Category Archives: Care for the Poor

After More Than a Decade, Rights of Indigenous Peoples Not Fully Realized

By Miroslav Lajcák (President of the UN General Assembly)

 

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A UN press conference on indigenous peoples. Credit: UN Photo

 

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 18 2018 (IPS) – First, I want to talk about how we got here.

It was nearly 100 years ago, when indigenous peoples first asserted their rights, on the international stage. But, they did not see much progress. At least until 1982 – when the first Working Group on Indigenous Populations was established.

And, in 2007, the rights of indigenous peoples were, finally, set out in an international instrument.

Let us be clear here. Rights are not aspirational. They are not ideals. They are not best-case scenarios. They are minimum standards. They are non-negotiable. And, they must be respected, and promoted.

Yet, here we are. More than a decade after the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted. And the fact is, these rights are not being realized.

That is not to say that there has been no progress. In fact, we heard many success stories, during yesterday’s opening of the Permanent Forum.

But, they are not enough.

Which is why, as my second point, I want to say that we need to do much more.

Last September, the General Assembly gave my office a new mandate. It requested that I organise informal interactive hearings – to look at how indigenous peoples can better participate at the United Nations.

So, that is why we are all sitting here. But, before we launch into our discussions, I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

I know that many of you were disappointed, with the General Assembly’s decision last year. After two years of talking, many of you wanted more than these interactive hearings.

We cannot gloss over this. And that is why I want to address it – from the outset. But I must also say this: Things may be moving slowly. But they are still moving.

When our predecessors formed the first indigenous working group, in 1982, their chances were slim. Many doubted whether an international instrument could be adopted. And, frankly, it took longer than it should have. But, it still happened.

So, we need to acknowledge the challenges, and frustrations. We cannot sweep them under the rug.

But we also cannot let them take away from the opportunities we have, in front of us.

And that brings me to my third point, on our discussions today.

This is your hearing. So, please be blunt. Please be concrete. Please be innovative.

Like I have said, we should not pretend that everything is perfect. Major problems persist – particularly at the national level. And, we need to draw attention to them. Today, however, we have a very specific mandate. And that is, to explore how we can carve out more space, for indigenous peoples, on the international stage.

That is why I ask you to focus on the future of our work, here, at the United Nations. And to try to come up with as many ideas and proposals as possible.

In particular, we should look at the following questions:

Which venues and forums are most suitable?

What modalities should govern participation?

What kind of participants should be selected?

And how will this selection happen?

We should also try to form a broader vision. This will allow us to better advise the General Assembly’s ongoing process to enhance indigenous peoples’ participation.

Finally, next steps.

As you know, this is our very first informal, interactive hearing. There will be two further hearings – next year, and the year after.

Then – during what we call the 75th Session of the General Assembly – negotiations between governments will start up again.

Turning back to today, the immediate outcome of our hearing will be a President’s Summary. But, I am confident that the longer-term outcome will be yet another step, in the direction of change.

So, this is where I will conclude. My main job, now, is to listen.

 

Priest campaigning for Brazil’s Amazon arrested for sex crimes and extortion

Karla Mendes

March 29, 2018 | RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Brazilian priest who risked his life campaigning for the landless has been arrested for sexual harassment and extortion but his lawyer said the charges are a ruse to stop his work.

Jose Amaro Lopes de Sousa, known as Padre Amaro, is regarded as the successor to American nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in 2005, an emblematic case for the many conflicts over land use in resource-rich Brazil.

A police statement said that Amaro was arrested on Tuesday in the city of Anapu in northern Para state, home to a vast Amazon rainforest reserve, following a court order and eight months of investigations.

“For us, there is no doubt that behind this investigation there is a ranchers’ conspiracy aiming to make Padre Amaro’s work unfeasible,” the priest’s lawyer, Jose Batista Afonso, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday.

“Padre Amaro personifies nun Dorothy’s work … He has been receiving death threats for a long time.”

Stang often criticized cattle ranchers for seizing land illegally and destroying the rainforest, highlighting tensions between farmers and environmentalists in the top global beef exporter. Local landowners were jailed for ordering her death.

The ranchers’ union in Anapu said they had nothing to do with Amaro’s arrest, adding that about 400 police reports, including videos and witness testimonies, support the charges.

“(Amaro) held meetings in the dead of night, encouraging people to invade land and then had an illegal trade in these invaded lands,” Silverio Albano Fernandes, head of Anapu’s ranchers union, said by phone.

“He was making profit from these sales as he kept a percentage. Everybody knows it here.”

London-based campaign group Global Witness said that Brazil was the world’s most dangerous nation for land rights activists in 2016, with about 50 people killed.

About a dozen land activists have been murdered since 2005 in Anapu, where Amaro is based, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), set up by the Catholic Church to combat violence against the rural poor.

Amaro’s opponents could not kill him because of the international outcry following Stang’s shooting, and because some are still in jail, said Afonso, who works for CPT.

“Of course, the way chosen to try to nullify the priest’s work would be different,” he said.

Afonso said he will file for habeas corpus, which requires Amaro be brought to court and released unless lawful grounds can be shown for his detention.

“We hope the arrest will be revoked,” he said.


Reporting by Karla Mendes; Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-landrights-arrests/priest-campaigning-for-brazils-amazon-arrested-for-sex-crimes-and-extortion-idUSKBN1H52H6

Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.

Brazilian Campesino Leader Killed in the State of Pará

telSURetv
Published 9 July 2017

https://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/player/610027/brazilian-police-storm-mst-school/?aspectratio=auto

Almeida helped to reorganize an encampment on the Santa Lucia farm only days after the May 24 massacre of 10 campesinos.

Alemeida - Para
Líder Rosenildo Pereira de Almeida assassinado no Pará. (novonoticias.com) Felipe Pontes/Agencia Brasil Photo

Just over a month after the massacre of 10 campesinos in Pau D’arco in the Brazilian state of Para, yet another rural worker has been killed in the same region.

On Friday, 44-year-old Rosenildo Pereira de Almeida was shot and killed as he left a church in Rio Maria which is located 43 miles away from the Santa Lucia farm. According to police investigations, two masked suspects on a motorcycle fired four shots at Almeida at around 10 p.m.

Almeida was a member of the League of Poor Campesinos, according to Diario Online. He helped to reorganize an encampment on the Santa Lucia farm only days after the May 24 massacre of the campesinos.

Jose Vargas Junior, lawyer for the 10 Santa Lucia victims, stressed that Almeida was a leader of the families who returned to set up another encampment. Their aim was to force the government to include the property as part of its agrarian reform program.

Justice Global reported that Almeida, along with three other leaders of the new encampment, were marked for death.

Ten campesinos — nine men and one woman — were killed by Brazil’s military and civilian police as part of an eviction order led by state forces.

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Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN

Pará is the same state where Dorothy Stang, a U.S. born, Brazilian-naturalized nun was murdered in 2005 by armed gunmen who were contracted by ranchers. For decades, Stang worked alongside and as an advocate for campesino farmers.

In April, 10 more campesinos, including elders and young people, were murdered in an encampment situated in Colniza in the state of Mato Grosso. According to Mato Grosso’s Department of Public Safety, the massacre was committed by “hooded” gunmen.

Don’t mine sacred Native American land in Arizona.

Credo Action

dont-mine-sacred-land-180In what many believe is a first in U.S. history, Congress has decided to give away a sacred Native American site to a massive foreign mining company. (1) We’re joining a last ditch effort to save this land before copper mining begins and this land is irreversibly destroyed.

Republicans in Arizona have been attempting for years to trade away the beautiful national forest lands at Oak Flat in Arizona, which are considered holy by the Apache tribe. And until recently, they’ve failed for lack of support. But last December, in a deeply cynical and undemocratic move, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake snuck last minute language into a must-pass defense bill transferring the land directly to the Rio Tinto mining company. (2)

Apache tribal leaders are planning a caravan to Washington, D.C. this month to protest this outrageous land giveaway. We’re joining thousands of activists to help amplify their message and pressure Congress to stop the Apache land grab.

Sign the petition: Stop the Apache land grab and protect Native American holy land from copper mining.

Continue reading Don’t mine sacred Native American land in Arizona.

A list of quotations from the encyclical arranged by subject

Catholic Climate Covenant
Care for Creation: Care for the Poor

CatholicClimateCovenant.org • (202) 756-5545 • 415 Michigan Avenue NE, Suite 260 • Washington, DC 20017

This document highlights elements of Laudato Si’, or Praised Be, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on ecology. Following are excerpts from the encyclical, arranged by topic. Citations are included for your reference.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Dying World

The Problem
Policy and Political Leadership
Reality of the Problem and Necessity to Act
Your Action Matters
Climate Change
Acting More Sustainably
The Faith Perspective
Ecology and Social Justice
Consumerism
Sustainable Business
Future Generations

The Problem
The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor. (2)

The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. (21)

Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. (53)

Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. (161) Continue reading A list of quotations from the encyclical arranged by subject