Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Maya Leaders Arrested As They Peacefully Protect Sacred Site in Belize

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July 2015

Belize: Maya Leaders Arrested As They Peacefully Protect Sacred Site

Maya leaders of Southern Belize were arrested on Wednesday in a gross violation of their rights. On the early morning of June 24th, traditional leaders of the Maya people of Southern Belize were violently awoken in their homes by police on the charges of unlawful imprisonment. The charges were brought against 12 people, including the Village Chairman, and the Second Alcalde, elected by their communities according to traditional practices. Also arrested was Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) spokesperson, Cristina Coc, a peaceful and well-respected advisor to the traditional leaders and mother of two.  


Guatemala: Indigenous Activist, Political Prisoner

In Santa Cruz Barillas in Huehuetenago, Guatemala, another prominent voice in the fight against Hidralia Energia - Hidra Santa Cruz, was detained as a political prisoner by Guatemalan officials without evidence. Bernardo Ermitaño López Reyes, known as Don Taño, is a valiant advocate for Indigenous rights, willing to confront those who oppose the village's plights face-to-face. He has been a strong voice and force against the past three years of violence, repression, unconstitutional arrests, military presence, and violations of human rights in the village. Don Taño was arrested while accompanying three previously detained advocates, Arturo Pablo, Adalberto Villatoro and Francisco Juan, to a hearing regarding their arrest. He was taken as a political prisoner while outside of Barillas, and was transferred to the jail at Torre de Tribunales in Guatemala City, where he had to spend the night without food. He was detained in an arbitrary arrest without evidence, where his constitutional and human rights were not respected.


Honduras: Miguel Facussé Dies, Threat to Communities Continues

Miguel Facussé, one of the richest men in Honduras, died on June 22 at age 90. There is no doubt that he will leave behind an impressive legacy. Dinant, Facussé's multi-million dollar company that manufactures and markets snack products, detergents and biofuels such as African Palm oil, announced Facussé's death and praised his creation of economic opportunities in Honduras. The true legacy of Miguel Facussé, however, is felt not in the economic opportunities he created, but in the danger and harassment that his business operations. Locally he is known as "the palm plantation owner of death," reports Democracy Now. 


Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Withdrawal from the Maine Legislature

On May 26, 2015, the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribal delegates-Matthew Dana II and Wayne Mitchell, respectively-withdrew from the Maine legislature. Their reasons for doing so were a long list of grievances against the state of Maine involving fishing rights and, by extension, rights to Tribal sovereignty. These violations of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy rights undermined what should have been an equal, not subordinate, relationship with the state. The Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians are allocated one seat each in the Maine House of Representatives. 

Forced Closures of Aboriginal Communities in Australia Continue

In December of 2014, new funding laws in Australia began to threaten the existence of 150 remote aboriginal Australian communities throughout the country, with the largest concentration in Western Australia. The federal government claimed that it could no longer support the communities and as of June 30, 2015, no federal funding would be available for the maintenance of rural outback communities. State governments were offered one time funding deals from the federal government, giving them money to fund communities for one to two years. $90 million was offered to Western Australia, enough money to keep communities open through 2017; South Australia rejected a payment of $10 million on the basis that it was insufficient for the obligation being created. In March, Prime Minister Tony Abbott inflamed tensions surrounding the closures when he claimed that aboriginal peoples living in rural communities were making a "lifestyle choice" and that taxpayers had no obligation to support their "choice." 

Cultural Survival Launches Indigenous Rights Radio website!
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