Pressroom

Mike Africa Reacts to Apology by Philadelphia for Bombing of MOVE House in 1985

The City of Philadelphia officially apologized on 12 November 2020 for the 1985 bombing of a MOVE home that killed five children and six adults.  

On 13 May 1985, the City of Philadelphia infamously dropped an incendiary bomb via helicopter on the MOVE home and allowed the resulting fire to burn for hours before the fire department was allowed to intervene. The resulting destruction destroyed an entire neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Members of the MOVE family that attempted to escape the fire were reportedly shot at by police. 

Council Member Jamie Gauthier, a representative of the ward in which the bomb was dropped, has apologized 35 years later for the act and established May 13th an annual observance. For a copy of the formal resolution click here.

Mike Africa Jr. gave the following statement to GJEP regarding the apology by the City of Philadelphia:

On May 13th, 1985 when the police bombed my MOVE Family I was shocked to learn that the kids and adults that I knew and loved were dead. To learn that the police allowed the fire to burn and used it as a weapon to kill my people was not shocking to me at all but it was infuriating. It is so long overdue for the city to take these steps that Jamie Gauthier has so courageously put forth. Her comments in her statement are very powerful and encouraging especially when she says “I think if we had done the true work of acknowledging what happened with MOVE and with other acts of police violence, and we had really worked on not only the acknowledgment but building better relationships and working towards reconciliation, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the place we are now. 

 

Police violence and excessive force has to stop. It’s been over 35 years since the bombing and still there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my murdered family members. I carry a void that 40 years of separation from my parents has left on me due to police violence. As a father and a very “hands on” uncle in my family and community, I can see the effects of generational trauma surfacing in my kids and the other MOVE children. 

 

All summer long I’ve been a lead organizer in many of the “protest police terror” rally’s around the city and in my speeches I often lead with “apology without action is meaningless.” It is clear to me that this apology put forth by Jamie is a step in the right direction and I support and commend her for it. It is a single step in a million mile journey toward progress and if the step is not taken the journey never begins.  

 

Peace and freedom is like the air you breathe, it’s always available to everyone but because of the systems in place many of us are literally being suffocated by the strangulation of injustice. I look forward to working toward creating the space and opportunity where everyone in this city and beyond can experience peace, freedom and equality.

Mike Africa Jr. is the subject of HBO’s recent documentary “Thirty Years a Prisoner,” which explores Africa’s struggle to find freedom for members of the MOVE organization that were imprisoned for over thirty years, including his own mother and father who were released in 2018.  Mike Africa himself was born in a jail cell.

In October of last year at the North American Forest & Climate Convergence (co-organized by Global Justice Ecology Project) Mike Africa Jr. did an interview with GJEP.

 

GJEP Co-Authors Opinion Piece on SLAPPs

More and more journalists and civil society organisations are being sued by powerful businessmen and politicians. [Shutterstock/itay uri/Burdun Iliya]

We don’t want to be sued into silence

EURACTIV 16 November 2020

By A group of international organizations and NGOs

More and more journalists and civil society organisations are being sued by powerful businessmen and politicians. We call on the EU to ensure those with a watchdog role are protected from gag lawsuits. This scrutiny is the lifeblood of healthy democracies, writes a group of 87 organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International.

This opinion piece has been co-authored by 87 organisations, including Greenpeace, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Transparency International, and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). The English version has been made available exclusively to EURACTIV.

** Full list of authors is at the bottom

One hot spring afternoon in Malta, a journalist drove up to her house to find a court marshall duct-taping hundreds of sheets of paper to her front gate. Her family’s two guard dogs were barking uncontrollably and snapped at the marshall through the bars of the gate, but he was determined.

The orders from the court were that the journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, must be served with 19 defamation lawsuits filed against her, in one go, by a wealthy and powerful business figure. A few months later she was dead, murdered by a remotely-triggered car bomb.

We are a group of civil society organisations that consider this to be the most egregious case of SLAPPs we have seen so far, aggravated by the fact that the cases have continued after Caruana Galizia’s death against her widower and three sons.

“SLAPP” stands for Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation. It’s a form of legal harassment designed to intimidate critical voices into silence. Expensive and unscrupulous law firms market this attack-dog service to powerful and wealthy individuals who can afford to drag on abusive proceedings for years just to shield themselves from unwanted public scrutiny.

This scrutiny is the lifeblood of healthy democratic societies. The European Court of Human Rights and other national and regional courts have consistently and explicitly recognised in their judgments the important role a free press, and more broadly civil society, plays in holding the powerful to account.

Their judgments reaffirm the obligation states have to create an environment that is conducive to free speech. Because without this, democracy weakens and dies.

The holes in our laws that allow powerful people to hammer their critics into submission are a hole in European democracy. Cases of abuse pepper the continent.

Poland’s second-biggest daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, has received over 55 legal threats and lawsuits by a number of actors, including from Poland’s ruling party, since 2015.

French businessman Vincent Bolloré and companies affiliated with the Bollore Group have blanketed journalists and NGOs in libel suits to stop them covering his business interests in Africa.

In Spain, meat producer Coren is demanding €1 million in damages from an environmental activist for criticising its waste management practices, having previously threatened activists and scientists who were researching nitrate levels in its local waters.

The people we depend on for information about what is happening around us are being distracted, impeded, or entirely blocked from pursuing their work by these costly and resource-intensive legal attacks.

The situation is becoming skewed beyond recognition. When it comes to certain people, governments, companies and topics, it’s not writers, film makers or journalists who decide what we read, watch and talk about.

It’s not even the courts, for SLAPPs rarely make it to a hearing, let alone a court judgment. Rather, it’s the oligarchs and their associates in politics, through the lawyers they pay, who are shaping the narrative and preventing the truth from emerging.

We’ve seen a worrying pattern emerge in Europe of government officials or beneficiaries of large public contracts adopting the tactics of celebrities and oligarchs to shield themselves from the heightened level of scrutiny that their positions or financial links to government warrant.

The fact that the threats are often cross-border ratchets up the costs for journalists and activists, who find themselves summoned to court far from home in Europe’s most expensive legal jurisdictions.

Awareness of this problem is growing. European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová has promised to “look into all possible options” to counter the threat SLAPPs pose to European democracy.

One promising solution lies in the institutions of the European Union, and it could help realter the balance between pursuers of SLAPPs and the public’s right to be informed of matters in the public interest.

EU-wide legislation should be adopted to protect people across the European Union from SLAPPs. This has to be a priority.

As in other parts of the world, rules should be in place across the EU to allow SLAPP suits to be dismissed at an early stage of proceedings, to sanction SLAPP litigants for abusing the law and the courts, and to provide measures to allow victims to defend themselves.

When we consider the importance of public watchdogs such as investigative journalists, activists, and whistleblowers to the rule of law and the fight against corruption, the absence of safeguards is a threat not only to press freedom but to the proper functioning of  Europe’s internal market and, increasingly, to Europe’s democratic life.

The reality is that for every journalist or activist threatened with violence in Europe, a hundred more are silenced discreetly by letters sent by law firms, perverting laws meant to protect the reputations of the innocent from attacks by the powerful.

SLAPPs are a far less barbaric means of silencing someone than a car bomb or a bullet to the head, but their silencing effect is often just as destructive.

** Authors:

Access Info Europe

Amnesty International

ARTICLE 19

ANTICOR (France)

Blueprint for Free Speech

Centre for Free Expression (CFE) (Canada)

CEE Bankwatch Network

Chceme zdravú krajinu (“We want a healthy country”, Slovakia)

Citizens Network Watchdog Poland 

Civil Liberties Union For Europe

Civil Rights Defenders (CRD)

Civil Society Europe

Clean Air Action Group (Hungary)

Committee to Protect Journalists

Common Weal

Corporate Europe Observatory

Defend Democracy

Earth League International

Environmental Paper Network (EPN)

ePaństwo Foundation

Eurocadres – Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff

European Center For Not-For-Profit Law (ECNL)

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom  (ECPMF)

European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)

Forest Initiatives and Communities (Ukraine)

Forum Ökologie & Papier

Four Paws International

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

Global Justice Ecology Project

GMWatch

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace EU Unit

Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)

Human Rights Without Frontiers

IFEX

Index on Censorship

Institute for Sustainable Development Foundation

International Media Support

International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Iraqi Journalists Right Defence Association

Journalismfund.eu

Justice and Environment

Justice Pesticides

Maison des Lanceurs d’Alerte (France)

Mighty Earth

Milieudefensie – Friends of the Earth Netherlands

MultiWatch (Switzerland)

Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG)

OBC Transeuropa

OGM dangers

Oživení (Czech Republic)

Pištaljka (Serbia)

Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business 

Protect

RECLAIM

Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Sherpa

Sciences Citoyennes

Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) ( Switzerland)

SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation (European networks, based in Belgium)

Speakout Speakup Ltd (United Kingdom)

Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland)

SumOfUs

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

The Good Lobby Italia

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

The New Federalist

The Signals Network 

Transnational Institute

Transparency International – Bulgaria

Transparency International EU

Transparency International Italy

Umweltinstitut München

Vouliwatch

Whistleblower Netzwerk (WBN) (Germany)

Whistleblowing International Network 

Women Engage for a Common Future – WECF International 

Xnet (Spain)

Young European Federalists (JEF Europe)

Zapatista Kidnapped, Tortured by Government-Protected Paramilitaries

Zapatista in La Realidad, Chiapas Mexico, headquarters of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Photolangelle.org (1996)

Note: GJEP’s co-founders Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann have supported the uprising of Indigenous Peoples in the Southeastern state of Chiapas, Mexico since the Zapatistas first rose up on New Year’s Day in 1994, against NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The Zapatistas called NAFTA “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to its socially and ecologically disastrous provisions, including eliminating the hard-won Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution which guaranteed the right to communal lands.

A long struggle resulted in Zapatistas building autonomous communities called Caricoles (snail shells) that were self governed and rejected any support or intervention by the Mexican government, which they called el mal gobierno (the bad government).  The communities continue to be targeted by paramilitary groups acting in support of those who wish to exploit the rich resources of the Lacandon Jungle, base of the Zapatistas. The “Mayan Train” is the newest version of this scheme, threatening the rich cultural and ecological treasures of not just Chiapas but the entire region of southeastern Mexico with a massive influx of tourists and tourist infrastructure. The Zapatistas have vowed to fight it due to its negative impacts on Indigenous Peoples. For more on the “Mayan Train, see post below.

For more on the history of resistance of the Zapatistas, click here: https://globaljusticeecology.org/?s=Zapatista

[apologies for the all-caps format, this is how we received it] – GJEP


Statement from the Zapatista Good Government Board Denouncing Attacks on communities in the Lacandon Jungle

From: OWS Zapatista <owszapatista@gmail.com>

Date: November 11, 2020 at 9:30:29 AM EST

As part of the push to build the ecocidal/genocidal “Mayan Train” (Tren Maya) resorts in the Lacandona Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, paramilitaries, supported by the Mexican government, are attacking Zapatista communities, and the paramilitary group Orcao has just kidnapped and is torturing Zapatista Félix López Hernández.

The Mayan Train is an emporium of resorts with organized crime, exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth.

Below please find the entire statement. Please spread the word! Thank you for your solidarity.

From the Caracol Patria Nueva, Zapatista Chiapas.


DENUNCIATION FROM THE ZAPATISTA GOOD GOVERNMENT BOARD “NEW DAWN IN RESISTANCE AND REBELLION FOR LIFE AND HUMANITY,”

NOVEMBER 10, 2020.

TO THE ORGANIZATIONS DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS:

TO THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDONA JUNGLE:

TO THE NETWORKS IN RESISTANCE AND REBELLION:

WE INFORM YOU TODAY OF THE KIDNAPPING AND TORTURE OF A COMRADE, PART OF THE BASE OF ZAPATISTA SUPPORT FROM THE SAN ISIDRO COMMUNITY, ANNEX OF MOISÉS GANDHI COMMUNITY, BY THE PARAMILITAR ORGANIZATION CALLED ORCAO, WHICH TOOK PLACE ON NOVEMBER 8, 2020.

FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, THE ORCAISTAS GROUP HAVE BEEN CAUSING DAMAGE TO OUR HOUSES. DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS SUCH AS FRAYBA, CORECO, SERAPAZ AND OTHERS HAVE WITNESSED THE DAMAGES THAT THESE PARAMILITARY GROUP MEMBERS DO.

DAY AND NIGHT, THESE ORCAISTAS MEMBERS ATTACK WITH FIREARMS SHOOTING AGAINST THE COMMUNITY OF MOISÉS GANDHI, AND THE BAD GOVERNMENT KNOWS IT AND DOES NOTHING TO CONTROL THEIR MURDERERS. ON THE CONTRARY, THEY PROTECT AND HELP THEM.

ALL THESE AGGRESSIONS ARE KNOWN AT ALL THE THREE LEVELS OF THE BAD GOVERNMENT. THEY ARE KNOWN BY THEIR EMPLOYEES LIKE JOSEFINA BRAVO AND RAMÓN MARTÍNEZ, AND THESE ERRAND BOYS OF THE BAD GOVERNMENTS CHANGE THE NARRATIVE AND SAY THAT US ZAPATISTAS ARE THE ONES WHO PROVOKE TO “POOR LITTLE PARAMILITARIES” OF THE ORCAO GROUP.

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THESE FACTS SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY THE GOVERNMENT, BUT THEY ARE MADE ACCOMPLICES BECAUSE THIS GOVERNMENT IS THE SAME AS THE PREVIOUS ONES. NOTHING CHANGES IN THE FACTS. IT’S ALL BLAH BLAH, BUT THE ATTACKS ARE THE SAME. IT’S THE SAME LIES FROM BEFORE BY THESE LYING OFFICIALS WHO ARE JUST SITTING IN THEIR OFFICES AND GETTING THEIR GOOD PAY FOR DOING NOTHING.

THE LATEST OCCURRENCE FROM THIS CRIMINAL ALLIANCE BETWEEN THE PARAMILITARIES OF ORCAO AND THE GOVERNMENT AT ALL LEVELS: LÓPEZ OBRADOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, RUTILIO ESCANDÓN STATE GOVERNMENT AND MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS FROM OCOSINGO AND ALTAMIRANO, IS WHAT THEY DID ON NOVEMBER 8, 2020, JUST A FEW METERS FROM WHERE OUR COOPERATIVE STORE IN CUXULJÁ WAS BURNED AND LOOTED BEFORE (AS IT WAS SEEN AT THE TIME BUT THE BAD GOVERNMENT HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT).

THIS NOVEMBER 8, 2020, AROUND 1530 HOURS, 20 PARAMILITARIES FROM THE ORCAO GROUP, KIDNAPPED AND HIT OUR COMRADE FELIX LÓPEZ HERNÁNDEZ. THE ORCAÍSTAS TOOK HIM TO AN UNKNOWN PLACE AND TO DATE THEY KEEP HIM MOORED, LOCKED UP, WITHOUT WATER AND WITHOUT FOOD.

THIS WAS REPORTED THE SAME DAY AND THE BAD GOVERNMENT, INSTEAD OF RESOLVING THIS KIDNAP CASE, JUSTIFIES THE ORCAO PARAMILITARIES TELLING THE LIE THAT THE ZAPATISTAS WERE TO PROVOKE THE ORCAO MEMBERS WHILE THEY WERE WORKING.

THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE. OUR COMRADE WAS COMING BACK FROM THE OFFICIAL MUNICIPAL HEAD OF OCOSINGO AND WAS GOING HOME WITH HIS FAMILY.

AMONG THE ORCAO GROUP KIDNAPERS THE FOLLOWING WERE IDENTIFIED: Andrés Santis López, Nicolás Santis López, Santiago Sánchez López and Oscar Santis López. They are people from the San Antonio community.

INSTEAD OF REPAIRING THEIR KIDNAPPING, THE ORCAO MEMBERS (“ORCAISTAS”) DEMAND TO STOP THE FLOODS FROM THE RAINS THAT DISABLED THE PIPES, AND THAT THE LIGHT THAT THEY, THE ORCAISTAS, CUT IN ORDER TO DAMAGE THE COMMUNITY OF MOISÉS OUDON GANDHI, BY WHICH THEY ALSO DAMAGED OTHER COMMUNITIES.

OUR COMRADE FELIX HAS NOT MISTREATED ANYONE; HE DOESN’T OWE ANYTHING TO ANYONE, NOR IS HE STEALING OR SHOOTING PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES. AND IF ONLY OUR COMRADE IS GOD TO GIVE THE ORDER TO STOP RAINING OR TO GIVE A LITTLE BRAIN TO THESE DUM ORCAISTAS WHO CUT OUT THE LIGHT AND HAPPENED TO HURT OTHER COMMUNITIES THAT ARE NOT EVEN ZAPATISTAS OR ORCAISTAS, THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE AND NOW THESE ORCAISTAS PRETEND TO BE THE VICTIMS TO COVER THEIR CRIME.

WE HAVE INFORMATION THAT THE ORCAISTAS OF THE SAN ANTONIO COMMUNITY RECEIVED PAYMENT FROM THE BAD GOVERNMENT WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, BUT THE 300 THOUSAND PESOS WERE USED TO PURCHASE HIGH CALIBER WEAPONS. IS THIS WHAT THE BAD GOVERNMENT OF THE “FOURTH TRANSFORMATION” (4T) IS DOING, THAT IS, REPORTING ITS BUILDING SCHOOLS WHILE IN REALITY FINANCING THE PARAMILITARY ARMAMENT? IS THIS YOUR COUNTERINSURGENT PLAN?

FINALLY, WE TELL DOM LÓPEZ [Obrador], DOM [Rutilio] ESCANDÓN AND THEIR OFFICIALS, THAT WE HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT MAY HAPPEN TO THE MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN AND ELDERLY ZAPATISTAS OF THE COMMUNITIES OF MOISÉS GANDHI.

THEIR PAIN, THEIR BLOOD, THEIR SUFFERINGS ARE ON YOUR ACCOUNT. AND WHAT IT MIGHT HAPPEN IS ALSO ON YOUR ACCOUNT.

COMRADE FELIX MUST BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY, THE ORCAO KIDNAPPERS MUST BE DETAINED AND JUDGED, THE ORCAO GROUP MUST REPLACE WHAT THEY STOLE AND DESTROYED IN OUR COOPERATIVE STORE, THE ORCAO MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE WHO PLAY WITH FIRED END UP BURNED SOONER OR LATER. AND THE BAD GOVERNMENTS SHOULD STOP PLAYING COUNTERINSURGENCY, AND REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING ENDS, NO MATTER HOW BIGMOUTHED AND BOSSY THEY ARE. IF THEY DON’T BELIEVE SO, THEN ASK TRUMP.

FOR THE GOOD GOVERNMENT BOARD “NEW DAWN IN RESISTANCE AND REBELLION FOR LIFE AND HUMANITY”

Caracol Floreciendo la semilla rebelde, Patria Nueva. Chiapas,

México, November 10, 2020.

Original source: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2020/11/10/los-zapatistas-denuncian-el-secuestro-de-un-base-de-apoyo-por-paramilitares-de-la-orcao/

————-

November 2020 Update From Global Justice Ecology Project

Global Justice Ecology Project 

November Update

Please support our work for social & ecological justice with a secure gift today!


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

On October 19th, the initial public comment period by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the petition for deregulation of the Darling 58 genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) American Chestnut closed.

Historically, there has been strong public opposition to GE trees, a trend which continues to be seen with the current proposal. The public comment period closed with 109 organizations, representing millions of members, officially opposed to the proposal to plant Darling 58 in forests. 123,426 individuals have also registered opposition to the genetically engineered American chestnut. More than 400 organizations have previously endorsed a full global ban on the release of all GE trees into the environment.

Representatives of five organizations opposing the deregulation of Darling 58 spoke at a virtual press conference: Anne Petermann–GJEP Executive Director and International Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees; BJ McManama–Campaign Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network; Scot Quaranda–Communications Director, Dogwood Alliance; Dana Perls–Food and Technology Program Manager, Friends of the Earth; and Lucy Sharratt–Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

The representatives spoke against the attempt by researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) to gain regulatory approval for “Darling 58,” for which they seek permission for unrestricted planting in North American forests, which would make it the first genetically modified organism (GMO) designed to spread into ecosystems.

What you can do:

  • Read the full release: Public Comment on Darling 58 American Chestnut Closes
  • Watch Virtual Press Conference on Closing of Darling 58 Public Comment Period
  • Read the comments submitted by groups in the Campaign to STOP GE Trees and our allies here.
  • The process to stop the D58 GE tree is just in its beginning phase. There is much more to come. If you have not yet signed our petition demanding the USDA reject the request to release the Darling 58 tree into forests, please be sure to do so!

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE OF OUR WORK TO STOP THE GE AMERICAN CHESTNUT

Restoring The American Chestnut With Genetic Engineering Splits The Conservation Community

The Allegheny Front is a public radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania, Managing Editor, Julia Grant interviewed members of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees about their opposition to Darling 58. Click the above link to listen to excerpts from Grant’s interview with Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, and BJ McManama of Indigenous Environmental Network.

Warming Oceans and Mega-Storms & the Fight Against GE Trees

Featured broadcast of our press conference about opposing the deregulation of genetically engineered American chestnut trees on A Rude Awakening, KPFA 94.1 FM (Berkeley, CA). Also featuring a brief interview with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann on the link between GE trees and devastating wildfires.

For more news and media coverage from the Campaign to STOP GE Trees visit: https://stopgetrees.org/news/press-coverage/

Please support our work to stop GE trees with a donation today!


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park closed in October due to wildfires exploding across Colorado. Poor forest management and industrial tree plantations, along with climate change are leading to hotter, more destructive wildfires and creating uninhabitable conditions around the world. The potential inclusion of faster growing, water-draining GE trees in these plantations could greatly exacerbate future wildfires. Photo: Theresa Church, Global Justice Ecology Project.

Have a forest inspired photo you want us to share with us? Send it to theresa2@globaljusticeecology.org or tag us! #stopgetrees #keepforestswild


Global Justice Media Program

Update from Chile: People Overwhelmingly Vote to Throw Out Pinochet-Era Constitution

Global Justice Ecology Project’s co-founders Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann spent nearly a month in Chile last year documenting the historic Peoples’ Uprising going on there and meeting with people about its origins and demands. One of these demands was a new Constitution to replace the existing Constitution written during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who came to power in a US-backed coup that assassinated democratically elected Socialist Salvador Allende. The dictatorship ushered Neoliberalism into Chile, which became an experiment for policies that advanced disastrous unregulated free-market capitalism.

GJEP Congratulates the People of Chile

On Sunday, 25 October 2020, the people of Chile overwhelmingly voted to throw out the Pinochet-era Constitution and write a new one. The hard work is just beginning, however, to create a new Constitution and a new system that will eliminate injustice and top-down Neoliberalism. A process that benefits all Chileans–especially the Indigenous Mapuche People who have suffered greatly under Neoliberalism-is being taken up.

Recognizing the historic achievements of our partner organizations in Chile, and inspired by our work on the ground in Chile last November which documented and supported the Peoples’ Uprising there, Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch share this public statement and ongoing call to action to create the deep structural change required to respond to intensifying environmental and human rights crises in Chile.

For more of GJEP’s coverage from Chile’s Uprising visit: https://globaljusticeecology.org/category/news-and-analysis/


Highlighting History

International Day of Rural Women

For decades, rural women around the world have been on the front lines of the battles to stop the toxic and deadly impacts of both GMO monocultures and industrial tree plantations. Now, with the resurgence of the corporate effort to promote development of industrial plantations of genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) trees in rural areas around the world, women are once again going to be forced to take a stand to stop this threat to their communities and the forests and ecosystems they depend on. Here in the United States, GE tree proponents are promoting the USDA deregulation of the genetically engineered American chestnut tree. If approved, this GE tree designed to be released into forests with no monitoring or oversight, would open the door to future approvals of GE trees designed for industrial tree plantations.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Remembering the Mohawk Rising in Oka

In commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day this year and to highlight all of the struggles for land waged by the Mapuche and Indigenous Peoples around the planet that continue to this day, we offer the attached article and photo essay. Thirty years ago, from July through August of 1990, Mohawk warriors from Kanesatake inspired Indigenous Peoples and eco-activists across North America and around the world when they rose up to defend their ancestral lands. They inspired activists at Redwood Summer in California, which was organized by the late Judi Bari and others to save the last of the ancient redwoods from the chainsaw; and others at the 80-day occupation of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois organized to stop logging in critical songbird habitat. GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle documented the uprising in the Shawnee including the above photo, which was staged to demonstrate solidarity with the uprising in Oka, inspired by the AP photo that appears at the beginning of the attached article from Mashable.


Langelle Photography: Photo of the Month

Mapuche men in Quilape López demonstrate the commitment of the re-occupation of their homeland with a traditional ceremony (2019). After the Peoples’ Uprising began in October 2019 in Chile, two Indigenous Mapuche communities, Liempi Colipi and Quilape López, began a re-occupation of 1500 hectares of their traditional territory in southern Chile. On U.S. Thanksgiving Day (known as the National Day of Mourning) in 2019, the Mapuche in Liempi Colipi were attacked by Carabineros (Chile National Police). The Carabineros fired rubber coated metal pellets and tear gas, injuring several people. Even after the recent vote for a new Constitution in Chile, the Mapuche continue to face militarization, criminalization, imprisonment and police violence, yet they are determined to maintain the struggle for their land.

Langelle Photography is a project of Global Justice Ecology Project. To see more of Langelle Photography’s use of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice visit: https://photolangelle.org

Please support our work to address the root causes of racism, oppression & ecological devastation with a secure donation today!

Sign This Open Letter to Reject REDD Funding in Nicaragua!

Rio Pis Pis, Nicaragua: Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region. Photolangelle.org/ (1997)

Note: GJEP’s Co-Founder spent many years working in solidarity with Indigenous Mayangna and Miskito Peoples in Nicaragua who were trying to stop the logging of their rainforest homeland. This work resulted in successfully stopping a 150,000 hectare illegal logging concession in the Bosawas rainforest–a world heritage preserve and home to Mayangna Peoples.  At that time the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua was home to the largest rainforest north of the Amazon. Today it has been severely degraded and turned into cattle ranches. Introducing REDD to Nicaragua would be one more damning blow to the Indigenous peoples of the region.


Say NO to Green Climate Fund money for REDD in Nicaragua!

World Rainforest Movement 3 November 2020

We call on organizations to sign this open letter before this Friday 6th of November!!! GCF board members must reject a REDD funding request for over USD 60 million that has been submitted by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) on behalf of the government of Nicaragua. 

Since 2015, some 40 indigenous people have been killed, 47 injured, 44 kidnapped and four disappeared, in cases related to land invasions in Nicaragua while repression of dissenting voices has reached alarming levels.

The Secretariat of the Green Climate Fund, meanwhile, is recommending that the Fund’s Board at its 27th meeting from 9-13 November approves a REDD funding request for over USD 60 million that has been submitted by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) on behalf of the government of Nicaragua. Conflict, criminalization and repression of critical voices are bound to become a foreseeable reality if the Board follows the Secretariat’s recommendation.

This must not happen! Please sign this Open Letter, calling on Board members to reject the funding request submitted by CABEI on behalf of the government of Nicaragua.

The Letter is open for sign-ons from organisations until 6 November 2020. It will be sent to the Board of the Green Climate Fund before its 9-13 November Board meeting.

Sign this Open Letter Now


OPEN Letter to Board Members of the Green Climate Fund

We call on the Board of the Green Climate Fund to reject the “Bio-CLIMA Project“ Integrated climate action to reduce deforestation and strengthen resilience in BOSAWÁS and Rio San Juan Biospheres”(*) funding application (FP146), submitted by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) on behalf of the government of Nicaragua. This funding application underscores why the Green Climate Fund must urgently stop providing funds for REDD: The biased and incomplete description of drivers of deforestation and the worrying activities that result from this inadequate analysis presented in FP146 expose REDD once more as a concept that has failed to contribute to addressing the drivers of deforestation. Worse, its implementation puts people’s livelihoods and even lives at risk and exacerbates conflict, both between state agencies and REDD project proponents and communities exercising their customary rights to land as well as between and within communities.

The CABEI funding application targets the Bosawás and Indio Maíz protected areas in the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua. These two areas are home to the largest intact forests after the Amazon in Latin America which have been protected for generations by the indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities whose territories overlap in large part with the Bosawás and Indio Maíz protected areas.

The REDD funding application submitted by CABEI on behalf of the government of Nicaragua poses an extraordinarily high and predictable risk to inflame tensions over land use in an area where historical (in)action by successive governments has resulted in escalating illegal settlement and corporate extractivism inside the territories of indigenous peoples and afro/descendant communities in both areas that the funding application is focused on. Massive deforestation has been the result, with 150,000 hectares of forest destroyed annually in Nicaragua between 2005 and 2015, much of this in the Bosawás and Indio Maíz / Rio San Juan protected areas.

Implementation of this funding proposal is bound to violate indigenous peoples’ rights. The activities described in the funding application are also bound to fail in reducing deforestation in these large intact forest areas on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua because the project ignores key drivers of deforestation such as the issuance of logging and mining licenses to foreign corporations without consent from the competent authorities in the indigenous peoples’ territories. For example, within a month of a new law that created the Nicaraguan Mining Company in 2017 and facilitates access to mining concessions for foreign mining companies, the total land under mining concessions more than doubled, from about 1,2 million to 2,6 million hectares. This is over 20 percent of the country. About 853,800 hectares of those concessions are in the buffer zone of the Bosawás protected area.1

A recent report also exposes the link between mining concessions, deforestation and violence in the areas targeted by FP146. The report shows that the directors of three mining companies are behind one of the logging companies, MLR Florestal, responsible for forest destruction and violence in the areas.2 Many of the industrial concessions within these areas have been handed out without the legally required consent from the indigenous peoples whose territories are being destroyed by these logging and mining activities.

While the funding application mentions cattle ranching as a cause of deforestation, it fails to present a thorough analysis of the underlying drivers such as an export-oriented meat sector, with links between the industrial export industry and the cattle often raised in illegal settlements inside the indigenous peoples’ territories. As a result, the proposed activities to tackle illegal settlements and cattle ranching will both fail to reduce deforestation and cause more violence and despair.

Another driver of deforestation that is absent from the funding application is government inaction over years in completing the final step of legal recognition of the territories of indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities in the two Caribbean Coastal Autonomous Regions. These rights are protected by the Nicaraguan Constitution, and the Constitutional Law 28 requires, among others, this final step called Saneamiento, or healing of the land. It requires the state to remove all settlers and companies operating inside the territories of indigenous peoples who do not hold legal titles or lease agreements with the appropriate community authorities.

Indigenous peoples such as the Nicaraguan Alliance of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples (APIAN) have warned that “all indigenous and afro-descendant territories of Nicaragua are being colonized. At the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve gold miners are being established and armed groups have on many occasions threatened families from the Indigenous Rama and Afrodescendant Kriol peoples. Meanwhile, in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, groups of men armed with weapons of war have caused the forced displacement of entire communities of the Miskitu and Mayangna Indigenous peoples, and the State has failed to protect these peoples despite multiple requests.”3 Despite repeated calls from indigenous peoples associations for the government of Nicaragua to fully implement a decision by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights confirming this legal obligation on the state, the government has not taken concrete steps towards removing illegal settlements or corporations operating without the consent of the indigenous communities.4

In short, the REDD funding application presented by CABEI completely fails to mention mining and industrial logging and government inaction in carrying out the Saneamiento within recognized indigenous territories in the Bosawás and Indio Maíz / Rio San Juan protected areas. Instead, the funding application is one more in the long list of REDD proposals which perpetuates the one-sided narrative of blaming deforestation on peasant farming. While illegal settlements undoubtedly are a driver of deforestation in these two protected areas and the indigenous territories, the funding proposal fails to provide the contextualisation and analysis of this phenomenon that would be crucial to derive adequate responses to this devastation.

Government fulfilment of this legal obligation would undoubtedly be a significant contribution to ending deforestation in these indigenous territories. It would be particularly important in light of the escalation of illegal settlements since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. These settlements would not be possible without the complicity of state authorities and the participation of the private sector of both national and foreign capital. The same context enables the construction of new churches in and around illegal settlements. A July 2020 briefing identifies the location of a total of 23 churches that have been built illegally inside the Indio Maíz / Rio San Juan protected area.5 The briefing notes the explicit support for illegal construction by government authorities, citing as one example the office of the mayor of one town in the region providing materials for construction.

The escalation of illegal settlements since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an alarming increase in people being killed. The number of indigenous persons who have been killed in conflicts with invaders has nearly doubled, compared to recent years.6Since January 2020, ten people from the Mayangna and Miskitu communities in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region alone have been killed, bringing the total number of killings since 2015 to 46.

In February 2020, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stressed the lack of protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and the impunity for crimes committed against indigenous peoples in the regions where the BIO-CLIMA Project would be implemented. The OHCHR urged the Nicaraguan Government to take the necessary steps to prevent further violence and protect the land, territories and resources of indigenous communities.7If anything, the situation has taken a turn for the worse since then.

None of this is reflected in the funding application that CABEI has submitted on behalf of the government of Nicaragua. Instead, the funding application includes activities that in essence will provide impunity to illegal settlements. Even the Green Climate Fund environmental and social risk screening itself has called the “risks of the project intervention aggravating the conflicts between campesinos-colonos and [indigenous peoples] communities” as “significant”.

In other words, this REDD funding application is likely to not address the real drivers of deforestation in the Bosawás and Indio Maíz forests and the 42 proposed actions include several that are very likely to inflame existing conflicts that go back to government policies that push peasant farmers into indigenous peoples’ territories.

Furthermore, the CABEI REDD funding application proposes a ‘free prior and informed consent’ procedure that undermines the legal protection granted to indigenous territories in the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions, where most activities contained in the funding application FP146 will be implemented.

Law 28 of the Nicaraguan Constitution guarantees the inalienability of Indigenous and Afro-descendant land rights and recognizes these communities’ right to exercise full control over their lands. Decisions about the use of the land thus rests with the community.

Over 80% of the funding proposal’s budget is to be spent in two protected areas that include large parts of indigenous peoples’ and afro-descendant communities’ territories where communities are granted these legal rights to determining the use of that land. The CABEI funding application makes no secret of the fact that the proposal has not been discussed yet with communities in these territories.

How, then, does CABEI claim to comply with the Green Climate Fund requirement for funding applications that affect indigenous peoples’ territories to demonstrate ‘free prior and informed consent’? CABEI simply proposes to exclude communities that do not provide consent to the proposed activities. This is a very disingenuous interpretation of the principle of free prior and informed consent (FPIC), to say the least. In fact, given the ongoing state intimidation and massive repression of critical voices in Nicaragua that has elicited the concerned note of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, among many others, greenlighting by the Green Climate Fund Secretariat of a proposal with such a flawed FPIC procedure is very likely to put community members in these indigenous and afro-descendant territories at risk. Is this what the Green Climate Fund’s FPIC policy amounts to in practise? A report released just weeks ago identifies numerous instances where state-sponsored parallel governments have appropriated Indigenous land rights in order to control the issuance of land titles and concessions. 8

How can a funding proposal with such an inadequate FPIC approach pass the Green Climate Fund’s assessment process when it is well documented that the Constitutional right of indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities in the territories targeted by the CABEI funding application have been and continue to be under threat?

The failure in the Green Climate Fund screening process for REDD has once again been laid bare by the Secretariat advancing FP146 for Board approval. This comes on the heels of the 26th meeting of the Green Climate Fund Board in August 2020 (B26) where a number of Board members critically remarked on the poor quality of assessment of the REDD proposals submitted for Board approval. Remarks of concern such as those voiced by Board members at B26 are important. If they are not followed by action, they are a hollow exercise. It is clearly time to end the Green Climate Fund experiment of financing REDD.

This funding proposal submitted by CABEI, on behalf of the government of Nicaragua, demonstrates why it is imperative that the Green Climate Fund immediately stop funding for REDD. That a project proposal like FP 146 which is based on such a dangerously inadequate assessment of the drivers and context of deforestation could pass the Green Climate Fund screening process, is very worrying. In fact, the failure to adequately assess the risks contained in this REDD funding request and advancing such a REDD proposal to the stage of Board approval risks putting people’s lives at risk in a context of violent state repression of critical voices in Nicaragua. Let us remind you that for civil society organisations to even publish a letter critical of the funding request presented to the Green Climate Fund Board is likely to expose any organisation to a real risk of repression and criminalization.

Approval of FP146 would undoubtedly expose the Green Climate Fund to serious reputational risk: Conflict, criminalization and repression of critical voices are a foreseeable reality if this funding request is approved by the Green Climate Fund Board. For all these reasons, we urge the Board to reject the CABEI funding request FP146 for the “Bio-CLIMA Project“ Integrated climate action to reduce deforestation and strengthen resilience in BOSAWÁS and Rio San Juan Biospheres and to stop approving further REDD+ funding requests.

* Notehttps://www.greenclimate.fund/document/gcf-b27-02-add06-rev01 

05 / 09 November 2020

World Rainforest Movement