[caption id="attachment_7628" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Syncrude Oil-Covered Duck"][/caption] On Friday morning I attended the long awaited verdict of the Syncrude duck trial with high hopes and low expectations. After a two-and-a-half-month trial, Syncrude was found guilty of the criminal charges in connection with the deaths of 1,606 ducks in one of its mining tailings ponds in April 2008. Syncrude was found guilty and is now awaiting charges under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act with failing to undertake due diligence to ensure its toxic tailings do not cause harm to migratory birds. While the verdict found Syncrude guilty in this case it fails to address concerns of impacted Indigenous communities, including unacceptable contamination of the Athabasca river system, lack of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and broken treaty rights. This verdict is merely a slap on the wrist for a corporation like Syncrude. Operators still have license to continue their toxic contamination of the area. My peoples' treaty rights are being trampled everyday and too many Indigenous communities and the land we rely on are becoming the sacrificial lambs to this continents energy demands. We need real results, real change and real respect to move forward in a world that is safe and secure for generations to come. For more information, check out this article in the Edmonton Sun.
[caption id="attachment_7616" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="G8 Police Squad in Toronto: Photo By Materloo"][/caption] I spent the week of the G8/G20 in Edmonton following Twitter feeds, text messages, and Facebook updates as many of the people I have worked with over the years were being beaten, intimidated, arrested and having their civil rights eroded during the G8 in Toronto. I found myself feeling helpless wishing there was something more I could do. Lately, it feels like one catastrophe after another. As I watched the stories pile in from eye witnesses, those being kettled, arrested, beaten and intimidated, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was literally glued to the TV news stations, social media and my cell phone, waiting for word from those on the streets. Earlier in the week many of those arrested had successfully participated in large peaceful protests that brought forward important issues being ignored by G8 leaders. Indigenous peoples rights, maternal health, immigrant rights, climate change and the tar sands were all on the agenda of those on the streets but ignored by our leaders. Saturday started off as a big success with 25,000 people marching in the streets of Toronto. I was congratulating friends on their hard work and success of the week only to see it all unravel on Saturday afternoon. There was little to no media coverage of the successful rally, only pictures of burning cop cars and smashed store fronts with no police in sight. Soon after, the media was reporting on mass arrests at Queens Park where the rally had ended and people were enjoying a sunny afternoon. The park was filled with children, elderly, young, old and people of all walks of life. Curiosity had also brought out people that just wanted to check out what was going on. All were to be abruptly shook up by brutal police force and mass arrests. [caption id="attachment_7618" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="G8 Riot Police: Photo by Fabian Bromann"][/caption] The stories start pouring through the Internet of police attacking innocent protesters in the park in a response to the vandalism on Yonge Street. While these tactics are debated online and off, I was more concerned with the police response to those that obviously had nothing to do with it. Stories poured in of children and parents frightened out of the park, a peaceful protester trampled by a police horse, reporters arrested and beaten, deplorable name-calling by police and unaggravated and brutal arrests of people that I hold near and dear. All I kept thinking was “Is this all really happening?” The arrests went on through the night with heavy-handed police response. By early morning there were over 500 people arrested and Sunday proved to be just as crazy with another 500 people arrested at jail support rallies, raids and random seizures of people and their belongings. Journalists who tried to report the arrests often found themselves being arrested themselves, often with brutal force. Once arrested and put into the temporary jail erected for the G8, the stories only seemed to get worse. Reports have come in about lack of access to food, water, sanitary cells and access to medical aid. Some detainees were denied access to medication including a diabetic who had to be taken to a hospital after falling unconscious. Many people were held in the cells still in cuffs and left for over 24 hours. Complaints are currently being filed for racial slurs, sexual assault, segregation of queer detainees, detainment of minors in a adult facility, no access to phone, no lawyers, rights not read and overcrowded jail cells to name a few. [caption id="attachment_7619" align="alignright" width="250" caption="G8 Protester: Photo via Cryptome"][/caption] The Chief of Police continues to defend the acts of the police, stating they were merely doing their job and that no laws were broken by the police, only by those that were arrested. Keep in mind that most of the 1000 or so arrested were released without charges. Many groups are now calling for an independent inquiry into police action during the G20 summit, calling officer conduct at times “disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive.” The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling for an independent investigation. This is being supported by Amnesty International who is calling for a review of the security measure of the G8/G20. There is even a website were people can share their stories. It seems ridiculous that Canada spent the $1.4 billion on the security for the G8/G20 when we so badly need those kinds of resources for combating the climate crisis and moving towards a just and sustainable planet. We can no longer allow this government to continue to marginalize and intimidate grassroots community voices with draconian tactics. The one good thing that has come out of all of this is that people are pissed. Not just the regular radical activist but Joe Public and his family are angry. Thanks Toronto, because the movement just got bigger.
My friend and mentor David Solnit often talks about “a movement of movements.” He describes them as a convergence space where we experiment with and test our resistance to power. In this convergence space, we’ve created “healthy biodiversity of an ecosystem of resistance.” Through my travels in the movement of movements, this ecosystem has been best articulated by a collective of artists, activists and cultural revolutionaries from Machias, Maine known as The Beehive Collective. The bees often create massive intricate graphics that explain complicated issues from free trade to Indigenous resistance to colonialism and corporations. They use art and creativity to build our analysis and the “ecosystem of resistance.” As we’ve moved from global justice to anti-war to climate justice, the bees have illustrated and explained our struggles and now they’ve spent the past couple of years creating their newest graphic: “The True Cost of Coal.” This graphic tells the story of Appalachia. It tells the story of mountaintop removal and coal. The region has a unique history and our friends in the Beehive Collective have told the story in five chapters:
- Colonialism and industrialization
- Modern corporate colonialism
- Appalachian resistance (my favorite)
- A vision of the future, post coal and mountaintop removal
On Tuesday morning Mariana Jiminez a 71-year-old grandmother from the region in Ecuador devastated by Chevron’s massive oil contamination, dipped her hand in the oil black water covering the precious marshlands just off Louisiana’s Gulf coast and held a dying, oil-drenched crab in her hand. This week, four Indigenous and community leaders from Ecuador, as well as advocates from Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch are deep in Louisiana’s sweltering Bayou to witness the depth of BP’s oil disaster and share lessons and cautionary tales with Indigenous communities in the Gulf. The Ecuadoreans have traveled by boat and across traditional lands to meet the local United Houma Nation and Atakapa-Ishak tribes, communities dependent on a healthy Bayou for their survival and terrified of the toll this most recent oil disaster will have on their livelihoods, their families, and their very way of life. In every conversation with every person we meet on this powerful, infuriating, and deeply sad journey it is remarkable how similar the stories are. On Tuesday afternoon, Rosina Phillipe invited us unto her dock in the tiny Grand Bayou Village community, home to 9 Atakapa-Ishak families and accessible only by boat. Rosina explained that for thousands of years her community has depended on the bountiful Bayou for their food, water, and cultural practices. They have weathered terrible storms, government and oil industry theft of their land, but are afraid they may not survive this oil disaster. If her community can no longer eat or work, how will they continue to live on the water as they have done for generations? While sharing a delicious lunch with leaders and elders of the United Houma Nation at an old Native school house turned tribal center, Emergildo, Humberto, Luis, and Mariana shared their experiences of Chevron’s oil contamination and the impact it has had on their environment, health, and traditional practices. They too used to fish, but have had to start farming to sustain themselves. They spoke of the family members they have lost from oil-related birth defects, illnesses, and cancers and warned the Houma of the long-term health problems they will face, long after the TV cameras and the company has left. As we walked along the deserted, oil stained beach in Grand Isle, Brenda Dardar Robichaux, former Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation, explained how she has been struck by how similar her story is to the Indigenous people of Ecuador. From Louisiana’s Bayou to Ecuador’s rainforest, you see the same oil-drenched waterways, dying animals, and smell the same toxic stench in the air. Families nurse their loved ones through similar oil-related illnesses, respiratory diseases, and cancers- while being told the same lies by the oil companies and politicians that the oil won’t hurt them. And Indigenous communities the world over are forced to adapt and fight like hell for their physical and cultural survival. Follow this amazing journey on Twitter and Facebook!
Last night, four Indigenous and community leaders from Ecuador arrived in very steamy New Orleans to share their experiences with the long-term impacts of oil pollution with communities dealing with the tragic BP oil spill that continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico. As the Chevron in Ecuador blog reports: Four very different people arrived last night in New Orleans on a late flight from Quito, Ecuador. One is a quiet but fierce 71-year-old grandmother with 27 grandchildren. Another is a gentle, soft-spoken man who is a leader of his Indigenous tribe from the Amazon. Another is a serious and sober man who has won worldwide acclaim for his unique work. And the last is another Indigenous man from the Amazon, who is more sharp-tongued than his traveling companion, but shares his good humor and dignified demeanor. The four Indigenous and community leaders from Ecuador's Amazon rainforest are on the front-lines of the nearly two-decade struggle to demand oil giant Chevron clean up the massive contaminate the company left behind in their lands. I've written profiles of two of them here before; Cofan leader Emergildo Criollo was in the U.S. in early March to help deliver 350,000 letters of support for cleanup in Ecuador to new Chevron CEO John Watson and campesina activist Mariana Jimenez was in Houston just a few weeks ago to speak out at Chevron's 2010 shareholder meeting. With them is Humberto Piaguaje, a leader of the Secoya tribe who has been outspoken about Chevron's impact on his people, and Luis Yanza, who has helped organize the 30,000 people who have mounted the historic legal action against Chevron. In 2008, Luis won the Goldman environmental prize, often described as the Nobel Prize for the environment. Gulf Coast American Indian Tribes in southeast Louisiana impacted by BP's oil disaster will be hosting a cultural exchange with their Ecuadorean counterparts who have been severely impacted for decades by Chevron’s oil contamination in Ecuador’s rainforest. The Amazon leaders will tour areas of the Bayou affected by the spill, have community exchanges with the Houma and other Gulf coast residents, and participate in a public meeting in the heart of the largest Houma community on Thursday evening. The Ecuadorean leaders hope to share their experiences in recovery and protecting health, livelihoods, and culture in the wake of an oil disaster of this magnitude. “The Gulf spill is an absolute threat on who we are as Houma people and our way of life. Our homeland and the health of our people are at risk and we must plan for the long-term effects of this catastrophe,” said Thomas Dardar Jr., Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation. “We look forward to meeting our brothers and sisters of the Amazon and sharing ideas and solutions regarding protecting the indigenous way of life when faced with such huge environmental impacts.” The United Houma Nation is a state recognized Tribe of approximately 17,000 citizens that reside along the coastal marshes of southeast Louisiana. Traditionally Houmas have lived off the land and work as fishermen and trappers. As the Deepwater Horizon disaster unfolds it holds a deeper meaning for the Houmas, who reside on the front lines – it is the uncertainty of whether the culture of the Houma as it stands today will survive. “Our hearts broke upon seeing images of the tragic spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Emergildo Criollo, a leader of the Cofan tribe in Ecuador’s rainforest who is participating in the delegation. “We are honored to accept the invitation of the United Houma Nation to visit the Gulf. We hope what we have learned from our own torment at the hands of Chevron will strengthen the resolve of the communities affected by the BP spill.” To follow the Ecuadoreans journey in the Gulf this week, follow @ChangeChevron on Twitter or on Facebook.
With oil gushing in the gulf, activists locking down in boardrooms, the ball of financial reform being thrown from Wall Street to Washington and back again, and Indonesia announcing a two year freeze on the parceling out of its forests to international corporations, the world's focus seems to be on corporations. But in the struggle to hold onto the last of Indonesia's rainforests - and the biodiversity, culture, livelihoods, and global climate stability these threatened forests provide - recent actions by the multilateral institutions International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the World Bank (WB) must not be ignored. Multilateral institutions, funded by nations worldwide to implement projects, give loans, and steer 'underperforming' economies into globalized capitalism, are big, powerful, and active in Indonesia's forests. The World Bank and its private investment arm, the IFC, have long seen agribusiness as a key growth sector in the tropics. In Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, both groups have given huge loans to encourage the expansion of palm oil and pulp wood plantations, to the benefit of multi-billion dollar corporations like Cargill and Wilmar. [caption id="attachment_7231" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="After developing plantations with World Bank aid money, Cargill sold their PNG palm oil plantations for a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars."][/caption] Encouraged by the palm oil boom in Malaysia that created enormous wealth in that tropical country, the World Bank and IFC began giving out tens of millions of dollars to encourage the same process of industrialization in Indonesia's forests. But rather than work directly with Indonesia's 30 million forest peoples and those that were concerned with the rational use of Indonesia's natural resource wealth, the World Bank made the decision to fund some of the world's largest agribusiness corporations, and trust that Wilmar and Cargill would act responsibly and with concern for the common good. Today, after thirty years of World Bank and IFC's support for the palm oil and pulp and paper industry, the social and environmental consequences of their trust in agribusiness is clear. The rich forests of Sumatra are now almost completely parceled out and in the control of corporations clear cutting the forest to produce forest commodities. The Orang Rimba, one of the world's last truly nomadic cultures, are undergoing a mass exodus because their forest homes have been cleared for palm oil. [caption id="attachment_7228" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Gumpa, and all of the Orang Rimba, are threatened by palm oil expansion"][/caption] Newly cleared forests to make way for the planting of palm oil and pulp wood burn, releasing smoke plumes that travel for thousands of miles. In Papua New Guinea social unrest and upheaval created by the first industrial monoculture plantations is threatening to tear communities apart. After thousands of media articles, exposes, research projects, and political appeals, The Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit Watch, supported by hundreds of additional environmental, social, and development groups, convinced the World Bank and IFC to freeze all of their projects supporting oil palm plantations. The process started with the Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit Watch filing a complaint with the IFC's own internal auditing office over the destructive and dangerous practices of the palm oil producer Wilmar, which received a loan from the IFC for expansion. [caption id="attachment_7227" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Oil palm plantations destroy globally important rainforests"][/caption] The evidence of open burning and social conflict at Wilmar plantations was enough for the IFC to initiate a freeze on their support for oil palm while they carried out a review of their funding policies. Mounting evidence of the negative impacts of their oil palm plantation projects in Papua New Guinea combined with the IFC's internal review to push the World Bank to declare their own moratorium on support for palm oil projects while they undergo their own review of the dangers of palm oil expansion. The decision was one of the biggest wins to protect Indonesia's forests in memory, as much for the implication on the ground for World Bank and IFC expansion projects as for the strong signal the moratorium send to private banks and agribusiness companies. The World Bank's current moratorium serves as a warning to the private sector: the palm oil industry as a whole needs to be treated with great caution. As the multilateral institutions proceed with consultations and internal reviews, and a final decision on palm oil funding is expected soon, almost two hundred leading Indonesian and International voices have called for the World Bank and IFC to implement significant reforms before the Bank returns to funding oil palm. "Major reforms are needed in places like Sarawak and Indonesia to stop oil palm development doing further harm, including land tenure reforms, recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, a halt to land-grabbing and a ban on clearance of forests and peatlands" says Marcus Colchester of the Forest Peoples Programme. The thirty years of damage from the World Bank and the IFC's support of the oil palm and pulp and paper sectors can not be undone, but immediately implementing needed reforms throughout the entire World Bank Group will be a positive step for Indonesia's forests, forest peoples, and the climate. **This blog post previously mis-characterized the nature and details of the demands put forward by Forest Peoples Program, Sawit Watch, and their allies. These groups have never called for a permanent moratorium on World Bank funding of palm oil projects; this mis-characterization of their position was the authors mistake. The text of the blog post has been changed to more accurately reflect these groups demands.** Below is the list of environmental and social groups that have submitted and endorsed a statement urging the IFC and World Bank to freeze the funding of oil palm: Submitted by: Forest Peoples Programme Sawit Watch Lembaga Gemawan Scale Up Lestari Negri, Provinsi Riau Serikat Tani Serumpun Damai (STSD), Kabupaten Sambas, Kalimantan Barat SAD Kelompok 113 Sungai Bahar, Kabupaten Batanghari, Provinsi Jambi DebtWatch Indonesia Serikat Petani Kelapa Sawit (SPKS) Jaringan Kerja Pemetaan Partisipatif (JKPP) ELAW Indonesia Setara, Jambi Yayasan PADI Indonesia, Provinsi Kalimantan Timur Supported by: 1. Nordin, Save Our Borneo, Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah 2. Rivanni Noor, CAPPA 3. Hendi Blasius Candra, WALHI Kalimantan Barat 4. Andi Kiki, Individu 5. Korinna Horta, Ph.D., Urgewald, Germany 6. Nasahar, Dewan AMAN NTB 7. Jelson Garcia, Asia Program Manager, Bank Information Center 8. Erwin Usman, WALHI Eksekutif Nasional/Ketua Badan Pengurus Nasional Koalisi Anti Utang-KAU) 9. Victor Mambor, Koordinator PJIK Foker LSM Papua 10. Dadang Sudardja, Aliansi Rakyat Untuk Citarum – ARUM 11. Rebecca Tarbotton, Executive Director (Acting), Rainforest Action Network 12. M. Zulficar Mochtar, Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia 13. Virginia Ifeadiro, Nigeria 14. Titi Soentoro, Manila 15. Hisma Kahman, Individu 16. Kamardi, Direktorat Perluasan Partisipasi Politik Masyarakat Adat, AMAN 17. Natalie Bridgeman, Accountability Counsel, USA 18. Dedi Ratih, WALHI Eksekutif Nasional 19. Khalid Saifullah, Direktur Eksekutif WALHI Sumatra Barat 20. Among, KRuHA 21. Bustar Maitar, Forest Campaign, Team Leader, GREENPEACE South-east Asia 22. Tri Wibowo, individu 23. Anuradha Mittal, the Oakland Institute, Oakland, CA, USA 24. Molly Clinehens, International Accountability Project 25. Yon Thayrun, Executive Editor, Voice of Human Right Media 26. Kristen Genovese, Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law 27. Edy Subahani, POKKER SHK, Kalimantan Tengah 28. Nasution Camang, Yayasan Merah Putih (YMP) Sulawesi Tengah 29. Ibrahim A. Hafid, Institut Transformasi Lokal (INSTAL) 30. Rizal Mahfud, Individu 31. Sirajuddin, Ketua BPH AMAN Sulawesi Selatan 32. Mahir Takaka, Wakil Sekretaris Jendral, AMAN 33. Haitami, Pengurus AMAN Bengkulu 34. Suryati Simanjuntak, KSPPM Parapat, Sumatra Utara 35. Arifin Saleh, Pengurus AMAN 36. Shaban Stiawan, Individu, Kalimantan Barat 37. Fien Jarangga, Individu, Papua 38. Frida Klasin, Individu, Papua 39. Anike Th Sabami, Individu, Papua 40. Bernadetha Mahuse, Individu, Papua 41. Bata Manurun, BPH Wilayah AMAN Tana Luwu 42. Irsyadul Halim, Kaliptra Sumatera, Riau 43. Don K. Marut, Direktur Eksekutif INFID 44. Arie Rompas, Walhi Kalimantan Tengah 45. Ahmad SJA, PADI Indonesia, Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 46. Thomas Wanly, Sampit, Kalimantan Tengah 47. Datuk Usman Gumanti, Ketua BPH AMAN Wilayah Jambi 48. Itan, Mitra Lingkungan Hidup Kalimantan Tengah 49. Chabibullah, Serikat Tani Merdeka (SeTAM) 50. Asmuni, Sekretaris Jendral, SPKS Paser, Kalimantan Timur 51. Jazuri, Sekretaris Jendral, SPKS Tanjabar 52. Lamhot Sihotang, Sekretaris Jenrdal, SPKS Rokan Hulu Riau 53. Zuki, Sekretaris Jendral, SPKS Kabupaten Sekadau 54. Riko Kurniawan, Perkumpulan Elang Riau 55. Rano Rahman, Yayasan Betang Borneo, Kalimantan Tengah 56. Risma Umar, Solidaritas Perempuan (SP), Jakarta 57. Abdi Hayat, PERKUMPULAN SERABUT (SEKOLAH RAKYAT BUTUNI) 58. Mohammad Djauhari, Koordinator KpSHK, Bogor 59. Diana Gultom, Debtwatch Indonesia 60. Suzanne Jasper, First Peoples Human Rights Coalition, United States of America. 61. Jaya Nofyandry, Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Lingkungan, Jambi 62. Jason Pan, TARA-Ping Pu, Taiwan 63. Thaifa Herizal, ST, Direktur Eksekutif, Atjeh Int'l Development 64. Hegar Wahyu Hidayat, Eksekutif Daerah WALHI Kalimantan Selatan 65. Fabby Tumiwa, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IeSR) 66. Puspa Dewy, Solidaritas Perempuan 67. Giorgio Budi Indrarto, Koordinator, Indonesia Civil Society Forum on Climate Justice 68. The Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa/NZ 69. Puspa Dewy, Solidaritas Perempuan 70. Leonardus Bagus, lPPSLH purwokerto 71. Chandra, WALHI Riau 72. Heny Soelistyowati, Program Manager - Komunitas Indonesia untuk Demokrasi 73. Agung Wardana, Nottingham 74. Haryanto, Belitung 75. M. Ali Akbar, Eknas WALHI 76. Mardiyah Chamim, Tempo Institute 77. Tandiono Bawor Purbaya, PHR Perkumpulan Huma 78. Arif Munandar, WALHI Jambi 79. Wirendro Sumargo, Forest Watch Indonesia 80. TM Zulfikar, individu 81. Hariansyah Usman, Direktur Eksekutif WALHI Riau 82. Ida Zubaidah, Direktur, Wahana peduli Perempuan Jambi/WPPJ 83. Ismet Soelaiman, Direktur, WALHI MALUT 84. Koesnadi Wirasapoetra, Sekretaris Jendral, Sarekat Hijau Indonesia 85. Teddy Hardiyansyah, Kabut Riau 86. Edo Rakhman, Direktur WALHI Sulawesi Utara 87. Asman Saelan, LBH Buton Raya 88. Wilianita Selviana, Direktur WALHI Sulawesi Tengah 89. R. Yando Zakaria, Lingkar Pembaruan Desa dan Agraria./KARSA, Yogyakarta 90. Adrian Banie Lasimbang, President, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)/ Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia 91. Ramananda Wangkheirakpam, North East Peoples Alliance, North East India 92. Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand 93. Sandra Moniaga, Jakarta, Indonesia 94. Muliadi SE, Diretktur PETAK DANUM Kalimantan Tengah 95. Idham Arsyad, Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (KPA) 96. Mukri Friatna, Eksekutif Nasional WALHI 97. Sanday Gauntlett, PIPEC (Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition) 98. Rizki Anggriana Arimbi, Deputi WALHI Sulawesi Selatan 99. Javier M. Claparols, Director, Ecological Society of the Philippines 100. Agustinus Agus, LBBT, Pontianak 101. Endah Karyani, individu 102. Happy Hendrawan, Komunitas Transformatif Kalimantan Barat 103. Maharani Caroline, Direktur, YLBHI - LBH Manado 104. Budi Karyawan, AMAN-NTB 105. Taufiqul Mujib, Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS) 106. Giring, Perkumpulan Pancur Kasih, Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat 107. Hironimus Pala, Yayasan Tananua Flores Ende NTT 108. Philipus Kami, JAGAT, NTT 109. Nikolaus Rima, AMATT Ende, NTT 110. Agus Sarwono,TiLe, Individu 111. Dickson Aritonang, Yayasan Ulayat Bengkulu 112. Mina Susana Setra, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) 113. Alma Adventa, PhD, University of Manchester, UK 114. Marianne Klute, Watch Indonesia!, Jerman 115. Aidil Fitri, Yayasan Wahana Bumi Hijau - Sumatera Selatan, Indonesia 116. Anja Lillegraven, Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) 117. Judith Mayer, Ph.D., Coordinator, The Borneo Project, Earth Island Institute 118. Septer Manufandu, Forum Kerjasama LSM di Tanah Papua 119. Andik Hardiyanto, The Indonesian Social and Economic Rights Action Network 120. Hartono, WALHI Sulawesi Utara 121. Stephanie Fried, `Ulu Foundation 122. Sarah Lery Mboik, Individu (Anggota DPD RI Daerah Pemilihan NTT) 123. Julia Kam, Pontianak-Indonesia 124. Jupran Abbasri, Ketua Lembage Jurai Tue-Semende 125. Agapitus, AMAN Kalimantan Barat 126. Sainal Abidin, Perkumpulan WALLACEA Palopo 127. Macx Binur, Belantara Papua-Sorong 128. Sri Hartini, Walhi Kalimantan Barat 129. Ecologistas en Acción (Spain) 130. Muhammad Juaini, GEMA ALAM NTB 131. Budi Arianto, Banda Aceh, Indonesia 132. Solihin, Individu 133. Aylian Shiau, Kahabu Culture and Education Association of Nantou County 134. Sultan Darampa, Sulawesi Channel 135. Thomas Irawan Sihombing, Perkumpulan KABAN, KalBar 136. Yohanes RJ, Sintang, Kalbar Indonesia 137. Ranto Sibarani, Sekretaris Eksekutif, KOTIB 138. Nikmah, INFID 139. Ahmad, Deputy Director, ED. Walhi Sulteng 140. Sarma Hutajulu, Koordinator, Jaringan Aktifis Perempuan/Pendukung Penguatan Pr Sumut 141. Hamsuri, Individu, Balikpapan, Indonesia 142. Imanche Al Rachman, Koordinator Eksekutif Komnasdesa-Sultra 143. Asep Yunan Firdaus, HuMa 144. Juliade, Individu, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Selatan 145. Arief Candra S Hut, Kelompok Studi Konservasi (KSK) HIMBA 146. Chia Tek-khiam, Director, Takao Indigenous Kakatao Council, Taiwan 147. Serge Marti – LifeMosaic 148. Betty Tiominar, Bogor 149. Rukmini Paata Toheke, AMAN 150. Carolyn Marr, UK Coordinator, Down to Earth 151. Yuni Riawati, Ketua BEK SP Komunitas Mataram 152. Geert Ritsema, Coordinator International Affairs, Friends of the Earth Netherlands 153. Gindo Nadapdap, Kelompok Pelita Sejahtera (KPS) Medan, Sumatra Utara 154. Eko Waskito, Lembaga Tiga Beradik Merangin, Jambi Sumatera Indonesia 155. Haryanto Ramli, Tanjungpandan – Belitung, Provinsi Kep. Bangka Belitung 156. Benget Silitonga, Sekretaris Eksekutif Perhimpunan BAKUMSU 157. Yuyun Kurniawan, Yayasan Titian 158. M. Rafli Kaitora, Ketua PD.AMAN Enggano 159. Ronny Christianto, Sahabat Masyarakat Pantai (SAMPAN), Kalimantan Barat
The Chevron Corporation and it’s CEO John Watson hit a new low in disrespecting human rights and showing it’s true colors to how they regard the communities they pollute and operate in. 27 people from around the world traveled to Houston for Chevron’s 2010 Annual Shareholders meeting. Of the 27 delegates from countries ranging from Angola, Burma, Australia, Ecuador, and Nigeria, only 7 were allowed to enter the meeting. The other 20 were refused entry to the shareholders meeting even though they held legal proxies to do so. One of the Internationals that were refused into the shareholder meeting was Guillermo Grafa, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador. “We don’t need empathy from Chevron, we need them to accept full responsibility for the pain and suffering they have caused our people and clean up Ecuador now,” said Grafta. Also outside, Chevron arrested four shareholders and representatives who refused to leave Chevron property after they were denied access to the meeting. The 4 were arrested on trespassing charges and hauled into waiting police vans. The four arrested at the entrance were Juan Parras a long time environmental justice activist in Houston and founder of TEJAS, an EJ group fighting refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast; Rev. Jerome Davis a livelong civil rights hero who marched in Selma and has long fought for environmental justice in Richmond, CA; and Mitch Anderson and Han Shan from Amazon Watch, an organization working in solidarity with Indigenous communities fighting Chevron in Ecuador. Much like the tone of the meeting outside, inside the shareholders meeting was filled with disrespect, outrage, and arrests. [caption id="attachment_7188" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Mariana Jimenez from Lago Agrio, Ecuador and Indigenous Kichwa leader Guillermo Grefa from Rumipamba Community "][/caption] One of the few community members allowed inside the shareholder meeting was Mariana Jimenez, a 71-year-old grandmother from Ecuador. She spoke directly to Chevron’s CEO and Board and demanded an end to Chevron’s lies about the massive oil contamination in Ecuador that is destroying her community in the Amazon rainforest. “In 1976, I lost two young children. In 1979, one of my daughters became very sick with an unknown illness on her throat and lost her voice for three months. People are still getting sick every day. There are children born with birth defects. I want him [Watson] to take responsibility for the crime that his company committed in my country.” Watson replied callously by calling Chevron empathetic to Ecuador’s pollution while saying that Chevron has been richly rewarded by the purchase of Texaco. (the original operator in Ecuador). In addition to the arrestees outside the meeting, Antonia Juhasz of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange was also arrested inside the meeting. After delivering a scathing analysis of Chevron's global environmental and human rights abuses she was forcefully removed from the meeting as CEO Watson abruptly ended the meeting nearly a full hour early. The events that corresponded with Chevron’s attempted self-celebration of profit were a true indicator of the global coordination and resistance against Chevron’s operations world-wide. We will change Chevron, because energy shouldn't cost lives Pictures from the day can be found on RAN's flickr feed HERE Note: As of Thursday all arrested have been released and await their hearing on June 6.
The below dozen grants distributed over the last few months through RAN’s Protect-an-Acre program and through our role as an advisor to Global Greengrant Fund supported frontline community efforts to defend their land and rights in forest regions in Africa, South & Central America, Southeast Asia and Appalachia. Protect-an-Acre KONTAK Rakyat Borneo $4,000 to carry out a two week field investigation in and around PT Indo Sawit Kekal, a Cargill subsidiary, to gather concrete evidence and documentation of its operations in violation of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil principles and criteria and Indonesian law, as well as establish a link between Sinar Mas plantations and Cargill mills. Red de Permacultura America Latina en el Peru (REDPAL-PERU) on behalf of Achual Sustainable Harvest Project $1,500 to support the Achual community’s permaculture project in the in Peruvian Amazon, which will produce tropical fruits with maximum biodiversity, provide income security, result in the reforestation of depleted areas, and help secure native status recognition of 4,000 acres of rainforest territory. [caption id="attachment_7037" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Maintenance of flooded camu camu plants"][/caption] Keeper of the Mountains Foundation $1,500 to support Larry Gibson’s tireless work bringing thousands of people to witness the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining to help build a movement to ensure his ancestral land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia will not become a part of the 7,000 acre MTR site that surrounds it today. Ya’axché Conservation Trust $1,000 to support a comprehensive advocacy campaign to secure the Government of Belize’s commitment to protected area legislation, specifically focusing on the most recent illegal, environmentally and socially detrimental activity, a proposed hydroelectric facility within the most restricted and perhaps most pristine protected area in the country, Bladen Nature Reserve. [caption id="attachment_7038" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Bladen Nature Reserve"][/caption] Global Greengrants Fund Secwepemc Nation Youth Network $5,000 to support a four day Indigenous Peoples Assembly on Secwepemc Nation land located within British Columbia’s inland temperate rainforest just prior to the Winter Olympics to network and draft an action plan related to Canadian mining companies, independent power projects impacting water and salmon, all-season resorts, and other local issues. Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum Group $3,000 to support two public events in Toronto, including a public march that will form a human wild river, to raise awareness about the health impacts of mercury poisoning on the Grassy Narrows community on the 40th anniversary of when residents were poisoned by mercury from an upstream pulp mill. [caption id="attachment_7039" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Wild river march for clean water in Toronto"][/caption] Indigenous Environmental Network $5,000 to send an Indigenous Environmental Network delegation to the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Bolivia, to provide a platform for a moratorium against new fossil fuel developments in and near Indigenous lands and territories. ClimAmbiente $3,5000 to support two workshops in the Ecuadorian Amazon for Indigenous leaders to strengthen participation in international climate change policy debates on adaption, mitigation, and the United Nation's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, which could have a significant impact on Indigenous communities and rainforests. Consejo Shipibo-Konibo Xetebo $4,000 to provide the Council of the Shipibo-Konibo with initial seed money for a new organization to unite Shipibo-Konibo communities in the Peruvian Amazon in their efforts to protect their collective territory from the encroaching world. Wahana Bumi Hijau Foundation $5,000 to produce an updated field study, hold an open discussion forum and carry out a road show related to the Rimba Hutani Mas logging company's activities in the Merang Kepayang peat swamp forest, an ecologically important area that acts as a buffer zone to Sembilang National Park in Indonesia. Community Alliance for Pulp Paper Advocacy $1,500 to organize a workshop for 17 representatives of Indonesian organizations to hold a facilitated discussion to share experiences, identify common objectives, and plan specific activities in support of community rights and sustainable land use in an area of Central Kalimantan that is targeted for large-scale pulp industry expansion, which would devastate natural forest and peat lands. Youth Community Biodiversity Initiative $3,000 to plant trees in collaboration with 10 schools throughout Uganda and reduce deforestation through the implementation of energy saving stoves that burn rice husks and coffee so less wood needs to be gathered.
[caption id="attachment_6887" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Matt Dunham"][/caption] On April 28th in Edinburgh, Scotland the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) held their Annual General Meeting where shareholders met to discuss the future of RBS. RBS was one of the UK banks bailed-out by the UK government in 2008, and now RBS is 83% owned by the UK public. Between 2007 and 2009, RBS led the underwriting of loans for tar sands mining in Canada at an amount of more than $7.5 billion. This translates into UK taxpayers and public money being used to finance operators in the Alberta tar sands. The money that RBS has contributed to this project clearly identifies them as complicit to the environmental and cultural annihilation of the lands, territories and rights of my people. Over the past year and a half I have been working with the RAN targeting Tar Sands development and the banks that fund it here in Canada. Our Canadian campaign target has been the Royal Bank of Canada, the world’s largest financier of tar sands with over $18 billion in the tar sands. RAN has been demanding new policies be adopted and implemented by the Royal of Canada to ensure the environment, water and rights of my people are protected and that banks become transparent with their financing. Over the course of the last six months there has been a growing movement in Europe and UK to take up the issue of Tar Sands by groups such as the newly formed UK Tar Sands Coalition, People & Planet, Platform, World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth France and Scotland, and Greenpeace UK. More recently some of these groups have begun targeting major tar sands financiers such as the Royal Bank of Scotland. [caption id="attachment_6850" align="alignleft" width="249" caption="Eriel Tchekwie Deranger at RBS AGM: Photo By Ric Lander"][/caption] So, last week I traveled from Edmonton, Alberta Canada to attend the RBS AGM to bring Canada’s Indigenous peoples and environmental demands to the UK and voice my concerns surrounding RBS financing of Canada’s tar sands. I was privileged to have the opportunity to go inside the AGM along with Simon Chambers, documentary film maker working with Amnesty International and Indigenous communities impacted by Bauxite mining in India. We both had and opportunity to present our cases, mine of the tar sands mining in Canada and his of bauxite mining in India. I posed the following questions: “How does RBS justify their billions of dollars in corporate loans and financing to operators in the tar sands, the world’s largest and most destructive industrial project, given the projects vast environmental and human rights abuses?” -and- “Would RBS consider moving towards policies that fully respect Indigenous communities rights to free, prior and informed consent with respect to the banks financing to ensure that communities lives and livelihoods don’t continue to be eroded and impacted by their financing?” The response from Chairman Sir Philip Hampton was pretty standard. He denied the banks involvement in the tar sands stating “…our investments in the Tar Sands are so minimal that I don’t even know what they are.” and then he completely dodged the question of implementing new financing policies that respect Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities referring that I should be addressing the Canadian government not the bank. This was similar to responses from RBC at the beginning of our campaign here in Canada. That evening I was invited to a Peoples AGM where we allowed the public to hear not only the cases of tar sands and bauxite mining, but to look at what viable alternatives existed in the renewable sector. The people also developed their own demands to present to RBS executives the following morning. The next morning we met with the Chairman of the Board, Sir Philip Hampton, and three CSR representatives, in a building that I can only describe as a church to the money gods, to discuss the campaign, demands and concerns. The executives and Chairman reiterated time and time again that they have been given the task to ensure the bank continues to make profits in order to pay back the UK government. The words “profits before people” rang through my ears for a majority of the meeting. However, it’s undeniable the bank does not want to be associated with a campaign that will further tarnish their reputation. I stressed that all banks are in a state of reform and they should take our concerns and recommendations seriously as they have an opportunity to be a leader in the industry to adopt strong policies of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and leading the way forward in clean, renewable energy. RBS could not deny they have been under public scrutiny since being bailed out and tar sands financing is now the cherry on top. It’s clear the bank is worried. I just hope this will be the first of many conversations outlining how RBS can meet the demands of the people here in Canada. [caption id="attachment_6856" align="alignright" width="300" caption=" Photo By Ric Lander"][/caption] In closing, now that the bank is 83% owned by the UK government you’d think we’d be seeing strong corporate and government leadership driving the bank and transforming them into a leader in the emerging green energy economy in the UK and a move towards a future that honours the land and the legacy of my ancestors. RBS should be adopting strong policies that respect free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities and ensures the protection of the environment and water not contributing to projects that tramples over them. It’s time that ALL banks step up to the plate and adopt comprehensive policies that not only address but respect Indigenous communities right to free, prior and informed consent as outlined and identified within the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I hope the UK will put its money where its mouth is by pulling RBS's business out of the tar sands.
The truth is out! After months of investigations, RAN just released a report entitled CARGILL'S PROBLEMS WITH PALM OIL: A BURNING THREAT TO BORNEO. Slideshow of report images Our report reveals that Cargill is clearing and burning rainforests, displacing Indigenous and traditional communities and exacerbating climate change. While Cargill claims that it is committed to sustainable palm oil, it is violating its palm oil commitments, RSPO Principles and Criteria and Indonesian law. Check out our post on GRIST. One of the things we uncovered in our investigation is that Cargill is also failing to disclose the ownership of at least two plantations where they are actively clearing rainforests. The two plantations, located on Indonesian Borneo, are operating without legally required permits, resulting in clearing and burning of rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands and significant conflict with traditional and Indigenous communities. On one plantation, Cargill has cleared 10,500 hectares of rainforest since its operations began in 2005 – an area as large as all four Walt Disney World theme parks! In thinking about the majestic forests of Borneo -that were once havens for orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants- and the people who depend on it for their survival, it's unconscionable to think that in this day and age companies are still getting away with such egregious and rampant destruction. It's not enough for companies like Cargill to say that they are committing to "sustainable palm oil", they need to take bold action now! RAN is recommending that Cargill adopt and implement a comprehensive palm oil policy, which includes cleaning up its entire palm oil supply chain and supporting an immediate moratorium on any further deforestation or draining of peatlands for palm oil plantations. We are also recommending that Cargill customers, like General Mills, cancel their contracts with the company until or unless it agrees to our recommendations. Our report and full recommendations can be found at www.ran.org/cargillreport The media is just starting to cover our report. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says, "Rain forest advocacy group slams Cargill: Rainforest Action Network says Cargill operating outside of sustainability guidelines." We'll keep you posted on other updates, especially the update where Cargill agrees to clean up its act and stop clearing rainforests for palm oil plantations.