Tag Archives: defense

Drone Demonology: Flying Robots, Cop Mustaches & Resistance in the End Times

12 Jul

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by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

The first time I ever saw a drone I was sweating my ass off, hiking jugs of water through a cactus forest to drop in remote canyons for famished migrants making the deadly trek through the Sonoran desert. U.S. Customs and Border Protection surveillance drones patrol the skies along the border with Mexico on the daily. Like any good activist I gave the drone the bird and then quickly ducked beneath a cholla, which I don’t advise doing, as it is a cactus with a reputation.

Two 10,000-pound Predator-B border patrol drones.

Two 10,000-pound Predator-B border patrol drones. These are the fellas that patrol the borderlands, from Yuma, Ariz., to Brownsville, Tex.

Since his inauguration, noble peace prize winning president Barack Obama has increased the U.S. military’s use of drones and rewritten the rules of engagement in over a dozen countries around the world. Hundreds of civilians, including swaths of children and several dozen Al Qaeda operatives have been eviscerated by remote. Even four U.S. citizens have been assassinated by drones, violating due process and habeas corpus protections in the U.S. constitution. Reports put the ratio of civilians to “suspected terrorists” killed by drone strikes at about 50 to 1, meaning roughly 98% of the deaths are “collateral damage.”     Continue reading

New Tree Sit in Tasmania

19 Dec

Check out the blog theObserverTree to get real time updates and offer support.

by CRAIG HOGGETT / The Mercury

Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened in her new tree-top home in the Styx Valley. Picture: MATT THOMPSON

[On December 14, the Tasmanian forest defense group] Still Wild Still Threatened…set up a 60m-high tree sit-in at the TN044B logging coupe near Maydena inside the 430,000ha being assessed for reserve status under the forestry peace deal.

The “Observer Tree” will be occupied by SWST’s Miranda Gibson, who was one of two activists assaulted by workers during a protest in 2008.

Speaking to the media via mobile phone from the platform, Ms Gibson said she would maintain a blog and a web camera to broadcast to the world.

“It’s a different approach because one of our major concerns is that there is a misconception out there that the forest has been protected,” Ms Gibson said. “We want people to see what is happening in the forests.”

She said she was committed to staying on the platform until logging in 13 coupes inside the area being assessed for protection stopped.

Technical difficulties prevented Ms Gibson from speaking to journalists via video-link, but SWST expect the webcast to be up in the next few days.

Senator Bob Brown yesterday used his taxpayer-funded charter allowance to hire a helicopter to allow media outlets to photograph and film the tree-sit from the air.

He said Premier Lara Giddings and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were dishonouring their own agreement by allowing Forestry Tasmania to log the coupes.

“Their word is being clear-felled by what I judge is illegal logging. If this agreement has any legal force then this logging is illegal,” Senator Brown said.

“I didn’t write this agreement, I didn’t have anything to do with it, but the Prime Minister did and the Premier did. The Prime Minister wrote to me and said these forests had been placed in informal reserves.”

Forestry Tasmania’s general manager of operations Steve Whitely said the coupe was one of 13 being logged inside the assessment area that was identified by independent schedulers as necessary for supply contracts.

He described the protest as frustrating and pointless given that forestry operations would shut down for about a month from tomorrow.

“Forestry Tasmania needs to keep operating and we need to select some coupes that are suitable to meet our customers’ needs and we’re doing that while there’s a verification process going on,” Mr Whitely said.

Ms Kerr said that she would not be deterred by the Christmas shutdown. “I’ll stay up here and keep an eye on things and be here ready when they get back,” she said.

 

 

People’s Tribunal against the Criminalization of Protest in Ecuador

29 Jun

Written by Sofía Jarrín

During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water. A letter of intention by the organizers reads, “We hope this gathering will become a permanent process of fellowship to protect water and food sovereignty, to create a new social order in harmony with nature, with justice and equity.” 

 The conference began with a visit to sites where environmental conflicts have taken place, in Cochapata and San Bartolomé, more specifically, in the southern province of Azuay, both areas affected by mining companies. The delegation was composed of the Ombudsman, representatives of national indigenous organizations, the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), Real World Radio, and a team of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International. There they witnessed cases of abuse of power by developers, often in complicity with state agencies, that are laying out mining projects despite clear opposition from the communities where they plan to implement them.

In Cochapata, for example, a community of about 7,800 people, there has been great resistance against the construction of a dam by the mining company Explorsur SA. Seven community leaders were accused of sabotage and terrorism for engaging in public protest, and were recently sentenced to eight years in prison. This occurred despite the fact that the Constituent Assembly had granted them amnesty in July 2008, recognizing their role as environmental defenders. Since then, all seven have been in hiding with serious financial and emotional consequences to their families. Unfortunately, like in many other cases, the courts favour private interests instead of communal decisions on how to manage land and water resources. Currently, there are more than 189 pending cases of terrorism and sabotage in Ecuador.

Back in 2007, at the beginning of his government, President Rafael Correa made a public statement setting the stage for what was to come. “Don’t believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist,” he said about the community of Dayuma, Orellana province, who at the was time protesting the environmental devastation in their territory that resulted from oil drilling in the region. The protest was met with police repression and 25 people were detained.
For this reason, one of the main objectives of this conference was to expose these kind of cases, thus exemplifying the ongoing criminalization of protest in Ecuador. An integral part of the conference was a Court of Ethics that analyzed “the criminalization of defenders of human rights and nature.” This people’s court took place on Wednesday, June 22, with the presence a jury of four international authorities: Elsie Monge (Ecumenical Commission of Human Rights, CEDHU, Ecuador), Raul Zibechi (writer and journalist, Uruguay), Leah Isabel Alvear (poet and academic, Colombia), and Mary Hamlin (International Movement for People’s Health). They listened to more than four hours of testimonies and 17 cases of people accused of terrorism.
“Democracy can only be guaranteed when citizens are guaranteed their rights to protest and resistance,” testified Ramiro Avila, a lawyer and professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. “These laws are being used to suppress protest and should be immediately repealed.” Avila explained that the law under which the right to protest is criminalized in Ecuador dates back to the early republic, based on the Penal Code of 1920.

The current government of Ecuador, under President Correa, is driving an aggressive development program that is fueling social conflicts all around the country, mostly around mining and oil industries and the control of water sources. Unlike other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, large-scale mining is new to Ecuador and it’s expected to have severe consequences to its many ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, there are 1990 registered mining concessions in the country, causing serious concerns among civil society, particularly campesinos and indigenous people. “The social leaders are speaking out to defend their human rights, but instead of welcoming them the State is criminalizing their right to protest,” said Fernando Gutierrez, the National Ombudsman.
The most prominent case is that of four top indigenous leaders, all of them charged with terrorism and sabotage: Pepe Acacho, vice president of the National Confederation of Indigenous People (CONAIE), Marlon Santi, ex-president of CONAIE; Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Kichwa Conferedation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI); and Marco Guatemal, president of Indigenous and Campesino Federation of Imbabura (FICI). They were tried for participating in marches against the Water and Mining Acts during the ALBA Summit in Otavalo in June 2010.
“Is it a crime to defend the water? Is it a crime to defend Mother Earth?” said Carlos Perez, an indigenous leader of Azuay. “Ecuador was pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, thus the Constitution should be above a criminal code created in times of a dictatorship.” Ecuador was the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution of 2008.
The jury’s decision did not make itself wait. The verdict given was resolute, not only in acknowledging that people opposed to the government’s extractive activities are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and criminalization in Ecuador, but that the State is directly responsible for promoting and maintaining this situation. “These cases confirm that there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it,” reads the verdict. “While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature.”
It furthermore recommends that the President refrains from making public statements that “delegitimizes and stigmatizes” defenders of nature and human rights. To the judicial powers it recommends to comply with the amnesty granted by the Constituent Assembly in 2008 to all people prosecuted of crimes against the State under a ambiguous Penal Code that is largely considered obsolete.
Although this Court of Ethics does not have jurisdictional powers, it does hope to fill up the space created by the State’s omissions of abuses committed against peaceful social protesters and its exoneration of private companies “that operate in the country with impunity.” Correa´s government has yet to pronounce itself before the court’s decision.
Cross-posted from here

Earth First! Drivers Ed Graphic: 30 Years of Radical Vehicular Blockades

13 Apr

A Sampling of 30 Years of Radical Vehicular Blockades from Australia, the UK and the US. Click the image for the full .pdf