Posts Tagged ‘indigenous peoples’

Half a million Kenyans and Ethiopians face conflict, hunger due to dam – report

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

BY Katy Migiro

Photo by Survival International

Photo by Survival International

The Gibe III dam will stop the Omo River’s natural flood, on which the tribes depend.

Half a million Kenyans and Ethiopians are likely to be displaced, go hungry and face conflict due to a controversial dam linked to a forcible resettlement programme ‘bankrolled’ by British taxpayers, the lobby group Survival International said on Monday.

The Gibe III hydropower dam, due for completion in 2014, is being built on the Omo River in southern Ethiopia. It will reduce the flow of water to farmers and pastoralists living downstream, including those 600 kilometres to the south in Kenya, where the river flows into Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake.

The British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) is one of many international donors funding Ethiopia’s Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme, which subsidises basic services and local government salaries. This includes areas where people are being relocated to make way for the dam, part of a wider programme to resettle people into designated villages – known as villagisation – begun in 2010.

Survival argues that the forced resettlment of thousands of tribal people could not be carried out without the DFID-funded PBS programme.

“UK money is bankrolling the destruction of some of the best-known pastoralist peoples in Africa,” Stephen Corry, director of Survival said in a statement. “The UK government is renowned for only paying lip service to human rights obligations where tribal peoples are concerned. When it comes to human rights in Ethiopia, DFID’s many commitments are worthless.”

It is not the first time that the PBS programme has come under fire.

Last year, the London-based law firm Leigh Day began legal action against DfID on behalf of an Ethiopian man, known as Mr O, who claims he suffered severe abuse under the villagisation programme.

DFID visited the Lower Omo, where it heard reports of rape and intimidation, but it has not been able to substantiate the claims.

Survival International cites three recent reports by Oxford University, International Rivers and the Africa Resources Working Group to support its case.

The Africa Resources Working Group report warns of “an impending human rights and ecological catastrophe” and a “very real threat of mass starvation and armed conflict in the border region.”

The International Rivers report says that those who lose their homes and livelihoods are “likely to seek out resources on their neighbours’ lands in the Kenya-Ethiopia-Sudan borderlands.”

“Well armed, primed by past grudges and often divided by support from different state and local governments, these conflicts can be expected to be bloody and persistent,” it said.

The Ethiopian government is planning to use the water to develop large-scale irrigation schemes, create jobs and generate huge amounts of electricity to power the region.

Grand Canyon uranium mine draws ire

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Environmentalists, tribe sue after feds allow company to proceed despite ban on new mining near Grand Canyon

By Brandon Loomis/The Republic

(Photo Mark Henle/The Republic) Energy Fuels Resources says a federal ban on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park doesn't apply to the company's Canyon Mine, in the Kaibab National Forest, because its mining rights are grandfathered i

(Photo Mark Henle/The Republic) Energy Fuels Resources says a federal ban on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park doesn

An energy company that closed its uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park in the 1990s is raising environmental hackles with its plans to resume operations.

Energy Fuels Resources intends to reopen its Canyon Mine despite a 20-year federal ban on new uranium mining, imposed early last year by the Interior Department, that covers 1 million acres near the Canyon.

The company says the ban doesn’t apply because its rights are grandfathered, and the federal government agrees.

Environmentalists and the Havasupai Tribe counter that those rights were granted before science was able to show the full potential impact of uranium mining, which opponents fear will poison water that feeds natural springs in the Canyon.

“Groundwater pollution will wind up either flowing directly into the Canyon or contaminating the sole source of water for the Havasupai Tribe and ultimately the Colorado River,” Grand Canyon Trust Program Director Roger Clark said.

The trust joined the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the tribe in filing suit in March against the Forest Service in federal court in Prescott.

Energy Fuels Resources applied for its permit in 1984 and began preliminary surface work on the site two years later. Before the mine became fully operational, the company closed it because the price of uranium declined dramatically.

Now uranium’s value is back, and the company is moving to reopen, with state and federal approvals in hand.

But because the Forest Service’s blessing stems from a 1986 study, environmental groups and the Havasupai Tribe are suing to force an updated examination of potential radioactive pollution.

In its September 1986 decision approving the mine, the Forest Service said it had researched potential groundwater and spring contamination and found “that adverse impacts either during or after mining operations were extremely unlikely.”

Opponents say newer studies indicate pathways for trouble. One study, conducted in preparation for an old development plan at Tusayan, found that groundwater pumping at that Grand Canyon gateway sucked water from the vicinity of the mine. Another, by the U.S. Geological Survey, included models based on known subsurface geology funneling water toward Havasu Springs.

The Forest Service had no way of knowing these things before the 1986 approval, Northern Arizona University hydrogeologist Abe Springer said.

“Nobody ever asked the question” back then, he said.

One thing that remains unknown, Springer said, is how water from a mine might reach the aquifer, which in places is 3,000 feet deep. The uranium is in a formation known as a breccia pipe — a mineral mass deposited after ancient waters dissolved old rock. Mining companies argue that these are well-sealed from waters below.

Scientists have never placed instruments inside a breccia pipe to monitor the water flow.

“There’s never been a study,” Springer said.

The mine is north of Red Butte, one of the most prominent markers on this part of the Coconino Plateau and a site where the Havasupais say their “grandmother” hears their prayers. Tribal Vice Chairman Matthew Putesoy Sr. said it is for that reason and the fear for its water source that the tribe sued.

“It’s sacred to us, and we have been mandated by our people — and our ancestors — to protect the site,” Putesoy said.

During a “Sacred Lands Solidarity” rally outside a tribal gaming convention in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, Navajo activist Klee Benally said the mine and its proximity to Red Butte are insults to Native American beliefs. At the rally, tribes from around the country complained of improper development, including some done by tribes themselves.

“As indigenous people in the so-called United States, we don’t have guarantees for our religious freedoms like the rest of you,” Benally said. “This is a struggle for cultural survival — the struggle to protect sacred places.”

The Forest Service continues to consult with tribes regarding sacred-site protection, but Putesoy said discussions about the Canyon Mine have not satisfied the Havasupais.

Kaibab National Forest officials declined to comment while the mine is the subject of a court challenge.

If the mine reopens, the ore will be trucked to Blanding, in southeastern Utah, for milling.

Harold Roberts, chief operating officer of Energy Fuels Resources, said he could not comment on details of the lawsuit, but “the Forest Service has performed an exhaustive review of the Canyon Mine” and the company will comply with all laws.

“In so doing,” Roberts said in an e-mail, “(the company) also is committed to utilizing best industry practices in a manner that puts the safety of its workers, its contractors, its community and the environment, as well as the principles of sustainable development, above all else.”


Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

By Rebecca Sommer

EARTH PEOPLES – NAMIBIA 23 March, 2013: Growing numbers of semi-nomadic Himba and Zemba people are gathering in Opuwo town in the heart of Himba territory for their third Protest in 2013. The protest will start Monday morning.

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

The young and old are arriving by foot, in overloaded trucks and on donkey’s from all four directions of Kaokoland (Kunene region), despite prevailing drought conditions due to Climate Change, and their growingly frantic search for grazing and water for their livestock.

Each Himba and Zemba community has sent members which they could spare, while those staying behind will tend to the needs of their goats, sheep and cattle that are increasingly weakened by the drought, upon which the Himba and Zemba depend for their very survival.

The drought has caused already enormous damage for the self-sufficient semi-nomads, with nearly no rain they could not make gardens, thus they have no harvest of maize and other nutritional crops.

The indigenous peoples in the Kunene Region are already calling on government to subsidize fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food. The community made formal requests to the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council’s Management Committee, Dudu Murorua, at Opuwo.

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

But as much as they fear for their livestock and to face soon hunger and thirst, they are also hungry and thirsty for something else: Their human rights. They want to see changes, and they want to be heard by the majority tribe that leads the Government of Namibia. They want to have the right and means to maintain their culture, way of life, language, religion, traditional governance structure and so much more.

The protest is about their continuous human rights grievances, which made headlines in Namibia and the world after being published for the first time in form of two Declarations signed by all the traditional Himba chiefs at the beginning of last year.

On behalf of the Himba and Zemba,  Earth Peoples submitted both Declarations to the United Nations system. Our dear colleagues from Namrights submitted the Declarations to the African Union.



Months later, the United Nations Special Rapporteur visited the Himba and Zemba and met them in Opuwo, were Himba read their Declaration and handed him a copy in person.

The UN Special Rapportuer Anaya confirmed in his Statement the human rights violations that the Himba people are facing, which can be read here.

The Himba will draft and sign two additional letters. One will be addressed to the President of Namibia, and the other handed to the Governor of Opuwo on Monday. Both Declarations will be submitted once again to both of them.

“They got our Declarations, the responsible including the President are aware about our situation. But nothing has been done, we continue to be ignored” said community leader D. Muharukua from Opuwo.

Additionally, the Himba are furious about a 22-page report that was handed to three of their representatives that had traveled to Windhoek to seek information and clarification on the proposed hydroelectric dam (Neckartal Dam project) in the Baynes Mountains.

Namibia and Angola are planning to finance and build the Orokawe dam jointly.

Zemba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

“The report falsely states that we Himba have the door open for further negotiations, and that forced resettlement could be therefore avoided” said Mutambo, a leader from the Himba community Omuhonga who was at the meeting in Windhoek. “We are outraged, we said over and over no, and we mean it. There is no negotiation from our side, and there is no consultation, because they do not hear us when we say no. That’s why we protest Monday again, to show our collective objection to the planned Neckartal Dam construction once again. We rather die and throw us into the River, before we allow the destruction and invasion of our land. We explained all that in our Declaration ” He added. (

The Himba will also discuss this weekend the idea to propose Solar systems as an alternative to the dam. They plan a trip to Tsumkwe so that they can see a large off-grid system. The Himba Elders and chiefs will also choose about 10 bright young men and women that speak english and can read and write, to learn more about Solar systems these coming weeks.

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilm)

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilms

To hear about Himba’s human rights problems,

click here to WATCH VIDEOS

+++++++++++++++++ PRO AND CONTRA :

Orokawe dam in the Baynes Mountains:

• Will cost a minimum of 22bn N$ if not more

• Will need a complete overhauled stronger power line from the dam site to Omburo

• Will have a surface of 5900ha which evaporates 590000 tones of water per day which is in the region of 20% from the low-season run-off

• Will take minimum 10 years to come online

• Will need a lengthy power contract to be signed with Angola

• Will need to share the power 50/50 with Angola

• Will only be a peaking station because not enough water to run the 600MW turbines 24/7 (Only 1.7 TWh energy for the year vs. 5.0 TWh (if water would be enough)

• Will again not be Namibia’s own power because of the sharing

• Will again mean an investment that puts all eggs in one basket relying on the Kunene

• Will cause forced resettlement

• Will destroy special safety areas for indigenous peoples livestock at drought

• Will destroy sacred sites of indigenous peoples

• Will destroy special medicine plant areas of the Himba and Ovazemba

• Will damage the River

• Would make no sense in a country were Water is so rare

• Will damage fish stock

• Will cause enormous environmental impact

• Will cause large destruction of nature by building road construction grids

• Will violate human rights, UNDRIP, FPIC, ILO Nr 169

• Will harm tourism long-term

Solar Energy

• Take up only 900 ha for the same output (1.7 TWh per year)

• Cost 15 bn without storage for the same output (without storage)

• Storage for Solar becomes more and more available with new technologies and would cost together with solar roughly then the same as Baines

• Solar could be built where the need for power is and not in the most remote corner of the country with all the losses involved

• Solar could start right now and would be built as appropriate installments; no need to pre-finance in one go!!

• Solar would really be NAM’s own indigenous energy solution

• Solar investments will attract all the money in the world, hydro investments for Kaoko will not.

• Solar would means appropriate power for the Himba’s own use for energy and water pumping etc.

• Solar will give the people modern energy AND much more time to adapt!

• Would make Namibia stand out for it’s green, environmental and human rights friendly energy approach

• Would make sense in such a hot, sunny country

• Would get more funds from international sources to implement green energy as well as for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation measures

• Would be longer lasting, as Climate Reports estimate the increasing reduction of waters in Kunene

• Solar would be supported by the worlds’ tourists, the public is aware about the damages of dams

• Could be negotiated with the Himba people, and places for grids could be agreed upon

• Solar would be good for the Climate, Namibia’s Nature, Cunene River, and good for Namibia’s people

What the hydro people at NamPower and the Governments have not yet fully acknowledged: Solar Panels only cost 25% of what they were in 1995 during the Epupa Dam Debate

Canadian government lost court case and must recognize Metis as “Indigenous” under the constitution

Saturday, March 9th, 2013


What legal document does this case refer to?

The Manitoba Act of 1870, which brought Manitoba into Confederation. The Red River settlers, the majority of whom were French-speaking, Roman Catholic Métis, feared the influx of Protestant and English-speaking settlers. After surveyors from Canada were met with armed resistance, the Métis, led by Louis Riel, negotiated the creation of Manitoba. In return for the settlers agreeing to lay down their arms and become part of Canada, Canada agreed, in Section 31 of the Manitoba Act, to provide 566,000 hectares (1.4 million acres) of land to Métis children.

What was the problem?

The distribution of the land was fraught with problems. There were mistakes made determining the number of Métis children, resulting in 993 children not getting any land. It took 10 years to distribute the land, and much of the best land was already gone by the time the land was distributed. The plots, about 100 hectares per child, were distributed randomly, and siblings within families were often allotted land several hundred kilometres from each other. The 993 children who didn’t receive land eventually received money instead, but the amount was based on outdated prices and could no longer purchase 100 hectares of land by the time it was distributed.

What did the Manitoba Metis Federation want in this case?

This case is not about granting money or land to the Métis people. The Métis asked the courts for a declaration that Canada reneged on its fiduciary obligation to the Métis people of Manitoba; that it violated the honour of the Crown in doing so, and that certain bills passed by the Government of Manitoba between 1870 and 1880 were unconstitutional.

What did the Supreme Court say?

After both the Manitoba Court of Appeal and the lower court in Manitoba rejected the MMF claims, the Supreme Court ruled Friday the Crown “failed to implement the land-grant provision set out in Section 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 in accordance with the honour of the Crown.” The claim regarding fiduciary duty was dismissed. The claim about the provincial statutes was not dealt with, as the court said the laws had long since been repealed and addressing them would be “moot.”

Are non-indigenous Canadians at risk of losing their property to the Métis?

No. While the Red River Settlement included what is now modern-day Winnipeg, Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said the Métis are not out to push people out of their homes and off land they legitimately purchased. He said the Métis know what it’s like to be pushed from their homes and will not do that to anyone else. Instead, they want to negotiate cash settlements with Ottawa, or land claims from existing Crown land.

This happened more than a century ago. Why is it still an issue?

Both the federal and provincial governments argued in their briefs to the court that the case was without merit because it had long passed the statute of limitations. Both the Manitoba Court of Appeal and the lower court in Manitoba agreed. However, the Supreme Court said Friday because the Métis were not seeking personal remedies, and made no claim for damages, the case was not affected by the passage of time.

If the MMF wasn’t seeking money or land, why bother?

This case gives the Manitoba Metis Federation some weight behind negotiations for land or cash settlements with the federal government. Although it did not specifically ask for the court to determine how much the Métis people are owed, the MMF will use the ruling to argue the federal government needs to live up to promises made 143 years ago.

VIDEO: Rio+20 – Indigenous Peoples – Protest March – Free Land Camp – Peoples Summit – June 2012

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

This Audio-Visual Report was filmed by Rebecca Sommer in June 2012, at the Free Land Camp (Alternative space for Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) in the Peoples’ Summit during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio +20.

Chief Raoni and other indigenous leaders demand access to UN Rio+20 (Screenshot of VIDEO © Rebecca Sommer)

Chief Raoni and other indigenous leaders demand access to UN Rio+20 (Screenshot of VIDEO © Rebecca Sommer)

– Protest march and occupation of the headquarters of BNDES against the construction of Belo Monte Hydroelectric dam.
– Protest march in front of the Rio Centro (Place of the UN Conference in Rio +20) with the goal to deliver their Indigenous Free Land Camp Declaration.
– the struggle of the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples for the UN and the Brazilian Government to hear their grievances and demands, since most of them were almost excluded from the official discussion of the Rio+20 UN Conference. Several traditional leaders had no credentials to enter and participate in discussions in the UN event.

The traditional leaders were also disappointed by the indifference of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights that had not responded to their request for a meeting with her during the Conference.



Pirakuman Yawalapiti (Screen shot from video © Rebecca Sommer)

Pirakuman Yawalapiti (Screen shot from video © Rebecca Sommer)

BELO MONTE: While Dam company continues construction of dam – Indigenous Peoples suffer: insufficient health care and overflow of hospital

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

While workers are protesting bad work conditions at the construction site of the Belo Monte dam, in Brazil, Altamira, the indigenous population of the region is struggling with ever increasing negative impacts directly caused by the dam’s company NESA.

It was always understood, and actually one of the conditions before any construction work was to be granted by the Brazilian Government, that the infrastructure of sleepy jungle town Altamira had to be adequately addressed, to avoid human suffering due to the increasing population growth caused by thousands and thousands of workers settling there.

In the case of the indigenous peoples in Altamira, they do suffer. Unnecessarily, because of ruthlessness, corruption, and lack of ethics.

While the FUNAI had filled its pockets with moneys from NESA (nothing else but one governmental



branch shifting moneys back and forth with the other), that where supposed to directly benefit the indigenous populations, and while the indigenous peoples have been bribed, divided and lied at by NESA high level employees about the Belo Monte dam’s impact, about the access to benefits, projects, and moneys that they would receive, that would reduce not only the (by purpose underestimated) negative impact but would also help them to prosper and have a better life than before, nothing of that has actually taken place.

The opposite. The Belo Monte dam construction is moving along, while the indigenous peoples are dealing with growing health problems, an over spilling hospital that has always been infamous for its notorious lack of professionals, medicine, appropriately trained staff, space, and insufficient staff.

CASAI, a place set aside to house sick indigenous patients, is not only beyond being overloaded, the indigenous health care facility has only one functioning car to transport the indigenous patients back and forth to sometimes months long delayed appointments with the hospital’s doctors.

Worse, the same car is also used to pick up sick patients from remote indigenous villages. We are talking about a possible two days ride.

“A very sick person has to wait for weeks to actually see a doctor. The hospital is extremely overfilled, it is scary. Sometime a person could be cured in no time, if attended, but after weeks of waiting their condition is often much much worse.” Said Ngrenhdjan Xikrin, from the Indigenous Kayapo Xikrin organization ABEX “Only one car is available to pick up or return patients, bringing them to the hospital, back to the villages, to CASAI, to the Casa do Indio. Imagine how much we are suffering right now, the situation is much worse, beyond description.” She added.

Where did all the money go, that NESA, the hydroelectric dam company, claims to have paid already to those governmental branches that are supposed to use those moneys to improve the health care situation of the indigenous peoples?

16th of April the indigenous leaders have once again a meeting with the relevant authorities. How many more, before they are finally heard?

Brazil’s largest indigenous organization ABIP objects to Amendment of Constitution that transfers authority to Congress to approve indigenous land (PEC 215)

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

See original in portuguese here

( Non-official translation by Earth Peoples / Povos da Terra )

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) rejects the decision of the Committee on Constitution and Justice (CCJ) of the House of Representatives to approve the day before yesterday, March 21, 2012, the Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) 215/00 which transfers the authority to approve the demarcation of indigenous lands, protected areas and lands of the Quilombolas (Traditional communities of African decent) to the National Congress.

The decision is blatantly unconstitutional, and violates an entrenchment clause of the Constitution, which is the separation of powers, by usurping the prerogative of the Executive to demarcate indigenous lands, ripping the Constitution in regards to the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands they traditionally occupy.
The fact that the bancada ruralista dominates the CCJ, as well as the majority in Parliament, the fate of indigenous peoples in a context like this is delivered to the power of landowners, agribusiness and other capitalistic corporations interested in indigenous lands and the riches (natural recourses) that they harbor.

The government of President Dilma, a government acting on a basis of deals/pact-making with its allied power base, has responsibility for the regressional framework against the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples as seen today in Congress and in other branches of government. It could intervene to reverse this situation, but may go down in history as silent and co-responsible for the deliberate intention of the elites of this country, as it was the plan during the dictatorship, to pave the way for the elimination of indigenous peoples, which not only depend on their land for their livelihood but the land is the very reason for their existence. This institutional violence by the Brazilian State makes it even more impossible to meet their social debt towards the first inhabitants of this country.

APIB calls to national and international public opinion to repudiate these maneuvers and demand of the Brazilian State, particularly the executive and judiciary powers, to ensure their responsibility to compliance with the Constitution and other international instruments of protection of indigenous rights, of which Brazil is a signatory.

Brasilia, March 22, 2012.

Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB

AGU pede afastamento de procurador Felicio Pontes em casos que envolvam construção de hidrelétricas

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

ISA, Christiane Peres.

A reclamação disciplinar foi protocolada no Conselho Nacional do Ministério Público no dia 7 de dezembro pela Advocacia Geral da União (AGU) e pede o afastamento e a substituição do procurador da República Felício Pontes Jr (MPF/PA) nos processos que envolvem a construção de usinas hidrelétricas. O argumento usado é que o procurador “extrapolou suas funções” ao orientar os índios a se posicionarem contra construção das hidrelétricas de Belo Monte e Tapajós.

(Foto © Rebecca Sommer) Felício Pontes chegada, aldeia Xikrin

Segundo a Constituição brasileira – artigo 129 – é função do Ministério Público defender judicialmente os direitos e interesses das populações indígenas. É o que tem feito o procurador federal do MPF-PA Felício Pontes Jr ao esclarecer os indígenas, sempre que solicitado, sobre seus direitos. Mas não é assim que a AGU tem entendido a atuação do procurador. No último dia 7, o órgão protocolou uma reclamação disciplinar no Conselho Nacional do Ministério Público (CNMP), solicitando o afastamento e a substituição de Felício Pontes Jr nos processos que envolvem a construção de usinas hidrelétricas, sob o argumento de que o procurador ultrapassou suas funções ao orientar os índios a se posicionarem contra as barragens de Belo Monte e do Tapajós. Com essa, são quatro representações no Conselho por causa da atuação do MPF/PA em Belo Monte – sendo que duas foram arquivadas e duas ainda tramitam.

O estopim para a reclamação formal foi uma matéria publicada pelo jornal Folha de S.Paulo, no dia 3 de dezembro. A reportagem utiliza, sem autorização, vídeos gravados durante uma reunião do procurador com os Xikrin da Terra Indígena Trincheira Bacajá para embasar sua tese de que Felício sugere aos índios que cobrem mais dinheiro do consórcio Norte Energia pela construção da usina de Belo Monte, no Rio Xingu (PA). Os trechos do vídeo – retirado da internet a pedido do MPF-PA – mostram apenas respostas do procurador a questionamentos da comunidade sobre seus direitos relativos aos procedimentos de indenização por danos causados pela hidrelétrica.

Veja a: carta_de apoio ao MPF dos indigenas Xikrin

(Foto © Rebecca Sommer) Felício Pontes dá explicações aos Xikrin

Mas de acordo com a nota publicada no site da AGU, “o comportamento apresentado pelo procurador da República é extremamente parcial, pessoal e distante do que pode ser considerado como adequado a um membro do MPF para garantir proteção ao meio ambiente e aos povos indígenas, ou para atuar como fiscal da lei”. O documento ressalta ainda que os atos de Felício “promovem insegurança jurídica e social ao incutir sentimento de revolta desmedida, resistência não pacífica e luta ilegal contra a construção de usinas hidrelétricas e, consequentemente, contra quem a promover”.

“Quando a Funai e a Eletronorte vão até as aldeias, com funcionários em grande parte despreparados, e fazem compromissos que não cumprem ou estabelecem uma relação perversa como as ‘listas de alimentos e objetos’, que contribuem para a destruição da cultura desses povos, parece ser normal. Porém, quando um defensor dos direitos indígenas, com compromisso histórico com essas populações, vai ao encontro deles para dias de reunião, os escuta atentamente e os orienta, como advogado dos índios, é visto com estranhamento. Há uma pequena inversão de valores nessa história toda, não?!”, aponta o coordenador adjunto do Programa Xingu, do ISA, Marcelo Salazar.

Vale lembrar que Felício tem uma série de ações que apontam irregularidades sérias no processo de licenciamento de Belo Monte. Até hoje, o MPF já ingressou na Justiça com 13 ações contra a construção da barragem.

(Foto © Rebecca Sommer) Felício Pontes Jr. visitou aldeias do povo Xikrin

Ações de apoio

Dois dias depois da reclamação disciplinar ter sido protocolada no CNMP, uma petição online começou a circular na internet em defesa do procurador e contra o empreendimento no Rio Xingu. Saiba mais.

Além da petição, uma nota em defesa do MPF e de sua liberdade de atuação está circulando entre antropólogos, juristas, representantes da área indígena, igreja, pesquisadores, dirigentes sociais e sociedade civil. A ideia é que em breve este documento esteja também online para juntar forças na defesa do MPF e tornar público o protesto contra a criminalização do procurador Felício Pontes Jr.

Reunião na aldeia – a origem da ação disciplinar

Entre os dias 13 e 15 de outubro, Felício Pontes Jr. visitou aldeias do povo Xikrin do Bacajá (PA) e Mrõtidjãm e ouviu das lideranças uma série de denúncias sobre o desrespeito com que vêm sendo tratadas pelo consórcio Norte Energia (Nesa).

(Foto ©Rebecca Sommer) vista aérea da aldeia Mrõtidjãm

Além da falta de consulta aos indígenas e de informação sobre o empreendimento, os Xikrin reclamaram que acordos estabelecidos entre Nesa e Funai não vêm sendo cumpridos. Um deles é o repasse da verba estabelecida no plano emergencial, firmado entre as instituições. Segundo o acordo, a Nesa deveria alocar R$ 30 mil por aldeia todo mês em mercadorias. As compras deveriam ser feitas pelo escritório do consórcio em Altamira a partir de uma lista fornecida pela Funai, mas os índios relatam que só conseguem acessar esse direito após muita humilhação.

(Foto © Rebecca Sommer) Felício Pontes ouviu denúncias das lideranças Xikrin

“A demora em receber e para levar o material às aldeias retira as lideranças por muito tempo das suas aldeias. Os mantém em Altamira sem necessidade. E os gastos com alimentação na cidade, por exemplo, também saem do recurso da ‘lista’, como ficou conhecida”, relata a antropóloga Clarice Cohn, da UFSCar, que tem acompanhado esse processo com os Xikrin desde os Estudos de Impacto Ambiental, desenvolvidos em 2009, realizando hoje a supervisão antropológica dos Estudos Complementares do Rio Bacajá, com previsão de término em março de 2012.

Os Xikrin denunciaram ainda ao procurador a precariedade do atendimento básico à saúde e o descaso com a educação. “Há algumas semanas, o cacique Onça, um dos mais velhos e importantes do nosso povo foi removido para Altamira porque estava doente. Passou quatro dias no Hospital Municipal São Rafael, sem comida e nenhum atendimento. Quando souberam do caso, seus parentes o encontraram muito fraco e chorando muito, nem conseguia falar”, conta Mukuka Xikrin, uma das lideranças da etnia à frente da Associação Beby Xikrin (Abex).

Condicionantes não foram implementadas

Diversas das ações de saúde e educação são condicionantes previstas pelo Ibama para a instalação de Belo Monte e deveriam ter sido implementadas antes do início da construção da usina. Além das reclamações indígenas, o problema enfrenta outro “complicador”: várias dessas ações são de responsabilidade da prefeitura, Funai, Funasa e o consórcio joga com isso para não cumprir as ações estabelecidas no licenciamento ambiental.

Outro exemplo do descaso foi constatado na visita ao projeto de construção de banheiros nas aldeias Bacajá e Mrotidijam. Além da obra ter sido feita sem observar, nem respeitar a cultura e os padrões arquitetônicos desse povo, o material utilizado para a construção é de “baixíssima qualidade”. “O espaço é pequeno, a telha é de fibrocimento (quente e fraca podendo voar com o primeiro vento forte que vier) e as torneiras, material dos vasos e tanques são quase descartáveis”, observa Marcelo Salazar, que acompanhou a visita do procurador.

Em seus discursos, um a um, os mais velhos das aldeias expressaram indignação com Belo Monte. Eles disseram não querer a barragem no Xingu, pois estão com medo de ficar sem peixe, sem caça e sem água de qualidade para beber, para as crianças brincarem e para tomarem banho.

(Foto © Rebecca Sommer) os mais velhos, aldeia Bacaja

Na ocasião, Felício explicou aos indígenas sobre seus direitos, garantidos na Constituição e na Convenção 169, da OIT, reforçando que eles podem exigir indenização junto à Nesa pelos impactos causados pelo empreendimento. Oficialmente, o EIA não inclui o Rio Bacajá na área afetada pela usina – assim como diz que não haverá impacto em nenhuma Terra Indígena. O MPF, porém, entende que o Rio Bacajá – afluente do Xingu – também sofrerá com a diminuição da vazão das águas por causa da barragem, mas ainda aguarda estudos sobre o comportamento do rio para embasar uma nova ação contra o projeto, a 14ª.

IRONY OVERLOAD: Rebuked by OAS for Not Providing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to Indigenous Peoples, Brazilian Diplomat to Speak at UN Briefing on Indigenous Rights and their Need for FPIC

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

New York, NY (28 April 2011) – The United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) has invited the Mission of Brazil to the UN, to make opening remarks at a briefing for non-governmental organizations on indigenous rights and the need for free, prior and informed consent in mining and development projects. The briefing is in advance of next week’s session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Just three days ago,  Brazil responded officially, albeit not publicly, to the Precautionary Measure issued on 1 April by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) — on behalf of a dozen indigenous communities of the Xingu River basin. Precautionary Measures are undertaken by the Commission only in serious or urgent situations, to “prevent irreparable harm to persons,” among other reasons. In this instance, the IACHR has called on Brazil to halt the licensing of the megadam Belo Monte project until it has fulfilled its international obligation to engage in free, prior and informed consent and has taken certain specified protective measures.

Specifically, the Precautionary Measure (MC 382-10) requests Brazil to

· perform consultations that are “free, prior, informed, in good faith, and culturally appropriate, with the goal of reaching an agreement…”,

· provide affected indigenous groups with the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment in an appropriate, accessible language,

· adopt “vigorous and comprehensive measures” to protect the lives and personal integrity of the members of the indigenous groups recently observed in voluntary isolation in the Xingu River basin (these groups were observed for the first time only in 2010), and

· adopt measures, also “vigorous and comprehensive,” to prevent the spread of diseases and epidemics which would likely be caused by a massive influx of new population into the area.

The last item is one of particular interest to the indigenous communities and is indeed an urgent request made by them, in addition to measures to protect their territories physically from such an influx of people looking for food, water, wood and places to live.

Despite statements to the contrary by Brazil, and according to both agencies of the Brazilian government the above conditions have not been met.

· All the indigenous peoples that will be affected by the project have not been consulted with. In fact, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has expressed his concern more than once, and specifically noted that the consultation process was carried out in a way such that the indigenous peoples themselves were not able to participate; on the contrary, the consultations took place in urban areas inhabited by people that will not be affected by the project.

· The Social and Environmental Impact Assessment has not been made available in appropriate and accessible languages to all the various groups of indigenous peoples who will be affected.

· Concerning the recently observed indigenous groups still living in voluntary isolation a mere 70 kilometres from the proposed dam site — by far the most vulnerable group — their territory has not even been determined, much less demarcated, and thus none of the appropriate and necessary measures for their physical protection, and to ensure their continued survival, have been taken.

· No attempts have been made to provide the physical protection that might prevent the spread of diseases or epidemics brought in by an influx of population., nor have steps been taken to provide specific measures requested by indigenous groups -such as the posting of guards to protect their territories from the invariable and unwanted influx of newcomers to the area looking for wood, food, water and places to live.

In spite of all the concerns stated by so many actors, including various authorities and experts, the Brazilian Government, in its initial response on 4 April, “noted with astonishment” the measures that the IACHR requested to ‘safeguard the lives and personal integrity of members of indigenous peoples’ supposedly [emphasis added] threatened by the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant.” The response by the Ministry of External Relations recognizes the need for technical, economic and environmental feasibility studies and for consultations with the affected indigenous communities, and names Brazil’s environmental agency (IBAMA) and its National Indian Agency (FUNAI) as responsible for carrying out these studies and consultations.

At various points in the long history of the Belo Monte Dam project, both IBAMA and FUNAI officials have expressed reservations and have listed numerous conditions that they say must be met before the Belo Monte project could go forward, but which to date have not actually been met, despite the Brazilian Government’s protestations to the contrary. In spite, or perhaps because, of the official approval of the Brazilian Government of the project, at least three officials have resigned, supposedly due to high level political pressure to approve Belo Monte. Two senior IBAMA officials, Leozildo Tabajara da Silva Benjamin and Sebastião Custódio Pires, resigned in 2009, and IBAMA President Abelardo Azevedo resigned in January 2011. Roberto Mesias, a previous president of IBAMA, also stepped down, but pointed to pressure from both sides of the issue — the Government and environmental organizations – as his reason.

The project has been stopped and started more than once. The gravest deficiency noted by many observers is indeed the lack of participation in real consultations based on free, prior and informed consent.

Thus, it is more than a little ironic that Brazil is providing opening remarks at a briefing on the need for free, prior and informed consent and indigenous peoples rights.

VIDEO: Indigenous Peoples 2nd May REVOLT at the UN PFII (CDM/REDD)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Click here to watch the VIDEO

© SommerFilms, by Rebecca Sommer for EARTH PEOPLES


Indigenous Peoples representatives and organizations held a protest at the May 2 2008 conclusion of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York.

They were angered by the final report of the Permanent Forum, paragraph 5 and 37, that endorsed in their view CDM and REDD. (After release of this video, the UNPFII Report, even so it was adopted, was later during the year – months after the PFII session- changed. The paragraphs that indigenous peoples had protested against were moved in the Report that was made public.)