Peoples of Faith Rise Against Corporate Plunder and Militarisation

Stop the attacks on Indigenous Peoples!

Over the past few years we have seen the intensifying corporate plunder of Indigenous Peoples’ land and resources and the state-sponsored attacks against their resistance and struggles.

It is a cruel irony that the women and men who stand as the protectors of the Earth’s last frontier are being threatened, criminalised, and murdered with impunity.

According to Global Witness’ report, there were 185 killings of Indigenous Peoples across 16 countries in 2015. This is by far the highest annual death toll on record. Conflicts over mining were the number one cause of killings, with agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging also key drivers of violence.

We welcomed the year 2016 feeling outraged at the dastardly murder of indigenous leader Berta Caceres in Honduras. Berta was at forefront of campaign against the construction of a hydroelectric project that would have caused severe environmental damage and displacement of Indigenous Peoples of Lenca.

The attacks have only continued and escalated since.

In North Dakota, USA, on Oct. 22, over 100 people, who call themselves protectors, were arrested at a peaceful march after they were confronted by police in riot gear, carrying assault rifles. For months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been waging a pitched battle against a proposed oil pipeline that would run near their reservation. The $3.8 billion project can endanger both their water supplies and sacred sites. Last September, private security for the company building the pipeline attacked the Native American protesters blocking the bulldozers using dogs and pepper spray.

In the Philippines, the police’ brutal dispersal of the peaceful assembly of our Indigenous and Moro sisters and brothers in front of the US Embassy in Manila on October 19, 2016. Scores were hurt and arrested (including a former Peace for Life consultant) as authorities charged at protesters with truncheons, water cannons, and a rampaging police vehicle that run over the crowd. The demonstration sought to bring to public attention the militarisation of their communities, the occupation of their ancestral lands by extractive business, and outright government discrimination and neglect.

In West Papua, Indonesian authorities continue to repress West Papuan’s self-determination efforts through censorship and force, violating human rights in the process. In the last three years, 27 West Papuans have been killed. They are prohibited from holding protests and organizing social movements, and many have been arrested and detained for campaigning against extraction and plantation activities. Such arrests have reportedly increased since the beginning of 2016 amounting to 4000 between April and June 2016 and have included human rights activists and journalists.

Indigenous Peoples inhabit lands that are rich in natural resources, but they are among the poorest populations due to economical exclusions and deprivation of basic social, cultural and political rights and fundamental freedoms including rights to their lands, territories, and resources.

Today, land ownership remains an urgent issue for indigenous peoples. Ancestral domain is a crucial element in preserving indigenous culture and for their very survival. In the era of neoliberal globalization, however, land has also become the curse that has brought them tremendous suffering and pain.

According to estimates, as much as 50% of the gold produced between 1995 and 2015, and up to 70% of copper production by 2020, will take place on the territories of indigenous peoples. New trade and investments deals push for the appropriation of previously inaccessible territories to extractive business. As a result, indigenous populations are expelled from their ancestral domains, depriving them of their living spaces, resources, and livelihoods, all in the name of economic growth and development.

The current thrust of governments to reduce public spending for basic social services and the privatisation of health, education, and other critical infrastructures aggravate the marginalization and exclusion of indigenous populations. They suffer from poor health, limited educational opportunities, and shorter life expectancy.

Indigenous Peoples are denied their right to self-determination. Although they have their distinct economic, social, religious, historical, and cultural heritage, they have no status as states and no representation.

Indigenous Peoples have been cultivating and developing their local plant life for centuries, but western legal regimes such as TRIPS that allow big corporations to acquire monopoly patents over life forms and life creating processes criminalise Indigenous Peoples for practicing their customs and traditions.

The current climate crisis further aggravates the vulnerability and marginalisation of Indigenous Peoples. The unsustainable production and consumption patterns promoted by Northern governments, big corporations and multilateral institutions have led to the erosion of the environment and climate change. They have refused to honour their historical responsibilities to reduce emissions and pay reparations and are even pushing through with new plans for expanded resource extraction through new free trade and investment deals. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples, who contributed the least to global warming, are bearing the brunt of human-induced climate disasters.

Indigenous peoples have suffered from a long history of dispossession exploitation carried out by colonizers. In the era of militarised globalization, indigenous peoples find themselves anew on a face to face battle with transnational corporations, investors, governments, and multilateral institutions seeking to bleed their resources, tradition, and life dry in the name of development and profit.

But Indigenous Peoples’ are fighting back and reclaiming their right to their resources, their traditions, beliefs, and self-determination. Their collective resistance continues to be one of the most endurable and potent in challenging the hegemony of capitalism and imperialism.

We are called upon to proclaim and translate into concrete reality God’s inclusive love to promote compassion, generosity, and respect for diversity. In these times of crisis, our spirituality demands that we stand for justice and human dignity for all, but especially for our Indigenous sisters and brothers who are being deprived of their voice, rights, and lives.

We condemn and call for an end to militarisation and occupation of ancestral lands and the political repression, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and all forms of human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and activists. We call on governments to uphold and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Peoples, and other relevant international conventions.

We join our indigenous sisters and brothers in defending their land against development aggression and plunder of their resources by extractive business. We resist new free trade and investment deals that seek to monopolise indigenous peoples’ resources and wealth, knowledge and practices. We are one with them in their struggle to shift away from neoliberal and capitalist development models and to build a new system based on the rational, collective, and democratic management and use of resources in the interest of the people and the wellbeing of the planet.

We endeavour to promote an inclusive development process that respects the rights of all socio-cultural groups, minorities, indigenous peoples, religions etc. over their cultural heritage and natural resources and respecting their right to define and pursue their own development aspirations.

We support the struggles of Indigenous Peoples for self-determination, liberation and sovereignty. We pledge to participate and support campaigns and initiatives in pursuance of these goals.

Stop the attacks on Indigenous Peoples!

End the corporate plunder and militarisation of Indigenous Peoples’ lands!

Fight for Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and liberation!

 

 

 

Dear Peace for Life members and allies,

Recent protest actions and mobilizations in Standing Rock, North Dakota USA and Manila, Philippines brought into public consciousness the plight of our indigenous brothers and sisters. Globally, corporations are occupying indigenous territories, bleeding dry the environment, destroying indigenous community and culture, and displacing Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral domain. Authorities have not only remained silent to the cries for justice of the Indigenous Peoples, but have also colluded with big extractive business in pushing for new trade and investment deals that would scale up and legalize the recolonization of indigenous territories. In instances where Indigenous Peoples take the route of resistance, they are met with brutal repression from the police, army, and paramilitary groups.

We as peoples of faith are once again challenged to speak up and make our voice heard: We rise against corporate plunder and militarisation of Indigenous Peoples’ resources and communities!

We invite you, as individuals and/or as representative of your respective organizations to join this call and sign-on to our unity statement below (also available on our website here). We are also circulating the statement among various civil society networks to gather more endorsements.

This civil society sign-on statement is our small way of expressing our solidarity to our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Standing Rock, the Philippines, Honduras and in many other parts of the world where oppression and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples occur.

Should you wish to sign and endorse the statement, please reply to this email or contact Ivan Phell Enrile of Peace for Life Global Secretariat office thru email at ivanenrile@gmail.com

In solidarity,