GRAIN 18 May 2021
Over the past two years, the agribusiness industry in Brazil has been setting forests alight. This practice has led to fires ravaging ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity, as well as land belonging to indigenous peoples and local communities.
With the dry season fast approaching (which lasts from July to November), it is crucial to raise awareness about this practice. It is all the more important at a time when policies to put the brakes on deforestation and forest fires have been put on hold and the world’s agribusiness chains are pushing for more and more exports of agricultural products.
The platform Agro é fogo (‘agribusiness is fire’) — which comprises social movements, networks and organisations — has drafted a report outlining specific scenarios and analyses as a joint effort to stop the social and environmental catastrophe in its tracks. The report delves deep into the intrinsic link between the increased use of fire, deforestation and slave labour, and how public lands in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal biomes become illegally occupied.
Some of the key takeaways from the report include:
Agro é fogo’s report clearly outlines the facts: when the Pantanal, Cerrado and Amazon regions are on fire, lives are lost. So what needs to be done?
We need to defend the agrarian reform and protect the territorial rights of the peoples and communities living in these three regions. Not only is this a measure to guarantee social and distributive rights, but it’s also an environmental imperative. Failure to act would put the future for all generations, both present and future, at serious risk.
Aziz Choudry in Quebec City, 2007. Photo: Orin Langelle / photolangelle.org
We at GJEP got the shocking news yesterday that our close friend and comrade Aziz Choudry, a founding member of GJEP’s Board of Directors, passed away on Wednesday at his home in Johannesburg at a mere 54 years of age.
GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle and I met Aziz in Wellington, New Zealand at a global forest strategy meeting with the Native Forest Network back in November of 2000. Aziz at the time was living in Christchurch and invited us to stay with him for a few days. We hit it off immediately and were close friends ever since. When Aziz moved to Montreal to get his PhD at Concordia University and later teach at McGill, he was a mere 2 hours from our home in Vermont. We were ecstatic to be able to see him in that beautiful city as well as in Vermont, where he came to enjoy time around our campfire before boycotting the U.S. entirely due in part to the government’s rising Islamophobia and targeting of political activists in the escalation of the war in the Middle East.
Aziz had an incredibly deep and sharp analysis of neoliberalism, global economic domination, and social injustice and pulled no punches in his critique which left few unscathed, and which was documented in an amazing ten books and countless other writings (see below). As a Board member for Global Justice Ecology Project, he helped us hone our mission, vision and programs. He was at once serious and amused, with a great sense of humor–like introducing us to South Park at his place in Christchurch in 2000.
Our loss is cavernous, and the movement has lost a powerful voice for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere.
¡Aziz Choudry Presente!
–Anne Petermann, GJEP co-founder and Executive Director
More from Aziz’s colleague and our friend Patrick Bond:
It’s such a heart break to report that Aziz Choudry has left us. I have no details about his death in Johannesburg, but the UJ Centre for Education Rights and Transformation and SARChI Chair in Community, Adult and Worker Education led by Salim Vally have a brief tribute below. On June 5 there will be much more to say. But already, the social media accounts of his impact on people pay great testimony to how he worked as teacher, activist and friend.
Aziz arrived from McGill University to join us as a full-time staff member of our Centre in February this year after a number of years as a visiting professor with our Faculty. He enjoyed a longstanding scholarly relation with all of the staff and expressed a profound affinity with our work.Aziz was the quintessential scholar-activist and was deeply sensitive to injustices wherever they occurred. He made significant global contributions to social movement learning, knowledge production in community organisations, activist archives, immigrant workers’ education, anti-racist/anti-colonial education and related fields.
He will also be remembered for his unstinting and selfless devotion to the students he supervised and taught as well as the many academics and movement activists he mentored throughout the world. He was also an untiring international solidarity activist supporting indigenous, Palestinian and anticolonial struggles. Aziz helped activists work around opposing surveillance and repression, unfair trade, and supported activism around food sovereignty and climate justice. He was a strong advocate of education as a public good and championed the struggle for a decommodified and decolonial academy.
Prof. Choudry wrote prolifically and is the author and co-editor of the following ten books between 2009 and 2020: Organize! Building from the Local for Global Justice (2012); Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from Repression (2019); Learning from the Ground Up: Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production (2010); Learning Activism: The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements (2015); Unfree Labour? Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada (2016); Fight Back: Workplace Justice for Immigrants (2009); NGOization: Complicity, Contradictions and Prospects (2013); The University and Social Justice: Struggle Across the Globe (2020); Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggle Today (2016) and Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements: History’s Schools (2018).
Aziz’s praxis and vision for a kinder and humane world will always inspire and remain with us.To honour his memory, an initial virtual meeting will be held on 5 June, 7:30pm SAST, 6:30pm UK time, 1:30pm Montreal, Canada, 5:30am Christchurch, New Zealand.
On 24 May 1990, in Oakland, California, Judi Bari’s car was blown up by a pipe bomb placed under her seat. While still in critical condition with a shattered pelvis and other major injuries, Bari was arrested by the FBI for allegedly transporting explosives. It is hard to deny that the bombing of Bari and her subsequent arrest was due to her successful work to unite environmentalists and workers.
In 1991, GJEP’s co-founder, Orin Langelle took a trip with his good friend Steve Taylor (now GJEP’s Press Secretary) from St. Louis to California, Oregon and back. Along the way, they visited many movement people and interviewed them, including Judi Bari. The interview below begins with Bari singing an a cappella rendition of “Lullaby and Good Night,” showing off her great sense of political humor.
For immediate release
May 21, 2021
Info Contact: Karen Pickett (510) 548-3113
31st anniversary of the bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney Monday, May 24
Marking political milestones and honoring fallen warriors
Oakland, CA—The 31st anniversary of the bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney is May 24, 2021. For years, Judi’s comrades, supporters and others in the Bay Area commemorate that event every year by going to the place where the bomb exploded under Judi’s car seat as she drove through Oakland, to mark the moment. The date is marked by friends, family, comrades and environmental and social justice activists as a memory against forgetting.
The location is on Park Blvd. at E. 34 St. in Oakland, below Oakland High School and near MacArthur Blvd. The time of the explosion that nearly killed Judi and injured Darryl was about noon. People will gather at 11:30 am this coming Monday, observing covid protocols.
Judi Bari, who died in 1997, was ahead of her time politically, besides being one of Earth First!’s most effective organizers, a musician, labor organizer and mother of two daughters.
Judi Bari said, many years ago, “Starting from the very reasonable, but unfortunately, revolutionary concept that social practices which threaten the continuation of life on Earth must be changed, we need a theory of revolutionary ecology that will encompass social and biological issues, class struggle, and a recognition of the role of global corporate capitalism in the oppression of peoples and the destruction of nature. I believe we already have such a theory. It’s called deep ecology, and it is the core belief of the radical environmental movement.”
Her perspective and analysis shed light on why she was considered dangerous to the corporate status quo and targeted.
The capsule history:
On May 24, 1990, a pipe bomb planted in the car of Earth First! activist Judi Bari exploded, sending her and fellow activist Darryl Cherney to the hospital in Oakland—Judi with life-threatening injuries, since the bomb had been hidden directly under her driver’s seat. Judi and Darryl were on their way to an organizing event, for Earth First! Redwood Summer. That explosion, and the subsequent attack on Earth First! as well as Judi and Darryl, by the FBI and Oakland police would forever change the face of forest activism in the redwoods and elsewhere.
The bomber was never found, partly because the FBI never conducted a serious investigation, instead blaming and harassing Earth First! activists, attempting to frame Bari and Cherney for bombing themselves. A lawsuit filed by Judi and Darryl against the FBI and OPD for violation of Constitutional rights was ultimately successful in 2002, finding that the FBI and OPD had violated the pair’s Constitutional rights by falsely arresting and attempting to frame them, and vindicated Darryl and Judi. The legal victory, however, came five years after Judi’s untimely death from breast cancer at the age of 47.
Redwood Summer was a mass mobilization of students and others who came from across the U.S. to protest the deforestation of the redwood region in Northern California, being decimated by the corporate chain saw. It was modeled after civil rights mobilizations in the south in the 1960s—to shed light on what was happening in rural, sparsely populated areas. The summer of civil disobedience and protest in the forests did proceed, in spite of the monumental disruption caused by the bombing and attempts to frame and tear apart Earth First!, and changed the face of direct action organizing at the time.
The feature length film, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” produced by Darryl Cherney and MaryLiz Thomson is now on YouTube. It tells the story of the bombing, Redwood Summer, Earth First! and much more.
Judi’s essay “Revolutionary Ecology,” where she discusses biocentrism in the context of radical social change thinking (e.g., Biocentrism Contradicts Capitalism, Biocentrism Contradicts Communism, and Biocentrism Contradicts Patriarchy), can be found in its entirety at the link http://www.judibari.org/revolutionary-ecology.html
About Place Journal May 1 issue: Geographies of Justice features photos by Orin Langelle
In late October of 2019, a small increase in subway fares in Chile triggered a mass revolt of the Chilean and Mapuche People against the crushing neoliberal economic system established under the brutal Pinochet dictatorship that began in 1973.
GJEP co-founder, Orin Langelle was in Chile with a team from GJEP, Biofuelwatch and RADA to document the uprising for 3 weeks in late November and early December 2019. About Place Journal features a photo essay and short article by Langelle about his experiences there.
GJEP’s Earth Radio segments, the Earth Minute and the Earth Watch Interview, happen each week in partnership with Margaret Prescod’s nationally syndicated Sojourner Truth Radio show on Pacifica Radio’s flagship station, KPFK in Los Angeles.
You can find all radio segments here: https://globaljusticeecology.org/category/earth-radio/
Paula Gioia is a beekeeper and peasant farmer in a community-run agroecological farm in Germany near Berlin. Together they plant a variety of vegetable crops, reviving old local varieties. They plow the land with horses and value local animal breeds. Their farm markets directly to local consumers and small organic shops. Paula is member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL), the German Via Campesina member organization.
Devlin Kuyek is a researcher at GRAIN, a small international non-profit organisation that supports small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. He monitors and analyses global agribusiness corporations, including their role in the climate crisis. He is based in Montreal, Canada.
Popular herbicide products are threatening bee species according to a new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Canadian history is repeating itself as hundreds of activists blockade old growth trees in a small protected area called Avatar Grove, near the Fairy Creek watershed on southern Vancouver Island.
Global Justice Media News
Amador Hernandez 10 Years Later
Ten years after a trip by a documentary team assembled by Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) to the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, GJEP is highlighting the resulting film and releasing a new interview with GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle, who was one of the photojournalists that travelled to the region to document the threatened relocation of the Indigenous people of Amador Hernandez. That trip created much of the content for A Darker Shade of Green – REDD Alert and the Future of Forests. The ground-breaking video explores global indigenous resistance to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a program promoted by the United Nations and the World Bank to use forestcarbon offsets to allow corporations to continue to pollute while transferring the burden to Indigenous people and rural communities in forested regions of the Global South.
For the full CounterPunch article, Carbon Colonialism and REDD: Reflections on Resistance click here.
Steve Taylor interviews photojournalist and GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle, who reflects about a United Nations and World Bank sponsored program called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD). Langelle reflects on his part in documenting a community’s resistance to a forced relocation from Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle in 2011. The relocation was to be part of a bilateral REDD agreement between the states of California and Chiapas, Mexico.
As policies and programs to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and to enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) are promoted around the world by global and national elites, Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities are raising the alarm that these programs will have serious negative impacts — and will not reduce the cascading threats of the climate crisis. This 28-minute documentary was produced in 2012 and introduces the many concerns about REDD from the perspective of the people who are most impacted, featuring interviews and testimonies from Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda, India, and California.
Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
GJEP coordinates the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, a national and international alliance of organizations that have united towards prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered [GE or genetically modified] trees into the environment
Recent Media Coverage
By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, which she co-founded in 2004. She has been working on issues related to protecting forests and defending the rights of Indigenous peoples since 1990 and co-founded the first global campaign against genetically engineered trees in 2000. In the years since, she has presented the social and ecological dangers of genetically engineered trees at conferences, with community groups, and at the United Nations and other international fora on five continents.
Faces Behind the Campaign
Meet the faces who are part of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees. BJ McManama is the Campaign Organizer for Save our Roots. She is a member of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees steering committee and works closely with both Indigenous and Front Line community organizations on forest protection, climate justice, and subsistence rights. Here’s what BJ McManama had to say about her journey to working with us.
“Every once in a while I get asked by people who don’t know me well, why I chose to be a full-time activist or, more accurately, a troublemaker. This question is usually followed by something like, what does it mean to be a campaign organizer? There is no easy answer to these questions, so I simply say that it’s been a natural progression since I can remember.
“I was raised on a farm where we knew without question that we all depend on nature for our survival. If the rains don’t come or there’s too much rain, crops fail and we don’t eat well or at all. I was taught how to follow the signs of the seasons, when to prepare the soil for the next generation of crops or when it’s time to prepare the kitchen for canning or drying our food for winter time.
“If a person is immersed in the rhythms of life, without distraction or separation from the natural world, it’s a given that we’ll recognize when things aren’t right. There were times growing up that my grandparents began to point things out, like when our community was told not to drink the water or eat the fish from the river. Or when a forest nearby, a huge tract of land we used for hunting and where my grandmother gathered certain plants, was clear cut. I saw and felt their sadness for these losses and clearly heard their anger directed at fools driven by greed.”
To continue reading visit: https://stopgetrees.org/about-bj/
GJEP enables small non-profits to focus their energy on their important work by acting as a fiscal sponsor. This helps them minimize bureaucracy so they can focus on their missions. These groups are doing crucial work for ecological and social justice, forest protection and human rights and include BiofuelWatch, North American Megadams Resistance Alliance, Vermont Street Medics, Save the Pine Barrens, A Center for Grassroots Organizing, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, and REDD-Monitor.
Save the Pine Barrens advocates for accountability and transparency as a route to raise awareness and educate the community about what it takes to make change happen. They are working to save the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens from mining and industrial development.
“Also known as Pitch Pine/Scrub Oak Barrens, pine barrens are a globally rare habitat type, with Massachusetts supporting the third largest example in the world (behind New Jersey and Long Island). The largest block of pine barrens habitat in Massachusetts is in Plymouth, Carver and Wareham, overlying the Plymouth/Carver sole-source aquifer. Protection of barrens habitat will also help protect the recharge area for the largest groundwater reserve in the state.” Southeastern Massachusetts Natural Resources Atlas, 2004.
For more information visit: https://savethepinebarrens.org
GJEP Founding Board Member Will Miller (far left) with his Vermont-based affinity group in Washington, DC on May 1, 1971 as part of a national call to shut down Washington in protest of the war in Vietnam. By its end it was the largest mass-arrest in US history.
GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle, who was part of the Youth International Party (The Yippies), was also present at this mass action in DC with his affinity group from St. Louis, MO. He described watching troops in helicopters land in front of the Washington Monument to help put down the protests.
Will, who was a veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace, told the story of his affinity group blockading one of the bridges into DC. They were met with National Guard troops fresh back from Vietnam. Their commander told them to fix bayonets and force the protesters off of the bridge. The soldiers looked at the protesters, and at their commander, put down their weapons and joined the protest.
The 1971 May Day Protests were a series of large-scale civil disobedience actions in Washington, D.C., in protest against the Vietnam War. These began on Monday morning, May 3rd, and ended on May 5th. More than 12,000 people were arrested, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.
By the middle of 1970 many leaders of the anti war movement had come to believe that tactics of mass marches that had been used during the past six years would not end the war, and that more aggressive actions were needed. Rennie Davisand David Dellinger of the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice and Jerry Coffin of the War Resisters League began planning the actions; later in 1970 Michael Lerner joined their number. A group known as the “May Day Tribe” was formed: it was made up of Yippies and others among the more militant members of the anti-war movement. It was decided that small groups of protesters would block major intersections and bridges in the capital, under the slogan, “If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”
Saturday May 1
Sunday May 2
The Nixon administration secretly canceled the protester’s camping permit. U.S. Park Police and Washington Metropolitan Police, dressed in riot gear, raided the encampment. The police gave the campers until noon to clear out. Some protesters abandoned the demonstration and left the city. The remaining protesters, estimated at 12,000, regrouped at various churches and college campuses in the area.
Monday May 3
The U.S. government had put into effect Operation Garden Plot, a plan it had developed during the 1960s to combat major civil disorders. Over the weekend, while protesters listened to music, planned their actions or slept, 10,000 federal troops were moved to various locations in the Washington, D.C. area. At one point, so many soldiers and Marines were being moved into the area from bases along the East Coast that troop transports were landing at the rate of one every three minutes at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, about 15 miles east of the White House. Among these troops were 4,000 paratroopers from the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. Troops from the Marine Barracks lined both sides of the 14th St bridge. These troops were to back up the 5,100 officers of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, 2,000 members of the D.C. National Guard and federal agents that were already in place. Every monument, park and traffic circle in the nation’s capital had troops protecting its perimeters. Paratroopers and Marines deployed via helicopter to the grounds of the Washington Monument.
Protesters announced that because the government had not stopped the Vietnam War they would stop the government and told troops, many of whom were of similar age, that their goal was to prevent the troops from being sent to Vietnam. While the troops were in place and thousands held in reserve, the police clashed with members of the May Day tribe. The protesters engaged in hit and run tactics throughout the city, trying to disrupt traffic and cause chaos in the streets. President Richard Nixon, who was at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, refused to give Federal workers the day off, forcing them to navigate through police lines and May Day tribe roadblocks. Most commuters who tried arrived at their jobs, despite being delayed somewhat. Federal Employees for Peace held a rally the following day in Lafayette Park.
While the troops secured the major intersections and bridges, the police abandoned their usual arrest procedures, roaming through the city making sweep arrests and using tear gas. They detained anyone who looked like a demonstrator. By 8 am thousands of people had been arrested, including many who had not been breaking any law. The city’s prisons did not have the capacity to handle that many people thus several emergency detention centers were set up including the Washington Coliseumand another one surrounded by an 8-foot-high (2.4 m) fence was set up next to RFK Stadium. The prisoners massed against the fence, pushed it over, and were tear-gassed. No food, water, or sanitary facilities were made available by authorities but sympathetic local residents brought supplies. Skirmishes between protesters and police occurred up until about mid-day. In Georgetown, the police herded the protesters and onlookers through the streets to the Georgetown University campus. The police then engaged in a back and forth with the protesters outside the university’s main gate on O Street, lobbing tear gas over the gate each time they pushed the crowd back. Other forms of gas were used including pepper based and one that induced vomiting. Police helicopters also dropped tear gas on the university’s lower athletic field where protesters had camped the night before. Numerous people were injured and treated by volunteers on campus. By afternoon the police had suppressed the protest and held more than 7,000 prisoners.
Next several days
On Tuesday, May 4, another 2,000 people were arrested at a sit-in outside the headquarters of the Justice Department. On Wednesday, May 5, 1,200 more people were arrested at a legal rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, bringing the total to 12,614 people, making this the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.