‘Desertification by dams be stopped’
Imphal, March 17 2013 : A State Convention on ‘Dams, Rivers and Peoples in Manipur’ held at Imphal Hotel here today resolved to stop desertification of human settlement by construction of big dams and other so-called developmental projects. The convention was jointly organised jointly by 10 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) namely, Committee on Natural Resources Protection in Manipur (CNRPM); Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organisation (MDAVO); Citizens Concern for Dam and Development (CCDD); All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen’s Union (ALLFU); Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA), Manipur; JAC on Protection of Hydrocarbon (JACOP HYCAR); Naga Women’s Union (NWU); Human Rights Initiatives; Life Watch and JAC against Chakpi Multipurpose Project (JACCMP) .
The convention adopted 15 different resolutions which include prohibition of construction of big dams, removal of Ithai barrage after reviewing Loktak Multipurpose Project, dissolution of Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act 2006, revival of Expert Review Committee on Mapithel Dam formed in 2008, termination of the MoU signed between Manipur government and companies, termination of the environmental clearance of Tipaimukh Dam issued in 2008 .
The convention also registered strong protest against the proposed construction of Chakpi Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project and demanded not to give any blockage in the rivers of the state. Furthermore, the convention demanded to seek for alternate energy solution and stop construction of big dams, removal of AFSPA 1958, ensure the rights of indigenous people for their land and properties and review the benefits of Loktak Project supposedly getting by the state.
Chairman of CCDD, Dr RK Ranjan, who attended the convention as moderator, observed that India government provides grant-in-aid to the North Eastern States through NEC from the loans provided by World Bank and ADB. In order to recover its loan, the India government plans many ways to freely utilise the natural resources available in the north eastern states. Dr Ranjan went on to note that the recent statement of Governor of Manipur, who said that a Power Grid Line with transmission capability of 250 MW would be established outside India through Manipur with funding from World Bank, has added more suspicion in the minds of the people of Manipur since it coincides with the various proposed power plants in the state.
The suspicion is that the power grid line is not for transmission of power to Manipur but for transmitting power outside the state from Manipur, he added. He further said that the government’s assertion that present pathetic power situation in the state is due to unwarranted reaction from some educated persons, was unfortunate. Instead they should think that it is the incapability of the public representatives in utilising the resources of the state by the state itself.
Among those who participated in the convention, Director of COHR Phunindro Konsam lamented that the Government of Manipur has been destroying public properties and their houses without any information. It is necessary to inform the settlers three or four times and provide adequate time to shift to another site for settlement if the land is to be acquired for any purpose. However, in Manipur, the government uses police power and destroy houses using swords and spade, he added. Naga Women Union president Aram Pamei warned that there are strong possible negative impacts in Churachandpur and Tamenglong districts because of the Tipaimukh Dam.
Bethlehem rioters set fire to pictures of Obama
Palestinians in Bethlehem on Monday set fire to pictures of US President Barack Obama, saying he was not welcome in their city. Scores of protesters gathered near Manger Square and threw shoes at a US diplomatic vehicle as it arrived at the scene in the context of preparations for Obama’s visit to the city later this week. The protesters also set fire to signs posted in the city earlier this week and reminding Obama that Palestinians still don’t have 3G communications technology.
Similar anti-Obama demonstrations are expected to take place in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities in the coming days. Palestinian Authority policemen did not intervene to stop the Bethlehem protesters from burning Obama’s pictures. A PA security officer said that the PA would not act against demonstrators who seek permission to protest against Obama’s visit. There were even indications that the PA leadership was encouraging or initiating some of the protests. At the Bethlehem demonstration, some protesters carried a placard belonging to the PA Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees, which read: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The protesters also trampled on Obama’s picture, chanting: “America is the head of the snake.” “We came here today to tell Obama that we don’t want 3G in Palestine,” said Samir Odeh, a Fatah activist in Bethlehem. “We want a state, the release of prisoners and an end to settlement construction. We also want to see our refugees return to their homes.” Waving a shoe in his hand, Fayez Mansour of the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem said that Obama was not welcome in Bethlehem. “We won’t receive Obama with flowers and a red carpet,” he declared. “We will receive him with shoes. We want to tell America that we hate you and you have no place here. We don’t want to see Obama in Palestine. He is coming to save Israel. He does not have anything to offer our people.”
Another protester who asked not to be identified said many Palestinians in the city were opposed to Obama’s visit, “especially since he has made it clear that he is coming as a pilgrim.” The Palestinians, he added, have sent a message to Obama that he is not welcome in the Palestinian territories. “Obama is coming to help the Israelis,” he said. “He is not coming to help the Palestinians.
He has been supporting Israeli occupation and oppression of our people.” Mazen al-Azza, one of the organizers of the anti-Obama protest, said that the main objective of the US president’s visit was to support Israel politically and militarily. “Obama is not welcome in Palestine,” al-Azza said. “He has done nothing for the Palestinians. He does not care about the Palestinian prisoners who are being held in Israel.”
Mizoram jail inmates in Lunglei District protest against jailer Aizawl
(Mizonews.Net): Reports reaching here said that inmates of Lunglei District Jail on Friday last protested against jailer Zosangliana Hrahsel and created chaos inside the jail. The inmates accused the jailer Hrahsel of treating them “inhumanely”. “He treats us as if we are animals. He even let us eat rotten food,” they said. The inmates have demanded immediate transfer of the jailer, the report added.
Two Addl DCs, one Magistrate and Police were rushed to the jail to control the situation. It has also been reported that around 200 inmates are put up in the jail which actually was built for 170 inmates.
While B2Gold hatches an uneasy peace agreement with the community of Santo Domingo, protests are planned in other areas where the Canadian company was granted gold-mining concessions
In an attempt to quell simmering tensions in the rural mining zone of Santo Domingo, Chontales, Canadian mining company B2Gold and a group of Nicaraguan gold prospectors penned a tentative truce this weekend that promises to end months of social unrest. The agreement, signed in the presence of local political and religious authorities, aims to hush protest against the foreign mining company in exchange for the freedom of 12 local prospectors who were jailed more than a month ago for demonstrating against B2Gold. The Canadian mining company also reportedly agreed to retract its requested capture orders against two dozen other Nicaraguans involved in last month’s protests against their open-pit mining operations.
Despite the tenuously negotiated peace accord, human rights activists say the terms of the agreement were essentially foisted upon the residents of Santo Domingo by a powerful foreign company that is backed fully by the government. The local community had no choice but to sign on the dotted line, says Gonzalo Carrion, a lawyer from the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) who has been actively involved in the case. “This was like an executioner negotiating a treaty with his prisoner,” Carrion told The Nicaragua Dispatch.
“The incarcerated miners had a gun put to their heads until they said: ‘Okay, we give up! We renounce our right to protest’.” The agreement, which some in the community are reportedly already grumbling about, comes five weeks after Nicaraguan riot police fired teargas and rubber bullets at a group of local protesters who were blocking the entrance to B2Gold’s open-air mine.
An environmental group called “Save Santo Domingo” was also demonstrating against the mining company based on concerns over logging and river pollution. At the behest of B2Gold, riot police moved in on Feb. 9 to crack skulls and clear the crowd. CENIDH reports that some 100 people were injured and 47 arrested, including the dozen who are still being held in Managua’s infamous El Chipote jail. The incarcerated miners are expected to be freed on Tuesday, following this weekend’s armistice. In a statement to Nicaraguan press, B2Gold said it is dedicated to dialogue and development in Santo Domingo.
The company said the accord reached with the 500 families of the “El Cafetal” prospectors’ group is the fifth such agreement the Canadian mining firm has negotiated with local residents of Santo Domingo. B2Gold said it is in the process of “intensifying social development projects” in the community of Santo Domingo, including improvements to the health center and construction of a new municipal building, among other projects.
Gold is one of Nicaragua’s fastest-growing exports. In 2012, Nicaragua exported $422 million with of gold, surpassing beef as the country’s No. 2 export behind coffee. Nicaragua’s gold exports climbed 16% last year. So far this year, gold is Nicaragua’s leading export, netting more than $76.5 million in sales in January and February, according to government figures.
Zero tolerance for protest
The gold prospectors’ decision to end their protest of B2Gold in exchange for the freedom of their incarcerated comrades is reminiscent of last October’s taxi drivers’ protest in Managua, which ended when union leaders agreed to renounce their right to protest in exchange for the release of 40 cabbies who were locked up without bail. Human rights advocates say a worrisome pattern is forming.
“While all this was happening in Santo Domingo, the government went to a mining tradeshow in Canada to invite other mining companies to come to Nicaragua because the government guarantees the best conditions for mining operations here. And what that means is that the government won’t allow any form of protest against foreign mining companies, because all protest will be repressed,” Carrion said.
The rights leader says the government’s “brutal repression” of the mining protest last month is clear evidence that the president sides with the transnational business interests. “The shine of gold is given priority to the rights of the people in Santo Domingo,” Carrion charges.
More mining protests to come
The protest against open-pit mining in Chontales isn’t the only local pushback against B2Gold. In Matagalpa, the communities of Rancho Grande and Yaoska are also starting to remobilize against the Canadian mining firm, according to local journalist Frank García of Matagalpa Gráfica. García claims the previous municipal government of Rancho Grande was in bed with the Canadian mining company, but the new authorities who took power in January are taking a stronger stance in defense of a conservationist platform.
On Thursday, the community of Rancho Grande, led by a local environmentalist group called the “The Guardians of Yaoska” (named after the river that flows through Matagalpa) is organizing a march against B2Gold’s mining operations in Matagalpa. It remains to be seen whether that protest will be a violent repeat of last month’s protest in Santo Domingo.
Greek radical anarchists claim attacks on political offices
ATHENS — A radical anarchist group on Monday claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks on the political offices of three Greek conservative lawmakers in the northern city of Thessaloniki. “Our goal was not to cause injury but to spread chaos and anarchy,” said the previously unknown organisation, which calls itself Overall Deniers of Joining the Existing, in a statement. The organisation attacked the offices of deputy environment minister Stavros Kalafatis and lawmakers Costas Gioulekas and Giorgos Orfanos with small bombs made out of gas canisters.
All three are members of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ party New Democracy. Five people were trapped in a building and had to be rescued by firefighters while a female employee jumped from the balcony one floor below to avoid the smoke. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou denounced the attacks as an act of terrorism. In its statement, the group expressed its solidarity with jailed members of other anarchist groups and criticised Kalafatis for his stance regarding a controversial mining site in Halkidiki, in the north of the country.
Citizens’ groups have been trying to halt a Canadian company’s gold mining project in the region, fearing irreversible harm to the local environment with frequent protests. In February, hooded activists firebombed the worksite of Hellenic Gold, subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold. The government supports the investment. Greece has experienced a recent surge in violent attacks, most notably shots fired at the New Democracy headquarters in early January.