(ainfos.ca) ‘Black bloc’ anarchists behind anti-cuts rampage reject thuggery claims. Masked protesters who hijacked London protests say their ranks have swollen to 1,500 and include social workers and nurses —- They dressed in black, masked their faces and flew red and black flags as if they were a revolutionary army, but anarchists who smashed up shops, banks and hotels during last Saturday’s anti-cuts protests in London have dismissed government allegations they are “mindless thugs”. —- Amid growing public anxiety about the actions of the so-called black bloc, the home secretary, Theresa May, this week threatened pre-emptive police action while Kit Malthouse, London’s deputy mayor, branded them “fascist agitators”. —- But unmasked and talking to the Guardian, anarchists involved in last weekend’s violence claimed their direct action tactics were going viral. Read More
(csmonitor.com) The US is calling for renegade former President Laurent Gbagbo to step down, while relief organizations report a massacre of hundreds in one western town.
Forces supporting Ivory Coast President-elect Alassane Ouattara are closing on the presidential palace where former President Laurent Gbagbo has dug in, in what could be the climax of the violence gripping the West African nation.
An adviser to Mr. Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of last fall’s presidential election, told the Associated Press that fighters loyal to Ouattara were gathering in preparation for a final assault on the palace in Abidjan Sunday. The area around the palace was quiet Sunday, though the AP reports thathundreds of young men had gathered there, apparently in response to Mr. Gbagbo’s call for civilians to gather around the palace as human shields.
Abidjan saw heavy fighting on Saturday, reports BBC News, as the two sides exchanged heavy artillery fire in the city as they battled to control the palace, the state television station, and the city’s military base.
Amid the fighting, four UN peacekeepers were seriously wounded when pro-Gbagbo soldiers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a UN personnel carrier. And French forces seized control of the city’s airport, with another 300 French soldiers set to arrive in Ivory Coast soon, according to military officials. The French camp is currently protecting more than 1,500 foreigners.
Saturday also saw reports from the Red Cross and Caritas about a massacre of at least 800 people in the town of Duekoue in western Ivory Coast. Workers from the two relief organizations visited the town Wednesday and found the streets strewn with people killed by small-arms fire and machetes. Red Cross put the death toll at around 800, while Caritas officials estimated it to be more than 1,000. Neither group was sure who perpetrated the massacre.
“The massacre took place in the ‘Carrefour’ quarter of town, controlled by pro-Ouattara forces, during clashes on Sunday 27 March to Tuesday 29 March,” Nicholson said. “Caritas does not know who was responsible for the killing, but says a proper investigation must take place to establish the truth.”
He said the victims included many refugees from fighting elsewhere in the country, where rival forces had been battling over a disputed November election.
The AP notes that the link between the massacre and Ouattara’s fighters could weaken support for Ouattara. The town of Duekoue has been a hotbed for the conflict between Ouattara and Gbagbo, as political and ethnic divisions there have worsened amid the arrival of refugees from fighting elsewhere in the country.
The massacre also justifies the worries of various relief organizations. As The Christian Science Monitor reported on Friday, those groups were concerned that the apparent end-stage of the fighting in Ivory Coast could increase the risk for civilian casualties.
In response to the worsening situation in Abidjan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Gbagbo to step down in order to put an end to the violence, reports Agence France-Presse.
“The path forward is clear,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said early Sunday. Gbagbo “must leave now so the conflict may end.” …
Clinton said the United States was “deeply concerned” by what she called “the dangerous and deteriorating situation” in the world’s top cocoa producer, including recent reports of human rights abuses and massacres in the west of the country.
And a UN official expressed worry that the fighting in Ivory Coast could spill over into neighboring Liberia, risking a destabilization of a country still recovering from its own civil war.
The South African Press Association reports that Liberian officials worry that the return of Liberian mercenaries fighting in Ivory Coast could threaten the current peace in the nation. And some 130,000 refugees from Ivory Coast have fled to Liberia in recent months.
(socialistworker.co.uk) More than a thousand people demonstrated against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Blackburn on Saturday.
Asian, black and white people—the vast majority of them from the local area—came together in the anti-racist event called by Blackburn and Darwen United Against Racism. Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Blackburn Trades Council, Blackburn College Students Union and Youth On A Mission supported it.
The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) decided to back the event in the past week, marking a significant shift in the battle against the EDL. It is the first time that a regional body of mosques has backed a counter-protest since the racists started organising in 2009.
Under pressure from police and local councils mosques have previously advised Muslims to stay at home.
So though counter protests have met the racists, they have rarely shown the biggest united resistance possible.
That began to change in Blackburn on Saturday. As one local, Zaheer, told Socialist Worker, “We are sick of living under our own imposed curfew while racists run riot.”
A thousand people gathered in the city centre in Suddell Cross while hundreds more stayed on street corners to defend their local community.
Gail and Raymond are a mixed race couple. She comes from Northern Ireland, while he is from Preston.
“There is not much racism, we are a diverse community.” said Gail. “We live well together here. The EDL are targeting Blackburn because they want to cause division. It won’t work, we won’t let it.”
The mood of the protest was angry and defiant.
Mulana Rafiq from the LCM led the crowd in a chant, “No to racism! No to fascism!” and said, “We have a common aspiration of making Blackburn welcome to all—we have to stand united.”
Martin Smith, national UAF officer, told the crowd, “If we don’t protest, the EDL will keep coming back for more. I’ve just come from Liverpool where the EDL tried to attack a joint UAF conference with the Unite union and the Anthony Walker Foundation.
“We chased them off. But it tells us what kind of hardcore racist scum they are if they are prepared to attack a meeting organised by Britain’s biggest trade union and a foundation founded after the murder of a black teenager. They are a danger to our whole society.”
Anti-racists came to show solidarity from across the region.
“If you come for my Muslim brothers and sisters you have to come through me first,” Michael Lavalette, independent socialist councillor from Preston, told the crowd to loud cheers.
Sal from the Muslim Defence League (MDL) told Socialist Worker, “We see what the EDL is doing across the country—terrorising our communities, attacking our places of worship, and we know we have to make a stand.”
Unfortunately, despite their determination to protest, the LCM had accepted a police demand to limit attendance to 3,000. It called on mosques to send only 50 people each.
The police created an atmosphere of intimidation—barricading off sections of the city centre and putting anti-racist protesters in an area cordoned off with high solid metal barricades. The entry and exit point was surrounded by police vans and police on horses.
At one point protesters were prevented from leaving while the police tried to move the EDL out of the city centre.
This made many people angry—a local Imam turned to police and asked them to let people move freely describing their actions as “humiliating”.
Saif, one of the protesters, told Socialist Worker, “They treating us like we are the criminals.”
The EDL had up to 2,000 people on their protest—the vast majority bussed in from outside the area. They can still mobilise significant numbers, but their frustration spilled over when they started fighting among themselves.
And worryingly, racists were out in Blackburn the previous night targeting mosques. A senior LCM representative told Socialist Worker that five mosques were vandalised on Friday night—on Balaclava Street, Randal Street, Willow Street, Didsbury Street and Park Lea Road. The words BNP and EDL were spray painted.
At one mosque a group of men were seen clambering on the roof wearing balaclavas.
The council removed all the graffiti early on Saturday morning.
The continuing presence of the EDL and the racist activity that always accompanies their arrival show why it is vital that even larger numbers are mobilised for future protests, no matter what the police say, so that our towns and cities become no-go areas for racists.
by Viv Smith
(guardian.co.uk) Measures to stem leaks at Fukushima plant appeared to have failed, amid discovery of two bodies of men killed by tsunami
A senior Japanese official has warned that the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could drag on for months, after another attempt to stem leaks of highly radioactive water appeared to end in failure.
Goshi Hosono, an aide to the prime minister, Naoto Kan, said everything possible was being done to contain radiation leaks, which have contaminated the environment and food and water supplies, prompted mass evacuations and fomented fear as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.
“We have not escaped from a crisis situation, but it is somewhat stabilised,” Hosono said on television. Asked how long it would take to bring the plant’s overheating reactors under control, he said. “I think several months would be one target.”
The admission that there is no end in sight to the world’s worst nuclear power accident since Chernobyl came after the recovery of two bodies inside the Daiichi plant. The workers were killed when it was struck by the 11 March tsunami. They were found last Wednesday, but had to be decontaminated before they could be handed over to relatives after almost three weeks of exposure to radiation.
The men, Kazhiko Kokubo, 24, and Yoshiki Terashima, 21, who were found in the basement of a reactor turbine building, died from multiple head injuries, reports said. Theirs were the first confirmed deaths at the Daiichi plant.
“It pains us to have lost these two young workers, who were trying to protect the power plant during the earthquake and tsunami,” said Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco].
The size of the task facing about 600 workers, troops and firefighters at the plant was underlined at the weekend with the discovery of a 20cm crack in a concrete pit connected to the No 2 reactor. The leak generated radiation levels of 1,000 millisieverts an hour in the air inside the reactor, while Tepco said it could also be behind the seepage of radioactive iodine into the sea, sending contamination levels soaring to 4,000 times the legal limit.
Experts say that beyond the vicinity of the plant, there is minimal risk to human health in other parts of Japan or overseas.
After failed attempts to seal the crack by pouring concrete into the pit, workers have fed it with a water-absorbent polymer, along with sawdust and shredded newspaper, before topping the mixture with more concrete.
On Sunday evening, nuclear safety officials conceded that the polymer, which can expand to 50 times its normal size when combined with water, had made no impact on the water leakage, but added they would wait until Monday before deciding whether to abandon the approach.
“We were hoping the polymers would function like diapers, but we have yet to see a visible effect,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency.
He echoed the grim prognosis offered by Hosono. “It will take a few months until we finally get things under control and have a better idea about the future,” Nishiyama said. “We’ll face a crucial turning point within the next few months, but that is not the end of it.”
Highly radioactive water has flooded the basement of the No 2 reactor and a connecting underground trench. The water in the cracked pit is thought to have come from partially melted fuel rods in the reactor’s core.
In their battle to cool overheated reactors and prevent a dangerous meltdown of highly radioactive fuel rods, workers have doused reactors with huge quantities of seawater. The contaminated runoff, however, has prevented technicians and engineers from getting closer to the reactors to make proper repairs.
Fresh water is being pumped into No 1, 2 and 3 reactors using external power, Nishiyama said, adding that the remaining three reactors were considered stable.
More than 12,000 people are known to have died in the earthquake and tsunami, while 15,472 are missing, according to police. More than 163,000 people are still living in evacuation shelters.
(indymedia.org) The European Collectives Nodo Solidale (Italy), Zapatista “Marisol” Collective of Lugano (Switzerland), and Nomads of XM24 (Italy), which make up the Internationalist Platform for Resistance and Self-Initiative Weaving Autonomies (PIRATA), organized a brigade for the observation of the violation of the rights of native peoples in the municipality of Santiago Xanica, Oaxaca, México, in which activists from France and the Spanish State also participated. The brigade traveled through the municipality from March 14 to March 21, 2011.
The task that the International Brigade set for itself has been to listen, understand, relate, and make public what is happening in the community of Santiago Xanica. In recent months the townspeople of Xanica have been denouncing outrageous violations and abuses by PRI party members and power groups against the local Committee in Defense of Indigenous Rights (CODEDI Xanica), Adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, and against the general population.
(infoshop.org) The Kayan community of Long Teran finally gained recognition for their native customary rights over their ancestral lands in Sarawak. In a recent ruling, the Miri High Court affirmed Long Teran’s rights and cancelled some land leases which had been granted to the “notorious global palm oil giant” the IOI Group, by the Sarawak government of Sarawak. Just prior to the court ruling, Long Teran peacefully reclaimed a part of their ancestral lands in an act of collective resistance. For more news on Sarawak, keep an eye on sarawakreport.org.
Five Tzeltal men are being “held hostage” by the Chiapas government in Mexico. Now known as the “Bachajón 5,” the five men believe the government is attempting to force them to accept a proposed ecotourism project on their lands and abandon their support of the Other Campaign. Initially, 117 indigenous Zapatista supporters were arrested by the government; however, most of them were released after protests erupted across the country. A five-day international protest is set to begin for the Bachajón 5, beginning April 1.
A group of Barriere Lake Algonquins discovered a Canadian mining company preparing for a new mining exploration project on their unceded lands. When informed of the situation in Barriere Lake, workers on site–mostly Crees from the Mistassini and Oujebougamou First Nations–voluntarily agreed to stop working and leave. Barriere Lake community members are now planning to maintain a constant presence at the site to stop any further developments.
Eleven Mayan Q’eqchi’ women announced a $55 million lawsuit against a Canadian mining company for being assaulted and gang-raped during a forced eviction in El Estor, Guatemala four years ago. The women say they were raped by the company’s security personnel, as well as police and military during the eviction. Detailed information and background on the lawsuit can be found at http://www.chocversushudbay.com/
The Toba Qom set up a protest camp in Buenos Aires over systemic discrimination, human rights abuses, and the ongoing suppression of land rights by the Argentinian government. A follow-up to the Toba’s four-month blockade, which was violently dismantled last November, the indigenous people are now demanding to meet with Argentina’s president to denounce their case.
Indigenous women from the community of Lake Tyers, in East Gippsland, Victoria, started a blockade against the state government’s self-imposed rule over their community. The blockade officially went up on March 8, International Women’s Day, in order to stop a government-appointed administrator and his staff from gaining entry to the community. In response to the blockade, the government withdrew several services meant for the reserve.
United Native Americans, Inc. (UNA), formed in 1968 to promote the General Welfare of Indigenous Peoples in the United States, began a protest campaign against the Hearst Corporation, over the historical theft of the Black Hills and the Homestake Gold Mine (said to be the Largest Gold Mine in the Western Hemisphere). UNA believes that it’s time for the company to pay punitive damages to the Lakota Nation for the illegal theft. This Coming August 29, 2011, a gathering will be held at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota, to Demand Reparations and Accountability. Information on the event can be found on UNA’s Facebook page.
A shocking allegation was made against the UK mining giant Vedanta Resources. According to a recent report, paramilitaries were told at meeting sponsored by Vedanta “to warn Dongria Kondh villagers not to oppose Vedanta else they will be branded Maoists (terrorists) and then killed.” The allegation stands in stark contrast to Vendata’s “enlightened rhetoric” concerning the Dongria Kondh.
Indigenous leaders and political parties in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, blasted the government’s move to deny the Jumma recognition as “Indigenous people” in the new Constitution. “They termed the move as a ‘conspiracy’ to deny the groups their ethnic status and their constitutional right to land and of self determination.”
At least a 1,000 police officers and soldiers evicted more than 3,000 Q’eqchi Mayas from lands claimed by an agribusiness firm in northern Guatemala. During the eviction, the security forces torched or otherwise destroyed the Mayas homes and crops with tractors and machetes. Nearly a dozen people were injured during the eviction.
A “serious chemical spill” was reported at the site of the Ramu mine processing plant, which sits on the edge of Basamuk Bay in Papua New Guinea. Since the spill, indigenous peoples living near the bay have observed a sudden and dramatic change in the Bay’s coral reefs: they’ve all turned white. Coral bleaching is a strong indicator that the reefs are being deprived of essential foods.
“While the rest of Panama was celebrating Carnival,” observes Cultural Survival, the Ngöbe came together to elect a new president for the Ngöbe Bugle Congress, the largest Indigenous organization in Panama. The government of Panama–who recently ratified ILO Convention 169–has been attempting to impose a new electoral system on the Ngobe since 2010. The Ngobe are widely opposed to the imposition, which violates their rights as defined by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples… and ILO Convention 169.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) approved the water and air quality permits for three uranium mines near the Grand Canyon, including the Arizona 1 mine and the proposed Canyon Mine near Red Butte. The Havasupai Nation, who consider themselves to be “guardians of the Grand Canyon,” strenuously object to all uranium mining in the region and especially near Red Butte, a sacred site the Havasupai visit to pray and perform ceremonies “for the well-being of the world”.
Members of the Blood Tribe started calling for a moratorium on hydro fracking within their reserve in southern Alberta, Canada. According to the grassroots effort, Protect Blood Land, the Blood Tribal Council gave two oil companies drilling rights to almost half of the Blood’s reserve without consulting anyone. Given the dangers of fracking, Protect Blood Land wants a moratorium until a proper referendum has taken place on the reserve. The group further raised concerns that some people are being threatened for opposing the deal and coerced into supporting it.
Traditional Authorities from the autonomously governed Wixarika community of Tatei Kie, declared the Wixarika Peoples’ “total opposition” to mining in the ceremonial center of Wirikuta in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. In a written declaration, the Traditional authorities state that “We will not hold back in the face of anything in its defense and we convoke the whole world to join the effort to avoid this terrible destruction of the sacred, definitively opposing the dark interests behind it, which seek our spiritual death.”
A new mega dam project on the Patuca River threatens to erase dozens of Tawaka and Miskito communities in Honduras. The deposed Zelaya administration previously withdrew the project as a result of community opposition. However, with the coup regime in power–at least, for now–Honduras’ “historical politics of persecution of community leaders” and development at the expense of Indigenous People is back on. On the brighter side, indigenous representatives came together in February and declared that they will “permanently rebel, watch and denounce and take collective action to defend Rio Patuca, its fishes, ecosystems, and the Tawahka and Rio Platano biosphere reserves.”
The Evenk people in northern Siberia launched a new campaign against the Russian oil giant Gazprom. The company intends to build a new pipeline through the Evenk’s territory; however, the Evenk say that doing so would threaten their traditional hunting and fishing grounds. Gazprom, on the other hand, says it would be too expense to re-route the pipeline.
A major hydroelectric expansion project in Canada’s Northwest Territories was put on hold, allegedly due to problems with the project’s “business model”. The Dene have expressed numerous concerns about the Taltson dam expansion, which would bring new transmission lines through a pristine area that they consider sacred.
Judges in the Chilean province of Arauco voted to rescind the infamous “terrorism” charges that were laid against 17 Mapuche activists for an incident in October 2008. The judges also acquitted all but four of the activists. Those same four activists are now on an indefinite hunger strike.
Videos of the Month
Oil in Eden: The Battle to Protect Canada’s Pacific Coast – “Oil in Eden” provides an essential summary of the issues surrounding “the defining Canadian environmental battle of our time:” the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.
We Women Warriors – We Women Warriors follows the lives of three indigenous women in Colombia as they strive to nonviolently defend their peoples autonomy in a climate of constant military violence.
Conservation Refugees – Expelled from Paradise – an award-winning documentary by Marketfilm and Friends of People Close to Nature, introduces us to some of these refugees and the struggles they now face as displaced peoples.
Underreported Struggles is a monthly round-up of censored and under-reported news, compiled by Intercontinental Cry. If you want to know about these stories “as they happen”, follow IC on Twitter: @indigenous_news or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Intercontinental.Cry