Care of our common home: Defending commons lands

September 6, 2016

Defending Commons’ Land and ICCAs“, August 2016 CALG Bulletin. Land grabs often stem from speculation and illegal and unethical transfer of lands, small and large.  Recent news from REPAM and church-indigenous partnerships to deal with the top priorities of territoriality, including land grabs and mega-projects, and support for cultural life, including church opposition to existing systems of domination, are described here.

This overview includes news and updates covering seven Southeast Asian Regions: Philippines, Indonesia, Eastern Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah), Taiwan, Cambodia and Myanmar, as well as Australia, India, Bangladesh, China and Russia in addition to 9 Latin America nations: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia and six African countries: DR Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia and South Africa. North America (Canada and the USA) is also featured.

Recently, the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), a human rights umbrella organization, has stated that Southeast Asia is facing increasing conflicts and violence over land grab activity.  IFHR says the situation is particularly pronounced in Cambodia, where land grabbing has displaced more than 800,000 people since 2000. Kem Ley, 45, was shot at a gas station on July 10th. He was getting a cup of coffee there, as he did every morning. He had worked for the UN Development Programme and Oxfam before and became an independent analyst working on natural resource management, the rights of indigenous people and women, and advocating for peaceful social change and democracy in Cambodia.

In August two new extra-judicial killings of indigenous people in the Philippines were recorded. Two active members of the Tagdumahan indigenous peoples’ organization (Jerry ‘Dandan’ and Jimmy Mapinsahan Barosa, a resident of Barangay Kasilayan) have been shot by unidentified men in Agusan del Sur (Mindanao) on August 12, in addition to disconcerting reports from Beni Territory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Province, bordering Rwanda and Uganda. The region is rich in oil, timber, gold, diamonds, wolfram, coltan and cassiterite and the local indigenous inhabitants are now being massacred for their land and its riches. Data on Beni massacres, in numbers provided by the organization “Civil Society of North Kivu” are horrifying: more than 1,116 people have been killed between October 2014 and May 2016, 60 people are killed every month (2 a day) on average, women and children are being raped, just under 34.300 have been forcibly displaced and more than 1,750 homes have been torched, and people burned alive, dozens of villages entirely occupied by armed groups. As of now, we have difficulties in receiving a complete and detailed list of the persons being murdered and the massacres are likely to continue due to the apparent weakness of the state in the region.

The first set of articles in the ‘General Topics’ section highlights how indigenous peoples continue to pay the brutal price of conservation. To be treated and abused in the name of a certain conservation philosophy has become the norm in many countries, where the old ‘nature-culture’ dichotomy still persists and influences the thinking of zealous conservationists, while serving as a pretext to drive the world’s most endangered peoples away from the lands and animals they have lived with for generations. The San of Botswana, to which the cover picture of this bulletin is dedicated, are probably the most vivid example of indigenous peoples being violently disposed of their natural resource and  forbidden to hunt in in or enter the land they have lived on sustainably for centuries. Ironically, while the real custodians and owners of the best conserved ICCAs (indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas) are being evicted out of their ancestral land, the largest mining companies in the World – instead – have been allowed to start their activities in parks and protected areas, and wealthy big game hunters from abroad are welcomed to newly constructed state-of-the-art game lodges.

Recently, UN experts on environment and indigenous peoples rights have urged governments throughout the world to make human rights a priority in environmental conservation efforts, stating that protecting biodiversity is a human rights issue. The message comes days before the scheduled World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Honolulu, US, the largest global forum for adopting conservation policies. It is hoped then that killing of indigenous peoples activists, human and environmental rights defenders will become a serious topic of discussion and reflection during the forthcoming WCC. This is not only desirable but a MUST, also in view of the recent report by the UK-based NGO Global Witness, according to which in 2015 there were 185 human rights and environmental defenders being killed worldwide.  Some of these finding have been corroborated by a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), British NGO Article 19, and Vermont Law School named, “Deadly Shade of Green,” which documents the extent of the threat for environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs), in Latin America.

Some articles in this bulletin also draw attention on the link between mining and exploitation of women’s bodies and identity. South Africa, for instance, has one of the highest incidences of rape in the World, with an exacerbation of this phenomenon in mining areas. Indigenous women and little girls experience higher rates of sexualized violence from the frontline workers and security forces hired by national and transnational corporations seeking to exploit the natural resources on indigenous lands. Many state governments have allowed these violent crimes against indigenous women and girls to occur for decades without taking any substantive steps to hold these corporations accountable. One article in this bulletin rightly argues that mining is about exploitation – not just of the minerals in the ground, but of women as well. Not surprisingly, KWG Resources Incorporated, a Canadian mining company, posted a video online using women dressed in bikinis to promote the mining of chromite on Indigenous lands in northern Ontario, known as the Ring of Fire. KWG President Frank Smeenk defended his company’s actions saying “sex sells.” Perhaps this was the most honest statement of those in the industry, which – nevertheless – does not justify the advertisement.  What is happening in terms of abuses against women in mining areas is unprecedented and, again, this topic gets very little media attention.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed every year on August 9, was a good time to reflect also on the achievements and challenges indigenous peoples around the world still face. One frequently occurring question remains: how well do national laws protect the interests of these historically marginalized communities? In the attempt to provide an adequate answer to this question,

LandMark: The Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands is now building a comprehensive database that scores countries on 10 indicators of how their national laws protect these rights. With the addition of 31 new countries to the inventory this week, LandMark now has 113 countries in the database, showing which countries and regions of the world have a solid foundation to protect indigenous and community land rights, and which countries are lagging behind.

On UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Survival International has called for the full demarcation and protection of the land of the Kawahiva people, an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon that is at extremely high risk of extinction. In April 2016, pressure from Survival International supporters helped push the Brazilian Minister of Justice to sign a decree ordering the full mapping out and protection of the tribe’s land. Despite of this, the Minister’s demand has not been carried out. Until the Brazilian indigenous affairs department enacts the demarcation, the tribe faces annihilation.

On the International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, many governments have expressed, at least verbally, a commitment to pay more attention to indigenous peoples’ rights.  The High EU Representative, Italian Federica Mogherini, has announced that the EU was stepping up its efforts to protect human rights defenders working for the “most vulnerable and marginalized”, including indigenous peoples, and those campaigning on land rights issues. Before the end of the year, the EU intends to prepare an overview of its policies and actions supporting indigenous peoples, as well as a list of best practices, she added.

Another set of interesting articles in the “General Topics” section, summarizes the finding of a recent study by the University of Michigan, which says that when it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline. To be clear, there are two generations of ethanol: the first is tied to corn while the second is more advanced cellulosic ethanol and associated with things like switch grass, wood chips and municipal waste.

Most of the criticism is tied to corn, which is not only less efficient than cellulosic ethanol but it is also essential food. These findings challenge the widely held assumption that ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels are carbon neutral. The reasons why we have decide to include this topic in our August bulletin is exactly because, as it is well-known, when land is converted in agricultural plantations, the destruction of forests is often needed to free up the land for biofuel, with adverse consequences on both indigenous and peasant communities. In addition to this, growing corn needed for biofuel can lead to increased stress on water supplies and rising prices as a result of increased demand for the crop, which is fermented to produce biofuel. (Recent research by John M. DeCicco, Danielle Yuqiao Liu, Joonghyeok Heo, Rashmi Krishnan, Angelika Kurthen, Louise Wang.Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and useClimatic Change, 2016; DOI:1007/s10584-016-1764-4 concluded that rising biofuel use has been associated with a net increase — rather than a net decrease, as many have claimed — in the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. “This is the first study to carefully examine the carbon on farmland when biofuels are grown, instead of just making assumptions about it,” DeCicco said. “When you look at what’s actually happening on the land, you find that not enough carbon is being removed from the atmosphere to balance what’s coming out of the tailpipe.” Consumption of liquid biofuels — mainly corn ethanol and biodiesel — has grown in the United States from 4.2 billion gallons in 2005 to 14.6 billion gallons in 2013.  The environmental justification rests on the assumption that biofuels, as renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, are inherently carbon neutral because the carbon dioxide released when they are burned was derived from CO2 that the growing corn or soybean plants pulled from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. “When it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline,” DeCicco said. “So the underpinnings of policies used to promote biofuels for reasons of climate have now been proven to be scientifically incorrect.  “Policymakers should reconsider their support for biofuels. This issue has been debated for many years. What’s new here is that hard data, straight from America’s croplands, now confirm the worst fears about the harm that biofuels do to the planet.”)

Several articles on oil palm expansion are also found in this section. Clinton Jenkins of the Institute for Ecological Research in Brazil, a co-author of a recent study, said in a statement: “It is essential to understand how future expansion of oil palm plantations is likely to occur in other areas, and what the deforestation and biodiversity impacts might be. By evaluating twenty countries in our study we found that, in terms of these impacts, the picture is very different from country to country and region to region.” Researchers from Duke University in the United States, have warned that forests in danger of being cut down in the future, to create land for oil palms, are located mainly in Africa and South America. The researchers used images of forest areas made by Google Earth and Landmark satellites and spanning 25 years in order to document forest loss due to oil palm plantings on four regions: Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle America and South America. The respective rates of deforestation were highest in Southeast Asia and in South America. The study also estimated the degree to which land for oil palm plantations was created during 1989-2013 by deforestation. The highest share was recorded for Ecuador (61%), followed by Indonesia (54%), Peru (53%) and Malaysia (40%).

A new three minutes animated video released by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), in collaboration with the Indonesian labour rights advocacy organization (OPPUK) and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) titled, “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil,” takes us to these hidden plantations and tells the harrowing stories of three palm oil workers.

Recently a team of scientists from Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia, together with their colleagues from the University of Göttingen and the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany, set out to perform a multidisciplinary assessment of all ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations as compared to lowland forests. Drawing from about 1,000 scientific studies and reports, the research team put together a balanced report on the changes in all 14 ecosystem functions, including gas and climate regulation, water regulation and supply, moderation of extreme events, provision of food and raw materials, as well as medicinal resources.

Advocacy being carried out by European groups against the health hazard of palm oil is starting to yield its own fruits. For instance, this month, Italian food giant Barilla has eliminated palm oil from over 50 products across its “Mulino Bianco” brand. As part of its saturated fat reduction plan, Barilla has replaced palm oil in some of its biscuits, snacks and breads, with healthier alternative oils such as sunflower and extra virgin olive oil. “Galetti” and “Taralucci” biscuits have been improved, along with snacks such as, plum cake and “pan goccioli”. Barilla is the latest Italian food company to eliminate palm oil from snacks and biscuits, following the example set by Gentilini, Colussi, Galbusera and Balocco. The initiative has also been picked up by local retailers such as Esselunga, Coop and Conad. As we have mentioned in a previous bulletin issue, earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warned that glycerol-based contaminants found in palm oil, raise potential health concerns for average consumers of these foods in all young age groups, and for high consumers in all age groups.

The “Regional Topics” section below starts, as usual, with Philippines. Here, the extrajudicial killings of Lumad and other indigenous peoples have yet to be resolved. Groups of Ayta, Dumagat, Mangyan, Igorot and Lumad led by the indigenous alliance, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) staged a picket at Mendiola bridge on August 8, in time for World Indigenous Peoples Day. Their representatives brought a copy of the Indigenous Peoples’ agenda to Malacañang Presidential Palace, but failed to get an audience with Duterte or any government official. In spite of the positive efforts of the new Pres. Duterte administration to crackdown mining oligarchies, the killing and harassment of indigenous peoples activists continues. This is not surprising in consideration of the fact that Philippine mines are among the world’s biggest suppliers of gold, copper, and nickel. The mining industry has been an important source of foreign revenue in the fast-growing nation of 100 million people, but – at the same time – is responsible for the worse environmental disasters and persisting social unrest in the country.

President Duterte, in the course of defending his decision to appoint anti-mining activist Regina Lopez as Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, has declared that the Philippines could “do without” a mining industry. This August, President Duterte has promised to “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government” and went on declaring war against oligarchs involved in mining.  Other good news, in addition to the stopping of several mining operations nation-wide, is that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has announced that is set to come out with a website where all audit findings concerning mining companies will be made public. Gina Lopez, newly appointed DENR Secretary, has reiterated the she would not hesitate to shut down all mining operations that will be found to have violated environmental and health and safety laws and regulations. At least 500 members of different environmental and militant groups trooped to the Caraga regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have demanded that mining firms which violated local and national laws should not only be stopped but also punished.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a nationwide coalition of Philippine NGOs, has recently welcomed the pronouncement of newly-elected House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that Congress will consider the requirement of a legislative franchise for mining operations. This proposal calls for a review and amendment of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 7942), which is consistent with ATM demands. While mining activities are being closely monitored and controlled, a question mark remains on whether the controversial Jalaur Mega Dam would be implemented in Panay Island where it is to expect to lead to the displacement of indigenous communities.

It would appear that one major cause accounting for the killing, harassment and forced displacement of many indigenous peoples nation-wide might be put to an end, now that the Philippine communist rebels have announced an indefinite cease-fire in peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies. The Maoist rebels announced their agreement to put down their arms in a joint statement with Philippine government officials at the end of weeklong talks in Norway. Some 150,000 people have died in the conflict that began almost half a century ago.

In neighbouring INDONESIA, indigenous people continue to be denied their rights to manage their own lands by the government. Last year, four indigenous communities, Marga Serampas from Jambi, Kasepuhan Karang from Banten, Amatoa Kajang from South Sulawesi and Wana Posangke from Central Sulawesi, applied to have their lands recognized at the Environment and Forestry Ministry. They prepared all the necessary documents, such as customary forest maps and local bylaws that recognize the rights to customary forests for indigenous communities. Yet, none of them have been granted their land rights, while – in West Kalimantan – hundred of them have been forced to flee their homes to avoid arrest over their alleged involvement in a conflict with an oil palm company operating plantations in the area. The residents from the area around the village of Olak-Olak in Kubu district, Kubu Raya regency, have reportedly escaped to regions in and around Pontianak City. In search of support, around 50 of them approached the West Kalimantan chapter of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Pontianak on Monday to report the case.

Meanwhile, oil palm planters are bracing for another round of forest fires, given the rising number of hotspots in major oil palm growing areas in recent weeks. Indonesia’s newly appointed police chief Tito Karnavian said police had prepared cases against 454 individuals in connection with burning land. “The arrests of individuals has increased compared with last year,” he said in Jakarta. “Just in Riau [province] 85 people have been arrested.” One major concern here, is that also indigenous people who customarily practice shifting cultivation for subsistence purposes will be arrested, while big companies may remain unpunished.

Not surprisingly, Police in Riau (Sumatra) announced last month they had closed cases against 15 companies due to a lack of evidence. On the other hand, the large agribusiness firm PT National Sago Prima (NSP), has bee ordered to pay a record 1 trillion rupiah ($76 million) for letting fires ravage land it controls in 2014. The panel of judges agreed with government prosecutors that the plantation firm was guilty of negligence in failing to prevent the fires, which helped blanket the region in a toxic haze. However, since August 3, peat fires in Indonesia’s westernmost Aceh province have blanketed some areas in a choking haze, sickening hundreds of people and forcing at least one school to close.

Regrettably, another major palm oil company, which had its sustainability certificates suspended for violating rules designed to prevent the destruction of Indonesia’s forests and peat lands, has had those certificates reinstated. This shocking decision by the industry’s own sustainability group to lift the suspension sends a message that it’s OK for palm oil companies to continue trashing forests in pursuit of profits. IOI, one of the biggest palm oil suppliers in the world, was suspended by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in April 2016 for clearing peat land areas and developing land without obtaining required permits. As a result, many of its big-name customers walked away such as Unilever, Cargill, Mars.

Overall, as a result of foreign pressure, the Indonesian government said that it will steer Indonesia’s palm oil industry toward more socially and environmentally friendly practices by improving the national sustainability standards, known as Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). “The credibility of the ISPO is questioned because there are still some things that need to be perfected, such as the software and its implementation in the field,” the Agriculture Ministry’s special staffer for environment, Mukti Sardjono, said recently.

Also in Eastern Malaysia, NGOs supporting indigenous people are urging the federal and state governments to recognise the maps indigenous communities have drawn up to demarcate their land. Indigenous People’s Network of Malaysia (JOAS) secretary-general Jannie Lasimbang said JOAS hoped the Survey and Mapping Department (Jupem) would incorporate the maps of the traditional territories into its map. “We want a one-map policy and our land superimposed to make it easier for land planning. Often, our areas are not established on the map,” said Jannie.

Local NGOs has argued that the amendment to communal titles of the Sabah Land Ordinance must be repealed if the state government is serious about addressing the natives’ concern over their traditional territories. Sabah Pacos Trust programme coordinator for land rights Galus Ahtoi said in the special terms of the amendment to Section 76 of the ordinance, the anak negeri or indi­genous people were deemed beneficiaries of the communal native title and not as owners according to their native customary rights (NCR).

In view of the massive expansion of oil palm plantations, indigenous peoples in Sabah are becoming more and more concerned about their food security. As a result, also State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin is asking plantation owners to set aside 10% of their land for the cultivation of the food crop.

In the neighbouring state of Sarawak, oil palm planters have reiterated their full support for the government-driven Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification. The MSPO, which has been perceived by several environmentalists as a form of green-washing, is said to be a reflection of a unified code of laws concerning best practices throughout the supply chain, from oil palm planting to palm oil processing. It is modelled in line with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). While oil palm expansion proceeds unabated, the government is cosmetically publicizing its success of having established 2.2 millions of protected areas. It says that it will open a Department of National Parks and Wildlife by January of next year, and is in the process of creating several new protected areas that encompass all of its orang-utan habitat.

In Taiwan, on August 1, the new president, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen offered an apology for the historical injustices to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. In the presidential building, the apology began with a rite of offering of millet and spirits.  Bunun community elder Hu Jin-niang blessed the ceremony, and Taiwanese religious leaders followed with an interfaith prayer. However, according to aboriginal campaigners, the Council of Aboriginal Affairs’ plans for delineating traditional Aboriginal lands appears to represent a step back from the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act . Therefore they are calling for the delineation authority to be returned to individual aboriginal communities. While the Basic Act grants Aboriginal communities rights over resources within “traditional lands” comprised of “reserved lands” and new “traditional areas,” implementation has been delayed for more than 10 years because of the failure of the Legislative Yuan or the ministries to define the scope of “traditional areas.”

Recently Truku Aborigines from the Knkreyan Village, also known as Tongmen Village, in Hualien County, gathered in front of the Ninth Division of the Seventh Special Police Corpsto protest over the arrest of three tribe members. Local police arrested the three men under the Mining Act on Aug. 18 for the illegal mining of rhodonite, a pink mineral prized by collectors, on state-owned land. However, one of the Knkreyan villagers, Rakaw Didi, said the rock collected by the men was limestone, not rhodonite.

In CAMBODIA, according to local activists, Kem Ley’s murder will not stop their struggle against massive land grabbing. Last month, hundreds of thousands of people from many parts of Cambodia took to the streets for the funeral procession of Dr. Kem Ley. His body was transported 50 miles from Phnom Penh to his hometown in Takeo province, and crowds of people paid respect to this man.

News reports say the convoy stretched for several kilometers, and included banners with Kem Ley’s famous words, “Wipe away your tears, continue your journey.” Kem Ley was an independent political commentator who took a strong stand in favour of hundreds of indigenous people and farmers being forcibly moved out of their land.  The indigenous people of Cambodia have a right to Communal Land Title (CLT), but the bureaucratic process to achieve it is too slow. While they wait for CLTs, communities are vulnerable to land grabs facilitated by the government through Economic Land Concessions for plantations and other activities that destroy the forests and deprive people of their land. Kem Ley said that, at the current rate, it would take 50 years for Cambodia to complete CLTs for 503 indigenous communities in the two most vulnerable provinces, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. He urged the government to speed up this process.

In MYANMAR a local NGO has condemned decision to deny bail to human rights activist Khaing Myo Htun on 25 August. Earth Rights International (ERI) said in a statement that it condemns the decision and calls for all charges against him to be dropped. “We are deeply disappointed by this decision, which appears to betray the court’s prejudice towards Khaing Myo Htun” said Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director at ERI.  He was denied bail at a Sittwe court on the grounds that he had failed to turn up to two previous court hearings. Khain Myo Htun was travelling in the weeks prior to his arrest and never received the summons. The judge also highlighted concerns about the sensitivity of the case. Khaing Myo Htun, member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), prominent environmental activist, and former student at the Earth Rights School for human rights and environmental activists, was arrested on charges of sedition and incitement under Myanmar’s Penal Code Section 505(b) and (c).

On the Indigenous Peoples Day, Myanmar tribes have sent a strong message: “we all have to know what our rights are” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, the managing director of the Chin Human Rights Group. “Without knowing our rights, we can neither protect nor develop our homelands. We must be aware that there are many civil war victims still living in IDP camps.”

In BANGLADESH, at least 3 million indigenous peoples still see their human rights and fundamental freedoms being regularly violated.  Indigenous people are frequently being evicted from their ancestral land. Instead of being slapped with the humiliating label of Khudra Nrigoshti or ethnic minorities, all indigenous communities of the country should have the right fully recognised as indigenous people in accordance with the UN guidelines said Bichitra Tirki, a leader of the indigenous Orawn community who also heads the Chapainawabganj unit of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad.  The 36-year old woman has been fighting for land rights of indigenous people against land grabbers for eight years and won several legal battles. During a 2009 long march, as activists carried red flags in support of victimised indigenous people, Bichitra, clad in a red sari, marched with others for 55 kilometres with her one-year-old child in her lap. Bichitra’s sense of communal harmony, honesty, and courage has made her popular.

In INDIA the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM), an indigenous peoples human rights organization promoting sustainable development and human rights of indigenous peoples of Manipur, has organised a two day observation of the WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY from 8th to 9th August 2016, with a theme “Uphold indigenous peoples rights over their land and resources in Manipur”.  The first day was organised at RihaVillage Ukhrul Dist with the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organizers (MDAVO) with a focus to protest the land, forest and river in Mapithel Hill and Valley and to express resentment and concerns with the plan of IFCD, Government of Manipur to commission Mapithel dam in September 2016.  The protest met at Riha village and was attended by village representatives affected by Mapithel dam along the Mapithel hill and valley.

CRAM has urged upon the Government of Manipur to undertake a comprehensive approach to ensure the rightful participation of all indigenous peoples of Manipur in formulating a policy or a Bill towards protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples of Manipur and in regulating the entry or exit of non-indigenous populations in Manipur.  The Bhuria Committee Report of 1995 observed that land dispossession had not been confined to private parties, but also the State was depriving indigenous peoples of the basic means of livelihood in the name of economic development.  When around 300 million Adivasis depend on the forest lands in India, the States are handing over the forest lands for industries and promoting plantation forestry instead of natural species which do not provide livelihood to Adivasis.

One positive news from the region, however, is that Rio Tinto has finally decided to abandon a Diamond Mining Project in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The company declined to comment on local reports that the nation’s environment ministry refused to grant permission for the mine because of its potential impact on forests and tiger habitats. The mine was likely to yield 34.2 million carats over its lifetime, according to Rio Tinto’s website. Operations were expected to commence in 2019.

It is also worth mentioning that India has set out plans to boost its biofuels market over the next few years in an effort to beef up its energy security. This is raising concern over the impact that biofuel related agribusiness might have on lands inhabited by indigenous peoples.  Blending 5% of biodiesel with regular diesel and 10% ethanol with gasoline could boost the market to 500 billion rupees (€6.7 billion) by 2022, from about 65 billion rupees now, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at an Indian conference on biofuels. India would require 6.75 billion litres of biodiesel and 4.5 billion litres of ethanol for blending over the six years, he said.

Also in NEPAL, indigenous nationalities observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. At an event organised by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal rhetorically expressed commitment to make the day a public holiday from next year. While some may have been impressed by the prime minister’s gesture, it says little about what his plans are in improving the lives of indigenous nationalities. Among others, the indigenous nationalities (Adivasi Janajatis)—comprising 35.81 per cent of the total population, according to the 2011 census—face various difficulties in maintaining their cultural and linguistic identities. Centuries of hegemony of the so-called high castes has resulted in the exclusion of indigenous people from mainstream social, economic and political processes.

In AUSTRALIA, thousands have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off. The Wave Hill walk-off came after years of exploitation, violence and murders of Aboriginal people in the region. In protest against poor conditions, meagre wages and rations in return for hard work, Vincent Lingiari led 200 people off the Wave Hill cattle station. The fight stretched for seven years, and laid the foundations for the Indigenous land rights battle. It wasn’t until 1975 that the Gurindji won their land back in a historic ceremony attended by the then prime minister, Gough Whitlam.

Since then, aboriginal people have witnessed some gains in the reclamation of their ancestral territories. For instance, recently, the Northern Land Council has successfully argued on behalf of the Rrumburriya Borroloola claim group, against opposition from the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments that Indigenous people living in the area had historically practiced commerce with Macassan traders from Indonesia. The determination, handed down by Justice John Mansfield at a ceremony in the Gulf of Carpentaria mining service and tourism town, gives the Rrumburriya group exclusive native title rights and the right to trade over the majority of 2,797 acres within the township boundary of Borroloola, on land where there is not already businesses and government infrastructure.

The Australia’s Northern Land Council has also agreed to permitting an Aboriginal-owned mining company to commence a small-scale bauxite operation in northeast Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. This is believed to be the first time an Aboriginal clan has operated a mine on land it traditionally owned.

In spite of these small gains, the overall situation of Indigenous people in Australia today is still reflected in increasingly horrific statistics and data on incarceration rates, spiralling youth suicide rates, educational and health gaps, the on-going removal of Aboriginal kids from their families and communities in epidemic numbers, the attacks on land rights and closure of remote communities. Aboriginal people make up just 3 per cent of the Australian population yet make up 28 per cent of total prison inmates.

Elsewhere, in China, thousands of communities are crumbling as the effects of the mining boom spell disaster for those who live above exhausted mines. For instance, Helin village residents in Shanxi province are struggling to fight against the ground crumbling beneath their homes. While a number of communities in Shanxi have been evacuated, the residents of Helin have not yet been ordered to move, despite decades of coal mining at about 100 pits leaving the ground ravaged. Residents, however, are more than willing to pack up as soon as the government gives the go-ahead.  Shanxi province alone plans to move 655,000 residents by the end of next year from unsafe old mining regions, with the cost of relocation estimated at 15.8 billion yuan ($2.37 billion). The Shanxi government estimates coal mining has cost the province 77 billion yuan in “environmental economic losses.

Also China’s national parks are now being threatened by illegal mining. Illegal activity is destroying wide swathes of forests and polluting water in protected areas on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. Similarly, China’s best-preserved forest in south-west Yunnan province is also under threat from illegal mining, according to a new report.  A study by Greenpeace shows mining and industry activity in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan protected area is destroying pristine forests in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The mining sector has been a crucial part of China’s rapid economic expansion in the last three decades, but poor regulation and weak enforcement of standards has contaminated much of the country’s soil and left parts of its land and water supplies unfit for human use, threatening public health. According to draft rules published on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) (http://www.mep.gov.cn), miners will be forced to treat more than 85 per cent of their wastewater, and they must put systems in place to achieve the “comprehensive utilisation” of tailings and other solid waste.

In RUSSIA mining companies have violated indigenous Shor peoples’ rights, in Myski Municipal District, Kemerovo Oblast. According to local indigenous Shor people, they have suffered from a process of systematic destruction resulting from mining companies’ operations, including OAO Yuzhnaya. The villagers are now displaced, some are reported homeless. No adequate substitute land has been offered and no compensation provided that would enable the former inhabitants to rebuild their livelihood.  A document on the discrimination against Shor communities in Myski Municipal District, Kemerovo Oblast can be downloaded through the link below: https://www.google.it/search?q=shor+people+of+Kemerovo+Oblast&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&ei=QEjIV9rCNeSP8Qeg76HYAQ

Moving to the African Continent, in addition to the tragic updates from DR Congo, the situation in other African nations is equally disturbing.  For instance, in Ghana, artisanal mining is causing mounting pollution in the local waterways and it threats the livelihoods of fishermen, fishmongers and farmers.

In Kenya, the 2010 constitution protects indigenous rights to land, but the community land bill, that is meant to put these into law is yet to be passed by parliament. As a result, indigenous people like the Ogiek face an uncertain future. More than 200 families, all from the indigenous Ogiek minority, were evicted from their homes on the slopes of Mount Elgon in western Kenya by a force of about 50 police and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers in June.

While some people found refuge with friends and family, or have been able to build shelters, many still have only trees for cover. About 80,000 Ogiek live close to the border with Uganda and in the Mau forest, roughly 140 miles to the south-east, according to Kenya’s 2009 census (pdf). The overall situation of the indigenous peoples and rural communities of Kenya is unlikely to improve due to the expansion of the mining sector that has been regarded by the government as a key pillar for growth and economic transformation. Mining expansion is surely going to fuel more land grabbing and rapid urbanisation at the expenses of traditional communities. Not surprisingly, Masai pastoralists are seeing significant tracts of their land being sold to private developers, with no consultation at all with the local inhabitants.

In Uganda, oil palm expansion continues, in spite of various protests locally and abroad. One of them has taken place in London where protesters have criticized the modus operandi of the company BIDCO. Activists of the the Bidco Truth Coalition (BTC) have picketed the London headquarters of Barclays and Standard Chartered, who they claim are funding Bidco Africa’s deforestation to make way for palm oil production in places like Uganda.  The Coalition says the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), based at Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership under the patronage of The Prince of Wales, is failing in its mission to lead the banking industry in collectively directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development. Also the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) based in Rome (Italy) has been a major backer of the project and Bidco came in later as the private sector partner by registering a Ugandan subsidiary to oversee the venture.  As IFAD itself has admitted, the organization has supported the establishment of Oil Uganda Limited (OPUL), a private company in which Bidco, the private sector operator and the Trust representing small-scale producers are partners. IFAD funds also supported the establishment of the Kalangala Palm oil Growers Trust, which has a 10 per cent share in OPUL. IFAD claims that oil palm development presents an opportunity for the organization to support poor rural people in Uganda with a viable and sustainable livelihood option and that smallholders and women in particular have been economically empowered. However, evidences from local advocates and members of local communities portray a completely different scenario.  IFAD argument that domestic production of oil palm in Uganda improves the consumption of oils and fats locally, thus improving nutrition, can be easily dismantled on the bases of factual evidences.  The credibility of IFAD as an institution helping the poorest of the poor (as well as indigenous people) has already been questioned by various independent commentators who criticise the Fund for offering undue privileges to its staff and supporting questionable projects while backing-up the global economic status quo and neoliberal policies that disadvantage the poor. In 2010, Italy’s first English language newspaper ‘Italian Insiders’ has revealed that Felix Kanayo Nwanze, current IFAD President, was spending about 400,000 euros a year for the rental and maintenance of a luxurious villa complex on the exclusive Appia Antica (see http://www.italianinsider.it/?q=node/98). In spite of the scandal, Mr. Nwanze has not been removed from his position.

In Liberia, which has been featured several times in previous CALG bulletins, oil palm expansion is causing much environmental damage and severe social unrest. The current economic model of transferring land to foreign investors on a massive scale fails to acknowledge the rights of rural communities to collectively own and manage their territories. These foreign investments rarely deliver their promise of shared economic development, and instead impoverish the very people they claim to help. Some 40% of Liberia is under concessions for logging, oil and mining. While these lands may appear empty on government maps, they are home to millions. A recent analysis by the Munden Group of 237 mining and agriculture concessions in Liberia found that all had established communities in their midst. The ancestors of the people in these rural communities have lived on and farmed this land since before Liberia became a Republic in 1847 — long before Sirleaf’s government took power and before the dictatorships and civil wars that wreaked havoc across the country.

In SOUTH AFRICA conflicts between local communities and mining continues. A new published book “Broke and Broken” narrates the story of the thousands of men from South Africa and beyond its borders who are victims of the legacy of gold mining. The book is an account of men who left their homes as healthy, ambitious youngsters but returned Broke, Broken and Bitter.

In this bulletin’s edition, GUATEMALA is the highlighted country for Latin America. Here, the recent arrest of an indigenous leader has sparked outrage among the country’s indigenous communities. Most collective rights all over the country are perennially under attack. The right to FPIC and collective control of territory are arguably the greatest legal struggles that Guatemalan indigenous peoples have faced. Thousands of indigenous communities continue to protest the construction of large natural resource development projects like open-pit mines and hydroelectric dams on or near where they live. In some places these projects have been slowed or postponed, but rarely has a project been completely halted. Recently it was announced that the most contentious mining project in Guatemala, Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine, will close. But this is only after years of operations that have damaged the environment, public health and social fabric of the surrounding communities. Further, indigenous individuals who lead the movements against projects like the Marlin Mine have been targeted in assassination attempts and sometimes imprisoned under questionable legal grounds.

In addition to this, the arrogance and disrespect of foreign companies towards Guatemalan indigenous people has not gone unnoticed. Recently, Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources filed a lawsuit to prevent a village from voting on their mine — which the people rejected by 98 per cent.

The California-based Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA) and the Guatemalan Diocesan Committee in Defence of Nature (CODIDENA) represented by the Canada-based Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, submitted a 36-page report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the federal agency that oversees financial securities laws. The report details why Tahoe should face careful scrutiny and be held liable under U.S. law for failing to disclose to investors key details about local community opposition and human rights concerns swirling around the contentious Escobal silver mine.

On the World Day of Indigenous Peoples, a collective of Indigenous groups presented a proposal to the Guatemalan government demanding a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution to recognize Indigenous land rights and check the power of corporations looking to exploit local resources by re-founding Guatemala as a “plurinational” state.

 

In BOLIVIA, the struggle against mining is turning bloody. Recently, Bolivian authorities have accused the president of a mining federation and two of his top officials of the killing of Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes, 56. Illanes was kidnapped and beaten to death by striking mine-workers on Thursday after to going to the town of Panduro, 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of La Paz, to mediate in the dispute over mining laws and dwindling pay checks. Three protesters have been killed in clashes with riot police, stoking tensions. The striking miners had armed themselves with dynamite and seized several highways, stranding thousands of vehicles and passengers. llanes’ murder underscored how President Evo Morales, a former coca growers’ union leader, has increasingly found himself at odds with the same kind of popular social movements that fuelled his rise to power and have made up his political base.

 

In COLOMBIA, the impact of mining on the environment and local communities is well known. The country has one of the highest rates of mercury contamination in the Americas. The chemical – widely used to extract gold – seeps into the food chain and causes soil erosion and health problems. Recently a bill, proposed by two congressmen aims to impose stricter penalties on those who use mercury and other chemicals such as cyanide in mining operations with prison sentences of up to 12 years and tougher fines. Almost concurrently to the proposed bill, VENEZUELA – instead – has signed over $5.5 billion in mining deals with companies including Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) and China’s Shandong Gold.

Earlier this month, President Maduro said Venezuela had struck $4.5 billion in mining deals with foreign and domestic companies. He also said that he expected $20 billion in mining investment contracts to be signed in coming days. The impact that this new mining rush will have on indigenous population is predictable and, indeed, a cause of much apprehension amongst indigenous organizations and federations, nationwide.

In neighbouring BRAZIL political crisis is deepening violence against indigenous peoples.  More than 20 land rights activists have been killed so far this year, with most deaths linked to conflicts over logging and agribusiness.  This reinforces the country’s reputation for being the most dangerous for environmentalists.

HONDURAS, appears to immediately follow Brazil with at least eight human rights activists being killed in 2016, according to the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR.

According to data from local watchdog, the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), 23 Brazilian activists have been killed in 2016 for trying to protect forests from illegal logging and the expansion of cattle ranches and soy plantations. Fifty land rights campaigners were killed in Brazil last year, up from 29 in 2014, according to the UK-based advocacy group Global Witness. As we have already highlighted in our previous bulletin, the Guarani-Kaiowa have been among the hardest hit communities from recent escalations in land-related violence. According to a study by the Brazil chapter of the international human rights organization (FIAN) and the Indigenous Missionary Council CIMI, food insecurity in Guarani and Kaiowa Indigenous communities in Brazil’s south-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul is as high as up to 100 per cent, over four times higher than the national average.

Recently, indigenous people living in Brazil’s rainforest have welcomed a decision by the national environment agency to cancel a proposed mega-dam in the Amazon which they say would have displaced communities while opening the sensitive region to logging.  Tribes will now be able to better protect the rainforest and continue living on the land because new roads and other infrastructure will not unlock the area’s pristine landscape for loggers.

In MEXICO, on 29 August a mission being organized by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights will visit the country until September 7. This visit will be its second to Latin America, after a mission to Brazil in December 2015. As it is well know, Mexico (the 15th largest economy in the world) doesn’t often invite international human rights institutions on official missions that generate recommendations the government must address seriously. The nation is experiencing a human rights crisis, evidenced by its position atop the lists of forced disappearances and attacks on journalists and human rights defenders (particularly environmentalists). Expectations of the visit are high, although the mission objective might be partially constrained by the vast geography of the country and the variety of issues to be addressed.

In the Caribbean island of TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO descendants of the original indigenous peoples have waited for more than 30 years, so far, for a bit of communal land to call their own. And if you include the time since their land was first stolen from them, they’ve been waiting for a great deal longer—over two centuries, in fact. Today’s descendants of T&T’s indigenous peoples—among the very first “Trinidadians,” or “Kairians”—are a mixed group. Sharing bloodlines from virtually every major race that has lived in Trinidad for the past couple centuries, the amazing thing is that they still exist at all. But indeed they do live on, some surviving what was the worst genocide in T&T’s entire history—a terrible and bloody time when native Amerindians were enslaved, beaten, raped, killed and infected with foreign diseases in a chilling orgy of brutality spearheaded by adventurist Europeans who swept through the Caribbean islands on a path of indigenous destruction and greedy land grabs.

Not far, in NICARAGUA Afro-descendant population are still waiting for a true autonomy which should include the right and power to administer [financial and natural] resources; autonomy and diligence in managing the budget allocated to the autonomous regions; power to propose laws and their amendments to the National Assembly; greater independence in public administration; the possibility of a regional vision. But none of this has been possible so far. In reality, one cannot make reference to the black, or Creole population, as it is also identified, without separating it from the indigenous populations like the Mayagna, Miskito, Garifuna, Rama indigenous peoples and coastal Mestizos, with whom they not only share a history, but also a “coastal” identity despite the enormous differences that separate them from one another.  In 1987, during the Sandinista Popular Revolution (1979-1989), the population of the Caribbean Coast demanded a true political and economic inclusion with the rest of the country, with autonomy and respect for their differences. Although the current Nicaraguan state has very good laws and has signed and ratified international declarations and instruments in recognition and respect for “minority” populations, including those of African descent, local Creole activists believes the government has done little or nothing to adhere to and enforce them.

In this bulletin, one of the main updates from NORTH AMERICA regards the opposition of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their sacred and ancestral lands. Clearly as it appears, the United States has failed to respect the national sovereignty and interests of the Tribe and its people, has failed to respect the nation-to-nation relationship with the Tribe established by treaties, and has failed to properly consult with the Tribe to obtain its free, prior, and informed consent for the construction of the pipeline. Sioux defenders and protectors of ancestral lands, water, and spiritual, historic, and cultural resources at the Camp of the Sacred Stones are currently blocking construction of the pipeline across the Missouri River near the Tribe’s land and territory. Indigenous youths have ran 2,200 miles to Washington, DC, to deliver to the United States government a petition signed by 160,000 people in opposition to the pipeline’s construction. http://www.newsy.com/videos/american-indians-protest-dakota-access-pipeline-construction/#.V7tWlNse6qA.email

Land use changes are not only affecting First Nation people but also bees. In fact, the Northern Great Plains of North and South Dakota, which support over 40 per cent of United States commercial honey bee colonies, are quickly becoming less conducive to commercial beekeeping according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.  The USGS scientists found that landscape features favoured by beekeepers for honey bee colony, or apiary, locations are decreasing in the region, and crops actively avoided by beekeepers, such as corn and soybeans, are becoming more common in areas with higher apiary density. Areas that showed high levels of grassland loss and high apiary density were mostly in central and southern North Dakota and the eastern half of South Dakota. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

First Nations sacred sites are also being threatened by Uranium Mining in Utah State. Energy Fuel Resources’ Deneros uranium mine is located just five miles west of Natural Bridges National Monument. The company wants to expand the mine from four to 46 acres and more than quadruple the amount of uranium mined. The life of the mine would be extended to 20 years and all of the uranium ore would be trucked through Bears Ears to the White Mesa Uranium Mill. More information on the potentially devastating consequences of this mine are found on Uranium Watch.

Also Southeast Alaska tribes have expressed concern over the proposed mining project which could divert potentially toxic water to southeast Alaska watersheds. Recently, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska met with officials from the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency in Juneau. The meeting focused on ways to prevent harm to the region’s water quality and salmon habitat.  Another issue of debate amongst Alaskan natives is related to the necessity of drawing a clear distinction between sport and subsistence hunters. This issue has been part of a legal and political debate in Alaska since 1971. On January 3, 1959, Alaska became a state.  The Alaska Statehood Act provided the state government with 103.3 million acres of land from a total of about 424 million acres total. About 25 per cent of the Alaska land base was left in federal government hands through the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. When the state government of Alaska began to survey land to claim its 103 million acres to promote economic development, the surveyors ran into Alaska Native communities that continued to claim land and were engaged in subsistence activities. During the early 1960s, Alaska Natives formed a state-wide movement to prevent the state of Alaska from claiming their land. Alaska Natives filed land claims in court for over 350 million acres, and Secretary of Interior Morris K. Udall called for a moratorium on land claims in Alaska.

In addition to mining threats in Dakota, Utah and Alaska, also territories neighbouring the well-known Yellowstone National Park are being threatened. In June 2015, Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. has proposed to dig a mine in Emigrant Gulch, 17 miles north of the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park to remove gold, copper and other minerals. Washington state-based Crevice Mining Group wants to mine for gold east of Gardiner, directly bordering the park. The state Department of Environmental Quality said it plans to complete a draft Environmental Assessment for Lucky Minerals before the end of summer; the public then would have two to three months to comment on it. The agency has not yet announced when it will release a draft report for the second proposed mine. The exploration sites would be located in Paradise Valley, a major river valley of the Yellowstone River in south-western Montana.  

Recently, the federal mine-reclamation agency has announced that it will pay for an independent scientific review of studies on the potential link between surface mines and increased health human risks in Central Appalachia. The issue of whether mining plays a role in health problems in the region, which includes Eastern Kentucky, has been controversial. Studies have shown that mountaintop mining is associated with higher rates of cancer, heart disease and other health problems in Central Appalachia, Michael S. Hendryx, a professor who did several of the studies at West Virginia University, told the Herald-Leader in June. The studies were controlled for factors such as high rates of smoking and obesity in the coalfields, Hendryx said.

In bordering CANADA, within the last month, Trudeau’s Liberal government has stepped back from its oft-stated commitment to harmonize Canadian law with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a project for which it voted as a bloc last year, and for which Trudeau reiterated his support on the campaign trail last fall. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the UNDRIP a “simplistic (approach)” and “unworkable,” though she insists the Liberals still intend to “adopt” the declaration. As of now, many first nation tribes continue to be kept at the margins of consultations on State projects and industrial plans. As a result, the Manitoba Metis Federation is now prepared to seek an injunction blocking the on-going construction of a $3-billion all-season road in northeast Manitoba.

The newly elected chief and council of the Moose Cree First Nation held a press conference in Timmins to declare publicly – in no uncertain terms – that their traditional territory and the resources within it belonged to their people. Not only that, but anyone looking to develop it would need to get prior consent from the Moose Cree people as a whole, not just the band administration. After a short ceremony performed by an elder, Chief Patricia Faries stood up and officially reaffirmed her First Nation’s declaration that a large swath of land along the southern shore of James Bay and for several hundred kilometres inland is their homeland since time immemorial, and so is theirs by right. The original Homeland Declaration was made in 2008. Today, Moose Cree homeland is being threatened by resource development, including mining, forestry, hydro development and wind energy.

In Ontario, the chief of a northern First Nation has recently stated that he was offended and troubled by a notice that a mining company was set to begin drilling on the community’s traditional lands. The drilling program is planned to begin by the end of August in an area known as the Ring of Fire in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands.

According to First Nation residents, in British Columbia, Polley Mine Spill is still poisoning waterways. Almost two years to the day since Imperial Metals’ Polley Mine spewed four billion gallons of wastewater and toxic sludge into the pristine forests of north-eastern British Columbia, the mine—and the pond that breached in August 2014—is open again. But despite assurances from B.C. officials two years ago that the company would be responsible for clean-up, the sludge from the spill is still nestled in the waterways, forests and land that the effluent spilled into—and the pond is ready to be refilled, according to a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun. The one thing that the company, government, First Nations and environmentalists agree on is that it was one of the worst environmental mining disasters in Canadian history.

Despite consistent government promises to collaborate more closely with Indigenous groups, four women activists were arrested in August for occupying the headquarters of the Vancouver-based mining company. Another 20 protesters outside – nearly all Indigenous – intended to underscore the government’s approval of mining projects such as the one that produced the Mount Polley spill. The group’s leader, Kanahus Manuel, said the group wants the mine permanently shut down while the government should impose a moratorium on similar mine projects. Manuel said in a news release: “the province has no jurisdiction to be issuing permits to companies illegally operating on our sovereign territories without the free, prior, informed consent of the Secwepemc Tribal Peoples.”

Furthermore, an Amnesty International report is calling for the stop the British Columbia’s $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam. The independent human rights advocate is asking the federal and provincial governments to suspend or rescind all construction approvals and permits related to the project in northeast B.C., saying the megaproject on the Peace River threatens the human rights of indigenous peoples. The report named “The Point of No Return”, also said the project should only proceed on the basis of free, prior and informed consent of all affected indigenous peoples.

ONLINE ARTICLES AND WEB LINKS

GENERAL TOPICS

The tribes paying the brutal price of conservation.  

For the past 20 years, the San have been systematically stripped of their homes, land and culture. In a series of heavy-handed evictions, houses have been burned, schools and health centres closed, and water supplies cut off. Now these people live, dispossessed, on the edge of the huge game park, forbidden to hunt in or enter the land they have lived on sustainably for centuries. Meanwhile, one of the largest diamond mines in the world has been allowed to open in the park, and wealthy big game hunters from abroad are welcomed to newly constructed state-of-the-art game lodges. Is this conservation, or something more akin to bullying of the weak and exploitation of the land in the interests of the powerful? https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/aug/28/exiles-human-cost-of-conservation-indigenous-peoples-eco-tourism

UN experts urge human rights consideration in conservation efforts

UN experts on environment and indigenous peoples rights on Monday urged [press release] governments throughout the world to make human rights a priority in environmental conservation efforts, stating that protecting biodiversity is a human rights issue. The message comes days before the scheduled World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Honolulu, US, the largest global forum for adopting conservation policies. The experts expressed that it is important for indigenous people and environmentalists to join forces in protecting land and biodiversity, especially considering the number of conservationists and indigenous people who have been killed. Additionally, a loss of biodiversity, according to the experts, affects human rights as it negatively impacts the right to food, housing, culture, and other necessities.  http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2016/08/un-experts-urge-human-rights-consideration-in-conservation-efforts.php

 

‘Make human rights the priority in all conservation efforts’ – UN experts urge governments

Ahead of the world’s largest forum for the adoption of conservation policies on protected areas, two United Nations experts on environment and indigenous peoples today highlighted that effective and sustainable conservation requires respect for human rights. “The escalating incidence of killings of environmentalists, among them many indigenous leaders, underlines the urgency that conservationists and indigenous peoples join forces to protect land and biodiversity from external threats, notably lucrative resource exploitation,” the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, and on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54773#.V8Sw9bXWr_Q

International Collaboration Reports on Violence against Environmental Activists

Worldwide, according to UK-based NGO Global Witness, in 2015 there were 185 individuals killed in 16 countries while defending their land, forests, and rivers against industrial encroachment. At the top of the list were Brazil (50 killings), the Philippines (33), and Colombia (26). Global Witness recounts, “Conflicts over mining were the number one cause of killings in 2015, with agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging also key drivers of violence. In 2015, almost 40 percent of victims were from indigenous groups.” This month, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), British NGO Article 19, and Vermont Law School published a new report, “Deadly Shade of Green,” which documents the extent of the threat in Latin America. For environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs), the dire situation in the region has been created in good part by the lack of effective guarantees of human rights protection. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2016/08/26/international-collaboration-reports-on-violence-against-environmental-activists/

Corporate Conquistadors Rape Indigenous Lands and Bodies

Recently, KWG Resources Incorporated, a Canadian mining company, posted a video online using women dressed in bikinis to promote the mining of chromite on Indigenous lands in northern Ontario, known as the Ring of Fire. KWG President Frank Smeenk defended his company’s actions saying “sex sells.” Perhaps this was the most honest statement of those in the industry.  Mining is about exploitation – not just of the minerals in the ground, but of women as well. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Corporate-Conquistadors-Rape-Indigenous-Lands-and-Bodies–20160816-0011.html

Landowner linked to human rights abuses

LANDOWNER links to human rights abuses, trade union-busting, unregulated fracking and land grabs are exposed in a new interactive map of Scotland. Released yesterday by campaign group Global Justice Now, the online map pinpoints areas owned by “a handful of super-rich entities from around the world” said to be linked to controversial cases in several countries. This includes Majid Jaffar, chief executive of Crescent Petroleum, which allegedly made much of its money through “close association” with Saddam Hussein, going on to become a major investor in post-war Iraq. Jaffar owns the 12,000-acre Pitmain estate near Kingussie and gave financial support to a campaign to stop the construction of a wind farm near the property. http://www.thenational.scot/news/landowner-linked-to-human-rights-abuses.21311

Indigenous land rights: How far have we come and how far do we have to go?

August’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is a good time to reflect on the achievements of Indigenous Peoples around the world as well as the challenges they still face. Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed every year on August 9, the anniversary of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1994. It is a good time to reflect on achievements and challenges Indigenous Peoples around the world still face. One pertinent issue is the legal security of land and natural resource rights. How well do national laws protect the interests of these historically marginalized communities? http://news.trust.org/item/20160809151224-0z6ch/

U.S., Australia, Canada indigenous land rights laws lag Africa, Latam: mapping study

Wealthier countries including the United States and Australia score behind Latin America and African nations when it comes to laws protecting indigenous land rights, according to the first analysis of an online global map of land ownership. Known as ‘LandMark’, the interactive platform was launched nine months ago with the aim of building an accurate, ongoing picture of indigenous or community lands using data provided by recognized organizations and experts around the world. With 113 countries now logged into the database, the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) analysed the findings so far and found countries in Latin America and Africa have the strongest laws for protecting indigenous land. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-land-global-mapping-idUSKCN10K1XG

4 stories of Indigenous Peoples’ struggle for climate justice

Racism, deforestation, powerful mining companies, colonialism, the oil industry – Indigenous People across the world are fighting so many things in the struggle for climate justice. From Canada to Honduras to Brazil to Finland, Indigenous Peoples face systematic oppression, government ambivalence and corporate greed – and with a changing climate their battles have gotten even bigger. When your life, existence and culture is threatened, you can’t run away – speaking truth to power is the only way to live. www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/4-stories-of-indigenous-peoples-struggle/blog/57235/

Dispatches: Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Around the World, Indigenous Peoples Suffer Violence, Discrimination, and Exclusion. According to the United Nations, the world has an estimated 370 million indigenous people. They make up about one-third of the world’s 900 million rural people who are classified as extremely poor.

Human Rights Watch research in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Burma and Thailand, Kenya, and Canada confirms that indigenous peoples often face violence, discrimination, exclusion, and poverty.  In Uganda, for example, the government has promoted private investment in mining in the Karamoja region, but has failed to amend laws to ensure that customary land owners – including many from indigenous communities – are consulted about the development of their own lands. Local officials admitted to Human Rights Watch in 2014 that “elders were not factored in,” and the “communities are not involved” when granting mining licenses. Mining companies, in some cases, promised to compensate for losses, including by creating schools, hospitals, boreholes, jobs, scholarships, and money. But local communities said they had not yet seen the promised benefits.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/09/dispatches-protecting-rights-indigenous-peoples

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August

The day is celebrated each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. This year the day is devoted to the right to education.  On behalf of the European Union, High Representative Federica Mogherini issued a statement in support of the rights of indigenous peoples and recognized their unique contributions to the world’s cultural diversity. However, despite the many positive developments in recognising the rights of indigenous peoples, there are persistent human rights violations, including killings and abuses against indigenous Human Rights Defenders in a range of countries.  “The EU is therefore stepping up its efforts to protect Human Rights Defenders working on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized, including indigenous peoples, and those campaigning on land rights issues,” says Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief of EU.  http://www.brusselstimes.com/eu-affairs/6166/international-day-of-the-world-s-indigenous-peoples-on-9-august

Pope Francis: A voice for the rights of indigenous peoples

In August it has to do with Sport and his desire that sports may build a culture of encounter among everyone for a world of peace. In July the Pope’s prayer intention was for Respect for Indigenous Peoples. In a video message he said that he prays that “indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect”. Linda Bordoni looked into the question of the rights of Indigenous and Tribal peoples with Lewis Evans who works for Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. Pointing out that this is not the first time Pope Francis has called for respect for indigenous people’s rights, Lewis Evans says “it is great the Pope is putting the issue  at the heart of his agenda”. http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/pope-francis-a-voice-for-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/30884/1

Mogherini promises to tackle ‘persistent human rights violations’ against indigenous people

The Italian official spoke out on Monday, which was designed the “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”. There are around 300 million indigenous people in 70 countries throughout the world – five per cent of the world’s population. The international day was established by the United Nations in 1994 to promote the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This year, the theme is ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education’.  https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/mogherini-promises-tackle-persistent-human-rights-violations-against-indigenous-people

Indigenous People of the Americas Have New Hope for Justice

June 15 was a historic day. After 17 years of negotiations, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved. That’s cause for celebration.  The Declaration brings advances on many fronts. It means States must commit to respecting the rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to land, territory, and a healthy environment. It means respecting sustainable development. It recognizes that violence against indigenous women “prevents and nullifies the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” And it reinforces the rights of indigenous peoples to participation; to prior consultation; and to free, prior, and informed consent – particularly when they’re faced with harm to their territorieshttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/astrid-puentes-riaao/indigenous-people-of-the_b_11412180.html

These Are Scary Times for Human Rights Defenders—As This Funder Well Knows

We’re just over halfway through 2016 and it’s already been a bloody year for human rights defenders. From January to April, at least 24 human rights defenders were murdered in Brazil alone. This makes the country the most dangerous in the world for the brave men and women working on the front lines of the global human rights fight. Last year, over 150 human rights defenders were either murdered or died in custody. More than half of those murders took place in Latin America and Columbia. The dangers faced by human rights defenders came closer to the forefront of the global rights dialogue when Berta Cáceres, who tirelessly fought for the rights the Lenca indigenous people in Honduras, was murdered earlier this year. Just one month after that March, 2016 killing, eight U.N. experts echoed their appeal to Honduran government officials for justice and increased protection of people defending the country’s environmental and human rights as well as increased transparency regarding the details of Cáceres’ murder and those that will surely come after her.  http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2016/8/3/these-are-scary-times-for-human-rights-defendersas-this-fund.html

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE INSIST ON EQUALITY OF ALL RIGHTS

The world’s indigenous people – estimated at over 370 million living across 90 countries and accounting for 15% of the poorest – remain isolated, both politically and geographically. So, nearly a thousand participants from Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean gathered together to air their grievances before the United Nations at a two-week long conference, which concluded May 20. Their plea for inclusiveness was a reiteration of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s appeal to the international community on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a more humane and prosperous world for all – “leaving no one behind”. The conference ended with a resounding call for greater participation in the United Nations and in UN bodies by some of the world’s most neglected minorities who are increasingly victims of armed conflicts, corporate greed and rising economic inequalities.  http://dailynews.lk/?q=2016/08/04/features/89440

S’gor Indigenous Arts Festival ends with high praise

The Selangor Indigenous Arts Festival, held at the Shah Alam National Botanical Garden in conjunction with the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples 2016  was organised by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Joas) in collaboration with Tourism Selangor and the regional Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). The festival saw the gathering of 21 domestic indigenous tribes from Malaysia, as well as indigenous tribes from Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam. Although the festival was only opened to the public on Aug 6 and 7, it has been ongoing since Aug 3, with various workshops and youth fora on issues faced by the various indigenous tribes.  https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/351735

Land rights: targets, expectations and tools for businesses

The International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), a human rights umbrella organization, recently stated that Southeast Asia is facing increasing conflicts and violence over land grab activity. Land grab relates to speculation and illegal and unethical transfer of lands, small and large. IFHR says the situation is particularly pronounced in Cambodia, where land grabbing has displaced more than 800,000 people since 2000.  Land rights are cited in the very first two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underlining the indissoluble link between land, poverty and hunger. The Sustainable Development Goals are a rich resource for businesses that want to rethink their impacts and join forces with their governments and communities. By 2030 the international community has agreed to the following vision. http://csr-asia.com/csr-asia-weekly-news-detail.php?id=12607

Is Ethanol Better or Worse for the Environment?

Ethanol may be good for the agricultural community that gets to divert crops to supplement gas but it may not be too good for the environment. That’s according to a study just released from the University of Michigan, which says that crops used to make biofuels only absorb about 37 percent of the carbon that is later released into the atmosphere. In a story appearing in the London Telegraph, Professor John DeCicco asserts that his findings undercut the very rationale for having ethanol supplements and public subsidies of them. https://www.environmentalleader.com/2016/08/29/is-ethanol-better-or-worse-for-the-environment/

Biofuels emit more greenhouse gas than gasoline

Who would have thought that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel emit more greenhouse gas – specifically heat-trapping carbon dioxide – than gasoline? A team of scientists from the University of Michigan discovered this is the case. Their findings challenge the widely held assumption that ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels are carbon neutral. Contrary to what most people had assumed, the heat-trapping CO2 gas emitted when biofuels are burned isn’t fully balanced by the carbon dioxide uptake that occurs as the plants used to make them grow, Professor John DeCicco and colleagues from the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute wrote in the journal Climate Changehttp://marketbusinessnews.com/biofuels-emit-greenhouse-gas-gasoline/143038

Are biofuels really worse than petrol when it comes to climate change?

Biofuels have been found to be worse for the planet than petrol, but the study doesn’t take the whole picture into account. A recent study announced, to relatively large fanfare, that renewable energy fuels are more damaging to the planet than petrol. In particular, it claimed these biofuels release more CO2 into the air. The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, refutes the claim that biofuels are less carbon-intensive than fossil fuels, and the production of this form of energy was found to actually lead to more greenhouse gases being released. “When it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline. So the underpinnings of policies used to promote biofuels for reasons of climate have now been proven to be scientifically incorrect,” said Professor John DeCicco, co-author of the study, in a statement.  http://www.wired.co.uk/article/biofuels-worse-than-petrol-environment

Biofuel Not Environmental Friendly, Might Be Worse Than Gasoline

A new study revealed that that the increasing biofuel use in the U.S. has led to the net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, despite previous studies suggesting that biofuel is carbon neutral. The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, debunked all previous carbon footprint models based on lifecycle analysis that were used to develop the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which resulted to the expansion of biofuel use over the past decade. These carbon footprint models showed that crop-based biofuels offer at least modest net greenhouse gas reductions relative to petroleum fuels. http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/27552/20160826/biofuel-not-environmental-friendly-might-be-worse-than-gasoline.htm

Ethanol Bombshell: Biofuel Are Worse For Environment Than Gas

For years this website has opposed government subsidies for “biofuels.” How come?  Subsidization of these alternative fuels – most notably corn-based ethanol – has been another failed government experiment which has led directly to higher food prices and rampant environmental damage. “The ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today,” a 2013 Associated Press investigation determined. “As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies.” The entire ethanol fuel industry has been built on a liehttp://www.fitsnews.com/2016/08/26/ethanol-bombshell-biofuel-are-worse-for-environment-than-gas/

The Unintended Climate Consequences of Biofuels Mandates: New at Reason

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump agree on at least one thing. Both support the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which mandates the production of billions of gallons of biofuels. The RFS was passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and it mandates the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that substituting biofuels for gasoline and diesel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons by that time. http://reason.com/blog/2016/08/19/the-unintended-climate-consequences-of-b

Are the UK ‘biomass sustainability standards’ legitimising forest destruction?

This month wood pellet mills in the southern US that supply the UK’s Drax power station were awarded ‘sustainability’ certificates under a voluntary scheme governed entirely by energy companies. The certificates provide no credible guarantee that the fuel does not come from ecologically valuable natural forests and wetlands, clear-cut and replaced by industrial plantations. In December 2015 the UK Government introduced its long-awaited sustainability and greenhouse gas standards for biomass. Biomass which fails to meet the standards is no longer eligible for subsidies. This is the Government’s answer to growing concerns about the impacts of large-scale biomass electricity on forests and on the climate. http://www.theecologist.org/essays/2988028/are_the_uk_biomass_sustainability_standards_legitimising_forest_destruction.html

Here’s where tropical forests have been destroyed for palm oil over the past 25 years

Most oil palm is grown in areas that were once species-rich and carbon-rich tropical forests, thanks to the fact that the crop’s natural range is limited to the humid tropics. So where are the active fronts of deforestation for oil palm? And where might they be in the future? Palm oil has become one of the most in-demand agricultural commodities over the past several years and, as such, has also become a significant driver of deforestation. Palm oil and its derivatives are common ingredients in everything from peanut butter and snack foods to shampoo and toothpaste. More than 80 percent of the world’s palm oil production occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia, but the patterns of deforestation associated with expansion of oil palm plantations in these two countries, and the associated impacts on biodiversity, are not necessarily the same everywhere in the world.  https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/heres-where-tropical-forests-have-been-destroyed-for-palm-oil-over-the-past-25-yearsars/

Palm Oil Still Driving Deforestation

According to a recent study by researchers from Duke University in the United States, forests in danger of being cut down in the future to create land for oil palms are located mainly in Africa and South America (see map). The researchers used images of forest areas made by Google Earth and Landmark satellites and spanning 25 years in order to document forest loss due to oil palm plantings on four regions: Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle America and South America. The respective rates of deforestation were highest in Southeast Asia and in South America. The study also estimated the degree to which land for oil palm plantations was created during 1989-2013 by deforestation. The highest share was recorded for Ecuador (61%), followed by Indonesia (54%), Peru (53%) and Malaysia (40%) (see chart).  http://www.eatglobe.com/news/environment/2387-palm-oil-still-driving-deforestation.html

What is the limit to oil palm expansion?

In recent years, the palm oil industry has enjoyed meteoric growth as palm oil has become the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet. It’s found in everything from nail polish to Kit Kats. This boom, however, has come at the expense of the vast tracts of forests that have been cleared to plant oil palm. Taken together, two recently published studies paint a broad picture of the recent and potential impact of the industry at a global scale: from how much forest has been cleared in the past quarter of a century, to how much land is available for and threatened by oil palm plantations in the near and long term. Both studies conclude that while there’s lots of land suitable for the crop, the majority of it should be off limits because of its value for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. http://conservationmagazine.org/2016/08/limit-to-oil-palm-expansion/

New Short Video: The Human Cost Of Conflict Palm Oil

You may already be aware that many of your favorite snacks contain the controversial ingredient palm oil, since it can be found in roughly half of all packaged goods in your local grocery store. What you may not know, is that all too frequently that palm oil is produced with modern day slavery, child labor, and worker and human rights abuses. Geographically and socially isolated, many of the millions of palm oil plantation laborers live in small villages embedded deep within a sea of tens of thousands of acres of oil palm trees. Their stories rarely make it beyond these seemingly endless rows of oil palm.  A new three minute animated video released by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), our allies at the Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization OPPUK and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) titled, “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil,” takes us to these hidden plantations and tells the harrowing stories of three palm oil workers. Please watch and share this short video to expose the human cost of the palm oil in our snack foods, and pressure companies like PepsiCo to clean up their act. video-the-human-cost-palm-oil_b_11228932.html

 

Palm Oil Plantations Hurt Ecosystems Severely

11 out of 14 ecosystem functions showed a net decrease due to oil palm cultivation, some with an irreversible global impact, according to a study published in Biological Reviews. Oil palms are now grown throughout the humid tropical lowlands, with Indonesia and Malaysia together accounting for about 85 percent of global crude palm oil production. So far, research on the environmental impact of oil palm cultivation has been scattered and patchy. A team of scientists from Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia, together with their colleagues from the University of Göttingen and the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany, set out to perform a multidisciplinary assessment of all ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations as compared to lowland forests. Drawing from about 1,000 scientific studies and reports, the research team put together a balanced report on the changes in all 14 ecosystem functions, including gas and climate regulation, water regulation and supply, moderation of extreme events, provision of food and raw materials, as well as medicinal resources. http://www.asianscientist.com/2016/08/in-the-lab/palm-oil-plantations-net-decrease-ecosystem-function/

Washing Your Hair Is Making Orangutans Go Completely Extinct

The shampoo you use, the pizza you devour late at night, your lipstick and even your favorite chocolate all likely contain palm oil — the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it’s in roughly half of all the consumer products you’d find in your local supermarket. But the high demand for palm oil is rapidly contributing to deforestation in places like Indonesia and Malaysia, which is having a devastating impact on a number of species. In the past quarter century, the Independent reports, over 25 percent of Indonesia’s forests — roughly 76 million acres — have been cleared. Much of these forests were cleared in order to make room for palm oil plantations. It’s a lucrative industry.  http://elitedaily.com/news/hair-shampoo-palm-oil-orangutans-exticnt/1591175/

Logged rainforests can be an ‘ark’ for mammals, extensive study shows

Mammals can be one of the hardest-hit groups by habitat loss, and a lot of research has been carried out to find the best ways to conserve mammal diversity. Much of this research has focussed on very large-scale changes in land use and the impacts this will have on overall mammal diversity. However, many important decisions about land use are made at much more local scales, for example at the level of individual landowners. Now, in a detailed study led by Imperial College London that looked at mammal diversity across different small-scale landscapes in Borneo, researchers have identified previously logged forests as an overlooked source of refuge for mammals. http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_22-8-2016-12-51-14

Barilla Eliminates Palm Oil From Over 50 Mulino Bianco Products

Italian food giant Barilla has eliminated palm oil from over 50 products across its Mulino Bianco brand. As part of its saturated fat reduction plan, Barilla has replaced palm oil in some of its biscuits, snacks and breads, with healthier alternative oils such as sunflower and extra virgin olive oil. Galetti and Taralucci biscuits have been improved, along with snacks such as, Plum cake and Pan Goccioli. The changes will also soon be implemented for other products, such as biscuits Abbracci, Rosite, Cuor di Mela and Rigoli. Barilla is the latest Italian food company to eliminate palm oil from snacks and biscuits, following the example set by Gentilini, Colussi, Galbusera and Balocco. http://www.esmmagazine.com/barilla-eliminates-palm-oil-50-mulino-bianco-products/31306

Wilmar helps smallholders gain sustainability certificates 

A group of more than 2,700 independent oil palm smallholders covering 5,500 hectares in South Sumatra have received sustainability certification, making it the world’s largest individual group of independent farmers ever to be certified, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm 0il (RSPO) announced on Tuesday. The RSPO, a global body of plantation companies, refiners, consumers and green groups that promotes the development of socially, environmentally and economically sustainable palm oil, said the smallholders grouped in even village-level cooperatives had been audited and were assessed to have fulfilled all RSPO principles.  http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/24/wilmar-helps-smallholders-gain-sustainability-certificates.html

REGIONAL TOPICS

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Impacts of current and projected oil palm plantation expansion on air quality over Southeast Asia

According to the United Nations, oil palm production in SEA increased by a factor of 3 from 1995 to 2010. We investigate the impacts of current (2010) and near-term future (2020) projected oil palm expansion in SEA on surface–atmosphere exchange and the resulting air quality in the region. For this purpose, we use satellite data, high-resolution land maps, and the chemical transport model GEOS-Chem. Relative to a no oil palm plantation scenario (∼ 1990), overall simulated isoprene emissions in the region increased by 13 % due to oil palm plantations in 2010 and a further 11 % in the near-term future. In addition, the expansion of palm plantations leads to local increases in ozone deposition velocities of up to 20 %. The net result of these changes is that oil palm expansion in SEA increases surface O3 by up to 3.5 ppbv over dense urban regions, and in the near-term future could rise more than 4.5 ppbv above baseline levels. Biogenic secondary organic aerosol loadings also increase by up to 1 µg m−3 due to oil palm expansion, and could increase by a further 2.5 µg m−3 in the near-term future. http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/10621/2016/

THE PHILIPPINES

Killings, land grabs threaten Filipino indigenous peoples

At least a hundred indigenous women and men in their traditional attire braved the monsoon rains here as they marched down Session Road to mark World Indigenous Peoples Day and to call attentions to life-threatening issues affecting Filipino IPs. Foisting an “Indigenous Peoples Agenda”, Igorot leader Abigail Anongos said main points include the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, genuine recognition of indigenous peoples’ right to ancestral land and self-determination, a stop to the plunder of resources in indigenous territories, and sufficient and appropriate basic social services and support for victims of disasters. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/08/09/1611712/killings-land-grabs-threaten-filipino-indigenous-peoples

Filipino Tribes Mark World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

Filipino indigenous people on Tuesday called on the government to address major issues facing the country’s tribes as they marked World’s Indigenous Peoples Day, an epa journalist reports. Jimboy Mandagit of the Tegwahanun tribe and supporters of the Filipino indigenous people rallied at the University of the Philippines library in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, where a photo exhibition on indigenous people is being held.
They held placards calling for the pulling out of military troops from indigenous communities; greater access to social services and education; and the resumption of peace talks between the President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and the National Democratic Front – a coalition of groups representing communist rebels and paramilitary forces. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2418375&CategoryId=12395

Gina Lopez, a “Crusader,” Sets Philippines Water, Mining Safety on Unexpected New Course

Before Regina Lopez agreed in June to serve as the secretary of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources, her standing as one of the Pacific island nation’s determined environmental activists was unchallenged.  As the top executive of the foundation established by her family’s big media company she organized courageous campaigns to safeguard water, forests, and coastal areas from mining and logging in a nation where 88 environmental activists were murdered from 2010 to 2015. One of the victims, Gerry Ortega, was a close friend who was killed in January 2011 while he and Lopez worked to defend the island of Palawan from several proposals for big new mines. http://www.circleofblue.org/2016/water-management/gina-lopez-crusader-sets-philippines-water-mining-safety-unexpected-new-course/

First 50 days of Duterte presidency

The following are the things that the Chief Executive said and did during that period. On June 30, Duterte gave the word for the official start of the war on drugs that he had signaled during the electoral campaign. As of the media’s latest count, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs has produced approximately 1,700 deaths resulting from alleged police operations, alleged vigilante killings and DUI (death under investigation) and over 600,000 so-called surrenderers.  The President, in the course of defending his decision to appoint anti-mining activist Regina Lopez as Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, declared that the Philippines could “do without” a mining industry. http://thestandard.com.ph/opinion/columns/business-class-by-rudy-romero/214691/first-50-days-of-duterte-presidency.html

Philippines’ 50 Richest 2016: President Rodrigo Duterte’s War On Oligarchs

After Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president in June, he vowed to fight crime, drugs and corruption and said that he wouldn’t stop until criminals “have surrendered or [are] put behind bars or below the ground.” In August he widened his mark, promising to “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government.” He added, “I will give you an example, publicly. Ongpin. Roberto.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerenblankfeld/2016/08/24/philippines-50-richest-2016-president-rodrigo-duterte-wages-war-on-oligarchs/#5321e2d371d9

DENR putting up interactive website for mining firms’ audit

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to come out with a website where all audit findings concerning mining companies will be made public, its top official said. “That website will be interactive. Everything will be made transparent. We’ll be doing, either big or small companies, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said. Apart from mining permits issued to companies, all the environmental compliance certificates will also be subjected to audit and review. We will not be selective,” she added. Lopez also plans to put up her own blog to document and discuss the audit being done by the department, as well as other activities of the DENR. She reiterated the DENR would not hesitate to shut down all mining operations that will be found to have violated environmental and health and safety laws and regulations.  http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/08/14/1613123/denr-putting-interactive-website-mining-firms-audit

Philippine villagers claim victory over nickel mining firm

Residents of a small island in the central Philippines hailed a government order that stopped one of the country’s largest mining firms from removing nickel ore stockpiles from their village. The removal of the ore was ruining local ecosystems, the residents said. “We thought we’d see our island waste away first,” Rebecca Destajo, a village leader on Manicani Island off the coastal town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar province, told ucanews.com Aug. 18 after the government announced its decision.

Caraga left-leaning groups back govt drive vs ‘irresponsible’ mining, contractualization

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez has found a strong ally in her campaign against “irresponsible” mining, particularly in the Caraga region, which hosts some of the country’s large-scale mines. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the 500-strong Caraga Watch, a coalition of progressive environmental and workers’ groups in the industrial and agricultural sectors, have expressed support behind President Duterte and Lopez’s campaign.

The group staged a rally in front of the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Thursday to manifest their support behind the Duterte administration’s ongoing mine audit, which, so far, has caused the suspension of 10 large-scale mining operations. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/2016/08/29/caraga-left-leaning-groups-back-govt-drive-vs-irresponsible-mining-contractualization/

Rally backs DENR tack on responsible mines

At least 500 members of different environmental and militant groups trooped to the Caraga regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to express support for what some rally leaders said was the propeople and pro-environment thrust of the DENR under Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. The rallyists also demanded that mining firms which violated local and national laws be punished. Groups which sent delegates to the rally included the Caraga Watch, an environmental watchdog in the Caraga region, and the Nagkahiusang Gagmay’ng Minero (United Small Scale Miners). http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/810376/rally-backs-denr-tack-on-responsible-mines#ixzz4IoL39yoN

These Videos Expose the Dirty and Destructive Impact of Large-Scale Mining in the Philippines

The Philippine government has identified mining as a key industry that will boost the country’s economy. Because of the generous incentives provided by the government to foreign investors, mining operations have intensified in recent years. Tax revenues slightly increased and temporary jobs were created in remote communities but overall, mining only had a minimal contribution to the economy. Some researchers have even pointed out that the extractive industry played an insignificant role in poverty eradication. Worse, it generated a huge amount of mining waste, which destroyed the biodiversity in several provinces, and it displaced indigenous peoples from their ancestral domains.

SEE ARTICLE AND VIDEOS

https://globalvoices.org/2016/08/24/these-videos-expose-the-dirty-and-destructive-impact-of-large-scale-mining-in-the-philippines/

Antimining group hopeful of Rody’s green policies

ALYANSA Tigil Mina (ATM) welcomes President Duterte’s pronouncements on environment concerns. Specifically, he has directed the review of mining permits and contracts, as well as logging and other environment-sensitive projects. He also assured that these permits and contracts will be amended, suspended or canceled, as needed. This is consistent with what President Duterte publicly espoused during his presidential campaign. The appointment of environmental advocate Gina Lopez to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources affirms the President’s sincere resolve to address the many issues and concerns plaguing the mining industry.
http://opinion.inquirer.net/96873/antimining-group-hopeful-rodys-green-policies#ixzz4IoDqVfZP

Philippines could suspend more mines in environmental crackdown

The Philippines could suspend more mines in a crackdown on environmental abuses that has halted operations of 10 miners, a minister said on Wednesday, dismissing a claim by mineral producers the review was a “demolition campaign” against them. “Yes,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez told Reuters, when asked if there was a risk of more mines being suspended. Lopez launched a review of all mines on July 8 and has suspended 10 so far, eight of them nickel ore producers. The move, and the risk of more being shuttered in the world’s top nickel ore supplier, has lifted global nickel prices to a one-year high above $11,000 a tonne. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining-suspensions-idUSKCN10Z1M7

Groups bring 6-point Indigenous Peoples Agenda to Duterte

Various indigenous groups brought to President Duterte their six-point Indigenous People’s (IP) Agenda, hinged on the call for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which they hope will finally bring peace to indigenous communities. The IP Agenda contains many of long-standing demands for justice, social services, and respect for culture – which boils down to respect for the indigenous peoples right to self-determination and ancestral lands. Groups of Ayta, Dumagat, Mangyan, Igorot and Lumad led by the indigenous alliance, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) staged a picket at Mendiola bridge on Aug. 8, in time for World Indigenous Peoples Day. Their representatives brought a copy of the agenda to Malacañang, but failed to get an audience with Duterte or any government official.  http://bulatlat.com/main/2016/08/11/groups-bring-6-point-indigenous-peoples-agenda-to-duterte/

Sadyandi: Lumads’ festival Vs mining, logging

Instead of a festive celebration of the Indigenous People’s month, the Lumads commemorated IP month with a protest putting up a camp at the Rizal Park here coinciding with the resumption of the formal talks between the government and the National Democratic Front on Monday, August 22. Seven indigenous peoples and Moro groups from Central Mindanao occupied the Rizal Park here to air their opposition to logging and mining operations in the region for five days. The gathering comprised of more than 5,000 Lumads from South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City, North Cotabato, and Davao del Sur started their week-long campout on Monday, August 21. They demand to put a stop on the logging operations of David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) in Sultan Kudarant, and large-scale mining of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in Tampakan, North Cotabato, among others.  http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/sadyandi-lumads-festival-vs-mining-logging/

MGB to review Aquino EO on mining agreements

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is set to review the executive order on mining agreements issued by the past administration, as stakeholders consider this an investment dampener for the country. Former president Benigno Aquino III issued EO 79 disallowing the approval of new mineral agreements until legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms takes effect. “We are starting to review it, we are looking into the provisions, what it has accomplished, its intention, if it’s still needed and if it’s in the best interest of the country,” Environment Undersecretary and MGB director Mario Luis Jacinto said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/08/29/1618109/mgb-review-aquino-eo-mining-agreements

More foreign investors express interest in nickel mining in Philippines

Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. (FNI), the second largest nickel producer in the country and the largest single lateritic mine exporter in the world, on Monday said more foreign investors have expressed interest in the nickel mining sector in the Philippines.

The Philippines is the largest exporter of nickel ore to China, the world’s largest consumer of nickel. After declines in nickel price early this year, nickel price has rebounded by more than 30 percent. The financial industry, including ratings agency Moody’s, has been calling a bottoming of base metal prices, including nickel. Moody’s has upgraded its outlook for the global metals industry from negative to stable.  http://interaksyon.com/business/131906/more-foreign-investors-express-interest-in-nickel-mining-in-philippines

UK firm gives up on PH mine project

London-based ECR Minerals Plc has given up its option for a deeper involvement in the Danglay gold prospect—formerly called Itogon—in Benguet because of what it perceived as a lack of government support for the domestic mining industry. ECR said it would cease to be operator of the Danglay project, in which it has over the past few years earned a 25-percent interest that it expected to be in the form of a shareholding in Cordillera Tiger Gold Resources Inc. The company had an option to earn another 25-percent interest in Cordillera Tiger through more investments, but ECR let go of such “earn-in” option. “A new government took office in the Philippines on [June 30],” the company said in a statement. “Since then, the new administration has not adopted a supportive stance toward the mining industry and in view of this, the directors believe the termination of the earn-in option is appropriate.” http://business.inquirer.net/214238/uk-firm-gives-up-on-ph-mine-project#ixzz4Io8bP2Ov

Citinickel questions suspension sans audit

Citinickel Mines and Development Corp., a subsidiary of listed Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc., may file legal actions against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for issuing a suspension order prior to an actual mining audit. “We will pursue all actions necessary to prove to the DENR that the suspension order issued was unwarranted and even pursue legal action should this be necessary to protect the interest of the shareholders of ORE and Citinickel,” Citinickel president Caroline Tanchay said. “ORE and Citinickel are exerting all administrative and legal efforts to have the suspension order lifted. We are optimistic that MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau) shall reasonably appreciate the validity of the contentions of Citinickel and that the suspension order shall be lifted at the soonest possible time,”she added. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/08/25/1617168/citinickel-questions-suspension-sans-audit

GFNI says fund managers concerned over DENR crackdown vs mining firms 

INTERNATIONAL fund managers are still keen on the Philippine nickel mining sector, but the government’s crackdown against mining companies is a cause of concern, according to Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc. (GFNI).  In a statement, GFNI said its executives recently met fund managers in Singapore who have “expressed an interest” in the nickel mining sector in the Philippines.  However, GFNI said potential investors “raised concern over the seemingly aggressive stance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against mining companies.”  Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez has ordered an audit of the mining industry for environmental compliance, with at least eight nickel-ore miners suspended for failing to meet standards. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=gfni-says-fund-managers-concerned-over-denr-crackdown-vs-mining-firms&id=132638

Black sand mining next on environment crackdown

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said it will review black sand mining operations in the Philippines, picking up from where the previous government left off in its crackdown on miners that fail to meet environmental standards. “We are reviewing it, which mining we will not go for that will destroy the beaches,” MGB concurrent Director Mario Luis A. Jacinto told reporters last week when asked whether the Duterte government will continue its predecessor’s review of black sand mining operations in the country. In 2014, the MGB suspended a number of illegal black sand mining operations along the coastline of Cagayan province. Later that same year, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, a panel under the purview of the Office of the President, issued a resolution ordering an evaluation of all existing black sand mining operations in the country — from the issuance of permits to sanctions that may be imposed on companies that violate conditions set by those permits. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=black-sand-mining-next-on-environment-crackdown&id=132648

Jalaur Mega Dam in the Philippines Threatens to Displace Indigenous Peoples in Panay Island

The Tumandok (Panay-Bukidnon) indigenous peoples of the central Philippine Island of Panay are facing the real possibility of being forced from their homes due to the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam, which will leave indigenous communities in the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo underwater. Also known as the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase 2 (JRMP II), the project is expected to displace 17,000 Tumandok individuals, affecting 16 indigenous people’s communities. The building of the dam will submerge houses and agricultural lands of the Tumandok. These were the findings of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) from July 16 to 18 organized by the Jalaur River for the People Movement. Delegates representing 26 organizations from five countries, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, Philippines, and South Korea, took part in the ISM. https://globalvoices.org/2016/08/16/jalaur-mega-dam-in-the-philippines-threatens-to-displace-indigenous-peoples-in-panay-island/

Empowering Lumad vital to protecting eagles, says group

The Philippine Eagle Foundation has appealed anew for the protection of the forests and the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples in Mt. Apo saying this is vital to preserving the Philippine Eagle, a critically endangered species endemic to the Philippines. “We have places in Mt. Apo that are becoming open access because there are no clear owners and guardians. Barangay Carmen of Baguio District, for example, was formerly occupied by indigenous peoples, who were displaced to the lowlands because of insurgency issues,” said Dr. Jayson Ibañez, PEF Research and Conservation director. http://davaotoday.com/main/environment/empowering-lumad-vital-to-protecting-eagles-says-group/

CAR Multi-Stakeholders Revisit Autonomy in context with Federalism

A three day activity on Cordillera Elders Workshop   and Multi-Stakeholders Consultation on Regional Autonomy and Federalism will be held on August 29-30 and August 31 respectively,  and with Benguet State University as host through the leadership of Dr. Feliciano Calora, Jr. The said activity  is a collective effort of the organizers, the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) chaired by Mr. Windel Bolinget, University of the Philippines Baguio Chancellor, Dr.Raymundo Rovillos, Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC) chaired by Dr. Nieves Dacyon and  the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA – CAR) headed by Director Milogros Rimando. http://baguioheraldexpress.com/uncategorized/car-multi-stakeholders-revisit-autonomy-in-context-with-federalism

Philippine rebels agree to indefinite cease-fire

Philippine communist rebels announced an indefinite cease-fire Friday in peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies. The Maoist rebels announced their agreement to put down their arms in a joint statement with Philippine government officials at the end of week-long talks in Norway. The government announced its own cease-fire earlier. Some 150,000 people have died in the conflict that began almost half a century ago. Both sides said they had made important progress in the talks in Oslo in advancing a peace process that has dragged on for decades. “The joint statement we are signing manifests the historic significance of what we have achieved,” said Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Philippines Communist Party.  http://www.mininggazette.com/page/content.detail/id/1285358/Philippine-rebels-agree-to-indefinite-cease-fire.html?isap=1&nav=5016

INDONESIA

Indigenous people to reclaim land after years of struggle

For decades, indigenous people have been denied their rights to manage their own lands by the government. Even when the forests have been managed for generations by their inhabitants, only the government has had the power to issue licenses for logging and plantations.  Forest areas have regularly been used by large corporations for industrial logging, pulp and paper and palm oil plantations.  These forest conversions have been the major cause of conflicts between government and local communities, who feel victimized by the land seizures and a lack of benefits.  It was the ministry that proposed the concept.  http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/20/indigenous-people-reclaim-land-after-years-struggle.html

Hundreds leave home in palm oil conflict

Hundreds of residents from several hamlets in West Kalimantan have fled their homes to avoid arrest over their alleged involvement in a conflict with an oil palm company operating plantations in the area. The residents from the area around the village of Olak-Olak in Kubu district, Kubu Raya regency, have reportedly escaped to regions in and around Pontianak City.  In search of support, around 50 of them approached the West Kalimantan chapter of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Pontianak on Monday to report the case. Some women were crying while carrying their children, who have not attended school for nearly a week.Olak-Olak village leader Musri said the conflict had erupted on Feb. 24, when the community held a rally against the company, PT Sintang Raya, to proclaim their land rights in the concession areas. On July 9, the community protested again, this time by harvesting oil palms in the plantation area, reportedly under the eyes of the police. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/02/hundreds-leave-home-palm-oil-conflict.html

Double whammy for oil palm planters in Indonesia

SPOOKED by heavy penalties imposed on plantation companies linked to forest fires in Indonesia, oil palm planters are bracing for another round of forest fires given the rising number of hotspots in major oil palm growing areas in recent weeks.  Fire outbreaks in Indonesia, often occuring during the dry season, had caused a serious cross border haze crisis in South-East Asia. “The annual forest fire has become a major risk factor for Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm planters operating in the republic,” says industry expert M.R. Chandran. http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/08/20/double-whammy-for-oil-palm-planters-in-indonesia/

Indonesian police arrest hundreds in connection to burning land

Singapore’s National Environment Agency said on Friday it expected air quality to remain poor into the weekend as Indonesian disaster management officials cautioned that wildfires in Sumatra and Kalimantan could persist through September. On Thursday Indonesia’s newly appointed police chief Tito Karnavian said police had prepared cases against 454 individuals in connection with burning land. “The arrests of individuals has increased compared with last year,” he said in Jakarta. “Just in Riau [province] 85 people have been arrested.” The head of the police’s criminal investigation division, Ari Dono Sukmanto, said he expected the number of arrests to rise in the coming months. Indonesian environment minster Siti Nurbaya called on police to “investigate thoroughly” for any links to companies and local government officials. https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/indonesian-police-arrest-hundreds-in-connection-to-burning-land/

Police investigate 3 companies over fires in oil palm concessions

The Riau Police are intensively investigating three companies for their alleged negligence in regard to fires within their concessions during the last two weeks. The three companies, identified only by the initials PT APSL, PT DBD and PT SS, operate in the oil palm plantation sector. Two companies, APSL and DBD, operate in Rokan Hulu regency while SS operates in Rokan Hilir, where a member of the Indonesian Navy, Chief Pvt. Wahyudi, died during efforts to extinguish fires on Tuesday. The total burned land in the three companies’ concession areas amounts to approximately 300 hectares. The police’s special crime investigation (Reskrimsus) director Sr.Comr.Rivai Sinambela said Rokan Hulu and Rokan Hilir Police were now handling the fire cases. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/26/police-investigate-3-companies-over-fires-in-oil-palm-concessions.html

Company ordered to pay record $76m over fires in Sumatra

Indonesian President Joko Widodo scored a victory in his campaign to prosecute haze-causing companies on Thursday with the ruling by a Jakarta district court against PT National Sago Prima (NSP), which was ordered to pay a record 1 trillion rupiah ($76 million) for letting fires ravage land it controls in 2014. The panel of judges agreed with government prosecutors that the plantation firm was guilty of negligence in failing to prevent the fires which helped blanket the region in a toxic haze. The fires are an annual occurrence caused by cheap, slash-and-burn land clearing practices which are generally illegal but nevertheless employed by farmers and companies alike. The widespread draining of Indonesia’s vast peat swamp zones to make way for exportable cash crops dries the land and creates the conditions for the fires to spread. https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/company-ordered-to-pay-record-76m-over-fires-in-sumatra/

Hundreds sickened in Indonesia’s Aceh as peat fires burn

Since August 3, peat fires in Indonesia’s westernmost Aceh province have blanketed some areas in a choking haze, sickening hundreds of people and forcing at least one school to close. Fires have appeared as far south as Subulussalam, which borders neighboring North Sumatra province, and as far north as Aceh Besar, the province’s northernmost tip. In West Aceh, 150 military and police officers are helping the disaster mitigation agency fight the fires. Hundreds of people there have developed acute respiratory infections. Two students have had to be hospitalized.  “Our son began to have trouble breathing at school, they immediately rushed him to the local clinic,” said Darmawan, a relative of the boy. “It’s been more than three days of smoke. The government distributed masks, but it’s not a solution.  “We’re tired — in the dry season we suffer from the haze; in the wet season the floods come.”  https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/hundreds-sickened-in-indonesias-aceh-as-p

Destructive palm oil company IOI let off the hook too easily by RSPO

A major palm oil company, which had its sustainability certificates suspended for violating rules designed to prevent the destruction of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands, has had those certificates reinstated. This shocking decision by the industry’s own sustainability group to lift the suspension sends a message that it’s OK for palm oil companies to continue trashing forests in pursuit of profits. IOI, one of the biggest palm oil suppliers in the world, was suspended by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in April 2016 for clearing peatland areas and developing land without obtaining required permits. As a result, many of its big-name customers walked away such as Unilever, Cargill, Mars, and – after tens of thousands of you emailed its boss – General Mills, maker of Betty Crocker cake mixes. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/IOI-palm-oil-suspension-lifted-RSPO/blog/57244/

Govt to boost palm oil sustainability as result of foreign pressure

The government is set to steer Indonesia’s palm oil industry toward more socially and environmentally friendly practices by improving the national sustainability standards, known as Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), on the back of pressure from developed countries.  The ISPO is a certification for legal compliance issued by the government. Five years into its implementation, however, it has largely failed to gain market recognition and access to premium EU markets. This absence of demand for ISPO-certified palm oil is because the ISPO is not regarded as sufficiently rigorous enough as it merely requires producers to comply with applicable laws and regulations on palm oil in Indonesia. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/08/12/govt-boost-palm-oil-sustainability-result-foreign-pressure.html

Indonesia: Biofuels from palm oil and power from tree plantations?

Indonesia possesses an extraordinarily large reservoir of oil palm plantations that span more than 10 million hectares and account for half of the world’s palm oil production. To ensure that this resource contributes to the national energy plan, the national government has worked out a Biodiesel Mandate that is among the most ambitious in the world. As of 2016, liquid fuels must contain at least 20 percent of biofuels (and by 2025, 30 percent). A subsidy program has also been set up in order to account for the substantial difference in production costs between biofuel and conventional diesel. One can sense a fair amount of optimism as this funding is based on taxes on Crude Palm Oil (CPO) exports rather than on yearly-negotiated national budget expenditures.http://blog.cifor.org/43268/indonesia-biofuels-from-palm-oil-and-power-from-tree-plantations?fnl=en

 

EASTERN MALAYSIA

Indigenous communities want their maps recognised

NGOs representing indigenous people are urging the federal and state governments to recognise the maps indigenous communities have drawn up to demarcate their land. Indigenous People’s Network of Malaysia (JOAS) secretary-general Jannie Lasimbang said JOAS hoped the Survey and Mapping Department (Jupem) would incorporate the maps of the traditional territories into its map.  “That does not amount to them recognising the land but these are the claims of the indigenous people.  “We want a one-map policy and our land superimposed to make it easier for land planning. Often, our areas are not established on the map,” said Jannie, who was here for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrations from Aug 6 to 9 in Taman Botani Negara here. http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/08/07/indigenous-communities-want-their-maps-recognised/

Sabah natives wary over communal land titles

The amendment to communal titles of the Sabah Land Ordinance must be repealed if the state government is serious about addressing the natives’ concern over their traditional territories, says a non-governmental organisation. Sabah Pacos Trust programme coordinator for land rights Galus Ahtoi said in the special terms of the amendment to Section 76 of the ordinance, the anak negeri or indi­genous people were deemed beneficiaries of the communal native title and not as owners according to their native customary rights (NCR).http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/08/10/sabah-natives-wary-over-communal-land-titles/

For Sabah’s food security

Oil palm plantation owners are being asked to do their bit to help Sabah in its bid to become self sufficient in padi production. State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin is asking plantation owners to set aside 10% of their land for the cultivation of the food crop. He said the Agriculture Department had identified some 300,000ha of land that was suitable for padi cultivation but much of these areas were already planted with oil palm. “These plantation companies should set aside a portion of their areas for padi cultivation.  “They can still make money while contributing to Sabah’s food security,” Yahya after launching a seminar on the control of pests and diseases here.  http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2016/08/20/for-sabahs-food-security-oil-palm-owners-urged-to-do-their-bit-for-padi-production/

 

Special award for Sabah natives at event

For the first time, a special award will be given to recipients from indigenous communities in Malaysia for promoting the rights of indigenous people in the coming national-level World Indigenous Peoples Day celebration.  It was reliably learnt that recipients from Sabah, home to the largest number of ethnic communities in the country, are on the list.  The award gives recognition to the recipients’ outstanding life’s work in advocating the rights of indigenous peoples, most often under extreme hardships and pressures.  The national-level celebration, which is hosted by rotation among the three regions in Malaysia, is held in Selangor this year from August 6 to 9 at Taman Botani Negara, Shah Alam.  htttp://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=111794

 

Changing tropical forest landscapes: A view from a small plane

We emerge from the thick tropical clouds that perpetually hang over Kota Kinabalu at this time of year. I crane my neck to get a good view through the plane window of the surreal profile of Mount Kinabalu, its multi-pronged rocky top standing well aloof of the surrounding clouds and forest. It seems as if the mountain, aware of its own splendour, has shaken off all vegetation from its peaks to better show off their plutonic immensity. Neighbouring lesser hills are overwhelmed by forest which runs rampant up and over all ridges and tops, but not on Kinabalu. As the plane skirts round Kinabalu’s southern edge the mountain slowly recedes, as does the cloud which clings to the coast. I turn my attention to the forest below.  http://blog.oup.com/2016/08/dipterocarp-forest-landscapes-borneo/#sthash.M9WigZdt.dpuf

Sarawak establishes 2.2M acres of protected areas, may add 1.1M more

Sarawak is making good on last year’s pledge by Chief Minister Adenan Satem to prioritize the protection of Sarawak’s tropical forests and the orangutans that inhabit them. The Malaysian state on the island of Borneo will open a Department of National Parks and Wildlife by January of next year, and is in the process of creating several new protected areas that encompass all of its orangutan habitat. The Malay Mail reports that, according to State Forestry Department director Sapuan Ahamad, the department’s structure and organization have been prepared and will be presented to the government for formal approval.   https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/sarawak-announces-department-of-national-parks-and-wildlife-to-open-next-year/

Sarawak reiterates support for MPSO

Oil palm planters in Sarawak reiterated their full support for the government-driven Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification that exemplifies the country’s commitment to balanced development of people, planet and profits. The MSPO is said to be a reflection of a unified code of laws concerning best practices throughout the supply chain, from oil palm planting to palm oil processing. It is modeled in line with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). MSPO is meant to facilitate palm oil market access through the mechanism of WTO and other multilateral or bilateral agreements with buyers. Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) chief executive officer Sylvester Fong said members are paying attention to yields and processing to achieve higher productivity targets. “SOPPOA has appealed to the government for more focused scientific research into low oil palm yields that may have been impacted by poor pollination,” he said. http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/08/165655/sarawak-reiterates-support-mpso

RSPO lifts suspension of Malaysian palm oil giant IOI 

Malaysia’s IOI Group has regained the right to sell “certified sustainable” palm oil under the brand of the RSPO, the world’s largest association for ethical production of the commodity. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil had suspended IOI’s certification over environmental abuses by the company’s units in the Indonesian part of Borneo island, known as Kalimantan. Green groups had accused the company of tearing down rainforest without the proper government permits, operating on carbon-rich, deep peat soil and using fire to clear land. All of the above are violations of the RSPO’s standards, not to mention illegal in Indonesia.  https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/rspo-lifts-suspension-of-malaysian-palm-oil-giant-ioi/

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TAIWAN

 

Hualien helps 200 indigenous people regain land, other rights

 

Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi and Council of Indigenous Peoples head Icyang Parod presented certificates Monday to 200 tribal people so they can claim land and other rights from the government. “The indigenous people who have tilled the land here for 1,000 years are masters who are today presented with certificates that will restore their ancestors’ land and allow them to inherit their ancestral glory,” Fu said during a ceremony held at County Hall. He urged the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples to provide information and files to help speed up the process of returning the land and restoring rights to use the land to the rightful owners.

 

READ MORE

 

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201608290031.aspx

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Council of Aboriginal Affairs’ plans for delineating lands a step back: advocate

 

The Council of Aboriginal Affairs’ plans for delineating traditional Aboriginal lands represent a step back from the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), an Aboriginal rights campaigner said yesterday, calling for the delineation authority to be returned to individual Aboriginal communities. “While new delineation regulations are based on the definition of traditional areas included in the Basic Act, when you look at how they intend to implement it, you see a complete contradiction,” said Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan secretary-general Omi Wilang, an Atayal Aborigine, who, with other campaigners, held a news conference opposing regulations earlier this week at the Legislative Yuan.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/08/28/2003654033

 

 

Truku Aborigines Protest ‘Unfair’ Police Arrest

 

Truku Aborigines from the Knkreyan Village, also known as Tongmen Village (銅門部落), in Hualien County gathered in front of the Ninth Division of the Seventh Special Police Corps today to protest over the arrest of three tribe members.  Local police arrested the three men under the Mining Act on Aug. 18 for the illegal mining of rhodonite, a pink mineral prized by collectors, on state-owned land. However, one of the Knkreyan villagers, Rakaw Didi, said the rock collected by the men was limestone, not rhodonite.

 

READ MORE

 

http://international.thenewslens.com/article/47617

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President Tsai’s Apology: Signaling the Modern Taiwan

 

On Aug. 1, the new president of Taiwan, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), offered an apology to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. In the presidential building, the apology began with a rite of offering of millet and spirits. Bunun community elder Hu Jin-niang (胡金娘) blessed the ceremony, and Taiwanese religious leaders followed with an interfaith prayer.

 

READ MORE

 

http://international.thenewslens.com/article/47608

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President Tsai visits indigenous village in Taitung

 

President Tsai Ing-wen visited Atolan village of the Amis tribe Aug. 11 in Taitung County, southeastern Taiwan, to hold discussions with community leaders and reaffirm the government’s commitment to promoting historical and transitional justice for the country’s indigenous peoples.  The visit came after the president offered an official apology Aug. 1 on behalf of the Republic of China (Taiwan) government to the nation’s indigenous peoples for the discrimination and neglect they suffered over the past four centuries.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=246959&ctNode=414

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‘Towkays’ exploiting local villagers over land: Musa

 

Middlemen, some of them towkays, are exploiting local villagers by giving them money to open up state lands for the cultivation of commercial crops and later getting them to apply for the land ownership from the State Government. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman (pic), who disclosed such goings-on in the rural areas, said communal title lands have also not been spared by such opportunists.  Concerned that these activities, if left unchecked, would tip the balance when it comes to the land ownership policies of the Government, Musa on Wednesday directed the Land and Survey Department and Forestry Department to carry out investigations immediately.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=111951

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CAMBODIA

 

Kem Ley’s murder must not make us lose hope for Cambodia

 

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people from many parts of Cambodia took to the streets for the funeral procession of Dr. Kem Ley. His body was transported 50 miles from Phnom Penh to his hometown in Takeo province, and crowds of people paid respect to this man. News reports say the convoy stretched for several kilometers, and included banners with Kem Ley’s famous words, “Wipe away your tears, continue your journey.” Kem Ley, 45, was shot at a gas station on July 10th. He was getting a cup of coffee there, as he did every morning. He and I knew each other for more than 30 years, we were classmates in school in Takeo, and we both worked for the UN Development Programme before I began work at Oxfam and he became an independent analyst working on natural resource management, the rights of indigenous people and women, and advocating for peaceful social change and democracy in Cambodia. He did several projects for Oxfam, including conducting a political analysis of Cambodia to inform our program strategy.

 

READ MORE

 

http://firstperson.oxfamamerica.org/2016/08/kem-leys-murder-must-not-make-us-lose-hope-for-cambodia/

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MYANMAR

NGO condemns decision to deny bail to human rights activist

 

A Myanmar court denied bail to human rights activist Khaing Myo Htun on 25 August. Earth Rights International (ERI) said in a statement that it condemns the decision and calls for all charges against him to be dropped.

“We are deeply disappointed by today’s decision, which appears to betray the court’s prejudice towards Khaing Myo Htun,” said Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director at ERI. He was denied bail at a Sittwe court on the grounds that he had failed to turn up to two previous court hearings. Khain Myo Htun was travelling in the weeks prior to his arrest and never received the summons. The judge also highlighted concerns about the sensitivity of the case.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.mizzima.com/news-domestic/ngo-condemns-decision-deny-bail-human-rights-activist

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Indigenous Peoples Day sends a message

 

These words hung behind the stage on August 9 at Yangon’s National Theatre, where the Myanmar Indigenous Peoples/Ethnic Nationalities Network hosted the 22nd International Day of Indigenous Peoples celebration. The poignant statement hits home here, as many ethnic armed groups have clashed with Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, for decades over land and resource rights. As the National League for Democracy government prepares for the upcoming Panglong Conference on August 31, more than 200 representatives from eight different ethnic minorities gathered in the country’s largest city to show unity and make a statement.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/lifestyle/21897-indigenous-peoples-day-sends-a-message.html

 

 SOUTH ASIA

BANGLADESH

 

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous Forum Head underlines Community Rights on International Day

 

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (known as Santu Larma), president of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, took the opportunity to emphasise the “right to education, land and life” amid celebrations of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on 6 August 2016.. Furthermore, Mr Larma’s speech focused on the severe deprivations suffered by Bangladesh’s 3 million indigenous peoples that still see their human rights and fundamental freedoms being regularly violated.

 

READ MORE

 

http://unpo.org/article/19389

 

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Ensure equal rights, dignity

 

It was their day. They gathered, joined hands and spoke up to draw the government’s attention to their demands for their rights and constitutional recognition as “indigenous” people. Wearing colourful traditional dresses, several hundred, who are considered ethnic minorities in the constitution, lined up at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital to mark International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples yesterday.   In their hands were placards, banners and leaflets, which read “We demand land rights now”, “our forest is our life”, “We demand equal rights to education” etc.  “Despite being citizens of the country, we are deprived of equal rights and dignity. We want such discrimination to end,” said Symon Ritchil, an indigenous youth and student of Dhaka University.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/ensure-equal-rights-dignity-1267141

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‘Recognise ethnic minorities as indigenous people’

 

Ethnic minorities in Bangladesh observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples yesterday with a call for recognising them as indigenous people in the constitution. Speakers at the programmes in different districts urged the government to ensure their education, health, land and social rights. This year the theme of the Day is “Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education.” Our Rangamati correspondent reports that ethnic communities in the district observed the Day with a rally in the municipality area in Rangamati town. Ranjan Chakma, president of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, CHT chapter, was in the chair. Ushatan Talukdar, member of parliament, Raja Debasish Roy, Chakma circle chief, Rangamati, and Arun Chakma, chairman of Sadar upazila parishad, among others, addressed the rally.

 

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http://www.thedailystar.net/country/recognise-ethnic-minorities-indigenous-people-1267366

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‘We are indigenous people not ethnic minorities’

 

Instead of being slapped with the humiliating label of Khudra Nrigoshti or ethnic minorities, all indigenous communities of the country have the right to be recognised as indigenous people in accordance with the UN guidelines. Bichitra Tirki, a leader of the indigenous Orawn community who also heads the Chapainawabganj unit of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, opened up about her struggle as an indigenous leader, a tortured woman and a mother said this during an interview with the Dhaka Tribune. “We the Indigenous people of the country have already attuned that it is not possible for us to live a peaceful life without coagulating our unity,” She expressed confidently.

 

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http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/08/09/indigenous-people-not-ethnic-minorities/

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Indigenous peoples’ fight for human rights

Except the purely European countries, almost all parts of the world have their own population of indigenous communities. This being the truth, there has also been a process of slow disappearance of these native peoples over the last half century. But they still noticeably comprise populations of many countries. Unlike in their past, the indigenous peoples are generally found in disadvantageous positions compared to a country’s mainstream population. Perhaps as a normal rule, they are deprived socially and financially, denied their rights to land ownership, education, and many other activities that the general people are engaged in.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2016/08/11/41717/Indigenous-peoples’-fight-for-human-rights

 

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Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: 3 Things to Know

 

Each August 9, the United Nations observes International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The occasion serves to promote the rights of the estimated 370 million indigenous peoples in the world today, as well as recognize their achievements and contributions. On this day, it is important to also consider how to honor and respect these communities as they face the imminent threat of climate change. Indigenous people lead low carbon lives and are excellent stewards of the environment. Unfortunately, the rampant carbon pollution and resource depletion caused by developed and developing countries means indigenous populations now increasingly face the dire consequences of a warming climate.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/maria-martinez/indigenous-peoples-and-climate-change-3-things-know

 

 

INDIA

 

World’s Indigenous Peoples Day Observation

 

The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM), an indigenous peoples human rights organization promoting sustainable development and human rights of indigenous peoples of Manipur, organised a two day observation of the WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY from 8th to 9th August 2016, with a theme “Uphold indigenous peoples rights over their land and resources in Manipur”.  The first day was organised at Riha Village Ukhrul Dist with the Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organizers (MDAVO) with a focus to protest the land, forest and river in Mapithel Hill and Valley and to express resentment and concerns with the plan of IFCD, Government of Manipur to commission Mapithel dam in September 2016. valley.

 

READ MORE

 

http://epao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=news_section.Press_Release.Press_Release_2016.World_Indigenous_Peoples_Day_Observation_20160811

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Dams, mines, infra take away their rightful land, livelihood

 

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on August 9 every year to promote and protect the rights of tribals. For indigenous people, self-determination or autonomy is their privilege for exercising their socio, cultural, economic and political rights. However, the colonial nature of the politico-bureaucratic apparatus is negating their rights.  The term ‘indigenous’ seems to have turned into a contentious issue for the Central government. It may be recalled that the Indian representative, who attended the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 169 in 1989, declined to accept terms such as self-determination, sovereignty and rejected the indigenous status to tribal people and idea of integrated approach.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2016-08-09/Dams-mines-infra-take-away-their-rightful-land-livelihood-/247479

 

 

Protest meet held at Riha

 

Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO) and Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) organized a protest meet against commissioning of Mapithel dam at Riha village as part of the two-day commemoration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples yesterday. The protest meet was attended by village representatives affected by Mapithel dam, said a statement. Women leaders of Riha, Chadong and Thoyee villages also took part at the protest meet. Riha village headman Wungreisung said that villagers find difficult to sustain on the limited land after most of their lands and forests had submerged in water. Thoyee village headman Ng Khathing said that the Government must be held responsible for the destruction of land, forest and water sources in Mapiihel hill and valley.

READ MORE

 

http://www.thesangaiexpress.com/protest-meet-held-riha/

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INTERVIEW-Simpler laws needed to avert conflict over India’s scarce land

 

Conflicts over land in India will only increase as its economy grows quickly, and the most effective way to prevent them is to ensure land laws are simpler and more transparent, a leading campaigner said.India has introduced several land laws in the past decade aimed at giving more rights to farmers and indigenous people. But the complex web of legislation has not always helped the most vulnerable, said land rights expert Baladevan Rangaraju. “We need fewer laws, and we need them to be clear and predictable,” Rangaraju, co-founder of India Property Rights Alliance, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

 

READ MORE

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20160818125311-qa16w

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Protect the indigenous, stop influx: NESO

 

The North East Students Organisation (NESO) has demanded that the Central government look into the problems faced by indigenous people of the region and bring about solutions at the earliest.  Speaking at the 51st foundation day celebration of the All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) at the DM college ground in Imphal West on Sunday, NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya said the organisation has always raised its voice for protection of indigenous people of the region.  “The different students unions of the Northeast states are unique but unfortunately some student organizations work under a high command. One must not forget that AMSU was formed for the people. The people of Manipur should place their suggestions and ideas to strengthen AMSU body so that the union can work at its best for the people of the state,” Bhattacharyya said.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.sentinelassam.com/mainnews/story.php?sec=1&subsec=0&id=279348&dtP=2016-08-29&ppr=1#.V8VdLrXWqu4

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Concern with Govt’s reliance only on electronic means

 

The Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM), an indigenous peoples’ organization promoting sustainable development and human rights of indigenous peoples of Manipur would like to urge upon the Government of Manipur to undertake a comprehensive approach to ensure the rightful participation of all indigenous peoples of Manipur in formulating a policy or a Bill towards protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples of Manipur and in regulating the entry or exit of non-indigenous populations in Manipur.

 

READ MORE

 

http://epao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=news_section.Inner_Line_Permit_ILP_Demand.Concern_with_Govt_reliance_only_on_electronic_means_20160825

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Rio Tinto Abandons Indian Diamond Mining Project

 

The venture in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was tipped as the first significant diamond mine in India and would have been one of only a few deposits in the country. The company declined to comment on local reports that the nation’s environment ministry refused to grant permission for the mine because of its potential impact on forests and tiger habitats. The mine was likely to yield 34.2 million carats over its lifetime, according to Rio Tinto’s website. Operations were expected to commence in 2019.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.diamonds.net/News/NewsItem.aspx?ArticleID=57779&ArticleTitle=Rio+Tinto+Abandons+Indian+Diamond+Mining+Project

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India sets out 2022 plan to beef up biofuels production

 

India has set out plans to boost its biofuels market over the next few years in an effort to beef up its energy security. Blending 5% of biodiesel with regular diesel and 10% ethanol with gasoline could boost the market to 500 billion rupees (€6.7 billion) by 2022, from about 65 billion rupees now, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at an Indian conference on biofuels. India would require 6.75 billion litres of biodiesel and 4.5 billion litres of ethanol for blending over the six years, he said. Shifting the fuel consumption profile to biofuels derived from domestic feed stocks would lead to decrease in this dependence on crude oil imports. Pradhan said in the last two years, lot of work had been done with its ethanol blending programme, boosting biodiesel and developing waste-to-energy initiatives.

 

READ MORE

 

http://biofuelsnews.com/display_news/10886/India_sets_out_2022_plan_to_beef_up_biofuels_production/

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NEPAL

 

Beyond symbolism

 

Indigenous nationalities need substantive support, not tokenistic public holidays.  On Tuesday, indigenous nationalities in Nepal and around the world observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. At an event organised by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal rhetorically expressed commitment to make the day a public holiday from next year. While some may have been impressed by the prime minister’s gesture, it says little about what his plans are in improving the lives of indigenous nationalities. Among others, the indigenous nationalities (Adivasi Janajatis)—comprising 35.81 percent of the total population, according to the 2011 census—face various difficulties in maintaining their cultural and linguistic identities. Centuries of hegemony of the so-called high castes has resulted in the exclusion of indigenous people from mainstream social, economic and political processes. This has led to a very poor representation of indigenous peoples in the state institutions. According to the Nepal Living Standards Survey 2003-04, the country’s average poverty rate was 30.9 percent. For indigenous peoples, the rate was 35.1 per cent; it was 18.4 percent for the so-called high castes.

 

READ MORE

 

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-08-12/beyond-symbolism.html

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AUSTRALIA

 

Thousands commemorate Wave Hill walk-off, birth of Indigenous land rights battle

 

Freedom Day festival celebrates August 1966 strike that kicked off a tradition of Indigenous Australian protest – one that continues at the festival itself. Thousands flocked to the remote Aboriginal community of Kalkarindji on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off. Among the politicians, union members, and supporters gathered at the Freedom Day festival, were the participants of the August 1966 strike and their families. Many attendees used the event to protest against current employment programs which they argued still treated Indigenous people like second class citizens working for below minimum wage.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/19/wave-hill-walk-off-anniversary-birth-of-indigenous-land-rights-battle

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Australian indigenous land rights trail Africa and Latin America, finds study

 

AUSTRALIA should be ashamed of its ”diluted” and “hollowed out” laws for the protection of indigenous land rights, say activists, after a global study found we lagged behind Latin America and Africa in the field. LandMark, a global map of land ownership, compared the legal security of indigenous peoples’ lands and natural resources in 113 countries.  The analysis used 10 indicators to score countries on their national or federal laws in the indigenous land and property rights sector. The results, released this week by the Washington-based World Resources Institute, found developing countries scored higher than many in the developed world.Australia. the United States, Canada and Norway scored behind the leaders of the pack: Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela in Latin America and Burkina Faso, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda in Africa.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/australian-indigenous-land-rights-trail-africa-and-latin-america-finds-study/news-story/d501af77f207527ebed293926956965e

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Federal Court awards Indigenous group right to trade over NT town of Borroloola

 

The Northern Land Council successfully argued on behalf of the Rrumburriya Borroloola claim group, against opposition from the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments that Indigenous people living in the area had historically practiced commerce with Macassan traders from Indonesia. The determination, handed down by Justice John Mansfield at a ceremony in the Gulf of Carpentaria mining service and tourism town, gives the Rrumburriya group exclusive native title rights and the right to trade over the majority of 2797 acres within the township boundary of Borroloola, on land where there is not already businesses and government infrastructure. The successful claimants have gained non-exclusive native title, and right to trade, rights over the parts of Borroloola where there is already infrastructure.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-11/borroloola-native-title-and-right-to-trade/7720290

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The struggle against racism and oppression

 

The Royal Commission into the Northern Territory Juvenile Detention System announced by Malcolm Turnbull last Thursday was condemned as a sham. Since the details of the Royal Commission were released there has been widespread community condemnation of the lack of involvement of Indigenous organisations in the process and its narrow parameters. The federal government and the NT government are being driven by the fear of political fallout internationally and nationally and by their total commitment to maintaining the system which has bred and fed the racist and abhorrent conditions shown on the ABC’s Four Corners program.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2016/1742/02-editorial.html

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Indigenous-owned Mining Company to Open Mine in Northern Australia

 

Australia’s Northern Land Council has agreed to permitting an Aboriginal-owned mining company to commence a small-scale bauxite operation in northeast Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. This is believed to be the first time an Aboriginal clan has operated a mine on land it traditionally owned. Mining Ltd is operated by the Gumatj clan, and will be opening a mine on land formerly occupied by Dhumpuma residential college on the Gove Peninsula. A Yonglu training center will be operated nearby at Gulkula.

 

READ MORE

 

http://aluminiuminsider.com/indigenous-owned-mining-company-to-open-mine-in-northern-australia/

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CHINA

China homes sinking: Mining boom leaves villages ravaged, residents at risk

 

Thousands of communities across China are crumbling as the effects of the mining boom spell disaster for those who live above exhausted mines.  Reuters reports Helin village residents in Shanxi province are struggling to fight against the ground crumbling beneath their homes, “patching up cracks, rebuilding walls and filling in sinkholes.” While a number of communities in Shanxi have been evacuated, the residents of Helin have not yet been ordered to move, despite decades of coal mining at about 100 pits leaving the ground ravaged. Residents, however, are more than willing to pack up as soon as the government gives the go-ahead.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.rt.com/viral/357187-china-mining-villages-sinking/

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Undermining China: towns sink after mines close

 

Deep in the coal heartlands of northern Shanxi province, people in Helin village are fighting a losing battle as the ground beneath them crumbles: patching up cracks, rebuilding walls and filling in sinkholes caused by decades of coal mining. Around 100 pits in Helin – buried in the hilly rural outskirts of the city of Xiaoyi – have been exhausted, and cluttered hamlets totter precariously on the brittle slopes of mines. But while local authorities have begun evacuating hundreds of thousands of residents most at risk elsewhere in Shanxi province, Helin’s situation – though serious – isn’t yet considered a priority.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.oann.com/undermining-china-towns-sink-after-mines-close/

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China’s Three Parallel Rivers national park threatened by illegal mining

 

Illegal activity is destroying wide swathes of forests and polluting water in protected areas on the edge of the Tibetan plateauhina’s best preserved forests in south-west China’s Yunnan province are under threat from illegal mining, according to a new report. The study by Greenpeace shows mining and industry activity in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan protected area is destroying pristine forests in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. The researchers combined remote sensing data and field visits to show mining is leading to deforestation, water pollution and habitat loss in the mountains of north-west Yunnan on the eastern foothills of the Himalayas.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.thethirdpole.net/2016/08/15/chinas-three-parallel-rivers-national-park-threatened-by-illegal-mining/

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China: New rules drafted to curb mining pollution

 

The mining sector has been a crucial part of China’s rapid economic expansion in the last three decades. China plans to raise environmental standards in its highly-polluting mining sector, according to a policy draft circulated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Amid rising concerns about the state of its environment, China has declared war on polluters and has drawn up new laws, standards and punishments aimed at forcing firms and local governments to toe the line. The mining sector has been a crucial part of China’s rapid economic expansion in the last three decades, but poor regulation and weak enforcement of standards has contaminated much of the country’s soil and left parts of its land and water supplies unfit for human use, threatening public health.

 

READ MORE

 

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/china-new-rules-drafted-to-curb-mining-pollution-2963135/

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RUSSIA

Russia: Mining companies, including OAO Yuzhnaya, violate indigenous Shor peoples’ rights

 

According to the NGO report linked below, indigenous Shor people suffer from a process of systematic destruction resulting from mining companies’ operations, including OAO Yuzhnaya. The villagers are now displaced, some are reported homeless. No adequate substitute land has been offered and no compensation provided that would enable the former inhabitants to rebuild their livelihood. Their main place of worship, the sacred mountain of Karagai-Nash, has been severely violated by mining. Access to the cemetery where their ancestors are buried is greatly impeded.

 

READ MORE

 

https://business-humanrights.org/en/russia-mining-companies-including-oao-yuzhnaya-violate-indigenous-shor-peoples-rights-say-activists-includes-company-comments

 

 

AFRICA

 

DR CONGO

 

DRC: Massacres in Beni – ‘People are slaughtered like sheep here’ say survivors

 

“I was there, they were killing and I watched. Then I started trembling.” These are the words of Angela Wabingwa, a young woman who survived a massacre in her town of Ndalya in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s eastern province of Ituri, on the edge of Eringeti’s forest. Speaking from Beni in the North Kivu province (a two-hour journey from her village), where she found refuge after fleeing Ndalya, Angela told IBTimes UK how her two younger brothers, aged 15 and 18, were slaughtered in front of her during an attack in August 2015.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/drc-massacres-beni-people-are-slaughtered-like-sheep-here-say-survivors-1562087

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Who is killing indigenous people in Beni, DR Congo?

 

Beni Territory sits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Province, bordering Rwanda and Uganda. It is a vivid example of the phrase, “Everybody wants a piece of Congo.” Now the people of Beni are being massacred for their land and its riches. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report after speaking to a Congolese human rights defender and author of “Congolese Genocides from Leopold II to Paul Kagame.” KPFA: Boniface Musavuli, Congolese human rights defender and author, said that the massacres in Beni Territory began in 2014. Estimates are that 60 people are killed every month. After the Aug. 13, 2016 massacres, the number of victims rose above 1,200.

 

READ MORE

 

http://sfbayview.com/2016/08/who-is-killing-indigenous-people-in-beni-dr-congo/

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DR Congo’s second city poisoned by years of mining

 

In this stream, the fish vanished long ago, killed by acids and waste from the mines,” says Lubumbashi resident Heritier Maloba, staring into the murky waters of his childhood fishing hole. Pollution caused by copper and cobalt mining has not only poisoned the Katapula, a tributary of the mighty Congo River and one of the main waterways in this second city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but has also induced widespread illness. “High concentrations of toxic metals … cause respiratory disorders and birth defects,” particularly in people living near the mines, said toxicologist Celestin Banza of the University of Lubumbashi.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/dr-congos-second-city-poisoned-years-mining-053644563.html

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GHANA

Gov’t charged to address under-development in mining and oil communities

 

Government has been charged to as a matter of urgency address issues of under-development in communities where mining, as well as oil and gas activities, are taking place. This, according to the External Affairs Director of Vodafone, Gayheart Mensah, is critical in ensuring that residents are not unduly deprived of the economic benefits of the natural resources. Although oil has yielded over $3 billion since production begun about 5 years ago, industry watchers are worried the economic impact leaves much to be desired. Mr Mensah is one of those who believe more needs to done to address the situation.

READ MORE

 

http://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2016/August-26th/govt-charged-to-address-under-development-in-mining-and-oil-communities.php

 

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Troubled waters: Artisanal mining and livelihoods in Ghana

 

his is the image I saw as soon as I got out of the car. We had just arrived in one of the coastal communities of Shama District in the Western Region of Ghana. As I looked around, I saw rows of fishing boats and canoes bobbing in milky brown water with men waist deep unloading their fishing catches from the boats. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, at least not right away. But when I squinted into the sun, I saw in the distance a thin, bright line of turquoise blue – like an underscore to the blue sky.  My Ghanaian colleague leaned towards me and said, “The river is starting to pollute the ocean. The water is brown from illegal small-scale mining.”

 

READ MORE

 

http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2016/08/troubled-waters-artisanal-mining-ghana/

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KENYA

Kenya’s Ogiek people forced from homes amid ‘colonial approach to conservation’

 

They came without warning, forcing people from their homes with no time to collect their possessions. A deaf old man was attacked when he didn’t hear the orders to leave. Then the houses were burned to the ground. More than 200 families, all from the indigenous Ogiek minority, were evicted from their homes on the slopes of Mount Elgon in western Kenya by a force of about 50 police and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers in June. “They were armed,” says Peter Kitelo, an Ogiek activist. While some people found refuge with friends and family, or have been able to build shelters, many still have only trees for cover. “We are really cold. There is no food, there [are] no blankets, there is no shelter,” says Cosmas Murunga, 68, who fled his home with 10 family members as it was set on fire.

READ MORE

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/aug/18/kenyas-ogiek-people-are-seeing-their-land-rights-brutalised

 

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Kenya on the cusp of a mining boom

 

The Kenyan government has recognised that the mining industry is a key pillar for growth and economic transformation and is preparing the country for the next big wave of mining activity. This is according to the country’s mining cabinet secretary, Dan Kazungu, who says he expects the country’s mining sector to grow significantly in the next 10 years. A new mining act was signed into law by Kenya’s president in May and provides clear guidance on mining activities in the country. The legislation is expected to streamline the sector and open the gates for its development as well as ensure environmental conservation.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/608/148868.html

 

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Kenya’s rapid urbanisation takes toll on Maasai communal land

 

It’s just before sunset, the time of day when Maasai herdsman Josphat Ole Tonkei would have been counting his herd of cows after hours in the grazing fields, a few years ago. Today Tonkei must wait until darkness to perform the check. The routes to grazing fields and water points have been blocked and he has to take a long, alternative route to reach his “Manyatta”, or homestead, where he counts his herd. An area that for years provided grazing ground for his cows has been built over with commercial properties and gated communities, leaving him and other herdsmen with no choice but to walk long distances in search of pasture and water.

 

READ MORE

 

http://naija247news.com/2016/07/kenyas-rapid-urbanisation-takes-toll-maasai-communal-land/

 

 

UGANDA

East Africa: Bidco Fends Off Protestors Over Palm Oil

 

Bidco, the Kenya-based vegetable oil producer and manufacturer of detergents and other household items, is not pleased by the protestors who turned up last week in London to highlight the company’s palm oil operations, specifically in neighbouring Uganda. Bidco CEO Vimal Shah, said the people involved lacked credibility and there is no merit in their claims of exploitation. The Bidco Truth Coalition (BTC) an activist alliance, last week picketed the London headquarters of Barclays and Standard Chartered, who they claim are funding Bidco Africa’s deforestation to make way for palm oil production in places like Uganda writes SAMUEL NABWIISO. BEI has nine member banks comprised of Barclays, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lloyds, Northern Trust, RBS, Santander and Westpac. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been a major backer of the project and Bidco came in later as the private sector partner by registering a Ugandan subsidiary to oversee the venture.

 

READ MORE

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201608290326.html

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LIBERIA

Liberia must learn to honor the rights of rural residents to manage their own land

 

The current economic model of transferring land to foreign investors on a massive scale fails to acknowledge the rights of rural communities to collectively own and manage their territories. These foreign investments rarely deliver their promise of shared economic development, and instead impoverish the very people they claim to help. Some 40% of Liberia is under concessions for logging, oil and mining. While these lands may appear empty on government maps, they are home to millions. A recent analysis by the Munden Group of 237 mining and agriculture concessions in Liberia found that all had established communities in their midst.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.latimes.com/world/global-development/la-fg-global-liberia-human-rights-oped-snap-story.html

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Book documents victims of gold mining

 

Broke and Broken’ is a story of the thousands of men from South Africa and beyond its borders who are victims of the legacy of gold mining. The book is an account of men who left their homes as healthy, ambitious youngsters but returned Broke, Broken and Bitter. SABC Reporter, Liabo Setho, spoke to journalist and author, Lucas Ledwaba, who talks about the exploitation of workers in the mining industry. “Children grew up without knowing their fathers. Men who worked in the mines were dehumanized. They lived in appalling conditions in the mine hostels. Their dignity was taken away from them … the best years of their lives were taken away from them.”

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/580f6a004ded27c99f8edfdee89283d8/Book-documents-victims-of-gold-mining-20160819

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South Africa rape: ‘Shocking’ levels of violence in mining area

 

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world and a low prosecution rate.  Based on its survey of more than 800 women aged 18-49 in Rustenburg municipality, north-west of Johannesburg, MSF said only 5% of the approximately 11,000 women and girls raped each year reported the incident to a health worker. The research also suggested that a very low number of these women were aware of how to prevent HIV transmission and even pregnancy. MSF said survivors of sexual violence faced numerous other barriers to seeking care.  “Stigma within communities is high and options are few for accessing well-resourced, dedicated sexual violence health services,” it said.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37097941

 

 

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEANS

Latin America ‘Most Dangerous Region in the World’ for Land and Rights Defenders: Report

 

Killings of environmental activists and journalists are increasing and members of indigenous communities comprise over 40% of the deaths. Human rights and land defenders face unprecedented levels of violence, torture, abductions, and murder across Latin America, according to a report published Tuesday by the Center for International and Environmental Law (CIEL)—and the situation is even worse for Indigenous people. The findings echoed an earlier report from human rights group Global Witness that showed an increasing number of land defenders being murdered worldwide.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/09/latin-america-most-dangerous-region-world-land-and-rights-defenders-report

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GUATEMALA

 

Guatemala’s Indigenous Peoples Endure Poverty and Contested Land Rights

The recent arrest of an indigenous leader in Guatemala sparked outrage among the country’s indigenous communities, which claim the government is systematically discriminating against them. In an email interview, Jennifer N. Costanza, an independent scholar who focuses on indigenous rights and the politics of resource extraction in Latin America, discussed indigenous rights in Guatemala.

READ MORE

 

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/19711/guatemala-s-indigenous-peoples-endure-poverty-and-contested-land-rights

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Canadian company tried to stop referendum on mine in Guatemala

 

Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources filed a lawsuit to prevent a village from voting on their mine — which the people rejected by 98 per cent. A Toronto legal aid group is calling on the American securities regulator to investigate a Canadian mining company for failing to disclose a secret lawsuit aimed at preventing a referendum on its silver mine. Even though the 2011 suit was rejected by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala — permitting a vote that overwhelmingly rejected the mine — local human rights groups say the mine’s parent company, Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources, failed in its legal obligation to disclose the lawsuit to investors.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/08/11/canadian-company-tried-to-stop-referendum-on-mine-in-guatemala.html

 

 

Guatemalans’ Fight Against Rogue Canadian Mining Giant Heats Up

 

The California-based Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA) and the Guatemalan Diocesan Committee in Defense of Nature (CODIDENA) represented by the Canada-based Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, submitted a 36-page report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the federal agency that oversees financial securities laws. The report details why Tahoe should face careful scrutiny and be held liable under U.S. law for failing to disclose to investors key details about local community opposition and human rights concerns swirling around the contentious Escobal silver mine.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemalans-Fight-Against-Rogue-Canadian-Mining-Giant-Heats-Up-20160811-0008.html

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Guatemala’s Indigenous Fight to Rewrite Civil War Constitution

 

Guatemala’s Indigenous population is systematically excluded from society through racism, discrimination, and criminalization, rights organizations argue, which is why communities are rising up to demand a new Constitution to enshrine Indigenous rights to land, cultural autonomy, and self-determination, local media reported Wednesday.   “Guatemala is a failed state that excludes Mayan, Garifuna, and Xinca people from its possible benefits,” Indigenous activist Mario Itzep, coordinator of the National Indigenous Observatory and National Network of Mayan Youth Organizations, told Prensa Latina. “We want to rebuild our country, the state, and implement a model of more harmonious coexistence between peoples.”

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemalas-Indigenous-Fight-to-Rewrite-Civil-War-Constitution–20160810-0012.html

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BOLIVIA

 

Evo Morales Hails the Struggle of Bolivia’s Indigenous Groups

Commemorating the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Bolivian President Evo Morales Tuesday praised Bolivia’s Indigenous people for resisting invasions and for their role in “democratic revolutions.” “Indigenous peoples have resisted invasions, we submitted to empires and now we have democratic revolutions defending Mother Earth,” Morales wrote on his official Twitter account. “We appreciate the historic struggle of the Indigenous community in Bolivia for its emancipation and living in harmony with Mother Earth.’’ Morales is of Aymaran descent and is the Andean country’s first Indigenous leader. Since his election in 2006 he has promoted policies to advance the rights of the Indigenous movement.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Evo-Morales-Hails-the-Struggle-of-Bolivias-Indigenous-Groups-20160809-0019.html

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Mining leader, 2 others, accused in Bolivia official’s death

 

Bolivian authorities accused the president of a mining federation and two of his top officials of the killing of deputy interior minister Rodolfo Illanes amid a bitter strike, officials said Saturday. Forty miners have been detained in the case. Illanes was kidnapped and beaten to death by striking mine workers on Thursday after to going to the town of Panduro, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of La Paz, to mediate in the dispute over mining laws and dwindling paychecks. Three protesters have been killed in clashes with riot police, stoking tensions. The striking miners had armed themselves with dynamite and seized several highways, stranding thousands of vehicles and passengers.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mining-leader-2-others-accused-in-bolivia-officials-death/2016/08/27/671dffb8-6cb9-11e6-91cb-ecb5418830e9_story.html

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Bolivian miners lift roadblock after deputy minister beaten to death

 

Protesting Bolivian miners on Friday abandoned a roadblock where a day earlier they kidnapped a government deputy minister, who was later found beaten to death. President Evo Morales called for three days of national mourning and declared Friday a day of “deep pain” for the country. Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes, 56, was beaten to death on Thursday after being taken hostage by miners who had blocked a major highway near Panduro, around 160 km (100 miles) from capital city La Paz. Officials said he died of blows to the head. The brutal killing of a senior minister has shocked the country and the violent protests highlight the conundrum Morales has of keeping his increasingly divergent core support happy at a time when income is tight.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-minister-idUSKCN11100X?il=0

 

 

COLOMBIA

 

Colombia Mulls Bill to Tackle Mercury Contamination from Illegal Gold Mining

 

Opposition lawmakers in Colombia have proposed a bill that aims to cut the use of mercury and other toxic chemicals in illegal gold mining, that has polluted rivers and blighted the ancestral lands of indigenous tribes. Colombia has one of the highest rates of mercury contamination in the Americas. The chemical – widely used to extract gold – seeps into the food chain and causes soil erosion and health problems. The bill, proposed by two congressmen this week, aims to impose stricter penalties on those who use mercury and other chemicals such as cyanide in mining operations with prison sentences of up to 12 years and tougher fines.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.voanews.com/a/colombia-mulls-bill-to-tackle-mercury-contamination-from-illegal-gold-mining-/3472576.html

 

 

VENEZUELA

 

Venezuela has signed over $5.5 billion in mining deals with companies including Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) and China’s Shandong Gold, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday. Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, said in a statement that “at the invitation of the government, we intend to review information pertaining to mining opportunities in the country.” A spokesman for the Toronto-based company did not respond to questions about spending or development plans in the country. “Today we are signing investments and letters of commitment for projects for over $5.5 billion,” said Maduro in a televised meeting with foreign mining executives.  The deals are part of a plan to ease the OPEC nation’s grave economic crisis that has caused food shortages and supermarket riots.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-mining-idUSKCN1112BR?il=0

 

BRAZIL

UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Uncontacted Amazon tribe faces annihilation

 

On UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Survival International is calling for the full demarcation and protection of the land of the Kawahiva people, an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon that is at extremely high risk of extinction. With the eyes of the world on Brazil during the Rio Olympics, campaigners are hoping that more will be done to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures. Many powerful people in the region, including José Riva – dubbed “the most corrupt politician in Brazil” – are targeting the tribe’s land. The Indians are acutely vulnerable to the threat of forced contact from these loggers and ranchers. In April 2016, pressure from Survival International supporters helped push the Brazilian Minister of Justice to sign a decree ordering the full mapping out and protection of the tribe’s land.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11377

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Brazil land conflicts simmer with 23 killings so far in 2016

 

More than 20 land rights activists have been killed in Brazil so far this year, with most deaths linked to conflicts over logging and agribusiness, data on Thursday showed, reinforcing the country’s reputation for being dangerous for environmentalists. According to data from local watchdog, the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), 23 activists have been killed in 2016 for trying to protect forests from illegal logging and the expansion of cattle ranches and soy plantations. Fifty land rights campaigners were killed in Brazil last year, up from 29 in 2014, according to the UK-based advocacy group Global Witness.

 

READ MORE

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20160804173050-2pmi5/

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Indigenous tribe applauds state move to cancel Brazil Amazon dam

 

Indigenous people living in Brazil’s rainforest have welcomed a decision by the national environment agency to cancel a proposed mega-dam in the Amazon which they say would have displaced communities while opening the sensitive region to logging.  Tribes will now be able to better protect the rainforest and continue living on the land because new roads and other infrastructure will not unlock the area’s pristine landscape for loggers, said Cacique Celso Tawe, a leader of the indigenous Munduruku Indians. His 12,000-strong community had been at the forefront of opposing the $9.4 billion Tapajós hydro-electric dam project, which would have flooded 376 square kilometers (145 square miles) of their ancestral land.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-landrights-hydro-idUSKCN10G1YE

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Brazil’s political crisis deepens violence against indigenous peoples

 

“I like drawing and playing. I dream of becoming a teacher so I can educate the children,” says Josiel, speaking in the Guarani language. Then he lifts his shirt to expose bullet wounds. Josiel Benites is 12. The pain of his wounds means he is unable to walk or attend school in the indigenous reserve of Tey Kue, where he is designated to live with his family in the agribusiness town of Caarapo, in the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. He does not wish to be a hunter or a warrior, but that did not matter when 300 armed farmers stormed the reserve’s neighbouring Yvu Farm on June 14 driving trucks and a backhoe and firing at will.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.smh.com.au/world/brazils-political-crisis-deepens-violence-against-indigenous-peoples-20160726-gqebmt.html

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Brazil’s Anglicans protest destruction of indigenous land

 

Hundreds of indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá and Terena people have been violently evicted from their homes in the central western state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The vacated land is being used for agricultural businesses, including soya plantations and cattle raising. Now, the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (IEAB – Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil) is joining with other churches to in a co-ordinated ecumenical campaign to fight for the rights of indigenous peoples. Brazil’s Indigenous Council reports that 390 Guarani-Kaiowá and Terena people have been brutally murdered and more than 500 committed suicide in the past 12 years as part of the campaign to remove indigenous families from their homelands to make way for agri-businesses.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2016/08/brazils-anglicans-protest-destruction-of-indigenous-land.aspx

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Some Indigenous in Brazil Suffer 100% Food Insecurity

Food insecurity in Guarani and Kaiowa Indigenous communities in Brazil’s south-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul is as high as up to 100 percent, over four times higher than the national average, according to a new report from human rights organizations. The study, conducted by the Brazil chapter of the international human rights organization FIAN and the Indigenous Missionary Council CIMI, investigated rights violations and other factors impacting substandard nutrition and food security in nearly 100 families across the communities of Kurusu Amba, Ypo’i, and Guaiviry over the past three years. The report aims to offer a “holistic approach” to the human right to food in Guarani and Kaiowa communities.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Some-Indigenous-in-Brazil-Suffer-100-Food-Insecurity–20160818-0021.html

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Brazil Climate Pledge Questioned After Ethanol Snub

 

Biofuel and climate experts have questioned Brazil’s commitment to a plan to cut carbon emissions by raising ethanol use after the country’s government this week said it planned to scrap a tax break on the biofuel.  Brazil pledged under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord to increase cane-based ethanol and biodiesel in its energy mix to nearly 18 percent by 2030. That would require an increase in annual production to 50 billion liters of ethanol by 2030 from around 30 billion in 2015/16, experts said.

 

READ MORE

 

http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/international/brazil-climate-pledge-questioned-ethanol-snub/

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HONDURAS

Honduras Is a Giant Graveyard for Human Rights Defenders

Honduras has become one of the most hostile and dangerous countries for human rights defenders. Honduras has seen at least eight human rights activists killed in 2016, making it one the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders, the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR, warned Friday.  “The government of Honduras must immediately adopt and apply effective measures to protect human rights defenders, so they can carry out their human rights work, without fear or threat of violence or murder,” said U.N. Special Rapporteur on Rights Defenders Michel Forst and the Inter-American Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Honduras-Is-a-Giant-Graveyard-for-Human-Rights-Defenders–20160820-0007.html

 

 

MEXICO

Understanding the Link Between Business and Human Rights in Mexico

 

Has a corporation ever made you feel vulnerable? Have your rights been ignored? Does it seem that businesses have no oversight? Then this may be of interest to you.  In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The principles reiterate that nations must control business activities, that corporations must respect human rights, and that victims must have access to justice.  The Council also created the Working Group on Business and Human Rights to put these principles into action.  The Working Group will visit Mexico from August 29 to September 7. This visit will be its second to Latin America, after a mission to Brazil in December 2015.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/astrid-puentes-riaao/understanding-the-link-be_b_11569720.html

 

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

 

They’ve waited for more than 30 years, so far, for a bit of communal land to call their own. And if you include the time since their land was first stolen from them, they’ve been waiting for a great deal longer—over two centuries, in fact. Today’s descendants of T&T’s indigenous peoples—among the very first “Trinidadians,” or “Kairians”—are a mixed group. Sharing bloodlines from virtually every major race that has lived in Trinidad for the past couple centuries, the amazing thing is that they still exist at all.  But indeed they do live on, some surviving what was the worst genocide in T&T’s entire history—a terrible and bloody time when native Amerindians were enslaved, beaten, raped, killed and infected with foreign diseases in a chilling orgy of brutality spearheaded by adventurist Europeans who swept through the Caribbean islands on a path of indigenous destruction and greedy land grabs.

 

READ MORE

http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2016-08-09/finally-some-land

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NICARAGUA

 

For a true autonomy for the Afro-descendant population

“For me, the autonomy process of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua never went farther than being an illusion for the population of the region. In theory this process was to make other things possible: bigger and better planning of programs and projects directed to and from the ethnic communities; the right and power to administer [financial and natural] resources; autonomy and diligence in managing the budget allocated to the autonomous regions; power to propose laws and their amendments to the National Assembly; greater independence in public administration; the possibility of a regional vision. But none of this has been possible. It has all been the complete opposite,” black feminist activist Shakira Simmons said to Latinamerica Press. To speak in Nicaragua about the black population for a country of a Spanish-speaking, mestizo and Catholic majority, is a reminder that there is a presence in over half of its territory, in the Caribbean, of other populations who, along with Afro-descendants, were colonized by the British and not by the Spaniards, as is the case of the Pacific Coast, and also that it was a territory annexed by the liberal government of President José Santos Zelaya (1893-1909) in 1894 through a process known as the “reincorporation of the Mosquitia” — territory of the Miskito indigenous people — without taking into account the cultural, economic and linguistic diversity of the populations, which were imposed Spanish as the official language and a governance structure based on the western scheme left by the Spanish colony and which took their resources to be administered by the state.

 

READ MORE

 

http://lapress.org/articles.asp?art=7341

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NORTH AMERICA

 

USA

Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline

 

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the oldest and largest human rights bar association in the United States, by its International Committee, its Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Committee and its Environmental Human Rights Committee, as well as the NLG’s Environmental Justice Committee, stands in solidarity with the sovereign Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation), the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and its people in their just opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their sacred and ancestral lands. The United States has failed to respect the national sovereignty and interests of the Tribe and its people, has failed to respect the nation-to-nation relationship with the Tribe established by treaties, and has failed to properly consult with the Tribe to obtain its free, prior, and informed consent for the construction of the pipeline.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/30/solidarity-with-standing-rock-sioux-tribe-against-dakota-access-pipeline/

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Dakota Access Pipeline Terrorizing Native Americans

 

The billion dollar pipeline corporation Dakota Access pipeline was granted a temporary restraining order against the Dakota and Lakota land and water defenders who are sacrificing their all to protect their water source of the Missouri River from an underwater crude oil pipeline. Dakota Access Pipeline has named Standing Rock Sioux Nation Chairman Dave Archambault, Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, and individual land and water defenders as defendants in an injunction filed yesterday by the pipeline in federal court here. The move against the Dakota and Lakota officials, and individual land and water defenders, is seen as an attack on some of the most financially desperate people in America.

 

READ MORE

 

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/brenda-norrell/2016/08/dakota-access-pipeline-terrorizing-native-americans

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Land-Use Change Rapidly Reducing Critical Honey Bee Habitat in Dakotas

 

The Northern Great Plains of North and South Dakota, which support over 40 percent of United States commercial honey bee colonies, are quickly becoming less conducive to commercial beekeeping as a result of land-use changes, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today. The USGS scientists found that landscape features favored by beekeepers for honey bee colony, or apiary, locations are decreasing in the region, and crops actively avoided by beekeepers, such as corn and soybeans, are becoming more common in areas with higher apiary density. Areas that showed high levels of grassland loss and high apiary density were mostly in central and southern North Dakota and the eastern half of South Dakota.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.usgs.gov/news/land-use-change-rapidly-reducing-critical-honey-bee-habitat-dakotas

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Uranium Mining Threatens Utah Sacred Sites

 

Despite record low uranium prices, the Energy Fuel Resources mining company is pushing to dramatically expand a proposed uranium mine in Red Canyon, Utah. The area is in the heart of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.  Put forward by a coalition of area Tribes, the Bears Ears National Monument proposal seeks to protect the cultural landscape of public lands in southern Utah, including more than 100,000 archaeological sites. These sites and lands are already being damaged by looting and vandalism. They are faced with state leaders who both fail to recognize the threats (one even attributed vandalism to badgers) and the value of the area for Tribal Nations, Utahns, and the country as a whole. Adding a massive uranium mine to the mix could spell disaster for this threatened region.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.sierraclub.org/lay-of-the-land/2016/08/uranium-mining-threatens-utah-sacred-sites

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Southeast Alaska tribes share mining concerns with feds

 

State tribal groups have met with federal officials to discuss concerns that Canadian mining projects could divert potentially toxic water to southeast Alaska watersheds. The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska met with officials from the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency last week in Juneau. The meeting focused on ways to prevent harm to the region’s water quality and salmon habitat. The tribe is concerned about what have been called transboundary mines proposed on the Stikine, Taku, Alsek and Unuk River watersheds.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/southeast-alaska-tribes-share-mining-concerns-with-feds/article_d3ebc614-6711-11e6-9aa2-532f08635951.html

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Subsistence and Sport Hunters: Individual Rights and Cultural Traditions

 

What is the difference between indigenous subsistence hunters and sports hunters? This issue has been part of a legal and political debate in Alaska since 1971. On January 3, 1959, Alaska became a state. The Alaska Statehood Act provided the state government with 103.3 million acres of land from a total of about 424 million acres total. About 25 percent of the Alaska land base was left in federal government hands through the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

 

READ MORE    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/08/21/subsistence-and-sport-hunters-individual-rights-and-cultural-traditions-165465   ____________________________________________

 

Public needed in fight against Yellowstone gold mining proposals

 

Environmentalists and business owners near Yellowstone National Park are gearing up for a public fight against gold mining proposals that they claim would destroy the local economy by driving tourists away from one of the nation’s most visited parks. The mines would be in Park County, Montana, a gateway community for Yellowstone National Park. In June 2015, Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. proposed digging a mine in Emigrant Gulch, 17 miles north of the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park to remove gold, copper and other minerals. Washington state-based Crevice Mining Group wants to mine for gold east of Gardiner, directly bordering the park.

 

READ MORE

 

http://dc.medill.northwestern.edu/blog/2016/08/09/public-needed-in-fight-against-yellowstone-gold-mining-proposals/#sthash.zwmIUsb0.dpuf

 

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Commentary: True history of Indian treaties

 

This is to all the people that have been supporting this Shoshone Foot-Soldier’s reporting of his journey of 15 years. This full-blood Western Shoshone, at the age of 73, he is going forward with his writing and telling the whole truth about his past Indigenous people’s way of life from the time of the signing of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. These Indian leaders at that time didn’t know how things were going to be. They were going with the flow because this signing was at gunpoint, and the signing was in blood. At that moment of time, Indian leaders were not educated in the way the white man’s politics works. Indian leaders didn’t know this was going to be a simple contract. Future Indian leaders of our community, you need to review it and make it a true binding contract. That way the white politicians won’t run all over it. By doing this, it protects all of our Indian people’s traditional culture rights.

 

READ MORE

 

http://elkodaily.com/news/opinion/commentary/commentary-true-history-of-indian-treaties/article_bf9b731d-c1f4-5400-a370-57a8d00da683.html

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Does coal mining hurt health in Central Appalachia? Review aims to find out

 

The federal mine-reclamation agency will pay for an independent scientific review of studies on the potential link between surface mines and increased health human risks in Central Appalachia, the agency announced Wednesday. The issue of whether mining plays a role in health problems in the region, which includes Eastern Kentucky, has been controversial. Studies have shown that mountaintop mining is associated with higher rates of cancer, heart disease and other health problems in Central Appalachia, Michael S. Hendryx, a professor who did several of the studies at West Virginia University, told the Herald-Leader in June. The studies were controlled for factors such as high rates of smoking and obesity in the coalfields, Hendryx said.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article93600657.html#storylink=cpy

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CANADA

Indigenous reconciliation proposals need to be enormous

 

Indigenous people need to be offered land and it will cost a fortune, which is what they lost over the years. Last week, Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon released an episode of his podcast, Red Man Laughing — a hybrid of comedy and serious discussion of indigenous issues. This season, the podcast follows the theme “Reconciliation,” and to advertise the new episode “Land,” McMahon posted a two-sentence proposition to social media: “The colonial project in Canada was/is about LAND. Reconciliation is impossible without returning land.” The bluntness of this statement and the inescapability of its conclusion were a stark contrast to the news of the day about indigenous issues. Within the last month, Trudeau’s Liberal government has stepped back from its oft-stated commitment to harmonize Canadian law with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a project for which it voted as a bloc last year, and for which Trudeau reiterated his support on the campaign trail last fall. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the UNDRIP a “simplistic (approach)” and “unworkable,” though she insists the Liberals still intend to “adopt” the declaration.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/08/04/indigenous-reconciliation-proposals-need-to-be-enormous.html

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Province failing to consult indigenous people on $3-B road, Métis leader says

 

The Manitoba Metis Federation is prepared to seek an injunction blocking the ongoing construction of a $3-billion all-season road in northeast Manitoba. Relations between the federation and the East Side Road Authority — the government authority created to build the road — have been strained for years, with East Side refusing to consult with the Métis on plans for the costly and expansive project, said federation president David Chartrand.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/province-failing-to-consult-indigenous-people-on-3-b-road-metis-leader-says-391235951.html

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Consent required to develop Moose Cree land says chief

 

The newly elected chief and council of the Moose Cree First Nation held a press conference in Timmins on Tuesday to declare publicly – in no uncertain terms – that their traditional territory and the resources within it belonged to their people. Not only that, but anyone looking to develop it would need to get prior consent from the Moose Cree people as a whole, not just the band administration. After a short ceremony performed by an elder, Chief Patricia Faries stood up and officially reaffirmed her First Nation’s declaration that a large swath of land along the southern shore of James Bay and for several hundred kilometres inland is their homeland since time immemorial, and so is theirs by right. The original Homeland Declaration was made in 2008.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.timminspress.com/2016/08/23/consent-required-to-develop-moose-cree-land-says-chief

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‘Cease and desist,’ Neskantaga First Nation tells Ring of Fire mining company

 

The chief of a northern Ontario First Nation says he was offended and troubled earlier this month by a notice that a mining company was set to begin drilling on the community’s traditional lands. Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias responded to the the notice from Noront Resources with a letter telling the company it must “cease and desist” because it does not have consent from the First Nation to drill. The drilling program is planned to begin by the end of August in an area known as the Ring of Fire in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands. “It’s offensive on our end to receive a notice that’s basically telling us ‘by the way we’re going to be drilling,'” Moonias said. “They haven’t asked us for our consent, they haven’t engaged with us in a way we expect, so it is very troubling.”

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/noront-neskantaga-ring-of-fire-1.3723560

 

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Polley Mine Spill Still Poisoning BC Waterways Two Years Later: First Nations

 

Almost two years to the day since Imperial Metals’ Polley Mine spewed four billion gallons of wastewater and toxic sludge into the pristine forests of northeastern British Columbia, the mine—and the pond that breached in August 2014—is open again. But despite assurances from B.C. officials two years ago that the company would be responsible for cleanup, the sludge from the spill is still nestled in the waterways, forests and land that the effluent spilled into—and the pond is ready to be refilled, according to a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun. The one thing that the company, government, First Nations and environmentalists agree on is that it was one of the worst environmental mining disasters in Canadian history.

 

READ MORE

 

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/08/11/polley-mine-spill-still-poisoning-bc-waterways-two-years-later-first-nations-165434     Canada: Indigenous Women Resist Environmental Destruction

Despite consistent government promises to collaborate more closely with Indigenous groups, four activists were arrested Tuesday for occupying the headquarters of a Vancouver-based mining company that is responsible for one of the worst mining accidents in the country’s history.  This month marks the two-year anniversary of the Mount Polley mine disaster when Imperial Metals Corporation released years of accumulated mining waste into a lake in central British Colombia. The four activists were arrested for occupying the offices of Imperial Metals, and another 20 protesters outside – nearly all Indigenous – intended to underscore the government’s approval of mining projects such as the one that produced the Mount Polley spill.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Canada-Indigenous-Women-Resist-Environmental-Destruction-20160810-0011.html

 

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Amnesty International calls for halt to Site C, dam threatens indigenous rights

 

An Amnesty International report calling for work to stop on British Columbia’s $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam will not affect construction on the project, says the Crown corporation building the project. The independent human rights advocate released a report Tuesday calling on the federal and provincial governments to suspend or rescind all construction approvals and permits related to the project in northeast B.C., saying the megaproject on the Peace River threatens the human rights of indigenous peoples. The report, The Point of No Return, also said the project should only proceed on the basis of free, prior and informed consent of all affected indigenous peoples.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.timescolonist.com/amnesty-international-calls-for-halt-to-site-c-dam-threatens-indigenous-rights-1.2319545#sthash.GlEHVEMX.dpuf

 

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Construction of giant dam in Canada prompts human rights outcry

 

Human rights campaigners are calling on Canadian authorities to halt construction of a huge hydroelectric dam in western Canada over concerns that the mega-project tramples on the rights of indigenous peoples in the area. A global campaign launched by Amnesty International on Tuesday called on the federal government and the provincial government of British Columbia to withdraw all permits and approvals for the Site C hydroelectric dam, a C$9bn project that will see more than 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) of land – roughly equivalent to about 5,000 rugby fields – flooded in north-east British Columbia.

 

READ MORE

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/09/canada-site-c-hydroelectric-dam-indigenous-rights

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Senator Murray Sinclair calls for federal bureaucracy to ‘shift its thinking’ to respect Indigenous rights

 

Senator Murray Sinclair, the retired Manitoba justice who co-chaired Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is in Montreal to accept the Canada World Peace award from the Canadian branch of the World Federalist Movement – a non-profit organization that promotes the development of democratic institutions and international law. Sinclair was in CBC Montreal’s Homerun studio to talk about the award and what’s ahead for Canada as it sets out to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 

READ MORE

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/senator-murray-sinclair-un-declaration-1.3717586

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Previous issues of this monthly bulleting can be requested to CALG (Coalition against Land Grabbing), email: [email protected]