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Stories from and

Documenting the Struggles of Papuans in Indonesia

Papuan Voices is a video advocacy initiative that highlights the struggles of the people of West Papua, a province of Indonesia. West Papua has been struggling to be an independent state although this conflict from Indonesia is not widely reported in the media.

papuan_voices

Video: Amazon Indigenous Tribe Protests Hydroelectric Dam Construction

Indigenous people from the Munduruku ethnic group are fighting against the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam in the state of Pará, Brazil. The dam will mean the flooding of 700,000 km2 in their homeland.

The Brazilian Federal Government plans to build up to five dams in the Tapajós River, where dozens of indigenous communities live. Together with São Luiz do Tapajós, the Jatobá dam was due to begin construction in 2015, but socio-environmental difficulties may have postponed that deadline to at least 2020. The two dams will cost together US$7 billion.

The Munduruku claim they have not been consulted about the project. For years, the Munduruku people from the Sawré Maybu community, which will be directly affected by the construction of São Luiz do Tapajós dam, have pressured the federal government to demarcate their lands. The demarcation would create a legal obstacle for the continuation of the dam's project.

A documentary about the issue was produced by videomaker Nayana Fernandez.

UPDATE 09/12/2014: Together with other organizations, Nayana Fernandez has launched a crowfunding campaign to help the Munduruku pressure the government to demarcate their territory, officialize two associations, build a website and translate and dub the documentary into their native language (most Mundurku people do not speak Portuguese). Supporters can contribute with a minimum of US$10. 

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

Video Animation Explains How Principle of “Free Prior and Informed Consent” Can Empower Indigenous Peoples

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has uploaded a video animation explaining the principle of “Free prior and informed consent” or how communities should have the right to decide for the development of their lands.

Describing Pain in Hospitals Without Indigenous Language Services

Mexico

Image on flickr by user Buen Rumbo ((CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Without medical professionals fluent in indigenous languages or without proper interpretation services in Mexican hospitals, there is a risk that patients will not be able to adequately describe what ails them, writes Yásnaya Aguilar in her regular blog column for EstePaís. She provides examples how the Mixe language allows her to more accurately describe her pain to a nurse or doctor that can speak the same language, and how a translation into Spanish can still be somewhat limiting. She writes,

En mixe por ejemplo tengo un conjunto de palabras distinto para nombrar el dolor físico: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp… Apenas hallo equivalentes para alguna en español. Las diferencias todavía son más grandes y hay momentos en los que sólo puedo describir un dolor en español o sólo alcanzo a nombrarlo en mixe. Hablar ambas lenguas me permite tener a mi servicio un inventario más nutrido de palabras para describir mi dolor, aunque en general, cuando algo me duele mucho, el mixe toma el control de mis pensamientos.

For example, in mixe I have a group of distinct words available to me to describe physical pain: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp. I'm barely able to find the equivalent words for these words in Spanish. The differences are very large and there are times when I can only describe the pain in Spanish and there are other times when I can only describe the pain in Mixe. Being able to speak both languages allows me to have at my disposal a richer inventory of words to describe my pain, although generally, when something is causing me a lot of pain, the Mixe language takes control of my thoughts.

The universal right to health care cannot be guaranteed when the majority of hospitals have no medical practitioners that speak indigenous languages and because interpretation can only go so far since they do not have the same knowledge of the human body. And she adds that this could potentially cause misdiagnoses and without these language services, “there is no way to build bridges of empathy and to effectively understand that your ‘it hurts’ could also be the same as mine.”

COP20: Responsibilities of Capitalism On Climate Change

The 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP20/CMP10) was held in Lima between December 1 to 12, and was chaired by the host country, Peru. During the conference, Bolivian president Evo Morales, emphatically appealed to consider climate change as a direct consequence of capitalist system and urged industrialized countries to accept the consequences of their actions:

Evo Morales urges to listen to indigenous people and to fight against capitalism during COP20.

Damián Profeta sums up the ten main points of Morales’ speech, and he highlisghts:

- ‘Hay que crear un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática’ [encargada de] ‘juzgar a países que no cumplen sus compromisos y los tratados internacionales y a los que hacen mucho daño al ambiente’ [...]
- ‘Que el sistema capitalista asuma su responsabilidad en el cambio climático’ [...]
- ‘En la lucha contra el Cambio Climático los países del Norte nos han llevado a un terreno infecundo’ [...]
- ‘El medio ambiente debe ser administrado comunitariamente porque la naturaleza misma es comunitaria’

- An International Court of Climate Justice [in charge of] judging countries that don't fulfil their obligations and international treaties and those who harm environment a lot must be implemented [...]
- The capitalist systema should take responsibility on climate change [...].
- In the fight against climate change, the Northern countries have taken us to a sterile ground [...]
- Environment must be managed communally, as nature itself is communal

Some Twitter users answered reminding him his actions about the construction of a highway along the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS):

Evo proposes community property to save the planet? OK, let's stop the highway across TIPNIS and individual property by coca growers.

Recreating Life of Comechingon People

Villa de Merlo, in the province of San Luis, was home of one of many indigenous communities that settled in the territory of what we now know as the Republic of Argentina. Wenceslao Bottaro tells us about the Theme Park Yucat Land of Comechingones, which teach us about this culture:

[el parque] es un emprendimiento familiar basado en una investigación histórica. La idea del parque es poder dar a conocer a los visitantes la historia humana de las sierras de los comechingones, rescatando la cultura, las costumbres y los saberes del pueblo comechingón, antiguos habitantes de la región del valle donde en la actualidad se asienta Villa de Merlo.

[the park] is a family undertaking base on historical research. The idea of the park is to make visitors know human history in the highlands of the Comechingones, rescuing their culture, customs and knowledge of the Comechingon people, who used to live in the region of the valley where Villa de Merlo is located today.

Fotografía extraída del blog Blucansendel, utilizada con autorización

Photo from the blog Blucansendel, used with permission.

The park is named after Yucat, one of the caciques (chiefs), and has 18 stations that can be visited with the assistance of audio guides in Spanish and English. Thus, tourists are able to find out different historical and cultural aspects of the Comechingones’ life. Aside from learning about their culture and customs, visitors can enjoy nature and typical flora, such as carob trees, chañars, iguana Hackberry, espinillos, piquillines and molles, all part of the natural scenery there. The region also provides other leisure opportunities, such as zip-lines.

You can follow Wenceslao Bottaro on Twitter.

This post was part of the 27th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs) on November 3, 2014.

Blogger Argues Corporate Sponsorship Cheapening Bangaldeshi Folk Culture

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, also known as Lalon Shah (c.1774–1890), a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Cheuria, Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

If we look back the history of Bangladesh, we see examples of ancient kings and land lords who sponsored cultural activities, making literature, music and art flourish in the region. In the present era, we see affluent corporations, mostly telecom companies in Bangladesh, taking their place.

They have been going the extra mile to sponsor a wide variety of cultural pursuits, including a rural festival celebrating Fakir Lalon Shah (c. 1774–1890), a popular Bengali baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and thinker, but not always with positive reception.

Zahid Islam at the blog Alal O Dulal explains how corporations are selling the Lalon culture:

In 2007 for the first time in history, Lalon Phokir’s Dol Uthshob (Lalon's Dol Festival) was held under sponsorship, with promotion campaigns so aggressive and ill designed it disgusts me to even remember it. Since then Grameenphone and Banglalink (telecom brands) took turns in sponsoring the festivals.

He also mentions that Lalon festival is getting a modern shape under corporate banner:

The first time around, those of us who had been visiting Cheuria for many years, were shocked to find the sponsorship junks.

And the need to protect their sanctity:

There are many people and organisations, home and abroad, that feel we need to “protect” the baul way of life. I do not necessarily agree with this notion. Rather I feel our intervention is what creates most of the “problems.”

Film Shows How a Malaysian Tribe is Stopping Loggers from Destroying their Land

selungoSunset Over Selungo is a 30-minute film documenting how the indigenous Penan tribe is defending the remaining rainforest of Borneo island in Malaysia. Borneo is the largest island in Asia. The film was made by independent British filmmaker Ross Harrison

Digital Library of Traditional Philippine Healing Practices

philippine_health_researchInitiated by several government agencies, the Philippine Traditional Knowledge Digital Library on Health (TKDL-Health) seeks to document and digitize indigenous health practices in the country.

The communities, characteristically living in the mountains or their fringes, have depended mostly on plants and other natural products from the forest to prevent or treat sickness. But environmental degradation and the onslaught of lowland mainstream cultures now threaten their healing traditions.

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