, the detainees were arrested without arrest warrants and during their interrogation, they were not accompanied by lawyers despite the associated requirement for persons in detention when they are given notice that they are about to be questioned.

Moreover, according to legal requirements they should have been released within 24 hours, a binding requirement for persons who are held without being charged for any crime. They were in fact held for 27 hours.

TAPOL strongly condemns the atrocious treatment of these Papuans. We call on Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, to conduct an investigation into the treatment of these Papuan detainees. TAPOL also calls on the Minister of Justice and Human Rights to call to account all those persons who were responsible for using extreme violence and torture against this group of men.

The government of Indonesia should make it absolutely clear that all persons who work for government agencies within the military and the police, including those which were involved in the detention and mistreatment of these fifteen men should at all times treat persons being held in detention without resorting to violence and torture and should be instructed to refrain from using such methods or face dismissal if they do so.

Source : West Papua Media Alerts


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Two Mapuche Individuals, One Police Officer Shot in More Violence Near Ercilla-

On Thursday, August 18th, the Chilean police force (carabineros) raided the Mapuche communities of Ercilla — in the area of Pidima – searching for firearms. According to several media outlets, the raid was one of the largest in recent times and was ordered by the Collipulli courts. At least two Mapuche individuals were shot with buckshot during the raids — possibly including a juvenile. A police officer was shot in the arm as well and taken to a local hospital. The clashes also resulted in a warehouse being set on fire, resulting in approximately US$ 30,000 worth of damage.


The raids and subsequent violence growing out of them, are the latest in a series of violence that has ramped up in the past month. In that time, multiple clashes have broken out and both police officers and Mapuche individuals have been shot — including Mapuche juveniles. The increased violence has coincided with increased efforts by the Mapuche communities in the area to get their ancestral lands back, and all of this violence has occurred in an area that, according to the 2002 Chilean Census, has just over 9,00o inhabitants.


Specifically, in this case, the events took place early — at approximately 6:00 a.m. — on Thursday morning and, in total, 16 Mapuche homes were raided. According to a statement issued by the Autonomous Mapuche Community of Temucuicui, the raids were unnecessarily violent

and involved police destruction of property and firing of weapons at point-blank range. The community also indicated that the timing of the raid meant that there were children in the homes when it occurred, and

that those children were handcuffed and left in their yards as the police proceeded to search. The statement also states that, despite the police efforts, no firearms were found and urges all Mapuche communities

to defend themselves — with violence if necessary.


Thus far, the Chilean police department has issued no statement with respect to what specifically was seized, if anything, that we are aware of. The police have confirmed that Lieutenant Alejandro Sáez was shot in the arm during the raids and taken for treatment. He was, later in the day, visited at the hospital by Andrés Molina, the Intendent of La Araucanía. Molina indicated that, in response to the raids, masked

individuals fired shots at the police, set fire to at least one building, and had stolen livestock. He also called the events highly regrettable and indicated that while “We will help all communities [with

their land claims], we will give no special privileges to anyone, much less to those who choose the path of violence.”
Source : Ryan Seelau

Mapuche mailinglist in English/Dutch

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The struggle to make Papua a land of peace

Papuans rallied in the provincial capital, Jayapura, demanding a referendum and independence from Indonesia. Such demonstrations are not unusual. This one, however, was timed to support a conference at Oxford University that questioned the legality of Indonesian rule in West Papua. The demonstration also attracted media attention because in the days before some 20 people had been killed in two separate incidents.

Responsibility for the killing of four people, including one soldier, on the outskirts of Jayapura is contested, with police accusing the pro-independence Free Papua Movement and human rights activists denying that.

Two days before the demonstration, in violence not related to the demand for independence, 17 people were killed in the Puncak district of the central highlands. Supporters of rival candidates in the forthcoming district election clashed, reflecting the intensity of competition for control of local governments and government resources.

The demonstration and the violence highlight unresolved tensions in Papua.

In early July the Papuan Peace Network, a movement campaigning for dialogue to resolve those tensions, held a conference in Jayapura called ''Let us make Papua a land of peace''.

The presence of senior government figures suggested a more open mind in Jakarta and that the campaign to persuade the government that dialogue was the appropriate means to resolve conflict was beginning to produce results.

The tenor of the Papuan presentations at the conference demonstrated the strength of Papuan identity and the demand for independence. Papuan interpretations of the history of their integration into Indonesia during the 1960s reject the legality of Indonesian sovereignty. The foundations of this argument was the focus of the Oxford conference and is central to what Papuans want to discuss with Jakarta, but it is the issue Indonesian governments find most difficult.

The failure of the 2001 autonomy law is one of the few issues that the government and its Papuan critics agree on. Papuan responses to the failure have been demands for a referendum or a dialogue with Jakarta. The government, however, has preferred to see Papua's problems as ones of socio-economic backwardness, as well as corruption and poor governance.

The peace conference declaration reasserted that dialogue was the best way to finding the solution to the conflict between Papuan people and the government and that the dialogue had to be mediated by a neutral third party.

One month on from the conference, there are no signs that the government is prepared to engage in dialogue, particularly with international mediation. Given the daunting differences between the government and Papuans and the intense mutual distrust, it might be naive to hope that Hillary Clinton's recent advice to Indonesia that it hold an ''open dialogue'' with Papuan representatives be seriously considered by Jakarta.

Richard Chauvel teaches at Victoria University, specialising in Indonesian history and politics.

Source : Reuters -
Richard Chauvel


16:09 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Peru Congress passes consultation law unanimously

* Consultation bill passes Congress unanimously * President Humala has 15 days to sign into law * Could prevent social conflicts in rural provinces


LIMA Aug 23 (Reuters) - Peru's Congress unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday that could quell social conflicts in rural provinces by requiring companies to consult with native communities before building

mines or drilling for oil.


President Ollanta Humala will have 15 days to sign the so-called consultation law, which would put Peru in compliance with a U.N. convention on indigenous peoples it signed in 1989. Humala has said he

supports consultation.


"The purpose of consultation is to reach an agreement between the government and indigenous or native peoples regarding measures that directly affect them," the text of the approved bill reads.


Former President Alan Garcia vetoed a similar bill that the previous Congress passed in May 2010. He said it gave rural communities the right to forfeit investment needed for development and economic growth.


Garcia pushed for free trade agreements and courted foreign investors, helping Peru achieve one of the world's fastest rates of economic growth. But he was criticized for not spreading enough of Peru's growing

wealth to the rural provinces and failing to quell nagging social unrest.


Peru's ombudsman has said the consultation law could help prevent social conflicts that threaten the $50 billion in foreign investment destined for Peru in the next decade. Some 200 towns have protested against new projects, mostly in areas that have not seen the benefits of the 10-year economic boom.


When protesters clash with police in Peru, the conflicts can turn deadly. They have left an estimated 100 people dead in the past three and a half years.


Indigenous communities say energy extraction often contaminates their water sources and does not belong on their ancestral lands. They have long advocated for the consultation law and many of them voted for Humala.


“This has been a historical show of patriotism and the people of the Amazon, the Andes and Afro-Peruvians will be very thankful," said Eduardo Nayap, a lawmaker from Humala's Gana Peru party who represents the Amazonas region.


Source : Reuters

16:06 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |