Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FARC Retaliates Against Awa Indians by Taking 120 Hostages

Latin American Herald Tribune
Published February 17, 2009

Colombia FARC Takes 120 Indians Hostage

BOGOTA -- A total of 120 Awa Indians were taken hostage last week in southwestern Colombia by presumed leftist FARC insurgents, who killed at least eight of the captives, two indigenous rights organizations said Wednesday.

The members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel army also returned for the children who had been left alone in their homes, although it remains unclear what happened to those youths and how many of them there were, according to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, or Onic, and Indigenous Unity of the Awa People, or Unipa.

In a joint statement released in Pasto, the capital of Nariño province where the abductions and killings occurred, the two associations offered details on the murder of eight Awa Indians and the disappearance of nine others.

Onic and Unipa said the mass abduction occurred Feb. 4 within the limits of the Tortugaña Telembi reservation, located amid jungle-clad mountains near the town of Barbacoas, and was carried out by "armed men with FARC emblems."

The kidnapped Indians "were taken with their hands tied to he so-called El Hojal stream of the El Bravo (indigenous) community," the statement said, adding that witnesses saw the insurgents kill "some people with knives."

The FARC guerrillas returned the following day for the children who had been left alone, but "we don't know what happened to them," the statement said.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, said Tuesday on its Web site that 17 Awa Indians were killed and called on "the national, state, and local governments to take immediate action to provide assistance to the displaced population and victims, to protect the civilian population in Nariño, and to ensure that all abuses in the region, by all armed groups or forces, are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted."

HRW also said the Office of the Ombudsman of Colombia had issued a report prior to the kidnappings alerting authorities that "civilians in the region were at risk" because the FARC suspected the Awa of cooperating with the army and a rival insurgent group.

It urged the Colombian government to improve its response to such warnings.

Onic and Unipa, for its part, did not say if those Indians taken captive were still being held by the insurgents.

They said the Awas believe the guerrilla incursion was in retaliation for supposed support the Indians have lent military troops who have entered their territory.

The rebel presence has left some 1,300 Awas "confined," or cut off from the outside world, according to Onic and Unipa, whose leaders met Tuesday in Pasto to analyze a crisis whose antecedents date back to the past decade, always related to Colombia's long-running internal armed conflict.

According to the two associations, some 200 Awas have been killed since the 1990s, with several of the deaths occurring in four separate massacres. Another 50 have been killed by landmines, while many more have been arbitrarily detained, kidnapped, threatened or recruited by illegal armed groups.

Fighting in that region has led to mass displacement of the Awa population, including cases of cross-border migration due to the bi-national Colombo-Ecuadorian nature of the Awa ethnic group, the statement added.

They said these communities also have suffered blockades and their property has been confiscated by the different armed actors in Colombia's civil conflict.

The Onic and Unipa also said last week's abductions and killings coincided with fighting between the Colombian army and the FARC between Feb. 5-7.

But the army's Cali-based military division, responsible for security in Nariño, said there have been no armed clashes in recent months in the 24,960-hectare (96-square-mile) expanse of the Tortugaña Telembi reservation. EFE

Copyright Latin American Herald Tribune - 2008 ©

Native Rights News is making this material from The Latin American Herald Tribune available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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UNHCR Calls for Colombian Probe in Retaliation Murders of 17 Awa Indigenous people

UNHCR urges Colombian probe into killing of 17 indigenous people

BOGOTA, Colombia, February 10 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency called Tuesday for a thorough investigation into the reported murders last week of 17 Awá indigenous people in a remote area of south-western Colombia.

"We strongly urge all parties involved to respect international humanitarian law and ask the Colombian government to fulfill its obligations to protect civilians and take special measures for the preservation of indigenous people," said a UNHCR spokesperson.

According to initial reports from provincial and local authorities, the victims include two women and a child and were killed last week on Awá collective territory in the Colombian department of Nariño. The rest of the population is now extremely frightened amid increasing concerns over a mass displacement of people in the days to come.

The area, located along the Telembi River between the villages of Ricaurte and Barbacoas, is remote and extremely difficult to reach. In some areas, there are many landmines. According to first reports, which are not yet possible to fully verify, the 17 indigenous people were murdered in a retaliatory attack carried out by an irregular armed group against the civilian population following the arrival of the Colombian armed forces.

The UNHCR field office in Nariño has been working closely with the Awá people, who like many Colombian indigenous groups have been struggling for years to keep out of the country's internal conflict. The Awá in this part of Nariño live on protected collective territory, but this has not stopped armed groups from entering their lands.

As a result, they have been subjected to severe rights violations, including constant pressure and persecution, repeated murders and forced displacement. They have repeatedly been forced to flee their ancestral lands over the past few years. Some have crossed the border to take refuge in neighbouring Ecuador. The use of landmines by irregular armed groups on their territory is another source of terror and forced displacement.

Ron Redmond, chief UNHCR spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday that the refugee agency was "shocked and saddened at the reported killings and we express our condolences to the Awá people, reiterate our support to their right to live peacefully on their own territory, and reaffirm our commitment to keep working with them.

"We also call for an urgent and independent inquiry into the reported incident and for quick and effective prevention measures as outlined in a series of early warnings repeatedly issued by Colombia's Ombudsman Office for the Nariño region."

With 21,000 people, the Awá are the largest indigenous group in Nariño, a department that suffers some of the worst violence and forced displacement in Colombia. For the past two years, Nariño produced more than 10 percent of all cases of new forced displacement in the country.

More than 300,000 people were displaced in Colombia in 2007 and preliminary 2008 figures show a similar trend, bringing the total number of registered internally displaced people to more than 2.8 million.

The Awá people are one of 87 different indigenous groups in Colombia. More than a third of these groups are at risk of extinction, largely as a result of armed conflict and forced displacement. Their survival depends greatly on being able to remain on their ancestral territories and maintaining their close links to the land. The Colombian constitution recognizes them as people with special rights and specific protection needs.

With 12 offices in Colombia, UNHCR works with the government to help it fulfill this protection duty and with indigenous organizations all over the country. Part of that effort has been a campaign to raise awareness of the magnitude of a crisis that unfortunately continues year after year.

By Marie-Helene Verney
in Bogota, Colombia
Copyright 2001-2009 UNHCR

Native Rights News is making this material from United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 2/11/2009 09:31:00 PM

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ACTION ALERT! Nuclear Energy Subsidies Inserted in US Economic Recovery Bill

Energy Justice Now! No taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors!

From the Indigenous Environmental Network to our Friends:

Please ask your friends, colleagues, community organizations and (for Native Nations), ask your Tribal leadership, to take action, and contact their Senators to stop $50 BILLION in new taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors!

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee late on the night of January 27 snuck in a provision to President Obama's economic stimulus package that would allow as much as $50 BILLION of your dollars to be used as loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors. This would be on top of the $18.5 Billion taxpayer dollars already authorized by Congress during the Bush administration.

These loan guarantees would mean more nuclear reactors and more radioactive waste piling up in communities across our country. Please be reminded that It has been the plan of the U.S. government and the nuclear power and utility industry to permanently store its high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Yucca Mountain is within the traditional lands of the Western Shoshone Nation. Spiritual leaders and elders of the Western Shoshone have consistently opposed using the sacred lands of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump. Approval of this $50 billion loan package within the Obama economic stimulus plans would have devastating affect on the treaty rights of the Western Shoshone Nation to protect their sacred lands and provide a safe and secure homeland for their future generation.

These loan guarantees would also mean less money for safer, cheaper and cleaner energy alternatives like solar and wind power.

These loan guarantees would further stimulate an unsustainable and dangerous push by the mining industry to expand uranium mining in the homeland of Native and non-Native rural communities from Arizona, New Mexco, Nebraska, South and North Dakota and First Nation lands of Canada. Any expansion of nuclear power will need uranium to fuel these reactors. Uranium mining within Native Nation territories has already left a legacy of environmental and human health degradadtion and injustice.

The provision is vaguely worded. It would authorize $50 Billion in new loan guarantees for "eligible technologies." These technologies include nuclear, "clean coal," renewable energy sources and electric transmission. But the stimulus package is intended to create new jobs and economic activity over the next two years. Not only should new nuclear reactors and the false concept of "clean coal" be excluded from taxpayer support, but the reality is that neither technology is ready to produce any jobs within the next two years.

The Department of Energy apparently would have to decide how to allocate this $50 Billion. If it all went to safe, cost-effective renewable energy sources,that would be one thing. Unfortunately, the provision's backers, like Sens. Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) are clear that their intent is that it would go for new nuclear reactor construction. Yet the Congressional Budget Office predicts a 50% default rate by nuclear utilities using this program! This is simply a nuclear bailout waiting to happen, and we can't afford it.

But it's not too late. You can help stop this nonsense. The original plan was for the Senate to vote on the stimulus package during this week of February 2. However, the Senate and the House are still in debate on the stimulus package. There is still time to contact you Senator!

Please CALL your Senators now (Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121) and tell them to stop all loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. AND, please send an e-mail to your Senators with the same message using the form below. (Note: We encourage you to edit the wording to personalize your e-mail and reflect your own concerns. IEN networks with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) who manages this email campaign below.)


Thank you,

Tom Goldtooth, IEN

Article Source: Indigneous Environmental Network

Image Source: Greenpeace

Native Rights News is making this material from Indigneous Environmental Network available as a result of a general press release. NRN is using the image provided by Greenpeace with permission in accordance with Greenpeace's published copyright policy. This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Perry Chesnut, Editor NRN to Native Rights News at 2/06/2009 12:04:00 PM

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International Pressure Mounts on Canada to Do More about Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada's Record on Indigenous Rights Questioned at UN Human Rights Council

OTTAWA, Feb. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The international community has sent a strong message that the Government of Canada must do more to uphold the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada's human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, February 3 as part of the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

Of the 45 states that spoke during the three -hour session, 30 raised concerns about the rights of Indigenous peoples. Some of the strongest recommendations came from states that have traditionally allied with Canada in the promotion of human rights.

The United Kingdom, for example, recommended that Canada give its "highest priority" to addressing "fundamental inequalities" between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people including through "resolution of land claims and reconciliation of governance and self-government."

The governments of Norway and Denmark called on Canada to reconsider its opposition to the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Norwegian representative said, "We believe the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is unique as a universal framework for improving implementation of existing rights of Indigenous peoples in all countries of the world."

The government of Norway also called for "comprehensive reporting and statistical analysis of the scale and character of violence against Indigenous women so that a national strategy can be initiated in consultation with Indigenous representatives to respond to the severity of this issue."

Switzerland expressed concern over the lengthy process for resolving Indigenous land disputes and the concessions demanded by the government as a condition for settling claims. Switzerland urged Canada to "redouble its efforts" to resolve land disputes and to improve the mechanisms for doing so.

Canada was also questioned about the rights of Indigenous peoples by states with close economic ties. The government of the Philippines asked, "Is there specific legislation which covers mining activities in lands claimed by Indigenous communities? What mechanisms are in place to resolve possible disputes between private corporations, local and federal government and Indigenous communities in this regard?"

Twenty-three states did not have a chance to speak because of time constraints. They have submitted questions and recommendations in writing. For example, Zambia recommended Canada "take steps to review its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, consistent with the principal of international cooperation and the protection of the international human rights system as a whole."

Canada failed to consult with Indigenous peoples' organizations and domestic human rights groups before submitting its report to the Human Rights Council. Such consultation is recommended by the UPR process. Unfortunately, the failure to hold consultations was not made clear in Canada's report or in yesterday's session, which led some states to congratulate Canada on its consultations.

"The government is working with Aboriginal communities to agree on priorities," John Sims, the Deputy Minister of Justice, told the UN Human Rights Council. "The challenges are enormous. The scale of issues to confront is vast and many of the issues are technically very complex but we're moving ahead on many fronts: education, entrepreneurship, economic development, land claims, safe drinking water and so on."

Indigenous peoples' organizations and human rights groups are calling on Canada to take the recommendations of the UPR seriously and to engage constructively with Indigenous peoples and civil society to ensure their implementation.

The report of the Council's UPR Working Group will be released on Thursday, February 5. The Government of Canada will have until June to respond.

Video recordings of the session and related documents can be found online at: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090203

For further information: Assembly of First Nations: Don Kelly, Communications, (613) 241-6789 ext 334, dkelly@afn.ca; Gina Cosentino, Government Relations + International Affairs, National Chief's Office, (613) 241-6789 ext 356, gcosentino@afn.ca; Amnesty International Canada: Beth Berton-Hunter, Media Officer, Amnesty International Canada, (416) 363-9933, ext 32, Cell: (416) 904-7158; Canadian Friends Service Committee: Jennifer Preston, (416) 920-5213; Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Stephen Hendrie, Director of Communications, Cell: (613) 277-3178, hendrie@itk.ca; Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada): Corinne Gray, (613) 563-2642; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice: Ed Bianchi, Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator, (613) 235-9956; Native Women's Association of Canada: Celeste McKay, cell: (613) 858-7070; Quebec Native Women: Ellen Gabriel, (450) 632-0088 ext. 228
© 2009 CNW Group Ltd.

Native Rights News is making this material from Assembly of First Nations available as the result of a general press release. This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 2/05/2009 02:31:00 PM

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Twelve Months of Broken Promises Since Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations

Australia Day: a racist celebration

By Simon Butler
Source: Green Left Online, 4 February 2009

Members of Tasmania's Aboriginal community didn't mince their words about how they feel about the celebration of Australia Day.

"You stole our land, you stole our rights and we won't celebrate invasion day", the protesters chanted as they marched through the streets of Hobart. Symbolically, they carried three coffins with them to the steps of the state parliament on January 26.

The following day, the Hobart Mercury reported that the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre state secretary, Nala Mansell-McKenna, told the crowd that celebrating Australia Day on January 26 was undeniably racist.

She compared the offence many Indigenous people feel regarding Australia Day to the imaginable offence were Aboriginals to "celebrate" on Anzac Day.

According to the Mercury Mansell-McKenna said: "There can never be reconciliation between white and Aboriginal Australians while Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 … To us it marks the start of assimilation, land theft, murder, poisoning and death — how can any reasonable person celebrate that?"

Just minutes after he became the 2009 Australian of the Year, Aboriginal leader Mick Dodson used his first public address to also criticise the celebration of Australia Day. He said that for many Aboriginals January 26 is not a day for celebration but "a day of mourning" and "the day in which our world came crashing down".

Australia Day is marked as Invasion Day or Survival Day by many Aboriginal Australians and their supporters, Dodson pointed out. He called for a "national conversation" about changing the day to a more appropriate date. He also said the issue of compensation to the Stolen Generations still needs to be addressed — an option already dismissed by the federal ALP government.

The government hurried to rule out any idea of changes to Australia Day. "To our Indigenous leaders, and those who call for a change to our national day, let me say a simple, respectful but straightforward no", said PM Kevin Rudd on January 26, in reply to Dodson's speech.

A racist celebration

Worldwide, Australia is one of only two countries colonised by Europeans that celebrate its national day on the anniversary of white settlement. The other country is the apartheid state of Israel, whose national day coincides with the commencement of Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948.

Australia has little to be proud of in maintaining January 26 as a national holiday. It marks the beginning of a brutal invasion and genocide carried out against the original inhabitants.

For decades, Australian authorities subjected Indigenous people to systematic discrimination and the theft of their land. These policies were considered justified on the patronising and racist assumption that Aboriginal people constituted an inferior, dying race.

In 1901, attorney-general and future prime minister Alfred Deakin even called for Aboriginals subjected to Australia's apartheid-like laws to be grateful: "if [Aboriginals] be a dying race, let us hope that in their last hours they will be able to recognise not simply the justice, but the generosity of the treatment which the white race, who are dispossessing them and entering into their heritage, are according them."

Abandoning January 26 as a national celebration would be a progressive step — part of a bigger campaign for full equality and justice for Australia's Indigenous people.

The racism associated with Australia Day is not only a thing of the past. It also plays a role in stoking racist nationalism among white Australians today. This year, hundreds of white youth rampaged in the Sydney suburb of Manly on January 26, targeting non-white shopkeepers, in their own, appalling assertion of "Aussie pride".

AAP's Justin Vallejo reported that the white rioters attacked and injured an 18-year-old Asian woman, a Sikh taxi driver and an Asian shopkeeper in scenes that had "the potential to resemble Cronulla Beach in 2005".

Nina Burridge, an academic at the University of Technology, witnessed the Manly riots. She ridiculed police suggestions that racism was not a factor in the rampage, telling the January 27 Sydney Morning Herald there was definitely "an underlying element of racism dressed up as nationalism".

In the weeks after the racist Cronulla riots in 2005 — involving hundreds of white Australians rampaging through the suburb indiscriminately attacking non-whites — the ABC's 7.30 Report interviewed some of the participants.

Being part of riots "was better than Australia Day", said one unrepentant racist. "I went home at 10 o'clock at night and my eyes were like this. I had the best time of my life. Not because we were there fighting Lebos, but just the atmosphere, you know. Everyone has had enough of them."

Broken promises

Along with its racist and nationalist associations, there is a further reason why the ALP government should move Australia Day. It was one of the election promises made at its 2007 national convention. The 2004 convention had also adopted this policy.

Chris Graham, from the National Indigenous Times, explained in a January 22 editorial that the ALP went into the 2007 election with a policy of implementing the recommendations of a report from the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. One of those recommendations is to move Australia Day to a less offensive day.

Graham labelled Rudd's refusal to implement his own party's policy as consistent with his entire first year in office, "which is littered with broken promises to Aboriginal people". He listed some of these broken promises.

Before the election, Labor promised to boost funding to Aboriginal legal aid but actually cut funding in its first budget. Labor attacked the previous government for not bridging the Indigenous health gap, yet since taking office it too has failed to make up the funding shortfall.

In opposition, the ALP promised to revitalise Indigenous languages and endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In government, it has backed away from both of these things.

Labor professed to be critical of the Howard government's NT intervention and promised a review if elected. The review went ahead but Labor simply ignored the major recommendations: the intervention continues largely unchanged.

Rudd has also broken a pre-election pledge to respond comprehensively to the Bringing Them Home report into the Stolen Generations. A major recommendation of the report was compensation, yet as PM, Rudd has ruled out any compensation scheme.

On February 13, it will be 12 months since Rudd made the moving apology to the Stolen Generations, raising hopes of real change among many. The reality of his government's record since then led Graham to conclude: "Labor is the party that says one thing, and does another. It is the party that pretends to be the friend of the blackfella, but stabs him the back regardless of whether or not he's looking."


According to the January 27 NIT, Dodson has proposed February 13 — the anniversary of the apology — as one alternative date for Australia's national day. Mansell-McKenna has also raised the idea of shifting the holiday to that day.

Queensland Aboriginal leader and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson also supports the call to change the date of Australia Day. According to another January 27 NIT report Watson argued: "It needs to be [changed] because January 26 is only the day in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived to set up the colony of New South Wales. It's got nothing to do with Aboriginal people or the nation of Australia as it stands today."

Watson's suggestion for an alternative date was June 3 — the day the Mabo decision recognising native title was handed down in 1992.

The January 27 Mercury also reported Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell has a third alternative proposal for moving Australia Day — the day should coincide with the future date when the government finally signs a treaty with Aboriginal people.

Another view is held by South Australian Aboriginal elder Aunty Josi Agius who argued that she doesn't believe Australia Day should be changed, but felt strongly that the government still had to do more to recognise the struggle of Indigenous people.

According to ABC Online, Aunty Josi said, "Australia Day is good for non-Aboriginal people and for us it's our survival day. Another day for Aboriginal people should be brought in, or the government should do something to recognise us."

Debate and discussion within and without the Indigenous community will widen in the context of Dodson's remarks. But this discussion must be combined with ongoing campaigns in solidarity with Indigenous people, taking up government attacks.

Watson told the ABC on January 26 that he hoped Dodson would continue to use his position to speak out for Indigenous rights. Many others will also need to speak out and take action.

Despite the apology, despite the rhetoric, despite the awarding of Australian of the Year to an Aboriginal leader … the Rudd government is systematically attacking the rights and past gains of Indigenous people.
Copyright 2009 Simon Butler

Native Rights News is making this material from Green Left Weekly available by permission of the author as expressed through the copyright policy statement of Green Left Weekly. This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Perry Chesnut, Editor NRN to Native Rights News at 2/03/2009 10:51:00 AM

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Thousands of Displaced Villagers Attack Barrick Gold's North Mara Mine in Tanzania

[Editor's Note: Although this article is somewhat dated, we are publishing it for two reasons: (1) it was virtually "blacked out" by the corporate news media in the United States and Canada, and (2) it concerns a company whose greed and ruthlessness, coupled with its complete disregard for the rights of indigenous peoples and the planet and its ecosystem, make it a poster child for everything that is wrong with unrestrained global capitalism. We shall continue to publicize this company's crimes against people and nature in the hope of bringing public and investor pressure to bear upon the company. -- Perry H. Chesnut, Editor NRN]
December 24, 2008

Civilian Uprising against Barrick Gold in Tanzania

Mine security shoots young man, villagers respond by destroying $7 million in equipment

NEW YORK–Last week, reports surfaced in the mainstream press that thousands of villagers had raided a gold mine in Northern Tanzania, setting fire to $7 million* worth of mine equipment. Most reports blamed problems with crime in the area, calling the intruders "gold-seekers."

While the spokesman for Barrick Gold** Tanzania, Teweli Teweli, describes these villagers as "well-organized groups" who attacked the pit following the blasting of high-grade ore, others paint Barrick as the aggressor in this event, citing immediate and historic causes that have been largely ignored by the international community.

According to several witnesses, the immediate cause of the civilian uprising was the killing of a young man named Mang'weina Mwita Mang'weina. Human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu, who represents many of the villagers, explains that Mang'weina and some friends were engaged in an argument with Barrick security when one of the guards shot Mang'weina, who was unarmed at the time. This incident caused an uproar within the community, which immediately took up stones, overpowered mine security (who then fled), and attacked the mine, setting fire to millions worth of equipment.

Mang'weina himself is a part of the legacy of the North Mara mine. He was one of the thousands of unemployed locals in the area, angry over the mine's recent history of forced displacement, loss of livelihoods, human rights abuses and ongoing repression. He is the seventh person killed at the hands of mine security since July 2005, when the killing of a local boy sparked a similar uprising that resulted in the destruction of mine equipment and the subsequent detention of over 200 villagers.***

Eyewitnesses to the 2005 killing told The Guardian (Tanzania) that "the boy who was shot dead was walking past the company premises when company security guards, suspecting him of stealing oil, stopped him. When the boy failed to heed the order, the guards called the police who, before even questioning him, shot him in the chest."

Not one year later, security guards employed by Barrick Gold allegedly shot – five times in the back – another villager who was alleged to have illegally entered the mine complex, bringing the death toll to six.

According to Lissu in a letter written in June 2006:

The killings represent a major shift in Barrick's strategy for dealing with the troublesome locals who have always opposed the Mine. In the period after the forced evictions of the villagers in August 2001, hundreds of villagers, particularly community leaders and prominent locals were targeted for illegal arrests, criminal prosecutions and long term imprisonment. Numerous local leaders including the area's [late] Member of Parliament Chacha Zakayo Wangwe and elected Member of the Tarime District Council Augustino Nestory Sasi were harassed this way, with the latter being sentenced to 30 year jail before we got him out on appeal to the High Court of Tanzania in December 2004.

Calculating from media reports, Lissu estimates that over 10,000 artisanal miners, peasant farmers and their families were kicked out of the area to make way for the North Mara mine in 2001. Since that time, there has been ongoing tension between the mine and the local communities.

According to Allan Cedillo Lissner, a Toronto-based photojournalist who recently interviewed families surrounding the North Mara mine, "Ongoing conflict between the mine and local communities have created a climate of fear for those who live nearby." Since the mine opened in 2002, one family told Lissner that they live in a state of constant anxiety because they are repeatedly harassed and intimidated by the mine's private security forces and by government police. "There have been several deadly confrontations in the area and every time there are problems at the mine, the Mwita family say their compound is the first place the police come looking. During police operations the family scatters in fear to hide in the bush, 'like fugitives,' for weeks at a time waiting for the situation to calm down," Lissner explains.

The Mwita family explained that they used to farm and raise livestock, telling Lissner that "now there are no pastures because the mine has almost taken the whole land ... we have no sources of income and we are living only through God's wishes. ... We had never experienced poverty before the mine came here." They also told Lissner that they would like to be relocated, but the application process has been complicated, and they feel the amount of compensation offered was merely "candy."

According to Tanzanian journalist and community advocate Evans Rubara, this latest uprising "is a sign to both the government of Tanzania and the International community (especially Canada) that poor and marginalized people also get tired of oppression." He hopes that the recent conflict will inspire Barrick "to start another strategy that will bring a good and constructive relationship with the local communities by implementing programs that do not enhance more looting and belittle Tanzania, leaving thousands in destitution."

Since this most recent uprising, dozens of villagers have been arrested. According to Lissu, who plans to represent those arrested, "They have arrested dozens of people; [Barrick is] on a war path; these people have been denied bail, they are targeting the youth and repression is on."

Lissu also spoke about reports of weapons making their way into the North Mara area. "Two days ago, we got information that [Barrick is] importing weapons: a ton and a half of tear gas, and hand grenades were transported to the mine on Thursday. The hand grenades were seized by customs on the way to the North Mara Gold Mine, but have since been let through," he told ProtestBarrick.net on the phone from Tanzania.

Sakura Saunders is an editor for protestbarrick.net, an all-volunteer news site that networks organizations and community groups organized against Barrick Gold around the world.

* On December 17, 2008 Barrick Gold said it had revised down the damage to its North Mara Mine in Tanzania during an attack last week to about $7 million from an earlier estimate of $15 million.

** In January 2006, Barrick Gold merged with Placer Dome, who previously owned the North Mara mine.

*** By mid 2006 all of the villagers detained after the 2005 uprising had been released by the courts after the authorities failed to prosecute them.

Article source: The Dominion, December 24, 2008

Native Rights News is making this material from The Dominion available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Perry Chesnut, Editor NRN to Native Rights News at 2/03/2009 07:54:00 AM

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NWT High Court Denies Aboriginal Land Claims and Upholds NT Intervention Program

Violent scenes at High Court after land rights decision

Originally published in WAtoday.com.au (02-02-09)

Protesters stormed inside the High Court and clashed with police after the court dismissed a challenge against the federal intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.

Dozens of anti-intervention protesters, both indigenous and non-indigenous, pushed through the court's front doors minutes after it rejected the case brought by traditional owners from the Arnhem Land community of Maningrida.

Carrying banners and clapping, the protesters chanted, "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land," as they moved into the court's main foyer.

Security guards tried to prevent the protesters from entering the building but were quickly overwhelmed.

Police appeared on the scene soon after, triggering scuffles as they tried to force the protesters back outside.

After a tense half-hour stand-off, the protesters took their demonstration to the streets of Canberra.

Under the NT intervention program, launched by the Howard government in a bid to tackle child sexual abuse, the commonwealth took control of township leases, abolished the permit system, introduced welfare restrictions, boosted police numbers and imposed alcohol and pornography bans.

Maningrida traditional owners Reggie Wurridjal and Joy Garlbin took on the commonwealth over its compulsory five-year takeover of their land.

The land, measuring 10.456 square kilometres, includes a township, four sacred sites, an outstation, a sand quarry, a billabong and a ceremonial site.
The elders, along with the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, argued the commonwealth failed to acquire the land on "just terms" as required by the constitution.

But the court, by a six to one majority, rejected their argument, saying the laws underpinning the intervention properly provided for compensation for Aboriginal organisations and people.

Retiring Justice Michael Kirby, in his final judgment in the court, dissented, arguing the case should be sent to trial.

"The law of Australia owes the Aboriginal claimants nothing less," he said.

A majority of justices also overruled a 1969 High Court decision which held that the just terms requirement in section 51 of the constitution did not apply to laws made by the commonwealth for the governing of the NT and ACT.

Copyright © 2009. Fairfax Digital

Native Rights News is making this material from WAtoday.com.au available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Perry Chesnut, Editor to Native Rights News at 2/03/2009 06:52:00 AM

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Techqua Ikachi (Land and Life)--Aboriginal Warning

Global Warming And Indigenous Wisdom

By Alan Gorg
Special to History News Network (1-31-09)

[Editor's Note: Mr. Gorg, (B.S. 1952 and M.F.A. 1970, U.C.L.A.), is a teacher/writer/producer/director/actor. He has published several books and his documentary films have won numerous film festival awards. He lives and works out of Venice, California, where he owns and operates his film production company Venice Visionary Media.]

American history taught in our schools and colleges omits the one American society with the most outstanding record of peaceful coexistence ever in human history. The name Hopi means "Peaceful People" because long before the Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, long before the European invasion, they lived in peace for a thousand years on the high desert of what is now northern Arizona. No other society since the rise of agriculture has ever enjoyed anything near a millennium of peace— certainly not the Aztecs or Mayans or the constantly warring nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa which are currently the subjects of history education.

Yet during my decades of schooling and years of history classes in Los Angeles City Schools, Los Angeles City College, Santa Monica College, UCLA, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and USC, I never heard mention of the Hopi. Perhaps like with TV and newspaper journalism, war is news and war is history, and peace is no news and no history. But following the history of the Hopi and their ancient prophecy could serve as a spiritual example for a simple life which may be the only way to control the present danger global warming and save human society.

Similarly, the accuracy of Hopi prophecy is unmatched by any other prophecy. There are many Doomsday predictions based on moral and spiritual failings, but the Hopi prophecy is directed specifically against mining and drilling into the Earth. Their oral history tells of a time prior to that thousand years of peace, an ancient time when their ancestors chose their simple life while other kindred peoples were drawn to develop societies more rich with industry and material wealth. The histories of the Aztecs and Incas show a fascination with gold mining and display which attracted quick conquest by the Spanish, and now comes modern science recognizing the danger of global warming from carbon dug and drilled from the ground, a perfect manifestation of the aboriginal warning.

People are concerned about global warming and the environment, but few are pushed to seriously change their lives because the worst effects will be felt gradually and over a period of decades. But there are others who are in fact suffering and dying right now from the development of global warming.

My wife and I were founding members of the Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life (T.I.I.L.), which through the 1960's and 1970's supported traditional causes, primarily in the courts. Protests by the Hopi and Dineh drew our attention to Black Mesa in northern Arizona on those same reservation lands where in prior years many had died from the carcinogenic effects of uranium mining. The Committee used the slogan TECHQUA IKACHI, Hopi for "Land and Life."

The resistance by Hopi and Dine' traditionals continues to this day. One center for this widespread local opposition has been the traditional Hopi village of Hotevilla, founded in 1906 after a clash between Hopi traditionals and those "progressives" who had decided to give up their traditions, convert to Christianity, and seek the material benefits of Western technology and industry. The traditionals were purged out of the ancient village of Oraibi into the desert wilderness in the cold and snow of winter and founded their own new village of Hotevilla.

In 1969 the federal government brought in contractors to provide the first electric power to the village of Hotevilla. Power poles were trucked in, and heavy equipment arrived to clear the way for the installation. At this point a group of Hopi elders arrived on the scene to block the work. Those old men lay down in the path of the bulldozers, ready to sacrifice their lives if necessary to prevent electric power from coming to their village. One ninety-year-old man was injured and did not survive long after.

This scene of confrontation was the proverbial moment of truth for those of us from the civil rights movement. To capitalist and socialist alike, belief in the value of material progress had always been fundamental. Why would anyone resist progress? How could anyone criticize progress?

The Hopi elders were concerned over the price to be paid. In the traditional economy there was no money because it was not needed. How were the Hopi to get money? There are few jobs on the reservation other than working for the government or working for corporations extracting coal, oil, and uranium out of the land. The only source of money for many is to go on welfare.

There would also be a price more costly than money.

Like many indigenous peoples, the traditional Hopi share a widespread belief and prophecy that taking oil and minerals is a transgression on Mother Earth and will bring disaster. Modern evidence supporting this belief can be found in the toxicity at all mining sites everywhere and in the new specter of a potential Doomsday from the continued dominance of coal as our principal energy source. Hopi prophecy, like scriptural prophecies, foretells doom for those who forsake the right way of life, but the Hopi and Dineh prophecies are very specific in describing mining and drilling as the sources of the coming catastrophe, and this focus is proving accurate with the rise of the specter of global warming.

In those days when we were traveling to Hotevilla to help the traditional Hopi elders, I was a film student at U.C.L.A., and I was inspired to begin work on a documentary about the Hopi. Their political philosophy of consensus and their harmony with nature as farmers opened up my head. The elders asked for a film about the prophecy.

During that period we shot our short AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI, presenting the life and philosophy of a traditional. This black-and-white 16mm documentary was a finalist in the National Short Film Competition and was also selected for Best of Filmex at the Los Angeles International Film Exposition in 1980.

Reservation government police prevented us from continuing to film there, so we developed a docudrama to present the aboriginal prophecy about the land. On our way, we learned the Arizona conflict was but one aspect of a worldwide epidemic of appropriation and exploitation of lands of indigenous peoples for mining and oil, including many other locations in the U.S.A. Among sites of recent protest demonstrations are Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Florida, the Dakotas, Alaska, Canada, Burma, Columbia,, Indonesia, Tibet, the Arctic, Mexico, Madagascar, the Philippines, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Australia, Thailand, India, and thousands of demonstrations in China. Many others are not reported. Civil war over oil has broken out in Sudan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, mass murder in Ethiopia. More than five million have been killed in the Congo in civil wars over mining. There is no organizational link between these peoples. What they have in common is their suffering the despoiling of their lands for the profit of others.

Almost forty years after that demonstration in Hotevilla, the 43-minute documentary/and docudrama film TECHQUA IKACHI: ABORIGINAL WARNING has been finished, aimed at schools and colleges, and dedicated to now-deceased Hopi elders James Kots, Helen Kots, David Monongye, Nora Monongye, Thomas Banyacya, Carolyn Tawangyama, Ralph Tawangyama, and Dan Katchongva.

TECHQUA IKACHI won the Neptune Award at the Moondance International Film Festival and has been honored at the Columbus and Chashama International Film Festivals here in the United States and at other international film festivals in China, India, Canada, Korea, and Latin America.
The DVD of TECHQUA IKACHI—and a supporting CD of study materials with production notes and scientific and news reports concerning the dangers as well as the worldwide conflicts arising from mining and drilling—are available through www.venicevisionarymedia.net/techquaikachi.html. The film's trailer and background may be viewed there.

Our purpose with the film is to push the issue into consciousness. A change in human society significant enough to stop global warming would help all people, but would require reductions in manufacturing and consumption almost nobody is presently willing to undertake. So we remain on track to fulfill the prophecy.

In America and the other industrialized nations, we need to focus beyond our own energy and environmental problems and consider also the sufferings of others—and not only in the Middle East. Higher gas prices, more smog and pollution, the threat of global warming, and the many wars ongoing make the production of oil a personal concern for all of us. We worry over the danger of accidents and radioactive contamination from nuclear energy. What few think about or even recognize, native peoples around the world are suffering impoverishment, even sickness and death, from exploitation and pollution of their lands by oil and mining interests, but the prophecy and now science both indicate that ultimately everyone will go down together.

The Hopi elders requested a film be made about the prophecy. The elders risked their lives to block the bulldozers, as in our film. Those elders are gone now, yet the protest demonstrations at Black Mesa by the Hopi and Dineh community groups have not only continued, the conflict there has grown and expanded. Similar conflicts worldwide continue and worsen. A long list of urls for news reports is on our website.

The Hopi people knew how to be civil to others long before modern so-called civilization, which brought money and modern things but no peace and little civility. The Hopi had lived their quiet life in a difficult desert for many centuries in peace, but now the lust for energy and minerals leaves them and many other indigenous peoples around little chance for peace.
Copyright: This article does not appear to be copyrighted

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This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 2/02/2009 08:19:00 AM

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Indian Control of Indian Education

Dizzy Decentering the Center: How?
Opinion and Commentary
By Sharilyn Calliou
Thinking Aloud About Theorizing Indigenous Ed

I read a blog entry that had me revisit need to understand cultural/political standpoint when I use authority of position to deliver curriculum (any subject, any grade, etc.). [1] What acts of praxis to transform schooling for students of First Nations ancestry? I asked this question throughout a career as classroom teacher. It is a centuries long struggle of resistance to assert independence of thought, historical record, identity, protocols and et cetera. This is a given for all indigenous peoples, whether Dené, Mohawk, Cree or Mi'kmaq. For indigenous peoples the classroom has not been a tame environment, but rather an environment to tame. Thus, a new generation of educators emerged at 1972. [2]

Praxis: 'Hands On' Tradition

Their/our modern roots are grounded in the policy statement Indian Control of Indian Education [ICIE], issued by the National Indian Brotherhood in 1972. [In 1982 the NIB became the Assembly of First Nations.] This does not imply that self-determination was new. By 1970, the Dené were developing a statement of inherent independence, with assertion that 'We the Dené of the N.W.T. insist on the right to be regarded by ourselves and the world as a Nation.' This was unanimously accepted and declared in 1975. [3]

There is a history of self-determination: students ran away from or parents/guardians kept children out of residential schools; communities continued to use heritage languages; leadership signed (or not) treaties as Nations; leadership sustained traditional acts, for examples, of political governance, art, healthcare, spirituality, environmentalism, agriculture. These acts of Ancestors produced concrete examples about how we live today because of the strength of cultural knowledge (now called Traditional Indigenous Knowledge [TIK] in modern lit).

These acts are praxis; a term, first used by Ancient Greeks to describe the 'acts of free men'. The emphasis is on men in Ancient Greek culture, unlike Mohawk or Cree understandings of women as equal, although role differentiation is understood. For Marxists, the term meant that people act to change/transform the world and not just theorize. For educators, Friere brought us critical pedagogy to deconstruct oppression by the oppressed. [4] I have lived long enough to understand more deeply that we do not save the culture but it is the culture that saves us.

For indigenous peoples, praxis is the 'acts of free people', self-determination a Gift of the Creator. No one can take away a gift of the Creator ― although some may try again and again. Does indigenous praxis suggest anarchy? I was asked this once. 'No,' I said, 'Aboriginal communities were not lawless.' Then I would be asked, 'What is self-government' As an academic, I could recite text and chapter. More now I recall the words of an Elder who repeated what he heard from an Elder senior to him. He said, 'See that little bird up in the tree. See it sit. See it fly away? That is self-determination.' Another Elder once remarked, 'Every time you decide to get out of bed in the morning that is self-government.'

Self-Government and Staying Focused

For me, life in classrooms became assertion rather than resistance. One of the goals of ICIE is reinforcement of identity (NIB, 1972, p. 3). But do we have to resist to be, or can we just be?

Resistance can keep us very busy. Better to talk Cree or Mikmawisimik than write about saving a language? [5] Use time to scour for thought-speak from our voices and not too handily rely on Gramsci's theory of hegemony? I lived the experience of the business of busyness (Smith, 2003) when living in Hungary the summer of 1984. I needed to experience standing in line-ups for food and basic toiletries and to observe how newspapers were not read but deconstructed. Marketing could take a full day. As I stood in line, the exhaustion helped me understand how I might tire of resistance, struggle and praxis. Yet, the Magyars persevered to reclaim traditional territory and preserve their language, despite a few generations forced to speak-write-read Russian.

Life in classrooms today continues to be self-surveillance about whose knowledge, tradition, history, standpoint takes precedence. Given what First Nations Ancestors survived, it is good to revisit Indian Control of Indian Education, policy adopted in 1973 for students of indigenous Ancestry within the borders of Canada.

ICIE (1972)

In 1972, we used 'Indian'; we still do in particular circumstances. In 1974 the Canadian School Trustees adopted ICIE stating, 'any transfer of educational jurisdiction from the federal [Canada] to the provinces must be done with prior consultation with Indian peoples,' and school must be a place where Aboriginal students 'learn their own language, history and culture in the classroom, with curricula revised. [6, 7] This is policy of Assembly of First Nations and Canadian government.

So when I/we wonder about how I/we will transform the classroom today (whether bush camp or post-secondary lecture hall), it is sometimes good to reread the policy adopted on behalf of parents/guardians, youth and children.

The policy is in play so we can act as our Ancestors did. My think of this post reminded me of Kirkness' (1998) recipe that First Nations need to cut the shackles, cut the crap and cut the mustard. [8]


[2] See: Calliou, S. (1999). Activism and self-determination in First Nations education (1972-1988). In J. Hylton (Ed.). Aboriginal self-government in Canada (2nd Edition, Chpt. 8). Sask, SK: Purich Publishing Ltd.

[3] Full text: http://www.denenation.com/denedec.html. By 1970, parents of Rae-Edzo reclaimed the elementary school because they knew they would provide a more relevant education, including heritage language. There is a checklist for teacher self-assessment. See: http://www.newteachersnwt.com/culture_based_education2.html

[4] Freire, P. (1969). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This idea discussed previously; e.g., Sartre described 'digestive' or 'nutritive' aims of education, where knowledge is fed by teachers to 'fill them out'. Sartre, J.P. (1947, Paris), Une idée fundamentale de la phénoménologie de Husserl: L'intentionnalité, Situations 1.

[5] Mikmawisimik, is an Algonquian language spoken by 8000 Indians in the Canadian Maritimes (particularly NS) and a few US communities. . . . Mi'kmaq is written alphabetically today, but in the past it was written in pictographs, which predate European contact.' Jesuit missionaries modified to teach Christian prayers. Micmac hieroglyphics do not resemble Ancient Egyptian or Mayan. Mi'kmaq is not linguistically related to Ancient Egyptian or other Semitic languages. See: http://www.native-languages.org/mikmaq.htm

[7] Re. history of overturn of use of 'Indian', the Hon. F.A. Calder, Nisgha, spoke as elected MP in Canadian Parliament, 'This may be the time to mention that the native people of Canada do not appreciate being lumped together as a faceless body known as Indians. We would prefer to be recognised by our own distinctive national, linguistic, and cultural characteristics'. See:

[8] Kirkness, V.J. Aboriginal education in Canada: A retrospective. (1999). Journal of American Indian Education. Vol 39(1). Special issue #2. Available @

Editor's Note:
Dr. Sharilyn Calliou, is a status band member of the Michel First Nation, located in Treaty 6 Territory, Canada and is descended from the Mohawk, Cree and Lakota Peoples. A career teacher, she has served in many capacities in inner city schools, as well as in an on-reserve isolated northern community. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of British Columbia, where she taught in the Native Indian Teacher Education Program and Ts''kel, First Nations Graduate Studies in Education. Doctor Calliou has been published in English Journal, the Journal of Native Education (Canada) and the Canadian Journal of Community Education. Her daily blog Word Zoo can be found at http://wordzoo.spaces.live.com/?_c11_BlogPart_pagedir=First&_c11_BlogPart_BlogPart=blogview&_c=BlogPart&partqs=amonth%3d1%26ayear%3d2009

© Sharilyn Calliou. 20 January 2009. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for educational use but NOT commercial use.

Native Rights News is publishing this article with express permission of the author without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society. The image used in this article was obtained from the Visual Resources Database of the Minnesota Historical Society and is published in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/30/2009 10:35:00 AM

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Bolivians Celebrate Overwhelming Vote for New Constitution

Upside Down World:

Bolivia Looking Forward: New Constitution Passed, Celebrations Hit the Streets

Written by Benjamin Dangl
Monday, 26 January 2009

After Bolivia's new constitution was passed in a national referendum on Sunday, thousands gathered in La Paz to celebrate. Standing on the balcony of the presidential palace, President Evo Morales addressed a raucous crowd: "Here begins a new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality."

Polls conducted by Televisión Boliviana announced that the document passed with 61.97% support from some 3.8 million voters. According to the poll, 36.52% of voters voted against the constitution, and 1.51% cast blank and null votes. The departments where the constitution passed included La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosí, Tarija, and Pando. It was rejected in Santa Cruz, Beni, and Chuquisaca.

The constitution, which was written in a constituent assembly that first convened in August of 2006, grants unprecedented rights to Bolivia's indigenous majority, establishes broader access to basic services, education and healthcare and expands the role of the state in the management of natural resources and the economy.

When the news spread throughout La Paz that the constitution had been passed in the referendum, fireworks, cheers and horns sounded off sporadically. By 8:30, thousands had already gathered in the Plaza Murillo. The crowd cheered "Evo! Evo! Evo!" until Morales, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and other leading figures in the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) government, crowded out onto the balcony of the presidential palace.

"I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of the brothers and sisters of Bolivia, all of the compañeros and compañeras, all of the citizens that through their vote, through their democratic participation, decided to refound Bolivia," Morales said. "From 2005 to 2009 we have gone from triumph to triumph, while the neoliberals, the traitors have been constantly broken down thanks to the consciousness of the Bolivian people."

He shook his fist in the air, the applause died down. "And I want you to know something, the colonial state ends here. Internal colonialism and external colonialism ends here. Sisters and brothers, neoliberalism ends here too."

At various points in the speech Morales, and others on the balcony, held up copies of the new constitution. Morales continued, "And now, thanks to the consciousness of the Bolivian people, the natural resources are recuperated for life, and no government, no new president can…give our natural resources away to transnational companies."

A Weakened Right

Though news reports and analysts have suggested that the passage of the new constitution will exacerbate divisions in the country, some of the political tension may be directed into the electoral realm as general elections are now scheduled to take place in December of this year. In addition, the constitution's passage is another sign of the weakness of the Bolivian right, and their lack of a clear political agenda and mandate to confront the MAS's popularity. The recent passage of the constitution is likely to divide and further debilitate the right.

Even Manfred Reyes Villa, an opponent of Morales and ex-governor of Cochabamba, told Joshua Partlow of the Washington Post that, "Today, there is not a serious opposition in the country." When the right-wing led violence in the department of Pando in September of 2008 left some 20 people dead and many others wounded, the right lost much of its legitimacy and support. "With Pando, the regional opposition just collapsed," George Gray Molina, an ex-United Nations official in Bolivia, and a current research fellow at Oxford University, told Partlow. "I think they lost authority and legitimacy even among their own grass roots."


Fireworks shot off at the end of Morales' speech in the Plaza Murillo, sending scared pigeons flying. Live folk music played on stage as the crowd danced and the TV crews packed up and left. The wind blew around giant balloon figures of hands the color of the Bolivian flag holding the new constitution.

As the night wore on, more people began dancing to the bands in the street than to those on the stage. At midnight, when the police asked the thousands gathered to leave the plaza, the crowd took off marching down the street, taking the fiesta to central La Paz, cheering nearly every Latin American revolutionary cheer, pounding drums and sharing beer. After marching down a number of blocks on the empty streets, the crowd hunkered down for a street party at the base of a statue of the Latin American liberator, Simón Bolívar. The celebration, which included Bolivians, Argentines, Brazilians, French, British, North Americans and more, went on into the early hours of the morning.

Oscar Rocababo, a Bolivian sociologist working on his Master's degree in La Paz, was elated about the victory in the referendum. "The passage of this constitution is like the cherry on top of the ice cream, the culmination of many years of struggle."

Recent articles by Benjamin Dangl related to Bolivia constitutional referendum:

From Bolivia's Streets: What Voters Think About the New Constitution (1/25/09)

Bolivia: After Rallies for New Constitution, Morales Nationalizes Oil Company (1/24/09)

Spilling Ink Instead of Blood: Bolivia Poised to Vote on New Constitution (1/22/09)


Benjamin Dangl is currently based in Bolivia, and is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press). He is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events, and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America. Email Bendangl@gmail.com
© 2009 Upside Down World

Native Rights News is publishing this article with the express permission of the author. This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/28/2009 07:49:00 AM

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Bolivians Ratify New Constitution Giving More Rights to Indigenous Peoples

27 January 2009

Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


With early returns showing that 60 per cent of the people of Bolivia had voted in favour of Sunday's historic referendum, the country's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations said today that Bolivians had endorsed a new Constitution that gave greater voice to long-marginalized indigenous groups and "expanded, extended and deepened" democracy to everyone in the county.

Speaking to reporters at United Nations Headquarters this morning, Pablo Solón-Romero said that, for the first time in Bolivia's history, a political Constitution had been put before all the people, who had been able to not only vote on the text, but participate in its drafting. That exercise had reversed centuries of exclusion, as there had been very little public participation –- and no input from the country's indigenous majority -- in Bolivia's 18 constitutional processes since 1825.

"The new Constitution expands, extends and deepens the rights of all Bolivians, especially indigenous people and other groups", that had been historically discriminated against, said Mr. Solón-Romero, noting that the new charter drew on the language of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted two years ago by the General Assembly.

Among other things, Bolivia's new Constitution guaranteed ownership of natural resources, as well as ownership of State enterprises by the Bolivian people "to prevent the recurrence of any processes of privatization of State corporations and natural resources that we saw over the past 25 years", he said.

Further, the new Constitution brought together the concept of departmental, municipal and indigenous autonomy with a vision of integration and unity, he continued. The Constitution also placed limits on the extent of land ownership and set up what he called a "pluralistic property regime" that included private, State and communally held property.

Overall, the positive outcome reflected the will of the people to strengthen the rule of law, democracy, unity and justice on an increasingly inclusive basis. "We seek to have the will of the majority recognized and want to move towards the implementation of this new constitutional text in a wide-ranging manner with the participation and initiative of all," he said, stressing that such implementation would be based on respect for Bolivia's traditional legal standards.

He welcomed the participation of the team of international observes who had monitored the vote, and appealed to the international community to continue to work with his Government to strengthen the rule of law and democracy in Bolivia, Latin America and throughout the world.

Responding to questions about criticism of the new Constitution, including that there were provisions which decreed that all people "opposing national unity" were guilty of treason, Mr. Solón-Romero said such accusations were false. Nothing in the Constitution stipulated anything like that. At the same time, the Bolivian State was working to ensure unity, so no actions could be taken that undermined State unity or the spirit of the Constitution.

He also dismissed charges that the Constitution gave President Evo Morales the power to "dissolve Congress at will". The current text maintained the country's political and legislative structure, as well as the methods by which representatives and senators were elected. One key change was that the Constitution now guaranteed indigenous seats in the legislature to ensure the participation of such stakeholders in the country's decision-making processes. "Many lies have been told regarding double participation by indigenous representatives," he said, stressing that each citizen would have one vote.

He said that political interest groups might have been fomenting such accusations, largely because of upcoming elections in the country. Indeed, the political opposition to the new Constitution and the changes it would set in motion remained "ferocious", even though several key concerns -– including departmental autonomy -– had been included in the referendum. The opposition was aiming to destabilize the electoral landscape to gain political clout against the current Bolivian Government ahead of the December 2009 ballot, he said.

To questions about Government officials' comments regarding the behaviour of journalists and press freedom in Bolivia, he said President Morales had expressed his opinion that, often, the actions of the press appeared to be guided more by the interests of the owners of media corporations than the interests of journalism.

"This is a serious problem," he continued, noting that even a quick survey of the past few years would reveal that statements from the opposition were amplified and featured more often by the press corps, so that it appeared to be much greater than the opposition actually seated in Parliament. Bolivia, nevertheless, believed the media played an essential role, but journalists must tell the truth and must be fair and independent.

* *** *
For information media • not an official record

Public Domain Material

Native Rights News is making this material from the UN Department of Public Information available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/28/2009 07:17:00 AM

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Updates on the Prison Beating of Leonard Peltier

Attorney Demands Warden Provide Medical Treatment and Security for Leonard Peltier

Update: 23 Jan 2009. We received a phone call from Leonard on 1/22. He was jumped by young gang members. He's been put in solitary, he says, and won't be released again into the general population. He was told by the FBI that he was the victim in the attack, the proof of this being a videotape. Assured that he'd enjoy all his privileges upon his transfer to USP-Canaan, he's now been told he'll be allowed only one phone call a month. Two attorneys attempted to get inside the prison to meet with Leonard, but their requests for legal visits were denied. Peltier is clearly being isolated from friends and family and even his attorneys.

Update: 24 Jan 2009. Sheila Dugan, Esq., an attorney residing in Pennsylvania and working with Peltier attorney Michael Kuzma was able to visit Leonard this morning for four hours. She saw his bruises. Leonard's chest still hurts. Leonard was not taken to a hospital to be examined after he was beaten by two other inmates.

Leonard is in solitary confinement. As crazy as it sounds, he doesn't have a comb so he can't comb his hair.

Also, this was a no-contact visit. A glass barrier separated Leonard and Ms. Dugan. She had to talk to him via phone for the entire four hours.

The letter below to the Bureau of Prisons was written today by Michael Kuzma, Esq., attorney for Leonard Peltier. Please consider writing letters of concern to the BOP as well!

FEDERAL EXPRESS #8628 9879 0796

January 24, 2009

Mr. Harley G. Lappin, Director
Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20534

Re: Leonard Peltier, #89637-132

Dear Director Lappin:

I represent Mr. Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, who is currently incarcerated at USP Canaan.

Mr. Peltier was recently transferred to USP Canaan from USP Lewisburg. It is my understanding that Mr. Peltier was brutally attacked on or about January 13, 2009. Mr. Peltier suffered a possible concussion, the middle finger on his left hand may be broken or is badly injured, he has a large bump near his right wrist, the right side of his rib cage and chest are in a pain, the right side of his chest is bruised as is his left knee, and he is now having headaches, which Mr. Peltier believes are a direct result of the January 13, 2009 beating.

It is clear that Mr. Peltier is in grave danger at USP Canaan. By letters dated November 29, 2008 and December 15, 2008, I requested that Mr. Peltier be transferred to the Turtle Mountain reservation or, in the alternative, he be sent to Sandstone FCI or Oxford FCI. As I noted in my letter of December 15, 2008, on August 20, 2008 Mr. Peltier sought to be transferred to Sandstone FCI or Oxford FCI. A copy of the "Inmate Request to Staff" form dated August 20, 2008 that Mr. Peltier submitted to Case Manager Rothermel is once again enclosed for your information.

Please advise me of what steps, if any, you have taken to ensure Mr. Peltier's safety. More specifically, I would like to know what you have done to make sure that he is not attacked again in the future. Also, has Mr. Peltier received appropriate medical treatment for his injuries? If not, it is imperative that he sees health care professionals without any further delay so that his injuries may be properly treated.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Michael Kuzma, Esq.


cc: Mr. Henry J. Sadowski, Regional Counsel

President Obama has stated in his Indian Policy Papers that he will respect and honor the sovereignty of the First Nations. Please contact the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and encourage them to apply Nation-to-Nation pressure on the government of the United States to return their enrolled citizen Leonard Peltier to their Nation. Ask the Council at Turtle Mountain if there is anything that you can do to assist them in this effort.

Richard Marcellais, Tribal Chairman
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
PO Box 900
Highway 5 West
Belcourt, ND 58316

Please send a copy of your letter to the Turtle Mountain Star, 11 1st Avenue, NE, Rolla, ND 58367.

Copyright 2008 Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Native Rights News is making this material from Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee available with the implied consent of the original publisher and in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/26/2009 03:19:00 PM

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A Call to Action: Leonard Peltier Severely Beaten in Prison

URGENT ALERT! Leonard Peltier's Safety Is In Jeopardy!

By Betty Peltier-Solano
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
20 January 2009

Dear LP Supporters:

I am so OUTRAGED! My brother Leonard was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. When he went into population after his transfer, some inmates assaulted him.

The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion, and numerous bruises. Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored and he has pain in his chest and ribcage. There was blood everywhere from his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety. It may be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault. Since Leonard is up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model prisoner.

He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal, this is generally done when you won't name your attackers; incidentally being only given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes. Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President Obama. His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

This attack on Leonard comes on the heels of the FBI's recent letter, prompting this attack by FBI supporters as an attempt to discredit Leonard as a model prisoner. Anyone who has been in the prison system knows well that if you refuse to name your attackers or file charges against them, then you lose your status as a victim and/or given points against your possible parole and labeled as a perpetrator.

It is not uncommon, in fact is quite common for the government to use Indian against Indian and they still operate under the old adage "it takes an Indian to catch an Indian". In 1978, they made an attempt to assassinate him through another Indian man who was also at Marion prison with Leonard. But Standing Deer chose to reveal the plot to him instead of taking his life in exchange FOR A CHANCE AT FREEDOM.

When Standing Deer was released in 2001, he joined the former Leonard Peltier Defense Committee as a board member. He also began to speak on Leonard's behalf until his murder six years ago today. Prior to his murder, Standing Deer confided with close friends and associates that the same man who visited him in Marion to assassinate Peltier, had came to Houston, TX and told him that he had better stay away from Peltier and anything to do with him.

We are aware that currently, the FBI is actively seeking support for the continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and also seeking support from Native People. So please be aware, and keep Leonard in your prayers. The FBI is apparently afraid of the impact we are having. If they will set him up to blemish his record just before a parole hearing, what will they do when it looks like his freedom will become a reality? We need to make sure that nothing happens to him again!

Please write the President, send it priority or registered mail. Email to Change.gov or email President Obama. Call your congressional representatives and write letters, not email, to them. Do what you can to get the word out to insure that Leonard is receiving adequate medical attention for his injuries.

I am asking you, supporters of Leonard and advocates of justice at this time to help. I don't know what else to do. Please Help!

Thank you

Betty Peltier-Solano
Executive Coordinator
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

DEMAND that Leonard Peltier #89637-132 be treated with dignity and respect.

Let the Bureau of Prisons know that the public will hold them accountable for the safety and wellbeing of Leonard Peltier #89637-132. Call and request Leonard be treated with dignity and respect.

Canaan Federal Prison
via: Freedom Archives
Thank you to all supporters for taking action of Mr. Peltier's behalf. Our work isn't done. As you know, Mr. Peltier was assaulted at USP-Canaan last week. Your continuing involvement is greatly appreciated and urgently eeded.

* Update *

Peltier attorney Micheal Kuzma described Leonard's injuries during an interview yesterday on American Indian Airwaves. According to a letter received from Peltier (thus far, neither the attorneys or Leonard's family members have been able to speak directly with Leonard), the attack occurred on January 13. Leonard believes he may have a concussion and he's suffering from headaches that are a direct result of the beating. His middle finger on his left hand may be broken. He has a large bump near his right wrist. He is experiencing pain in the area of his right rib cage and chest (which is bruised). Listen to the interview (last 20 minutes of the program): .

* Don't Stop Now *

Please continue your contacts to demand that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ensure the safety of Leonard Peltier. In all your contacts with entities within the BOP, please make certain to reference Leonard's registration number: Leonard Peltier #89637-132. Let the BOP know we will hold them accountable for Leonard's wellbeing.

Warden Ronnie R. Holt, Warden
U.S. Penitentiary
3057 Easton Turnpike
Waymart, PA 18472
Phone: 570-488-8000
Fax: 570-488-8130

D. Scott Dodrill, Director
Northeast Regional Office
Federal Bureau of Prisons
2nd & Chesnut Streets., 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-521-7301

Harley G. Lappin, Director
Bureau of Prisons
U.S. Department of Justice
320 First Street, NW, Room 654
Washington, DC 20534
Phone: 202-307-3250
Fax: 202-514-6878

Under the U.S. Constitution, Leonard Peltier has rights. Sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, Obama has a responsibility to investigate the treatment of Leonard Peltier #89637-132 and to provide relief. Contact President Obama:

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President, United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-mail: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Also write to your senators and your representative in Congress. See http://www.congress.org to identify and locate your Members of Congress. Also consider sending a video message. See http://www.congress.org/congressorg/mailapp/ for directions.

Write to the print and electronic media. Find you local media outlets at http://www.newslink.org. Letters to editors also can be made easy through free online services such as PublishaLetter.com. In a few clicks your letter will be on its way to the editor of your choice: http://www.publishaletter.com/index.jsp.

Write also to the following organizations. Ask for their continuing advocacy on Leonard's behalf:

The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais des Nations United Nations
Geneva 10

Secretariat of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais des Nations
United Nations
Geneva 10

The Honorable Prof. S. James Anaya
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais des Nations
United Nations
Geneva 10

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais des Nations
United Nations
Geneva 10

The Honorable Irene Khan
Secretary General, Amnesty International
International Secretariat
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW

The Honorable Larry Cox
Executive Director, Amnesty International-USA
5 Penn Plaza - 14th Floor
New York, NY 10001

The Honorable Kenneth Roth
Executive Director, Human Rights ! Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
34th Floor
New York, NY 10118

"Never cease in the fight for peace, justice, and equality for all people. Be persistent in all that you do and don't allow anyone to sway you from your conscience." -- Leonard Peltier
Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 863-9977

Copyright 2008 Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Native Rights News is making this material from Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee available with the implied permission of said organization and in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/26/2009 01:56:00 PM

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