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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Arrows of White Privilege

By Victoria Marie

People of colour, close friends
Empathy, proclaimed
Yet, Joy unshared
Bring arrows of pain
To understand let us
Go back and see
What this old black woman
Saw as a child on TV

Policemen with dogs and hoses
Attack my people huddled
In defensive poses
Angry white crowds shouting, enraged
Because black children with theirs being schooled
While soldiers surround the black children
Protecting their right to what the Supreme Court ruled
Three young men missing, murdered
For helping Black people register to vote
With no one brought to justice
Until 30 years later, a sad footnote

Obama’s election, no big deal to you
Full citizenship has always been your right
However, for people of colour, sometimes
Just to stay sane is a fight
“You can grow up to be president”
They tell us in school, but black students face
The constricting clarifying message
“President, not people of your race.”
So you see, it’s not that he will
Make all the nation’s problems go away
But millions of Black Americans
Full citizenship became reality that November day

November 5, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Where things are worth more than people

22 March 2008

by Julian Gutierrez Castaño

Translated by Michele Braley

"…¿Adónde van los desaparecidos?
Busca en el agua y en los matorrales.
¿Y por qué es que se desaparecen?
Porque no todos somos iguales.

("Where have the disappeared gone?
Look in the water and in the brush.
And why do they disappear?
Because we are not all equal ...")

The sun warmed Washington, D.C. as did the colorful crowd that gathered in Dupont Plaza on 6 March 2008—an unusually balmy day. The Colombians, and the usual crowd of sympathetic "gringo" human rights activists, carried signs depicting the plight of the victims of the armed conflict that has plagued Colombia since the late 1940s.

A unionist displaced by the political right that holds power in Colombia gave testimony. So did the daughter of one of the many victims who were not supposed to proclaim that in Colombia inequality is perpetuated by the State, that the people are devoured by alligators (the state security forces) and crocodiles (paramilitaries), and, as if this were not enough, the people have to walk with care so to not be bitten by a snake (the guerrillas.)

Between the speeches of the unionist and the young woman, onto the stage jumped Negra Lucy. Into the midst of the collective sadness and the silence of hearts broken by so much injustice, she began to sing "Desapariciones" (Disappearances). She sang with Spanish of those who do not speak it as their first language, but with the astute melody of those who centuries ago found singing to be a door to freedom.

We closed with a minute of silence. I held the photo of the person I identify with most, Manuel Gustavo Chacon, the former trade unionist, poet, musician, and freethinker, who was assassinated thirty years ago in Barrancabermeja.

But my heart and my mind were in other locations, or perhaps Chacon took me to those places. During that minute of silence, I toured the Opón River and visited every family that has suffered displacement, murder, or the disappearance of a loved one. I toured the communities of Micoahumado and Tiquisio, who despite the murders of their sisters and brothers still demand the right to self-determination. I remembered the crimes of the Army and the FARC against the Awa people. I remembered Teofilo Acuna and Alejandro Uribe of the Southern Bolivar Agricultural-Mining Federation, displaced, and murdered, respectively, for defending their communities from the voracity of the multinational Anglo Gold Ashanti.

And I cried for this daily tragedy of broken dreams and brutality that we live in Colombia and in every corner of the earth where things are worth more than people—where things become a reason to annihilate us.

"… ¿Y cuándo vuelve el desaparecido?
Cada vez que los trae el pensamiento.
¿Cómo se le habla al desaparecido?
Con la emoción apretando por dentro…"

("… And when will the disappeared return?
Every time a thought brings them.
How do you speak to the disappeared?
With emotion squeezing you from inside… ")

Desapariciones, Ruben Blades

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where Is The Justice?

Kingston, Ontario

February 15, 2008

Kingston Regional Police took Bob Lovelace away from the courthouse in handcuffs this morning to serve a six month sentence on a contempt of court charge handed down by Justice Douglas Cunningham. Lovelace, age fifty-nine, is an ex-chief and spokesperson for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN). He is also father to seven children and an instructor at Queen’s University and Sir Sandford Fleming Community College. Justice Cunningham imposed a fine of $25,000 on Lovelace and $10,000 on his community.

Lovelace said “I am in a dilemma. I want to obey Canadian law but Algonquin law instructs me that I must preserve Creation. I must follow Algonquin law.” Judge Cunningham in his sentencing said, “There can only be one law – the law of Canada as expressed in this court.”

Co-chief Paula Sherman and Honorary Chief Harold Perry agreed to abide by the terms of an injunction which forbids them from blocking Frontenac Ventures Ltd from drilling test holes on the site or encouraging others to do so. In this way they avoided Bob Lovelace’s fate. “I want to be with Bob” said Harold “but my community does not want me to do this”. Perry is age seventy-eight and has heart problems while Paula Sherman is a single parent.

Earlier in the hearing Chief Doreen Davis and Earl Badour of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation agreed to abide by the terms of the injunction of September 27, 2007. They must reappear in court on March 18, 2008.

Chris Reid, lawyer for AAFN, noted that there were other options available to the involved parties which would have prevented this outcome. The Province of Ontario could have removed the claimed land from the lands available to be staked and explored. Further, he observed “The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that all provinces have a duty to consult with First Nations who have even a weak claim on land before they permit any development. Ontario has not consulted with any Algonquin band about this claim”.

Christian Peacemaker Teams laments the unjust actions of Justice Cunningham and the government of Ontario. We fear that the actions of the court and the government are leading this province down the road of confrontation that will inevitably lead to more suffering, injustice and bloodshed for Aboriginal Peoples. We beg Premier McGuinty to intervene and change course, to choose instead to work towards a just relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.

- 30 -

Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada
Équipes Chrétiennes d'Action pour la Paix Canada
25 Cecil St Unit 307
Toronto ON M5T 1N1
Tel: 416-423-5525; Fax: 416-423-7140

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Indigenous Peoples' Voice Censured at UN

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Rome, Feb. 14, 2008 - This morning Indigenous Peoples' representatives formally withdrew from the Working Group on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity to protest their exclusion from this meeting held at FAO headquarters in the Italian capital. Before leaving the plenary, Indigenous leaders put on symbolic gags and held up protest signs. After Jannie Lasimbang of the Kudasan People of Malaysia read a statement, the indigenous delegation and some Non-Governmental Organizations left the meeting which was suspended upon their departure.

The Indigenous Peoples' statement read: "Mr. Chairman, we have made great efforts to be part of this process. However, it is with great disappointment that from the very beginning of this Working Group on Protected Areas meeting we have found ourselves marginalized and without opportunity to take the floor in a timely manner to express our points of view. Yesterday afternoon at a critical moment, we were silenced from providing our contributions to the deliberations on the recommendations on implementation of the Programme of Work. Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, despite your assurances that all recommendations would be included in the Conference Room Paper (CRP), none of our recommendations were included in CRP2. This is extremely disturbing in light of the relevance of these recommendations to our lives, lands and the effective implementation of the Programme of Work.

"We denounce the denial of Indigenous Peoples' right to full an affective participation which contravenes prior decisions of the Parties," said Onel Masardule y Jannie Lasimbang, Co-Chairs of the Indigenous Peoples' Committee on Conservation of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity which is made up of indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Russia, the Pacific, North America and Latin America.

The protest was supported by many NGOs attending the UN meeting who also criticized the negative attitude of the Chair of the Working Group and the collapse of the political space for dialogue. The Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network warned "that the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples not only endangers the democratic processes in the United Nations but also ignores that the General Assembly just approved the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007."

Mrinalini Rai,
Hortencia Hidalgo - Ramiro BatzinComunicación FIIB Email

More background including entire Statement presented at Plenary February 14, 2008:

Tar Sands & Water - A

Tar Sands & Water - B

Friday, January 25, 2008

Eli Painted Crow - Voices of Women Veterans

Turtle Women Rising are needed in Washington D.C. on October 10-13 2008 in front of the White House. Bring your drums, prayers, and your songs. For more information, please visit: Turtle Women Rising

Monday, January 07, 2008

Urgent: U.S. Homeland Security preparing to seize Apache lands

In violation of United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People the U.S. government plans to forcibly take land from the Lipan Apache people to construct a fence and levee to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. border. The following is a letter from Margo Tamez, the daughter of a family being threatened by agents of the U.S. government.

Dear Relatives,

I wish I was writing under better circumstances, but I must be fast and direct.

My mother and elders of El Calaboz, since July have been the targets of numerous threats and harassments by the Border Patrol, Army Corps of Engineers, National Security Agency (NSA), and other U.S. government agents who want to put a fence on their levee on Apache land.

Since July, they have been the targets of numerous telephone calls, unexpected and uninvited visits. The agents informed the Apache that they will have to relinquish parts of their land grant holdings to the border fence buildup. The NSA demands that elders give up their lands to build the levee, and further, that they travel a distance of 3 miles, to go through checkpoints, to walk, farm, and herd goats and cattle, on their own lands!

This threat against indigenous people, life ways and lands has been very very serious and stress inducing to local leaders, such as Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez, who has been in isolation from the larger indigenous rights community due to the invisibility of indigenous people of South Texas and Northern Tamaulipas to the larger social justice conversation regarding the border issues.

However recent events, of the last 5 days cause us to feel that we are in urgent need of immediate human rights observers in the area, deployed by all who can help as soon as possible--immediate relief.

My mother informed me, as I got back into cell range out of Redford, TX, on Monday, November 13, that Army Corps of Engineers, Border Patrol and National Security Agency teams have been going house to house, and calling on her personal office phone, her cell phone and in other venues, tracking down and enclosing upon the people and telling them that they have no other choice in this matter. They are telling elders and other vulnerable people that "the wall is going on these lands whether you like it or not, and you have to sell your land to the U.S."

My mother, Eloisa Garcia Tamez, Lipan Apache is resisting the forced occupation with firm resistance. She has already had two major confrontations with NSA since July--one in her office at the University of Texas at Brownsville, where she is the Director of a Nursing Program and where she conducts research on diabetes among indigenous people of the MX-US binational region of South Texas and Tamaulipas.

She reports that some land owners in the Rancheria area of El Calaboz, La Paloma and El Ranchito, under pressure to sell to the U.S. without prior and informed consent, have already signed over their lands, due to their ongoing state of impoverishment and exploitation in the area under colonization, corporatism, NAFTA and militarization.

This is an outrage, but more, this is a significant violation of United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People, recently ratified and accepted by all UN nations, except the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Furthermore, it is a violation of the United Nations CERD, Committee on Elimination of Racism and Racial Discrimination.

My mother is under great stress and crisis, unknowing if the Army soldiers and the NSA agents will be forcibly demanding that she sign documents. She reports that they are calling her at all hours, seven days a week. She has firmly told them not to call her anymore, nor to call her at all hours of the night and day, nor to call on the weekends any further. She asked them to meet with her in a public space and to tell their supervisors to come. They refuse to do so. Instead, they continue to harass and intimidate.

At this time, due to the great stress the elders are currently under, communicated to me, because they are being demanded under covert tactics, to relinquish indigenous lands, I feel that I MUST call upon my relatives, friends, colleagues, especially associates in Texas within driving distance to the Rio Grande valley region, and involved in indigenous rights issues, to come forth and aid us.

Please! Please help indigenous women land title holders resisting forced occupation in their own lands! Please do not hesitate to forward this to people in your own networks in media, journalism, social and environmental justice, human rights, indigenous rights advocacy and public health watch groups!

Margo Tamez