“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Human Rights To The Lands They Live On

R.A.N. or Rainforest Action Network is made up of 43 members and thousands of volunteers who believe that logging ancient forests for copy paper or destroying an endangered ecosystem for a week’s worth of oil is not just destructive, but outdated and unnecessary. They have convinced dozens of corporations such as, Home Depot, Citigroup. Boise Cascade and Goldman Sachs to change the way their practices destroy pristine lands and indigenous peoples.

The survival of Indigenous communities from the Amazon to the heart of Borneo is being
threatened by the expansion of U.S. agribusinesses into the world’s rainforests.
As agribusiness corporations push to expand production of commodity crops like soy and palm oil into the last pristine ecosystems, they are displacing communities from their traditional territories, poisoning the water and land with toxic chemicals, and threatening the culture and survival of Indigenous peoples.

Forced displacement is a serious issue for communities worldwide who live in areas proposed for agricultural expansion. The issue is particularly threatening for Indigenous peoples, who are rarely granted official land rights to their native territories by national governments.
Indigenous peoples face racial discrimination that impedes their rights to self-determination and sovereignty. Agricultural expansion threatens not only their homes, but their sacred sites and the lands they have traditionally used for subsistence.

Indonesia plans to develop 850 kilometers of land along the Indonesia-Malaysia border in Borneo as part of the Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega-project. The UN has identified 1.4 million Indigenous people who would be displaced, and up to 5 million who could be adversely affected by the proposed mega-project and other large-scale investments in biofuel expansion.

A recent report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination states:
“Experience with existing and extensive oil palm plantations in other parts of Indonesia conclusively demonstrates that Indigenous peoples’ property and other rights are disregarded, their right to consent is not respected, some are displaced, and they are left with no alternative but to become de facto bonded labourers gathering oil palm fruit for the companies that manage the plantations.”

Pesticides and herbicides used in the production of monocrop industrial soy and oil palm plantations leach into the water and soil, contaminating the resources of nearby communities. In soy plantations in Brazil and oil palm plantations in Papua New Guinea, the herbicide Paraquat is often used to kill weeds and other plants. Paraquat is banned in many countries due to its toxicity and is classified as a “Restricted Use Pesticide” in the U.S., requiring special license to purchase and apply the chemical.

Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide manufactured by Monsanto, is also widely used – particularly with the advance of genetically modified soy in the Amazon. In the U.S., Roundup is applied directly to the root of the plant to avoid toxic exposure. In the Amazon and other areas where Roundup Ready soy is planted, Roundup is sprayed aerially. Drift from this spray is extremely damaging to all life forms, including people.

The pollution of water sources is a grave concern for Indigenous people since they depend on clean, healthy water for their daily survival and don’t have the luxury of water purification facilities. The Indigenous people of the Xingu River Basin in central Brazil have seen a dramatic decrease in fish stocks as the headwaters of the Xingu River have been turned into a waste drain for the soy plantations that surround their territory.
Additionally, the infrastructure built to service these plantations—which includes dams, industrial waterways, railroads and highways—is of particular concern to uncontacted peoples (Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation) due to it devastating cultural repercussions and the introduction of diseases to people who, having never contracted foreign illnesses, do not have the necessary antibodies to fight off infection.

In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso lies a 2,642,003 hectare area of near-pristine rainforest that houses the Xingu Indigenous Park. Home to 14 Indigenous tribes totaling more than 4,000 people, the park is rapidly being enveloped by industrial soy plantations. These plantations and nearby cattle ranches dump topsoil and toxic chemicals such as Roundup into the headwaters of the Xingu River, which affects the health of both the community and the surrounding ecosystem.

Letícia Yawanawa, an Indigenous organizer with the Conselho do Direito da Mulher e da Criança in Brazil says, “The plantations surround the source of the Xingu River. The river is huge, filled with fish, but now because of the plantations, the fish are dying, and the people who live along the river are all impacted because they eat the fish and get sick, and there are not enough fish anymore. The kids, especially, get sick, with diarrhea, fever, and some even die. The women and men of the community are struggling for them to leave and stop planting soy.”

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
“No communities or peoples on this earth have been more negatively impacted by the current global economic system than the world’s remaining 350 million Indigenous peoples. And no people are so strenuously and, lately, successfully resisting these invasions and inroads.”
—Jerry Mander, International Forum on Globalization
On Sept. 13, 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, marking a major victory for Indigenous people who crafted the Declaration and have worked 22 years for its adoption.
Included in the Declaration are articles which uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples to their traditional lands and territories and to determine what projects take place on these lands. States are required to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous stakeholders prior to the approval of any development projects affecting their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied lands, territories, resources, waters and coastal areas.
The Declaration will serve as an internationally recognized and ratified tool for upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples worldwide in the struggle for self-determination and control over their lands and lives.


redapes said...

Palm oil is leading to the genocide of our closest relatives, the orangutans.
Learn how you can help prevent this senseless extinction at the Orangutan Outreach website: redapes.org

ettarose said...

The website mentioned has some good information about the loss of the orangutans as well as the leopard and other animals.

Relax Max said...

I have long thought that the rain forests were the key to our survival, and if we destroy them, we are doomed. Reason: the oxygen they produce. Plants, I think, are a big factor in the climate change we are experiencing. Carbon dioxide (so-called "greenhouse gas") is as essential to plants as oxygen is to animals. They compliment each other: we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants "breathe" in carbon dioxide and "breathe" out precious oxygen. Win-win. That is until we have billions and billions of people breathing out carbon dioxide and who spend every day of their lives killing plants. It is not going to work much longer. Good job, Mitch.

Relax Max said...

I keep forgetting to commend you for your "Iraq-O-Meter" telling us how much the war is costing. I assume the point of the meter is to remind us that we should come home immediately and stop spending money, right?

ettarose said...

max, I feel we may be doing some good there. But, what will we really accomplish? I look to you for some of these answers. (bowing)

Relax Max said...

No - I'm with you ettarose. Get the hell out now. Stop spending money. Let nature take it's course, I say. We should never have gone in there in the first place. After all, Saddam wasn't so bad. I personally think all those reports of mass murders and rape rooms were propaganda. Who was he really hurting? If you see evil in the world, best not to confront it. No, sir. Turn your head like the Europeans do. Out of sight, out of mind. Not our business.

Thank you ettarose. I wasn't trying to disagree with you, I just wanted to know what your point was in putting up the money counter. Ummmmm...still don't, I guess. :)

PS-what will we accomplish? Not a damn thing that's worthwhile. Give some hapless 3rd worlders a chance at a better life. Who cares about that? It is a very crazy idea and not very businesslike, that's for sure.

ettarose said...

max, do I sense some sarcasm there? I guess the propaganda is the same for all the other bullshit going on. Darfur, for example?


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