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Indigenous struggles

An Phoblacht: Racism and resistance in Australia

This article first appeared in An Phoblacht, Ireland’s biggest selling political weekly newspaper. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with An Phoblacht's permission. An Phoblacht reflects views of Sinn Fein. For more information about An Phoblacht click HERE.

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By Emma Clancy

February 25, 2010 -- An Phoblacht -- When Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal people in February 2008, hopes were high that this indicated a new approach from the government in its relations with the country’s Indigenous people.

But Rudd, elected in November 2007 after 11 years of conservative, Thatcherite rule under John Howard, has continued many of his predecessor’s policies, which undermine the rights and wellbeing of Australia’s Indigenous people.

Mauritian socialists' open letter to Greenpeace -- `Don't help cover up colonialism's crimes on Diego Garcia'

Diego Garcia from a satellite. The US base in visible in the top left of the atoll. Photo from NASA.

By Ram Seegobin, Lalit de Klas

February 8, 2010

Dear leaders of Greenpeace [UK],

We understand that your organisation has taken a position in favour of the British government’s outrageous plan to create a “marine park” on territory which is not its own, thus tricking ill-informed people into supporting the British state on rather vague grounds of “the environment”, while they are in fact banishing the people who lived there and flaunting the Charter of the United Nations.

Australia: Trade union solidarity with NT Aboriginal struggle


Made with Slideshow Embed Tool. Trade union brigade offer practical solidarity to the Ampilatwatja community. Photos by Tim Gooden.

By Emma Murphy, Ampilatwatja, Northern Territory

February 12, 2010 -- From February 1-14, in a remote part of Australia's Northern Territory (NT), a group of trade unionists and Aboriginal rights activists from Victoria, New South Wales and the NT joined forces with the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja community to help make history.

Many people around Australia have already been inspired by the Alyawarr people’s walk-off. On July 14, 2009, following a great tradition from Aboriginal struggles of the past century, they walked off their community and set up a protest camp.

Hugo Blanco: `Only extinction of capitalism will ensure the survival of our species’; Reunión sobre cambio climático Copenhague

Hugo Blanco (left).

By Hugo Blanco, translated by Richard Fidler for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

The concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is already so high that the climate system has been brought out of balance. The CO2 concentration and global temperatures have increased more rapidly in the last 50 years than ever before on Earth, and will rise even faster in the coming decades. This adds to a multitude of other serious ecological imbalances, the impacts of which threaten the lives and livelihoods of the people of the world, most acutely, impoverished people and other vulnerable groups.

Peru: Government launches attack on Indigenous peoples' organisation

Introduction and translation by Kiraz Janicke

November 4, 2009 --The government of Peru has launched a massive attack on Indigenous peoples through a request to dissolve the Amazon Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), Peru's largest and most representative Indigenous organisation. AIDESEP groups numerous regional organisations, representing 65 ethnic groups and has led the struggle against the Garcia governments neoliberal decrees (which are part of the US Free Trade Agreement) aimed at opening up huge swathes of the Amazon to exploitation by transnational logging, mining and oil companies.

Since the Indigneous uprising in Bagua in which an unknown number of Indigneous people were massacred by Peruvian police on June 5, 2009, the leaders of AIDESEP have been facing political persecution, some have been arrested and its president, Alberto Pizango, has been forced to flee and seek asylum in Nicaragua.

Below is a statement below by Andean and Amazonian peoples protesting against the government's attempt to dissolve their organisation.

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Hugo Blanco: Indigenous people are the vanguard of the fight to save the Earth

October 13, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco, who edits the newspaper La Lucha Indigena, was interviewed on August 28, 2009, in Arequipa, in southern Peru. The previous day he gave a presentation at a conference entitled “40 Años de la Reforma Agraria” at the city’s Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.

You said last night that today the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are in the vanguard of the struggle in Peru. Can you say more about this?

India: Statement condemns government military offensive against the Indigenous people

Adivasi women protest in West Bengal.

October 14, 2009 -- Sanhati is a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples' movements in India by providing information and analysis (see http://www.sanhati.com).

We have been profoundly disturbed by the Indian government's reported plans to launch an unprecedented military offensive in the huge forested regions of central India, populated by millions of Indigenous tribes (adivasis), for stamping out an alleged Maoist insurgency. We feel that this will be a democratic and humanitarian disaster. Hence we have taken the initiative, in consultation with progressive intellectuals, to draft a statement of protest against the Indian government's military offensive and have circulated it among democratic and peace-loving citizens of India and the world for endorsement.

Below is the statement, the list of signatories (which includes many eminent intellectuals/academics) and a background note which puts the current conflict into perspective.

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To Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister,

Science and empire in the Pacific

Mai (aka Omai), the first Pacific Islander to visit Europe, with Joseph Banks in 1774. Painting by William Parry.

By Barry Healy

More than 240 years ago, on April 13, 1769, the peace of Tahiti was interrupted by the visit of Captain James Cook, supposedly observing the transit of Venus across the Sun, but really following secret orders to investigate the Pacific Ocean and its islands for the benefit of British colonialism.

Mainstream Australian history raises James Cook to a pinnacle because he established a white, British dominion on the Australian continent. However, at the time his fame was eclipsed because on board his ship was gentleman scientist Joseph Banks with a posse of staff.

Banks’ star outshone Cook’s because his work acquired the botanical treasures of Oceania for the British Empire, paving the way for Britain to dominate vital areas of science for its own benefit.

Photo essay: Guatemalan Indigenous communities resist violent eviction by Canadian mining company

Adolfo Ich Xaman (in middle) murdered by company goons.

Story and photo essay by James Rodríguez, Barrio La Union, El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala

September 28, 2009 -- MiMundo.org -- (Unless indicated, all photographs were taken in June 2009.) As a result of a frustrated eviction attempt in the community of Las Nubes in El Estor, Izabal, Adolfo Ich Xaman (middle in photograph above) was brutally shot and killed by private security guards subcontracted by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), local subsidiary of HudBay Minerals Inc., a Canadian mining company.

Mr. Ich Xaman was chairperson of the Community Committee for Development (COCODE) of the nearby Barrio La Union community, a primary school teacher, and brother-in-law of Ramiro Choc, a high-profile imprisoned Indigenous and peasant leader. During the attack, the following men were also shot and injured: Samuel Coc, Ricardo Tec, Alfredo Xi, Haroldo Cucul (left in the photograph), Alejandro Acté, Luciano Choc, Hector Choc and Guzman Chub.

Britain’s conquest of Quebec: 250 years later, a continuing debate on how the French colonisers became colonised

By Richard Fidler

September 13, 2009 -- Life on the Left -- Colonisation. Conquest. Words that even today evoke widely varying historical memories.

Just last year Quebec City staged an elaborate round of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding as the colonial capital of New France. No expense was spared as federal and provincial governments alike poured money into the city’s coffers. Capping the ceremonies were massively attended concerts by Québécoise singer Céline Dion and former Beatle Paul McCartney — apparently deemed emblematic descendants of the French and British “founding peoples” of present-day Canada. It seemed to be one great love-in of all those involved.

(Lost in all the self-congratulatory rhetoric, of course, was any recognition that the city’s site had in fact been occupied by its Indigenous inhabitants for many centuries prior to the arrival of the Europeans.)

Pacific islanders struggle for survival against global warming -- `Rich countries must slash emissions now'

Kiribati will be devastated by rising sea levels.

July 29, 2009 -- For Pacific islanders, climate change is not a threat looming somewhere in the future. Rising sea levels and unpredictable weather are having devastating effects right now. Climate change has already forced some communities to leave their traditional homes.Simon Butler spoke to two climate change activists from the Pacific about their campaign for immediate cuts to global greenhouse emissions.

Pelenise Alofa Pilitati is the chairperson of the Church Education Directors' Association in Kiribati. Reverend Tafue Lusama is the chairperson of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network. They are on an Australian speaking tour through July and August, which is co-sponsored by Greenpeace and Oxfam. For details of the tour go to http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/events/pacificvoicestour-300609.

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Simon Butler: What are you hoping to achieve with your speaking tour?

Raúl Prada Alcoreza: Analysis of Bolivia's New Political Constitution of the State

Bolivians celebrate their new constitution. President Evo Morales in centre.

The following article by Raúl Prada Alcoreza was originally published in the first issue (June 2008) of Crítica y Emancipación, a biannual Latin American journal of the social sciences. This translation from the Spanish, by Shana Yael Shubs and Ruth Felder, was published this year in a complete English-language version of the journal’s first issue. It was distributed at the recent congress of the Latin American Studies Association, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. A review of the first issue of Crítica y Emancipación was published at http://tinyurl.com/nuk4jp. This article also appeared at Bolivia Rising.

Latin America: Manifesto of the First Continental Summit of Indigenous Women

Puno, Peru -- May 27-28, 2009 -- We, indigenous women gathered in the sacred lands of Lake Titicaca, after two days of discussions and deliberation raise our voices in these times when Abya Yala’s[1] womb is once more with childbirth pains, to give birth to the new Pachakutik [2] for a better life on our planet. We, indigenous women, have had a direct input into the historical process of transformation of our peoples through our proposals and actions in the various struggles taking place and engendered from the indigenous movements.

We are the carriers, conduits of our cultural and genetic make-up; we gestate and brood life; together with men, we are the axis of the family unit and society. We join our wombs to our mother earth’s womb to give birth to new times in this Latin American continent where in many countries millions of people, impoverished by the neoliberal system, raise their voices to say ENOUGH to oppression, exploitation and the looting of our wealth. We therefore join in the liberation struggles taking place throughout our continent.

Interview with Bolivia's foreign minister: `Communitarian socialism will refound Bolivia’

Interview with Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca by Patricia Bravo and Cris González, translated from the original article in the March 20, 2009, edition of Punto Final (Chile) by David Montoute.

David Choquehuanca.

Bolivia’s new ``Political Constitution of the State’’, approved by referendum on January 25, 2009, by 61.4% of the vote and announced on February 7, is clearly of transcendental importance for the refoundation of Bolivia. The recognition of individual and collective rights, popular participation, the principle of equality and the end of all types of exclusion and discrimination are all present in the new constitutional text.

It establishes the creation of “a Unified Social State of Law whose character would be Plurinational Communitarian, free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, with decentralised autonomous departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous circumscriptions”.

(Updated May 27, 2009) Wiwa versus Shell: Oil company to stand trial for complicity in repression of the Ogoni people

Shell on trial: Landmark trial set to begin over Shell’s role in 1995 execution of Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa

May 26, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins this Wednesday in a federal court in New York. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.

Guests:

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. He was at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London earlier this month and has been following the case against Shell. He also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the last two years before Saro-Wiwa’s death.

World Social Forum returns to Brazil, marks Latin America's `swing to the left'

Latin America's leftwing presidents meet with WSF participants. Photo by Marc Becker.

By Marc Becker

February 5, 2009 -- After an absence of four years, the World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil during the last week of January 2009. More than 100,000 people descended on the city of Belem at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River to debate proposals and plan strategies for making a new and better world.

The forum first met in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001 as a gathering of social movements dedicated to fighting neoliberalism and militarism. Nine years later, Latin America has shifted significantly to the left, and the forum has played an important role in that process.

The forum began on January 27, 2009, as all of the forums have, with a massive march through the streets of Belem. The theme of the march was from Africa, where the last unified forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in

2007, to the Amazon. A drenching tropical rain momentarily stalled the planned events. The march concluded with a massive rally featuring speeches and music.

Photo essay: Oaxaca, Mexico -- `Living Under the Trees'

A photo essay by David Bacon

December 23, 2008 -- About 30 million Mexicans survive on less than 30 pesos per day -- not quite US$3. The minimum wage is 45 pesos per day. The Mexican federal government estimates that 37.7 per cent of its 106 million citizens -- 40 million people -- live in poverty. Some 25 million, or 23.6 per cent, live in extreme poverty. In rural Mexico, more than 10 million people have a daily income of less than 12 pesos -- a little more than $1.

It's no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 per cent of its 3.4 million residents, according to EDUCA, a Mexican education and development organisation.

Indigenous-majority Greenland wins self-government

By Ray Bell

December 1, 2008 -- Bella Caledonia -- One of Scotland’s largest neighbours has just voted for independence. I don’t mean England, or Ireland, or Scandinavia, but a country which is bigger than all of these combined. And I use the term “neighbour” loosely, because it is a good few hundred miles across the Atlantic from us, and very few readers will have ever been there.

Greenlanders voted by 3-1 for almost total independence in late November 2008. I say “almost”, because while they don’t get control of defence or foreign policy, they get control of just about everything else. 32 areas of government will be handed over to them. Every political party, but one, in Greenland backed the “yes” vote. Who couldn’t sympathise with this statement that senior politician Hans Jakob Helms made?

“Home rule was a compromise, it’s a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there’s a need for more room for self-government.” 

Applied to Scotland, it appears that even the majority of Unionists support this position. The result makes Greenlandic independence pretty much inevitable.

Bolivia's indigenous majority: Change the world by taking power

A cocalero (coca farmer) takes part in a blockade of the main road in La Paz, Bolivia, September 1998.

By Federico Fuentes

November 29, 2008 -- Having captured the imagination of progressives across the globe with scenes of indigenous uprisings confronting right-wing governments and multinationals, Bolivia has become a key focus point of discussion within the left regarding strategies for change.

However, starry-eyed notions and schemas rather than reality have often influenced the views of left commentators on the revolutionary process unfolding in South America’s poorest nation.

At the centre of this debate is the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), led by indigenous President Evo Morales, and its strategy for refounding Bolivia.

After three years of the Morales government it is possible to draw some tentative conclusions about this social experiment.

Native blood: the truth behind the myth of `Thanksgiving Day' (now with video)

Video: Thanksgiving: A Native American View

By Mike Ely

It is a deep thing that people still celebrate the survival of the early colonists at Plymouth — by giving thanks to the Christian god who supposedly protected and championed the European invasion. The real meaning of all that, then and now, needs to be continually excavated. The myths and lies that surround the past are constantly draped over the horrors and tortures of our present.

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