Archive for the ‘Forests’ Category

Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith

Monday, January 1st, 2018
, 17 November 2017

In a wooden hut on stilts, a group of children dressed in white sit on the floor. They sing “I will protect Islam till I die” and shout “There is no god but Allah”, in unison.

Three months ago, the 58 families that make up the Celitai tribe of Orang Rimba converted to Islam. They were picked up and bussed into Jambi, the nearest city, and given clothes and prayer mats.

The Islamic Defenders Front – a vigilante group whose leader is facing charges of inciting religious violence – helped facilitate the conversion.

Ustad Reyhan, from the Islamic missionary group Hidayatullah, has stayed to make sure the new faith is practised.

“For now we are focusing on the children. It’s easier to convert them – their mind isn’t filled with other things. With the older ones it’s harder,” he says.

“Before Islam they just believed in spirits, gods and goddesses, not the supreme god Allah.

“When someone died, they didn’t even bury the dead, they just would leave the body in the forest. Now their life has meaning and direction.

“[Before] they lived in the forest. They just lived for each day, each moment. When they died, they died. But now they have a religion, they know there is an afterlife.”

‘No choice’

But village leader Muhammad Yusuf – Yuguk, to use his Orang Rimba name – was thinking about surviving in this life when he converted.

“It was a very heavy and difficult decision, but we feel like we have no choice, if we want to move forward,” he says quietly.

“So that our children can have the same opportunities as the outsiders, the people of the light, we had no other choice. We had to all convert to Islam.”

Outsiders are the “people of the light”, because they live in open areas and are often in the sun, unlike the people of the jungle.

The surrounding majority Muslim population calls the Orang Rimba “Kubu”.

“It means that they are very dirty, they are garbage, you can’t even look because it is so disgusting,” explains anthropologist Butet Manurung, who has lived with the Orang Rimba for many years.

“It also means primitive, stupid, bad smelling – basically pre-human. People say their evolution is not complete.”

It’s thought there are about 3,000 Orang Rimba living in central Sumatra. “If you came before, you would have seen our forest. It was pristine, with huge trees,” says Yusuf.

Now there are seemly endless ghostly white burnt-out sticks in one direction, and palm oil trees in neat rows in the other.

The absence of any natural sounds is eerie.

“It’s all gone. It happened just in the last few years. The palm plantations came in, and then the forest started to burn,” adds Yusuf, referring to 2015’s devastating fires, which burnt more than 21,000 sq km of forest and peat land.

Every year, landowners start fires to clear land with devastating effects, but those fires were catastrophic because of a longer dry season.

Half a million people were affected by the toxic haze from the fires and dozens died from breathing problems.

“I was terrified. We were so scared of the flames and smoke all around us,” Yusuf tells me.

His tribe ran to the nearest village to escape and this was where the conversion process started.

Endangered population

“After a while, we wanted to send our children to school, but the teacher wanted to see their birth certificates, and for that you have to have a state religion that the government recognises.

“So we had a tribal meeting, and discussed what religion we would choose, and decided to choose Islam,” says Yusuf.

Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country – officially recognises six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Indigenous rights bodies are fighting to get recognition for the hundreds of other faiths practised across Indonesia.

The country’s constitutional court recently ruled in their favour, finding that it was against the constitution to force people to state a religion.

Rukka Sombolinggi, head of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, has been a key figure in this fight.

“We have been around before the new religions arrived, but now it’s like they rule us, and want to clean us from this country. We have to fight back,” she says.

She says the Orang Rimba are one of the most endangered indigenous tribes in Indonesia.

“They reached the point of complete hopelessness and saw that embracing one of the official religions would probably help them come out of this very bad situation. It is a matter of survival.”

‘No space to live’

I experienced a sense of the discrimination towards Orang Rimba, when I met a remote tribe still practising this nomadic, polytheistic way of life.

We were eating with them in the jungle when a police officer and local government officials arrived and asked what we were doing and if we had permits.

Our Orang Rimba guide Miyak was visibly upset, and asked why such documents would be necessary on his own land.

“We have no space to live. We are always told we are nomadic people with no religion, no culture,” he told me.

“Our religion is not respected. The government is always insisting that we convert and live in houses in one place. We can’t do that. Our way of life is not like that.”

“Why you are making our lives so difficult?” he asked the officials.

The officer, Budi Jayapura, took me aside to check my documents and said: “We need to watch over them.

“They don’t understand the concept of stealing. They say the fruit grew by itself on the tree so it can be taken, but it was planted by someone. Maybe in their belief system it is OK, but not in our society.”

The pig problem

The fact that they hunt and eat wild pigs also creates social tensions, he added.

“This is a Muslim community. If they see the pig’s blood and the leftover bits, they are disturbed,” the officer explained.

What is taboo, or haram, for the Orang Rimba directly contrasts with what Muslims eat, explains Mr Manurung.

“Orang Rimba will not eat domesticated animals such as chickens, cows or sheep. They think it’s a form of betrayal. You feed the animal, and when it gets fat you eat it. The fair thing to do is to fight. Whoever wins can eat the loser.”

This clash of cultures began in the 1980s, when then-President Suharto gave land and incentives to migrants from overcrowded Java to move and open up the jungles of Sumatra.

Since then, vast areas of forests, traditionally home to the Orang Rimba, have been handed out to palm oil, rubber and pulp and paper companies without compensation to the indigenous tribes.

Zulkarnai, a Ministry of Forestry official, who helped facilitate the mass conversion of the Celitai tribe, admits that as a child, he thought the Orang Rimba weren’t human.

“One day a ‘Kubu’ child stole fruit from one of my neighbours, and he shot him. We went over to the body, and I realised it wasn’t a kind of animal, it was a human, just like us.

“I realised that we have to help them. I feel sorry for them. They will starve if they don’t change.”

In the last decades, millions of hectares of rainforest have been cleared in Indonesia, in what some studies call the world’s fastest rate of deforestation.

Polluted land

New palm oil plantations have been increasing at a rate of between 300,000 and 500,000 hectares per year for the past 10 years.

In the last 30-odd years, more than half of Sumatra’s forests have disappeared, replaced by monoculture palm oil plantations.

Sigungang’s family lives on a palm oil plantation. He tries to hunt wild pigs when they come.

“But if we can’t find anything, we are forced to eat palm oil fruit. It makes your head spin,” he says.The streams in the plantation are polluted with pesticide and his family is getting stomach problems drinking from it.

“There is no forest for them to hunt in, the water they fished in and drank from is polluted, and so is the air,” says social affairs minister Khofifah Parawansa, matter-of-factly. “So we are giving them houses, villages to live in.”

The government – working with plantation companies – has built a number of housing estates for the Orang Rimba.

Last year, President Joko Widodo announced more new housing and some land for them, following a meeting with tribal leaders – the first organised by an Indonesian head of state.

Minister Khofifah says faith is part of this process.

“On the identity card, they have to state what religion they have. There are those that have become Muslims, some who have become Christians. So now they are getting to know God.”

But many of the housing estates have failed and are effectively ghost towns.

Without work or a way to feed their family, many Orang Rimba who lived in them briefly went back to the traces of jungle that are left.

“What we want is for them to stop taking away our forest. We don’t want houses like the outsiders,” says Ngantap, one of the elders of an Orang Rimba tribe.

“I am at peace and happy in the forest, I am a person of the jungle.”

Ngantap wears the traditional loincloth of the Rimba people, with a bag of cigarettes hanging from the side.

Unmarried women traditionally wear simple sarongs covering the breasts. Once married, the sarong is tied around the waist leaving breasts open for feeding babies. Many now wear clothes from the outside.

But Ngantap insists they are holding on to their faith.

“It’s wrong to say we don’t have a faith. Religion is a personal right of every person. It’s very wrong to discredit someone’s faith.

“If our belief system is lost, and the gods and goddess have no forest home, disaster will reign.”

Ngantap’s wife Ngerung tell me they are connected to the trees from birth.

“After a baby is born, three trees must be planted, one for the placenta, one for the baby, one for the name. They can never be cut down or hurt. When we walk through our forest we remind people of this.”Mr Manurung explains: “Orang Rimba worship many gods, the tiger [being] one of the most powerful.

“They have a god of bees, a god of hornbill birds, gods and goddesses of many trees. They also worship a god of water springs. They will never go to the toilet or put soap in the river, so you can drink it directly.”

Sacrifice

Miyak, my guide, converted to Islam so he can travel and fight to try and protect his family’s forest.

They are trying to register the forest as their ancestral land, following a landmark 2013 court ruling which said indigenous people have rights over forests they have lived in for centuries.

He can take part in meetings but not in religious ceremonies or rituals. As he now uses soap to wash himself and eats chicken and cows, he can’t enter his family home.

“When I got educated in the outsiders’ ways, there were many things that I had to sacrifice.

“But I accept that, because I am a messenger and bridge for many people here with the outside world and the government, about our forest and rights.”

He still fears the gods and goddesses of the old religion.

“It’s the sacred people – our women shamans – [that] I fear. They can communicate and see the gods and goddesses.

“The shaman can become a tiger, can become an elephant if the gods are very angry, and attack people. I am scared of that. I worry about breaking the rules.”

But Miyak’s greatest fear is that is his people’s way of life will disappear forever.

 

To Watch VIDEO: BBC

Brazil’s Temer threatens constitutional indigenous land rights

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres on 1 August 2017

– President Temer, influenced by the rural lobby in congress whose
votes he needs to not be tried by the Supreme Court on corruption charges, has okayed new criteria meant to delegitimize indigenous land boundary claims, legal experts say.

– One rule rejects any indigenous demarcation of land where Indians were not physically present on a traditional territory in 1988, which would disqualify many legitimate claims.

– Another allows government to undertake “strategic” public works, such as dams and roads, without indigenous consent, violating the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil.

– The administration also introduced a bill likely to be passed by congress that reclassifies 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles) of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon, gutting protections, allowing economic activities — logging, ranching, farming and mining — and legitimizing land grabs there.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians live on indigenous lands in Brazil, but much of that land has never been officially demarcated due to decades of government delay. Now, President Temer’s political maneuvering threatens to shut down the demarcation process in favor of land thieves, ranchers, soy growers, mining concerns, and construction companies with much to profit from Amazon dam and road government contracts.

A storm of protest greeted the 19 July announcement that Brazilian President Michel Temer has approved a recommendation made by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), that federal government bodies should adopt new criteria for setting the boundaries of indigenous land.

Respected lawyer Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, who headed the University of São Paulo’s legal faculty for many years, said that the recommendation was a “legal farce,” with the objective of “extorting from the indigenous communities their right to the land they have traditionally occupied.”

But the bancada ruralista rural caucus in Congress is triumphant. Federal deputy Luiz Carlos Heinze, a leading member of the caucus, celebrated the AGU recommendation, saying in a video circulated on social media that it will lead to a reassessment of more than 700 cases, resulting ultimately in the dismissal of 90 percent of ongoing indigenous territory land claims.

The Civil Office of the Presidency has already returned to the justice ministry 19 indigenous territories, covering 792,370 hectares (3,059 square miles), which were close to completion, saying that the recognition of these reserves is to be reviewed. With the process for recognizing many of the other new territories at an early stage, it is impossible to calculate precisely how much land is involved.

However, if created, the new reserves would undoubtedly add millions of hectares to the 177 million hectares (683,400 square miles), 13.8 percent of the Brazilian territory, that is in indigenous hands. By far the largest share — 98 percent of all indigenous territory — is located in the Amazon, where the reserves prove an effective bulwark against deforestation. The long process of recognizing indigenous ownership is not complete in all these territories, so some of these lands could become vulnerable to reclassification.

The “Marco temporal” debate

The most controversial aspect of the AGU’s recommendation is the introduction of the so-called “marco temporal” an arbitrary cut-off date for land claims.

Under the new measure, Indian groups will only have the legal right to claim traditionally held territory that they were physically occupying as of 5 October 1988, the day the most recent federal Constitution was approved — a date, historians point out, by which many Indian groups had already been forced from their lands.

The concept of “marco temporal” was first adopted by the Supreme Federal Court (STF), when it settled a long, contentious dispute over boundaries for the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous reserve in Roraima in 2009.

The Dilma Rousseff government, with its strong anti-indigenous bent, was keen to make this cut-off point vinculante, a norm to be universally followed for establishing other indigenous territories in the future, and the AGU issued Portaria 303/2012, an order to that effect. However, STF minister Ricardo Lewandowski, in a 2013 ruling, made it clear that the 19 conditions for such settlements — including the “marco temporal” — could not legally be applied to the demarcation of all indigenous lands. This decision, combined with strong indigenous pressure, led to Portaria 303’s eventual revocation.

The rural elite, however, never accepted the high court’s finding. It wanted the criteria, especially that referring to the “marco temporal,” along with another that forbids the enlargement of indigenous territory already marked out, to become vinculante, the norm and extended to all future cases.

Importantly, the AGU’s July recommendation also makes it possible to undertake “strategic” public works, such as hydroelectric dams and roads, without Indian consent. This seems to be a direct breach of the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil, in which nations commit to full consultation with indigenous people whenever a public work will affect their land or way of life.

Outcry against demarcation rule changes
Protests against the AGU’s recommendation, particularly the 1988 cut-off date, have been vociferous, despite the huge amount of civil strife already unfolding in Brazil — with landless peasants occupying elite estates, including one owned by the family of agriculture minister Blairo Maggi, and with President Temer’s legitimacy threatened by serious corruption charges.

Journalist Rubens Valente, who has just published a book about Brazilian atrocities committed against Indians during the military dictatorship, called Temer’s July decision “a 50-year setback. It’s as if the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention didn’t exist.”

Well-known forestry consultant Tasso Azevedo, former director of Brazil’s National Forest program under the Lula government, fumed: “Imagine a Polish law that said that the claimant — for example, a Jewish family persecuted during the Second World War — could only get their property back if they were living in the house when it was expropriated? It would be seen as absurd.” He went on: “The AGU recommendation shreds indigenous rights. You want a road? No need to ask. Just go ahead and do it.”

Others point to the tragic predicament of Guarani Indian groups in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. These indigenous people were forcibly evicted from their territories after the state government sold their land to farmers. For years they’ve struggled to regain their territories and many still squat at roadsides, barred by fences from moving back onto their land. But because they were evicted before 1988, the AGU recommendation would negate all claims.

Crizantho Alves Fialho Neto, from FUNAI, Brazil’s federal indigenous agency, says that the ruling ignores the legal standing of indigenous territory: “Indigenous possession of land is different from a landowner’s ownership of land. It is not possession as defined in civil law. It is possession as defined in the constitution.” In theory at least, this means that indigenous rights are “inviolable, exclusive and perpetual.”

Lawyer José Afonso da Silva, a specialist in constitutional law, also questions the validity of the 1988 cut-off date: “the beginning of the legal recognition of indigenous rights was in June 1611 with the Royal Charter (Carta Régia) promulgated by the Portuguese king Philip lll … All other constitutions continued along these lines. The 1988 Constitution just carried on this tradition.” Based on these legal precedents, he says, there is no reason to give that date a special status — unless, critics say, the government’s plan is to deprive indigenous people of their demarcation rights in order to legitimize land thefts that occurred before that date.

Many other legal experts have protested. Érika Yamada, an independent United Nations indigenous expert, says that the recommendation “exceeds all limits of administrative law, because the president is signing a recommendation that is an attempt to legislate, to alter the 1988 Constitution.” She argues that the new measure is unconstitutional and may well lead to challenges in the ILO, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

Indigenous organizations have already called for a legal counteroffensive. The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) will be challenging in the courts the legality of actions that replicate the “unconstitutional” conditions established in the Raposa/Serra do Sol case.

These legal challenges may well succeed, but that will take time. Meanwhile, serious damage could be done to indigenous groups. Temer has already said that he expects FUNAI and other government bodies to start implementing the AGU guidance.

The risk of escalating violence
There is another concern: Valente believes that the new criteria could catalyse unrest in the countryside, which is already at record levels: “The Indians want to regain their old lands and they are increasingly well organized.… The AGU recommendation may well provoke violence, as it is telling these groups that the doors are closing for them to get what they want through the justice system or from the executive.” The recommendation could also embolden land grabbers eager to exploit indigenous demarcation disputes, experts say.

Azevedo has no doubt why the president approved the AGU recommendations: “Temer endorsed the ruling for the worst possible motive: to buy political support in Congress so that he won’t be tried for corruption by the Federal Supreme Court.”


Indeed, the rural caucus has made no secret of the role it played in Temer’s rise, and that it could play in his fall. In the already mentioned video, Luiz Carlos Heinze revealed that the AGU recommendation was agreed to in an April meeting between then Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio (a leading member of the rural caucus), Presidential Head of Staff Eliseu Padilha, and Federal Attorney General Grace Maria Fernandes Mendonça. The three made a pact, he claims, that represents “a great advance for all Brazilian [agribusiness] producers who have been feeling frustrated and anxious because of the pressure they have been receiving from FUNAI” to vacate lands they’ve claimed for years.

Experts see the AGU recommendation as just one bargaining chip being used by Temer, an experienced Congressional operator, to make sure he gains sufficient votes in the Lower House to prevent a two-thirds majority from voting that he should be tried by the Supreme Court for the corruption accusation made against him by the Attorney General. That crucial vote is scheduled for this Wednesday. The latest opinion polls show that 81 percent of Brazilians want Temer tried for corruption.

Temer’s environmental concessions
Environmental protection also appears to be an expendable pawn in Temer’s congressional game.

In recent weeks, the president allowed his environmental minister, José Sarney Filho, to introduce a bill to reclassify a large portion of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon allowing economic activities within it — including logging, ranching, farming and mining — a dismemberment for which the rural elite has long lobbied, and that would legitimize land grabs underway there for years.

Munduruku (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The Munduruku have battled for years with the Brazilian government to get their lands formally demarcated, as have many other indigenous groups. Temer’s actions are likely to make that fight more contentious, with an escalation of violence, as the ruralistas are emboldened to oppose indigenous territory claims. Photo by Rebecca Sommer

Previously, Temer planned to achieve this goal via a provisional measure (MP 756), which he himself proposed, but which in the end, he was forced to veto in the face of intense national and international pressure.

Groups at home and abroad are now campaigning hard to stop the newest Jamanxim dismemberment bill, which would reclassify an even larger part of the forest than the original provisional measure­­ –– 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles). But this time the counterattack may not be as effective, because bills of this kind only require congressional approval and are not subject to a presidential veto.

The runaway power of the rural caucus in congress and within the Temer administration, and the ruralistas growing confidence that they will not be held accountable, is now having serious consequences for the environment, Indians, quilombolas (those living in communities set up by runaway slaves), peasant farmers and other rural inhabitants.

According to Global Witness, more rural and environmental activists have been killed in Brazil than in any other country in the world over the past five years. Moreover, nine out of ten murders occurred in Legal Amazonia, with most in Rondônia and eastern Pará state. There were 47 total homicides in the Amazon in 2016, with 33 in the first five months of this year, putting 2017 on track to be the bloodiest year in recent Amazon history.

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Banner image by Agência Brasil and used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License.

Brazil: Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Growing Movement Against Genetically Engineered Trees Protests Globally at Brazilian Embassies and Consulates

New York (2 April 2015) – Concerned citizens demonstrated at Brazilian consulates and embassies located around the world this week, as part of a second week of global protests demanding that the Brazilian government reject an industry request to commercialize genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees.

In Brussels, Belgium, dozens of people representing organizations from around the world traveled from the European Parliament to the Brazilian Embassy where they rallied against GE trees and delivered letters of protest. In Melbourne, Australia, protesters dressed as koalas, owls and other forest creatures rallied against GE eucalyptus trees at the Brazilian consulate. Other demonstrations took place in Europe and North America.

This week’s actions follow a wave of protests against GE trees at Brazilian embassies and consulates on 3 March 2015. These protests were directed at a 5 March 2015 meeting of the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio), which was to decide whether or not to approve a request by FuturaGene to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil. The meeting was interrupted by 300 peasants organized by La Via Campesina and eventually cancelled [1].

Earlier on the morning of 5 March, 1,000 women of the Brazil Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) from the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais occupied the operations of FuturaGene, destroying seedlings of GE eucalyptus trees [2].

A woman from The MST who took part in the action stated, “The landless women came here to denounce, to reject, to say that this model of agribusiness is the model of death, not of life. We the landless women are here to defend a model of life, defend food sovereignty, and defend agrarian land reform.”

CTNBio and FuturaGene rescheduled their meeting regarding GE eucalyptus trees for 9 April, sparking the latest series of protests against GE eucalyptus this week.

“These weeks of protest against GE trees in Brazil demonstrate the renewed commitment of organizations, activists and social movements around the world to ensure that GE trees are never legalized,” stated Ruddy Turnstone, a campaigner with Global Justice Ecology Project and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees who rallied at the Miami, Florida Consulate on 31 March.

In November 2014 scientists, foresters, agronomists, Indigenous Peoples and other experts from six continents met in Asunción, Paraguay to discuss the problem of genetically engineered trees. They recently finalized the Asunción Declaration, which calls for the outright rejection of all GE trees, including those in field trials [3].

In the US, a similar request to the USDA from GE tree company ArborGen to legalize their GE eucalyptus trees is currently pending [4].

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is an international alliance of organizations mobilized to protect forests and biodiversity and to support communities threatened by the dangerous release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.

CONTACT
Kip Doyle, Media Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees: +1.716.931.5833(office), +1.716.867.4080 (mobile), kip@stopgetrees.org [English]

NOTES
[1]
http://stopgetrees.org/global-week-actions-gmo-trees-brazil-ends-success/
[2] http://panampost.com/belen-marty/2015/03/09/landless-women-workers-destroy-gmo-lab-in-brazil/
[3]
http://stopgetrees.org/asuncion-declaration-rejects-ge-trees/
[4] https://stopgetrees.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Eucalyptus-Petition-to-Deregule-11_01901p1.pdf

Suruí leaders confirm in meeting with president of Funai that they no longer want the carbon project on their land

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

By Patrícia Bonilha, 25/02/2015

Twelve leaders of the Paiter Suruí whose Indigenous Territory (IT) Sete de Setembro is located in the state of Rondônia, confirmed at a meeting held in the morning of the 24th of February with the president of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Flávio Chiarelli, that they want the Suruí Forest Carbon project to be suspended. The main arguments made by leaders were: serious divisions that have occurred among their peoples; non-fulfillment of promises that life in the communities would improve (while at the same time, they noted, a few families have benefited significantly); the removal of leaders and the centralization of representation of their peoples; and the threats made to several among their peoples who have recently voiced their opposition to the project.

The project signed [a contract] with Brazil’s largest cosmetics company, Natura, in September 2013, which includes carbon credits equivalent to 120,000 tons * [1] of carbon sequestered [in the forests] on the Sete de Setembro indigenous territory. The contract is from 2009 to 2012, for a reported value of R$ 1.2 million, according to press reports [2]. As the first REDD project on indigenous territory, and with international certification, the project won acclaim around the world, in addition to being “sold” as a model project by companies that promote the “green” economy.

However, when the current general chief of the Paiter Suruí, Henrique Iabaday Surui, gave an interview to the September 2014 issue of Porantim newspaper about the severe impacts of this project, another reality was revealed. “The promises were very good: Better quality of life, health, education. Everybody contributed. But soon the conflict started and there was a lack of respect. We are all guilty of accepting this, of signing. But we were deceived and now, we are experiencing the consequences. The suffering is increasing. We regret. This project is not working for us”, explained Jonaton Surui, second chief of the village Linha 14. Then, he said that “if this project continues, there will be deaths, fights, jail. Not only among the Suruí, but among other peoples who are also getting involved with these projects, such as the Arara.”

Speaking in the Suruí language, the elder Joaquim, deputy general chief, reinforced the concerns expressed by his kin, Jonaton and Henrique. “We fell into the trap of a misleading proposal. We’re here to call for the suspension of this project which was also approved by Funai. We are here in front of the president of Funai to call for him to also take responsibility towards us. We do not want this project for our peoples any longer”, he stated emphatically.

In a document delivered to Funai, indigenous peoples from 10 peoples in Rondônia state:
“We demand with urgency the suspension and subsequent cancellation of the carbon project on the Suruí and Cinta Larga indigenous territories and the halting of implementation of any project that involves this kind of exploitation in all indigenous territories in the state of Rondônia and in Brazil. We emphasize the responsibility of FUNAI for the implementation of the Carbon Project on Suruí territory, in the absence of legislation providing for such an initiative.”

After explaining that FUNAI gave approval to the project because they had concluded that the project would benefit the community, and at the insistence of one of the leaders of the peoples, Flávio Chiarelli said that the facts reported by the Suruí leaders present at the meeting were serious and that the agency first needed to better understand what was happening. “This is the first time that the community says that this project is a problem. Once we have heard more [detail], we can refer the case to the attorney to review and, if necessary, bring a lawsuit against it, “he said.
The ongoing struggle for land

After a debate on the need for strengthening of regional Funai coordination and of the agency as a whole, another topic discussed during the morning meeting was the situation regarding the demarcation processes of indigenous territories in the states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso.

The director of ‘Territorial Protection’ at Funai, Aluísio Azanha, after presenting a brief analysis of the difficult political context in which the Funai has been working due to a lack of staff and the curtailment and reduction of financial resources, in addition to the offensive against indigenous rights, provided information on some of these processes. He said that, for example, the Karitiana and Kaxarari indigenous territories were facing legal problems and that in relation to the territories of the Cujubim, Migueleno and Wajoro, it would not be possible to set up working groups this year. Regarding the study in relation to the land of the Puruburá peoples, Azanha confirmed that field work in the area claimed as indigenous territory was expected to take place still in 2015.

In response, representatives of the Puruburá peoples, Antônio and Hosana, urged swift action from Funai in relation to the demarcation of the land and respect for their peoples. “Funai pulled us away from our original territory. We would never have left. The dream of our Elders is to have our land demarcated, but they are dying without seeing this dream come true, having to live in hiding because of the threats that we suffer,” said Hosana Puruburá.

Discussions about the demarcation processes on indigenous territories of the indigenous peoples in Rondônia were held in a meeting in the afternoon. However, already during the meeting in the morning, several leaders expressed their concern about the grave, and unfortunately quite common, invasion of indigenous territories in that state by loggers. A complaint shared by all of the 10 peoples present was related to the feeling of having been abandoned by Funai and a need for the strengthening of this agency in order to be able to provide the support that indigenous peoples need, for example in relation to surveillance and punishment of those who steal wood.

[1] http://g1.globo.com/natureza/noticia/2013/09/indios-surui-concluem-1-venda-de-creditos-de-carbono-indigenas-do-pais.html
[2] http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/ambiente/2013/09/1340114-indios-de-ro-fecham-primeira-venda-de-carbono-certificado.shtml

The Suruí and the Carbon Project: For the world to know
24/02/2015. By Egon Heck, Cimi

“We request the immediate suspension of this carbon project, which is killing the Suruí.” This was the call from all chiefs and leaders of the Suruí at a hearing in the auditorium of the Federal Public Ministry that lasted for more than three hours. Deborah Duprat, coordinator of the 6th Chamber, listened carefully and discussed with the delegation of Indigenous Peoples from Rondônia, in an atmosphere of great trust and openness. After a brief presentation, Dr. Deborah expressed her bewilderment about the presence of some security guards in the auditorium. After having enquired who had sent them, she commented: “We never need such presence at our meetings with indigenous people. So I ask you to withdraw.” Despite claiming ‘higher orders’, they withdrew from the room.

“For me, this is perhaps one of the most important activities of our coming to Brasília,” said Antenor Karitiana. In fact, the Federal Public Ministry has become one of the important areas of struggle and guarantor of the rights of indigenous peoples. Even though the operating structure imposes limitations, it is undeniable that indigenous peoples have an important ally in their struggle for constitutional rights in the Federal Public Ministry.

Controversial project, abhorred by the Suruí
Most of the meeting time at the Federal Public Ministry revolved around the controversial Surui Forest Carbon Project which started in 2007. It is considered the first of its kind implemented on indigenous territory in our country. And in the view of the Suruí and the delegation of indigenous peoples from Rondônia, it should be the last. That is at least what they are fighting for, so that a similar deception is not repeated on any other indigenous territory. The general chief of the Suruí, Henrique Iabaday, who was part of the delegation, said the following about the project in an interview published in the September 2014 issue of Porantim: “The Carbon Project on our land is to take the life out of the Suruí Peoples, it will take the happiness from our life, take the right to live off the territory … It’s a bomb to the life of any human being … What happened to the Suruí Peoples is a story for life, and for the world .. . So that no other indigenous [peoples] engage in this type of project on their land … There is no way of expressing what happened to the Suruí. Our peoples are without life. We want the project to be suspended.”

After testimonies from Suruí leaders, Dr. Deborah Duprat shared her reflection: “I want to be very honest with you. We have a very serious problem with the Surui carbon sequestration project. The 6th Chamber advised not to accept the project. The contract was signed, and therefore, continues to be valid. For advancing a legal case, proof is required that what was agreed is not complied with. I can assure you that the Federal Public Ministry will press for a rigorous and thorough evaluation of the project and its consequences in terms of the violence that resulted, the serious conflicts that can lead to deaths and misappropriation of resources, and about who benefits from them. I’ll ask that Funai conduct a detailed assessment on which to base future decisions. What is needed is to analyze and discuss with all of the communities the terms of the contract. We will investigate, and you do your part.” And she made it very clear that: “The Public Ministry will not interfere with the internal matter of the peoples, because those in the best position to prevent this project are you.”

It was evident, after the more than two hours of debate and clarification that the perverse consequences of this type of project should serve as a lesson and strong reminder to prevent the same happening to other indigenous peoples. The important thing is to understand such a project as part of ‘green capitalism’ policies and as neocolonialism. In February 2012, Cimi issued a statement strongly condemning the insistence of implementation of REDD projects on indigenous territories. From the perspective of the rights and vision of these peoples “those projects transform nature into a commodity, gratitude in obligation, the mythical in terms of contracts and well-being in alleged ‘benefits of capital’. It is the commercialization of the sacred and the changing of human relations at the interface with the environment”, and therefore, we “join those who say NO to the financialization of nature, NO to the green economy and NO to the carbon market “(Porantim , September 2014).

War over land and health

The serious situation in relation to [indigenous] land, because of the invasion by large projects and various economic interests, as well as the paralyzed state of advance in recognition of indigenous territories, coupled with initiatives, such as the PEC 215, against indigenous peoples’ rights as enshrined in the Constitution, amounts to a declaration of war by the Brazilian State against indigenous peoples.

Regarding the paralysis [of the demarcation processes], Dr. Deborah pointed out that the Public Prosecution has urged Funai to take steps regarding the demarcation procedures under way and they have been considering adjustments to the process to enable the continuition of the cases. As for the PEC 215, she reported that steps had already been taken in relation to the unconstitutionality of the initiative.

The document submitted to the coordinator of the 6th Chamber further emphasized: “Another major problem we, indigenous peoples of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, face, is the use of pesticides in the surrounding of our territories. This is seriously affecting the health of our people and compromises biodiversity, reducing the fish in our rivers, the hunting in our forests, and it contaminates the water we consume.”

Regarding the health issues raised, the delegation denounced the overall lack of assistance and expressed their opposition to the creation of the INSI (National Institute for Indigenous Health.). Dr. Deborah added: “If the indigenous health is bad already, it will get worse.”

Indigenous Peoples: REPORT CONCERNING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SUBMITTED TO THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

REPORT SUBMITTED TO THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
In regard to the
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW CONCERNING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Second Cycle-22nd Session
April-May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland

Submitted by Indigenous World Association (IWA) an ECOSOC NGO and the Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment
This Report is submitted by the Indigenous World Association (IWA), an ECOSOC accredited NGO, together with the Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment (LACSE). LACSE, an organization of Laguna Pueblo and Acoma Pueblo residents, in New Mexico, USA, is committed to addressing uranium mining legacy issues, including protection of sacred areas, affecting both indigenous nations, and is a member of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE, masecoalition.org)., which addresses issues of environmental justice related to uranium mining in the Grants uranium belt in Northwestern New Mexico.

Summary

Despite the 2010 statement in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the United States, the United States has failed to provide meaningful implementation of the rights contained in the UNDRIP. Perhaps in response to the calls by this body in the last UPR cycle in March 2010, as well as that of other UN Human bodies, the United States issued a statement in support of the UNDRIP in December 2010. However the United States continues to insist that the UNDRIP is “a non-binding, aspirational document” and renders the UNDRIP ineffective through federal, state and local actions that deny indigenous peoples the exercise of rights contained in the ICCPR, the ICERD, and the UNDRIP.

This report addresses the United States’ failure to provide substantive protection for sacred areas and landscapes, in the face of recommendations by the Human Rights Committee in the 2014 ICCPR review, by the CERD committee in the 2014 CERD Review, and by several UN special rapporteurs. Related to these rights are those impacted by extractive activities that impact sacred areas and discriminatorily deprive indigenous communities of essential human rights such as the right to free prior and informed consent and rights related to religion and culture.

1. Mt. Taylor (“Kaaweesthiimaa” in the Acoma language, “Tsibiinaa” in the Laguna language), a sacred landscape and area to Acoma, Laguna, and other Indigenous Nations in the region, is under threat of irreparable harm should proposed uranium mining by Roca Honda Resources, LLC, and others proceed in the area. Despite the recognition of this area as a traditional cultural property under federal and state law, the United States Forest Service, an agency of the United States government, has taken actions which substantively disregard United States obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), especially rights with regard to property, health, and participation in cultural activities provided in Article 5 of the ICERD. Despite the Recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter “CERD”) in 2008, to ensure that activities carried out in areas of spiritual and cultural significance to Native Americans do not have a negative impact on the enjoyment of their rights under the Convention, the United States has failed to observe its human rights obligations in this situation.

2. Current federal law purporting to provide protection for cultural rights, and policy on consultation in cases affecting protection of cultural rights, including Executive Orders, have provided no substantive protection for cultural rights. Both the federal and state governments are responsible permitting agencies for mining activities. However, the United States has not taken sufficient steps to establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure a coordinated approach towards the implementation of the Convention at the federal, state and local levels, which are all implicated in the case of Mt. Taylor.

3. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department have failed to clean up 97 abandoned uranium mines and 5 former mills in the Grants Mining District in New Mexico after 30 plus years. This includes the Homestake-Barrick Gold mill site now a U.S. Superfund site.

4. The United States Department of Agriculture, and its subsidiary the United States Forest Service, is seeking to permit new uranium mining which will irreparably impact the Mt. Taylor Traditional Cultural Property. The free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples impacted, including Laguna Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, Zuni Tribe and Navajo Nation has not been fully obtained for new proposed uranium mining at Mt. Taylor, which is within the aboriginal lands of these indigenous peoples in New Mexico. obtained.

5. Human rights violations of affected indigenous people in New Mexico have been presented in reports to the Human Rights Committee in the United States Review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the CERD Committee as part of the United States review under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during 2014. In both reviews, the United Nations monitoring committees issued conclusions and recommendations regarding protection of sacred places and the need to provide free, prior and informed consent especially in cases regarding extractive activities.

6. The United States has failed to implement existing laws in a manner that fully implements the rights contained in the UNDRIP, including access to sacred sites and cultural rights. These laws include the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (42 U.S.C. 1996), the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000 bbl), and the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.) It also violates Executive Order 13007, which directs federal agencies to “accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practioners.”

7. The United is ignoring established federal laws and policies protecting indigenous sacred sites when it permits new extractive mining. Specifically it ignores Cite: See Shadow Reports referenced herein and submitted to ICCPR and CERD. See also, Letter of Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, dated June 13, 2013, pp. 5-7.

8. The United States continues to apply discriminatory laws, such as the General Mining Act of 1872, the 1897 Organic Act, and the 1955 Multiple Use Mining Act, all of which preference mining activities over cultural practices on public land.

9. The United States has so far failed to educate federal agencies, state agencies, and local governments on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The UPR Working Group, in the first UPR cycle for the United States, urged the United States to incorporate human rights training and education in their public policies.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. That the United States follow the recommendation of several human rights bodies and establish a National Human Rights institution.
2. That the United States fully implement the UNDRIP.
3. That the United States undertake a comprehensive review of domestic laws and policies, which some U.S. and state agencies interpret to privilege extractive activities over the rights of indigenous peoples, and bring them into compliance with international human rights standards.
4. That the United States adopt effective measures to protect cultural landscapes and sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.
5. Recommend that the United States take steps to establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure a coordinated approach towards the implementation of the Convention at the federal, state and local levels.”

Indígenas bloqueiam BR que liga o estado de Roraima a Venezuela contra a PEC 215

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Cerca de 1000 indígenas bloquearam na manhã de hoje, 17, de dezembro, a BR- 174 que liga o estado de Roraima a Venezuela em protesto contra a PEC 215. A manifestação é pacífica e os indígenas do estado de Roraima exigem o arquivamento da medida legislativa.

Neste clima de intranquilidade, os povos indígenas clamam por justiça e pedem pela garantia dos direitos previstos na Constituição Federal. Os povos afirmam que a PEC 215 é inconstitucional e infringe direitos previstos na lei.

Entenda a PEC 215

A Proposta de Emenda Constitucional (PEC 215/2000) é de autoria do ex-deputado federal Almir Sá (RR) que, “acrescenta o inciso XVIII ao art. 49; modifica o § 4º e acrescenta o § 8º ambos no art. 231, da Constituição Federal” para incluir dentre as competências exclusivas do Congresso Nacional a aprovação de demarcação das terras tradicionalmente ocupadas pelos índios e a ratificação das demarcações já homologadas; e para estabelecer critérios e procedimentos de demarcação serão regulamentados por lei”.

No momento, a discussão da PEC 215 está na Comissão Especial da Câmara dos Deputados criada na apresentar parecer. A Comissão é formada na sua maioria por deputados ligados a bancada ruralista que apoiam a PEC 215 e tentam aprovar um Relatório Substitutivo.

O novo parecer além de corroborar o texto original, inclui as piores e inconstitucionais condicionantes do Caso da Raposa Serra do Sol estabelecida pelo Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF). Tais condicionantes foram consideradas pelos ministros do STF como não vinculantes, portanto, não devem se estender a outras terras, mesmo assim a bancada ruralista tenta incorporar no texto da PEC 215.

Além disso, segundo informações publicadas em jornais e pelo Ministério Público Federal, o Relatório Substitutivo a ser discutido teria sido produzido fora da Comissão Especial, por advogado ligado ao CNA pago para atender os interesses individuais dos ruralistas envolvidos em invasão em terras indígenas no Mato Grosso do Sul.

A PEC 215 afronta seriamente os direitos constitucionais. Coloca em risco a sobrevivência física e cultural dos povos indígenas que dependem de suas terras. Somado a isso, contraria os princípios de separação de poderes ao propor transferir para o Congresso Nacional responsabilidades administrativas do governo federal, com absurda interferência clara da bancada ruralista. E o mais grave, os povos indígenas deixados de fora, do processo e das discussões, sem consultas e sem direito de entrar, falar ou defender na casa, considerado do povo, o Congresso Nacional.

As lideranças indígenas de diversas partes do estado de Roraima permanecem na manifestação divulgando suas preocupações e alertando autoridades e a sociedade brasileira sobre o risco de seus direitos.

Conselho Indígena de Roraima

17 de dezembro de 2014

A lógica perversa do capitalismo verde

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

By Pravda.ru

Para entender como e por que o capitalismo verde avança sobre os territórios indígenas e das populações tradicionais é necessário reconhecer os paradoxos da água. Ou seja, a água é vida e morte, liberdade e escravidão, esperança e opressão, guerra e paz. A água é um bem imensurável, insubstituível e indispensável à vida em nosso planeta, considerada pelo Artigo 225 da Constituição Federal, bem difuso, de uso comum do povo.
Fonte da notícia: Jornal Porantim – Edição Especial “NÃO à Economia “Verde”
“Tudo o que é financeiro, lamentavelmente, é econômico. Mas nem tudo o que é econômico é financeiro”
Por Amyra El Khalili
Nesse sentido, a recente descoberta do que pode ser o maior aquífero de água doce do mundo na região amazônica, o Alter do Chão, que se estende sob os estados do Amazonas, Amapá e Pará, exige atenção e cuidado por parte da sociedade brasileira[i].

O aquífero Alter do Chão, que chega a 86 mil quilômetros cúbicos, possui quase o dobro da capacidade hídrica do Aquífero Guarani, com 45 mil quilômetros cúbicos. Sendo assim, ele atrai, inevitavelmente, a cobiça dos países do hemisfério Norte, que já não têm mais água para o consumo, e pode tornar-se a causa de enfrentamentos geopolíticos. Processo similar acontece no Oriente Médio, com disputas sangrentas pelo petróleo e gás natural.

O controle sobre esta riqueza hídrica depende exclusivamente do controle territorial. As águas são transfronteiriças e avançam sobre os limites entre municípios, estados e países. O recorde histórico da cheia do Rio Madeira neste ano de 2014, que inundou cidades na Bolívia, além das trágicas inundações nos estados de Rondônia e no Acre, é um bom exemplo desta característica das águas.

De modo geral, a água está sendo contaminada com a mineração e com o despejo de efluentes, agrotóxicos e químicos, e poderá ser poluída também com a eminência da exploração de gás de xisto, onde a técnica usada para fraturar a rocha pode contaminar as águas subterrâneas.

Terra à venda

Segundo estimativas de um relatório do projeto Land Matrix, que reúne organizações internacionais focadas na questão agrária, mais de 83,2 milhões de hectares de terra em países em desenvolvimento foram vendidos em grandes transações internacionais desde 2000. Os países economicamente mais vulneráveis da África e da Ásia perderam extensas fatias de terras em transações internacionais nos últimos 10 anos, sendo que a África é o principal alvo das aquisições, seguida da Ásia e da América Latina. Estas compras são estimuladas pelo aumento nos preços das commodities agrícolas e pela escassez de água em alguns dos países compradores, que o fazem para a exploração da agricultura, mineração, madeira e do turismo[ii].

Outros países são alvos desta ofensiva fundiária, como a Indonésia, Filipinas, Malásia, Congo, Etiópia, Sudão e o Brasil, que teve mais de 3,8 milhões de hectares vendidos para estrangeiros somente nos últimos 12 anos. É importante salientar que, até aqui, estamos falando de terras que podem ser adquiridas, em tese, através da compra. Porém, as terras indígenas e de populações tradicionais são terras da União e, não podem ser negociadas e nem alienadas, pois estão protegidas por leis nacionais e internacionais.

Acontece que são justamente estas as terras que estão preservadas e conservadas ambientalmente e são as mais ricas em biodiversidade, água, minério e energia (bens comuns). E, portanto, são nessas áreas que ocorre o avanço desenfreado do capitalismo verde que nada mais é que o velho e desgastado modelo colonialista, extrativista e expansionista neoliberal com uma roupagem atualizada, que visa a apropriação dos bens comuns. Esses bens são definidos como “recursos naturais”, assim como os trabalhadores são considerados pelo sistema como “recursos humanos”. Tudo neste modelo “verde” é usado ilimitadamente e no curto prazo.

Essa concepção utilitarista do “capitalismo verde” já é confrontada com outros modelos de vida, como o Bem Viver, dos povos das florestas, a economia socioambiental, a economia solidária e a agroecologia, dentre outras que estão florescendo.

Para a implementação deste modelo com purpurina verde, algumas leis estão sendo aprovadas com o claro propósito de beneficiar o mercado financeiro. Paralelamente, outras leis são desmanteladas para institucionalizar e legitimar a ocupação de estrangeiros, empresários e banqueiros em territórios latino-americanos e caribenhos, como é o caso dos direitos fundamentais dos povos indígenas, do Código Florestal e dos direitos trabalhistas.

Confundir para se apropriar

Desse modo, contratos unilaterais e perversos são assinados por atores com forças políticas totalmente desiguais, em que confunde-se, propositadamente, “financiar” com “financeirizar”.

Aqui cabe uma elucidativa exemplificação: financiar é, por exemplo, permitir que uma costureira compre uma máquina de costura e consiga pagá-la com o fruto de seu trabalho, tornando-se independente de um empregador para que venha a ser empreendedora.

Já, financeirizar é fazer com que a costureira endivide-se para comprar uma máquina de costura e jamais consiga pagá-la, até que o credor possa tomar a máquina da costureira por inadimplência (não cumprimento do acordo mercantil)

A financeirização faz com que uma parte do acordo, a descapitalizada, fique endividada e tenha que entregar o que ainda possui, como as terras indígenas. E, assim, são desenhados perversos contratos financeiros e mercantis com a finalidade de vincular as terras ricas em bens comuns para que essas garantias fiquem alienadas e à disposição da parte mais forte: a capitalizada.

Nestes termos, as populações indígenas e os povos das florestas deixam de poder usar o que lhes mantém vivos e o que preservam há séculos para as presentes e futuras gerações, as florestas e as águas, para que terceiros possam utilizá-los, além de que estes passam também a controlar seus territórios.

É esta a lógica perversa do capitalismo verde, sustentado pelo argumento de que as florestas “em pé” somente serão viáveis se tiverem valor econômico. O que é uma falácia, pois valor econômico as florestas “em pé” e as águas sempre tiveram. O que não tinham, até então, era valor financeiro, já que não há preço que pague o valor econômico das florestas, dos bens comuns e dos “serviços” que a natureza nos proporciona gratuitamente.

O capitalismo somente avança nas fronteiras que consegue quantificar. Porém, jamais conseguirá se apropriar do que a sociedade puder qualificar.
O bem ambiental é definido pela Constituição como sendo “de uso comum do povo”, ou seja, não é bem de propriedade pública, mas sim de natureza difusa, razão pela qual ninguém pode adotar medidas que impliquem gozar, dispor, fruir do bem ambiental ou destruí-lo. Ao contrário, ao bem ambiental, é somente conferido o direito de usá-lo, garantindo o direito das presentes e futuras gerações.
Somente qualificando o bem comum, ao dar-lhe importância econômica pela garantia da qualidade de vida que nos proporcionam e nos recusando a colocar-lhes preço (financeirizando-o), é que poderemos impedir o avanço desenfreado do capitalismo verde sobre os territórios indígenas e das populações tradicionais.
Não podemos nos omitir nem deixar de nos posicionar em favor daqueles que são os guardiões das florestas e das águas. Se o povo, o proprietário hereditário dos bens comuns, decidir que o ouro, o petróleo e o gás de xisto, dentre outros minérios, devem ficar debaixo do solo para que possamos ter água com segurança hídrica e alimentar, que sua vontade soberana seja cumprida.

Panel finds corporations, United Nations and governments guilty of violating nature’s rights

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

By Indigenous Environmental Network.

Lima, Peru (Dec. 7, 2014)– The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature judged twelve international and domestic cases; examining the violation of the rights of peoples and nature committed by corporations, The United Nations, and governmental entities. The judgments reference the legal framework of the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The cases were reviewed on Dec. 5th and 6th in Lima’s Gran Hotel Bolivar.

According to Alberto Acosta, president of the Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador, the rights of nature must have a universal validity. “This ethical tribunal arises when States fail to fulfill their obligation to preserve the lives of living beings,” said Acosta. “As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature.”

Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases

The Tribunal was dedicated to Shuar leader, José Tendentza, who was found murdered just days before the Tribunal. Tendentza of Southern Ecuador was scheduled to present the Condor Mine case. Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases that were determined by the judges to demonstrate egregious violations to rights of nature and human rights. Cases included:

-False Solutions related to Climate Change and REDD+;
-Peruvian cases: Conga Mine, Bagua Massacre – Defenders of Earth, 4 River Basins of Peru;
-Ecuadorian cases: Condor Mine, Chevron/Texaco, and Yasuni ITT
Brazil: Belo Monte Dam
-USA and Bolivia: Hydraulic fracturing “fracking”
-Oceans: BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, coal mine and other threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Of the cases, the oil exploitation of the Yasuni territory of Ecuador was condemned in addition to the relentless persecution Yasunidos are facing for their dissent. Since 2013, the Ecuadorian government green-lighted oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and home to two indigenous nations in voluntary isolation.

In protest, a group of young Yasunidos joined together to claim the rights of nature, which are guaranteed in the Constitution of Ecuador. They collected more than 800,000 signatures to call for a referendum on the oil exploitation, but their request was rejected by electoral institutions. The Yasunidos are now suing the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, and are waiting for their complaint to be reviewed by the tribunal of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).

Additionally, the Tribunal for the Rights of Nature found Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador to be guilty of using inappropriate technology and causing irreversible damage to the environment. They determined that the corporation must fully compensate those affected by the environmental impact.

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

The case of the mining project in the Cordillera del Condor was found by the Tribunal to be in direct violation of the rights of nature. They determined that mining must be suspended and those affected must be compensated. They urge the state to investigate and punish those responsible for the death of José Tendentza, the prominent social activist that was in opposition to the mining.

A widow of one of the four murdered activists shares her testimony

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

Shannon Biggs, director of Movement Rights, shared testimony on the impacts of fracking , a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. “You cannot do safe fracking,” said Biggs. “This technique should have never been invented. It is one of the most destructive activities against the environment ever seen.”

According to Biggs, 800,000 active oil and gas wells are being fracked in the United States, producing roughly 300,000 natural gas barrels per day. Severe water pollution and earthquakes have been linked with fracking. “We die from fracking. The population is suffering from cancer; my sister has died,” said Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca) of Oklahoma in her testimony. “The water is contaminated; we cannot fish. We are in danger of extinction.”

Plans to develop large-scale hydraulic fracking in Bolivia were reported by Martin Vilela of Platform Climate Reaction. In recent years the country has increased the production and export of natural gas. 82.4% of its production is exported, generating more than six billion dollars a year. Bolivia has 8.23 trillion cubic feet of gas, and YPFB plans to invest over 40 million dollars between 2013 and 2015. Vilela explained that in 2013 this corporation signed an agreement for fracking in the Chaco area, a region with water scarcity to extract 48 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. Estimates determine that this would consume between 112 and 335 billion liters of water.

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian architect, environmental activist presented on the contamination and temperature rise affecting Nigeria. According to Bassey, oil fields and pipelines have caused deep environmental degradation, deforestation, and countless oil spills. Life expectancy in these impacted areas is 44 years.

Bassey warned that climate change will have catastrophic consequences. “For every degree the temperature rises globally, in Africa it will rise an additional 50%.” In 2012 floods in Nigeria led to the relocation of 6 million inhabitants. Bassey speculates that in 2030 Africa violent conflicts will increase by 54% due to the lack of access to natural resources.

At the hearing on “false climate solutions,” geoengineering techniques that seek to manipulate climate without changing the conditions that cause climate change were reviewed.

REDD+ was also put on trial. President of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil, Ninawa Kaxinawá (Hunikui) testified that “REDD is a lie. We do not accept putting nature on market because it is our soul and spirit; it is priceless, it is our voice.”

According to Ruth Nyambura, of the Biodiversity Network Africa, says that in Kenya, evictions are occurring as a result of REDD. “Four indigenous people were arrested,” said Nyambura. “A woman was hit by the forest service because she was outside of her land.”

The Tribunal is calling for a special hearing in Paris in 2015 to coincide with the upcoming UN COP 21 summit.

Carbon Trade Watch Newsletter 2014/1

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

While governmental leaders in Lima meet to trade away the climate, we would like to share some publications and multimedia work published in 2014 by CTW. Some key highlights include: Support for resistance in Brazil against pre-salt offshore oil drilling, research into natural gas and other energy conflicts in Europe, and uncovering further financialisation of nature plans such as biodiversity offsetting, and the new Natural Capital Finance Facility.

Publications:

The Natural Capital Finance Facility: A window into the green economy
This new publication aims to break down the complexities of emerging “nature” financing by exploring a new pilot facility put forward by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, called the Natural Capital Finance Facility. The authors discover the lack of transparency and power relations behind the NCFF and outline in clear language how natural capital financing functions, where the money comes from, how profits are made and how public funds are leveraged. In addition, the publication explores how funding mechanisms emerge before policy has been decided and links this to REDD+ and the carbon markets. This paper outlines the dangers to this approach and explores what is lost when financial mechanisms are given priority over grant-based projects.
To order

A Tree for a Fish: The (il)logic behind selling biodiversity
Putting a price on ecological systems has been around for several decades, although it was especially heightened during the UN climate negotiations with the introduction of the carbon market, a system which places a monetary value on the carbon-cycle capacity of nature for trade in financial markets. The carbon market quickly became “the only game in town” that policy-makers and multilateral agencies would discuss and implement regarding climate change policy. Following this logic, the 2010 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) called for “innovative financial mechanisms’” to deal with biodiversity loss, making biodiversity offsets the standard buzzword within conservation debates. At the same time, people have been resisting projects that claim to compensate for biodiversity destruction and continue to demonstrate how this concept fails to address the drivers of environmental and social damage.
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Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce” (Quincy Saul, Truthout)

Friday, September 19th, 2014

By Quincy Saul, Truthout

In the lead-up to any large-scale protest, it is useful to bear in mind the potential dangers and drawbacks of such an endeavor. On the eve of what is being advertised as “the biggest climate march in history,” we might reflect on Malcolm X’s experience of the March on Washington, as recounted in the Autobiography of Malcolm X:

“Farce in Washington”, I call it. . . . It was like a movie. . . . For the status-seeker, it was a status symbol. “Were you there?”. . . . It had become an outing, a picnic. . . . What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood”. . . . there wasn’t a single logistics aspect uncontrolled. . . . They had been told how to arrive, when, where to arrive, where to assemble, when to start marching, the route to march. . . . Yes, I was there. I observed that circus.

Of course, not everyone present concurred with Malcolm X about the March on Washington – and even in a top-down format, one hopes the upcoming march could draw much-needed attention to the climate movement. The question is: At what cost? In this vein, what follows are a few reflections on the buildup to the September 21 People’s Climate March in New York City, to provide some concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and propose some solutions.

Deadline

The climate justice movement has an expiration date. If the tipping points in the earth system are passed, and the feedback loops begin their vicious cycle, human attempts at mitigation will be futile, and climate justice will become an anachronism – or at worst a slogan for geo-engineering lobbies. Thousands of scientists have come to consensus on this point, and many years ago gave us a deadline: A carbon emissions peak in 2015 followed by rapid and permanent decline.

In other words, we have roughly four months to work for climate justice. The world is literally at stake; all life on earth is at risk. Never has there been a more urgent or comprehensive mandate.

Even the guardians and gatekeepers of the ruling class, from politicians to scientists, are forthcoming on this point. Listen to Al Gore: “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.” He said that in 2007. It is in this context that we must seek to better understand and analyze the People’s Climate March.

“An Invitation to Change Everything”

The People’s Climate March has a powerful slogan. It has world-class publicity. But the desire to bring the biggest possible number of people to the march has trumped all other considerations. The results are devastating:

No Target: The march is a U-turn through Times Square, beginning at a monument to genocide (Columbus Circle) and ending . . . in the middle of nowhere. Here in New York City where the ruling class of the whole world has made their diverse headquarters, the march will target none of them. The march will not even go near the United Nations, its ostensible symbolic target.

No Timing: The United Nations will convene leading figures from all over the world – several days after the march. The march does not coincide with anything, contemporary or historic.

No Demands: Again, to attract the largest number of people, the march has rallied around the lowest common denominator – in this case, nothing. Not only are there no demands, but there is in fact no content at all to the politics of the march, other than vague concern and nebulous urgency about “the climate,” which is itself undefined.

No Unity: While a large number of people are sure to converge on Columbus Circle on September 21, the only thing they will have in common is the same street. The revolutionary communists will link arms with the Green Zionist Alliance and the Democratic Party, and compete with Times Square billboards for the attention of tourists and the corporate media.What is the binding agent for this sudden and unprecedented unity? Fifty-one years later, the words of Malcolm X still ring true: “the white man’s money.”

No History: Instead of building on the momentum of a decades-old climate justice movement, this march appears to be taking us backwards. Here’s what Ricken Patel of Avaaz, one of the main funders of the march, said to The Guardian: “We in the movement, activists, have failed up until this point to put up a banner and say if you care about this, now is the time, here is the place, let’s come together, to show politicians the political power that is out there on there.”

It is as if the massive mobilizations outside the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen (2009), Cancun (2010) and Durban (2011) never took place, let alone the literally thousands of smaller, more localized actions and gatherings for climate justice. At all of these gatherings, activists convoked the world to demonstrate the power of the people, under banners which were far more radical and transformative than anything we have seen so far for this march.

No Integrity: The invitation to change everything has been permitted and approved by the New York City Police Department. This permit betrays a lack of respect for the people who will be making sacrifices to come all the way to New York City to change the world, and a lack of integrity among those who want to change everything, but seek permission for this change from one of the more obviously brutal guardians of business as usual. This lack of integrity sets up thousands of earnest souls for an onset of depression and cynicism when this march doesn’t change the world. This will in turn be fertile soil for everyone and anyone hawking false solutions.

No target, no demands, no timing, no unity, no history and no integrity amounts to one thing: No politics. The whole will be far less than the sum of its parts. The biggest climate march in history will amount to something less than Al Gore.

In discussions over the past month with a wide range of people – UN diplomats, radical Vermonters, unionists, professors, liberal Democrats, etc. – the same thing has been repeated to me by everyone: “If we get a huge number of people, no one will be able to ignore us.” “The mainstream media will be forced to cover it.”

So what is being billed and organized as The People’s Climate March, and An Invitation to Change Everything, turns out to be a massive photo op. The spectacle of thousands of First World citizens marching for climate justice, while they continue to generate the vast majority of carbon emissions, brings to mind the spectacle of George W. Bush visiting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

So what are we left with? James Brown knew, when he said: “You’re like a dull knife; Just ain’t cutting. You’re just talking loud; And saying nothing. Just saying nothing. Good luck to you; Just allow you’re wrong. Then keep on singing that; Same old money song . . .”

So What Are We Going to Do About It?

This is not the place to complain, but to propose solutions. If we are unsatisfied with this march and its leadership, we have to provide an alternative. As James Brown knew, we “have to pay the cost to be the boss.” Here are some suggestions for starters:

We are going to stop lying to the people. This is the primary and cardinal rule of revolutionary politics. To invite people to change the world and corral them into cattle pens on a police-escorted parade through the heart of consumer society is astoundingly dishonest. From now on, we will stop lying to people. Climate justice requires nothing less than a global revolution in politics and production; it requires a historic transition to a new model of civilization, which will demand great sacrifice and creativity from everyone.
We are going to stop making demands of anyone or anything but ourselves and each other. The powers that be are deaf, dumb and deadly, and we will waste no further time trying to pressure or persuade them. We are going to stop speaking truth to power and start speaking truth to powerlessness. Either we are going to become the leaders we have been waiting for, starting now, or we are going to resign ourselves to the inevitability of catastrophic climate change and the sixth mass extinction.
We are going to return to the source. This means three things: (A) Return to the common people from the delirious heights of symbolic protest politics, with dedication to concrete local work, to divorce food, water, shelter and energy systems from capital. (B) Return to the livelihood and wisdom of our ancestors, the indigenous peoples of every continent, who have lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature, and who still possess the knowledge and skills to restore balance. (C) Return to the sun – a second Copernican revolution and a heliocentric energy policy. Either we return to a subsistence perspective that has prevailed for the majority of human history, or all future development of productive forces must be based exclusively on solar energy.
We are going to get arrested! The only thing that we can do to meet the deadline for climate justice is to engage in a massive and permanent campaign to shut down the fossil fuel economy. But we have to do this strategically, not in the symbolic cuff-and-stuffs that are a perversion and prostitution of the noble ideals of civil disobedience and revolutionary nonviolence. So we are going to shut down coal plants; we are going to block ports, distribution centers and railway hubs where fossil fuels are transported; whatever it takes to keep the oil in the soil. We’re going to put our bodies between the soil and the sky.So let’s make sure that the call to “Flood Wall Street” on September 22 is the “angry riptide” it should be, and not “the gentle flood.”
We are going to join the rest of the human race. For 200 years too long, citizens of the United States have been parasites and predators on the rest of the world. To prevent climate catastrophe, we are going to leave our imperial hubris behind, and join with the revolutionary ecosocialist uprisings that are sweeping the global South.