By Damian Carrington, June 27, 2014. Source: The Guardian
A worker at Saudi Star Rice Farm in Gambella, Ethiopia. Rights groups accuse the government of forcing people off their land to make way for foreign investors. Photograph by Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images
The land grabbed in some of the world’s hungriest countries by foreign goverments and corporations could feed up to 550m people, according to new research. The crops grown on grabbed land are frequently exported, or used to produce biofuel, but the new work shows it could end malnourishment in those countries if used to feed local people.
Since 2000, at least 31m hectares (77m acres) of land has been acquired by overseas investors seeking to secure food supplies or increase production, a process dubbed land grabbing. Almost half has been in Africa, particularly Sudan. But Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have been targets too. Proponents argue the foreign investment can increase yields and provide development and employment, but critics say the grabs often occur without the consent of those on the land and lead to food being exported. Continue reading
By Addison County Independent, June 23, 2014. Source:
Photo from www.risingtidevermont.org
In a June 19 meeting with legislators and the head of the Department of Public Service, dozens of Monkton residents said they’re still nowhere close to signing easements with Vermont Gas Systems that will allow the company to lay a new pipeline across the town.
In the three months since Monkton residents held a similar meeting with state regulators to address Vermont Gas’ negotiating tactics with regard to its Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, not a single landowner at this past Thursday evening’s meeting at the Monkton firehouse said that talks with company representatives had improved.
Instead, landowners said Vermont Gas fails to respond to their questions in a timely manner, does not address concerns they harbor, is not offering fair compensation for their land and is secretive about its business practices.
“Nothing has changed,” landowner Selina Peyser said.
The meeting was chaired by Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, and Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia. In addition two dozen landowners, Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol, and Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, also attended. Continue reading
June 18, 2014. Source: GRAIN
Screenshot by France24
Arrested, assaulted and then charged with libel: this is just some of what land and environmental activist Nasako Besingi has faced while helping communities from the southwest region of Cameroon stop US company Herakles Farms (HF) from grabbing their lands for the development of a 20,000 hectare palm oil plantation.
On June 19, 2014, Besingi and four other opponents of the HF project will be in court, accused by the government of “participating in the organisation and holding of an undeclared public meeting”. The five were arrested and charged while distributing t-shirts critical of Herakles Farms in November 2012.
Nasako Besingi was travelling to a village to talk about Herakles’ plans when he was ambushed by a group of men. (Screenshot: France24)
Nasako Besingi was travelling to a village to talk about Herakles’ plans when he was ambushed by a group of men. (Screenshot: France24)
Besingi will face separate charges of defamation on June 24, brought against him by the US firm. Herakles Farms alleges that Besingi published “false news via the internet” when he sent out a private email detailing how he was ambushed in August 2012 by four men employed by Herakles as he was travelling on motorbike to a community affected by the company’s plantations. Continue reading
June 18, 2014. Source:
Photo from CCIJ,
Guatemalan victims, 1 Guatemalan lawyer, 2 Canadian lawyers
Seven Guatemalan men filed a civil lawsuit today in a Vancouver court against Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources Inc. for injuries they suffered last year when Tahoe’s security personnel opened fire on them at close range. The men, residents of San Rafael Las Flores, where the company’s Escobal mine is located, allege that Tahoe is legally responsible for the violence inflicted on them as they peacefully protested against the mine.
The claimants are supported in Canada by a legal team comprised of Vancouver law firm Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ). In Guatemala, they are represented by the Guatemalan Centre for Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS). Continue reading
Asserting Indigenous Law Over Unceded Lands
Source: Reclaim Turtle Island
-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- June 18th, 2014 [Unist’ot’en Territory - near Smithers, BC] Amid threats of a raid and impending pipeline approvals, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry. A soft blockade was erected in 2009, which remains today, to insure that pipeline projects which violate Wet’suwet’en Law would not trespass onto Wet’suwet’en territories to develop projects without their consent. Yesterday the Federal government approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but the Uni’stot’en Camp still remains in the path of the proposed pipe as well as several others. The Northern Gateway is intended to expand the Athabasca Tar Sands facilitating the export of bitumen to international markets via supertankers off the West Coast. The Uni’stot’en Clan is part of the hereditary chief system which has governed Wet’suwet’en lands since time immemorial and is not subject to the Indian Act or other impositions of colonial occupation. “Harper is illegal, Canada is illegal. The Provincial and Federal governments are illegal because they don’t have jurisdiction in our peoples territory. We have never signed any treaties, this land is unceded.” states Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Clan member and spokesperson for the camp. Huson references a Supreme Court ruling in the Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia case that clearly states the ownership of unceded territories remains with the Indigenous peoples and that Band Council Chiefs and Indian Act Agents have no authority over these lands. In fact, consultation and consent must be given by the traditional and hereditary governance systems. Huson explains, “They’ve tried to get our consent and our Chiefs have said no to these projects and no means no. Wet’suwet’en law applies to these [projects]. Developers can go ahead and try and put their projects through here but they will be considered trespassers and we’ll enforce Wet’suwet’en law against trespassers… We’re not afraid of the Harper government, we’re not afraid of anyone who is going to try and forcefully put their project through our territory when we’ve already said no.” Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island have been standing up against resource extraction projects which infringe on our collective sovereignty and attack our territories, our peoples and our nations. Continued pushes for pipeline project approvals, tar sands expansion and fracking by the Federal government will only result in increased mobilization by Indigenous peoples. “Our numbers are quite high across Canada, Indigenous people probably out-number settler people and you can guarantee that if there is an uprising in one community – especially with a bigger project that impacts the whole world through global warming – you’re going to have a lot of upset people across Canada, this impacts every body.” Temporary highway, rail and port blockades have been used to show support with other Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and Huson asserts that any attack on the Unist’ot’en will result in widespread, global support. “We had people make vows that they will shut down major highways to impact the Canadian economy if the Harper government is going to ignore Indigenous people.” Dini Ze Toghestiy, a Hereditary Chief for the Likhs’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and member of the Unist’ot’en Camp asserts, “Supporters are repositioning themselves in surrounding towns to help build local support, and people in the cities are mobilized now. There’s individuals all over the world who have pledged to do what they can to help us.” Concerning the threat of a raid on the camp, there was no police presence on Unist’ot’en territory on June 15th – the date set for the anticipated raid. A tip from the BC Civil Liberties Association informed the Unist’ot’en Camp that there’s a rumour going around Victoria that the government, rather than file an injunction against the camp, file a charge for trespass using the Crown Lands Act. “But this is not Crown land” stated Toghestiy, “this land is unceded and we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. People are showing up to the camp every day, our numbers are growing. This war is far from bring over and we’re going to win this one. We’re going to win it decisively.”
Media Contact: Freda Huson: 778-210-1100
By UNPO, June 17, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
From 12 to 23 May 2014, the United Nations headquarters drew in more than 2,000 indigenous representatives who had gathered to attend the Thirteenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to discuss the fate of approximately 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide. Photo by UNPO
The Permanent Forum was established in response to rallying cries for a permanent space to discuss the economic, social, environmental, developmental, human rights and cultural dimensions of indigenous issues within the high-level, global body of the United Nations. While the Permanent Forum’s founding may have represented a formal recognition for the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples, this year’s Permanent Forum exposed deficiencies of the UN body. Following the meetings, it is reasonable to ask whether it provides a legitimate opportunity to reach tangible conclusions on how to resolve and end outstanding violations and historical injustices? Continue reading
June 17, 2014. Source: WW4 Report
Photo from http://vid.alarabiya.net
The governments of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad reached an agreement on June 9 with the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) ending the threat that the group’s protests would disrupt the June 12 opening game of the 2014 World Cup soccer championship. Officials agreed to build some 2,000 housing units in vacant private land where about 4,000 homeless people had set up an encampment, “The People’s Cup,” near the site of the first game, São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians. The land occupation started a month earlier as a protest against the allocation of money to sports events rather than inexpensive housing. The MTST also won greater flexibility in the implementation of a federal housing program and a commitment to create a federal commission to prevent forced displacements of homeless people. In exchange the MTST in effect agreed to end its mobilizations, which were the largest of the protests that swept São Paulo in previous weeks.
“It’s worth emphasizing that this victory was the result of the mobilizations in the streets,” MTST national coordinator Guilherme Boulos said, “of an advance in the direction of popular power which benefits not just the MTST but also the whole range of the country’s housing policies.” (Los Angeles Times, June 9, from correspondent; Adital, Brazil, June 11; La Jornada, Mexico, June 11, from unidentified wire services) Continue reading
By Clayton Thomas-Muller, June 10, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Photo by Michelle Ann, member of Pictou Landing First Nation
Mi’kmak’i Territory (Nova Scotia) – Jonathan Beadle, member of Pictou Landing First Nation was documenting the major pollution site on his traditional territory around 7:30 pm on June 9, 2014 when discovered that the primary pipeline carrying effluent from Northern Pulp and Paper into Boat Harbour was not operating. This pipeline was built for moving the effluent created by the toxic industrial process of pulping of wood into paper to be dumped untreated into Boat Harbour. Boat Harbour is a historical fishing site to the local First Nations as well as a sacred site due to the proximity of burial grounds located directly under where the mill built the pipeline.
“When we got up to the site yesterday (June 9, 2014) to check on boat harbour, I noticed the mill was not operating at full capacity. My son and I walked in toward Boat Harbour and as soon as we got to the main area where the pipeline comes out into the bay we noticed the effluent pipeline was turned off. This spill had to have been going on for some time. The clean up for the area is going to be incredibly expensive. This situation with Boat Harbour has been going on for a long time, people need to know there is a sacred burial ground underneath were Northern Pulp built their effluent pipe that dumps into Boat Harbour” said Jonathan Beadle, Pictou Landing First Nation member. Continue reading
June 10, 2014. Source: WW4 Report
Photo from voiceselsalvador.wordpress.com
Four US-based organizations with programs centered on El Salvador were set to deliver a petition to the US State Department on June 6 with the signatures of some 1,000 US citizens opposing what the groups called the “intrusion of the [US] embassy in the sovereign politics of this country.” At issue was an indication by US ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte that the US may withhold $277 million slated for the second phase of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid program if the Salvadoran Agriculture Ministry continues its current practice of buying seeds from small-scale Salvadoran producers for its Family Agriculture Plan. The US organizations—the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), US–El Salvador Sister Cities, the SHARE Foundation, and Joining Hands El Salvador Network (RUMES)—charged that the US threat was made “with clear intentions to advance the interests of transnational agricultural companies.” Continue reading
June 6, 2014. Source: Redd-Monitor
Photo from guyanatimesinternational.com
Gold mining in Guyana is booming. It’s the country’s biggest export. Last year Guyana exported gold worth US$1 billion. But government is failing to address the serious environmental and social impacts caused by gold mining.
Much of the mining is currently small-scale. A 2007 report by Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Programme found that the government had failed to regulate wildcat miners and failed to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Gold mining had polluted rivers with mercury, increased malaria and caused deforestation.
Bonnie Docherty of Harvard’s Human Rights Programme said,
“Medium- and small-scale gold mining as currently practised and regulated inflict severe environmental, health, and social damage on the areas and people near mining operations. Our observations confirmed that the areas around mines resemble a moonscape of barren, mounded sand and mud. Since small-scale miners typically wash the topsoil away in order to get to the gold-bearing clayey soil underneath, the sites of former mines are quite infertile and incapable of supporting regenerated rainforest.”