Categories Archives: Culture of Resistance

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Water: Southwest Coalition Statement of Commitment and Call for Allies

By Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition

            Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over. —Mark Twain

More than any other area of North America, the Southwest faces water shortages just as demands for water increase. These colliding forces are inevitable products of industrial civilization. Deep Green Resistance chapters across the Southwest recognize the imminent catastrophe. We view the protection of ground and surface water, and the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights to their water and landbase, as critically important. We declare water preservation and justice as our primary focus.

Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition is a confederation of DGR action groups located in the southwest region of North America. While each group focuses on ecological and social justice issues specific to their region, as a Coalition we work together to reinforce each group’s efforts. Our members include:

Deep Green Resistance Colorado Plateau

Deep Green Resistance Sonoran

Deep Green Resistance Colorado

Deep Green Resistance Great Basin

Deep Green Resistance Chaparral

Great Basin Spring, Goshute Reservation

Great Basin Spring, Goshute Reservation

The Increasingly Arid Southwest

The region is among the driest areas in the world. The southwest receives only 5-15 inches of rainfall a year[1] and nearly all climate models predict an increase in both aridity and flooding with global warming.[2] As increasing temperatures force the jet stream further north and more surface water is evaporated (notably in desert reservoirs like Lake Powell where an average 860,000 acre-feet of water—about 8 percent of the Colorado River’s annual flow—is lost every year),[3] overall precipitation is decreasing even as summer storms paradoxically become more intense. And there is no margin of safety from which civilization can draw—the Colorado River, for example, is already fully allocated; all the water is claimed.[4]

Agriculture is far and away the largest water consumer: California’s Imperial Irrigation District consumes 3.1 million acre-feet of Colorado River water every year, compared to the rest of Southern California, which gets only 1.3 million.[5] Large amounts of water are also used for oil and gas drilling—an estimated 100,000 gallons per fracked well[6]—and coal mining and burning.

LakeMeadWaterLevel

Ken Dewey, climate.gov

The water shortage is already wreaking havoc among wildlife. In California, the drought is partially implicated in the deaths of tens of thousands of native waterfowl. As water sources dry, birds congregate around remaining oases like fountains and irrigation ditches. In such close quarters, disease spreads quickly. Other victims of water scarcity in California include scores of thousands of bark beetle-killed trees—so much so that these results “herald a region in ecological transition.”[10] Unsurprisingly, 2015 is among the worst California fire seasons ever.This year, twelve western states declared drought emergencies.[7] On April 25, 2015, the largest US reservoir, Lake Mead, dropped to an historic low of 1,080 feet. That record surpassed the previous low set last August; Mead has never been lower since it was filled in the 1930s.[8] These conditions are unlikely to improve. In spring of 2015, snowpack in the Sierra Mountains measured at just 5 percent of normal.[9]

Desperate Measures

These unprecedented changes are driving ever more desperate and costly projects, such as the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s planned multi-billion-dollar pipeline project in eastern Nevada’s and western Utah’s arid basin and range country. If completed, the project would pump billions of gallons of groundwater to Las Vegas, threatening the Goshute Indian reservation, the livelihoods of ranchers, many rare endemic species, and the land itself.[11]

A proposed California water pipeline may move as much as 7.5 million acre feet of northern California water south a year. It was just revised to include only a third of the originally planned habitat protection, re-allocating water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Situated between California’s wetter north and its dry and populous south, the delta contains one of California’s largest remaining wetlands, home of green sturgeon, steelhead, and endangered Delta smelt.[12] More extreme are plans to siphon off some of Canada’s abundant water to California.[13] As drought and demand continue their increasing arcs, however, these desperate plans for massive water transfers become more acceptable to many.

The Only Sane Response

The government-industry axis takes water from the less powerful, regardless of any natural rights such groups may have.[14] This cannot continue, not even beyond the very short term. When the unstoppable force of increasing demand for water—continuing without limit—meets the immovable object of shrinking water supplies, environmental devastation and injustice swiftly follows.

DGR Southwest Coalition supports any protective or restorative action for ground and surface water, including the removal of dams and reservoirs by any means necessary. At the same time, we advocate for and support the dismantling of the systems (capitalism specifically and industrial civilization generally) as the only strategic way to safeguard the planet, and to keep it from degrading into a barren, lifeless husk. These are daunting tasks, no doubt, even if we limit our focus to the southwest; and yet, it’s a critical calling for all of us who care for life and justice.

We are reaching out to others who also view water protection and justice as values worth fighting for. For example, preserving instream flows (what’s left in a stream channel after other allocations) and groundwater protection—from fracking, from water mining, from surface contamination. We offer whatever expertise and resources we can muster, and all the passion we have, for our landbase. We’re ready to work with those who struggle with these problems; we’re also ready to take on whatever role is necessary in support of their fights.

This fight should be shared. Please contact us so we can network with you in pursuit of water, justice, and life.

swcoalition@deepgreenresistance.org

[1] C. Daly, R.P. Neilson, and D.L. Phillips, 1994. “A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain,” J. Appl. Meteor., 33(2), 140-158, as displayed in http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/pcpn/westus_precip.gif

[2] Melanie Lenart, “Precipitation Changes,” Southwest Climate Change Network, September 18, 2008,  http://www.southwestclimatechange.org/node/790#references

[3] “Glen Canyon Dam,” Wikipedia, accessed December 10, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Canyon_Dam. An acre-foot is about 325,853 US gallons.

[4] Brett Walton, “In Drying Colorado River Basin, Indian Tribes Are Water Dealmakers,” Circle of Blue, July 1, 2015, http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/in-drying-colorado-river-basin-indian-tribes-are-water-dealmakers/

[5] Tony Perry, “Despite drought, water flowing freely in Imperial Valley,” Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drought-imperial-valley-20150412-story.html

[6] Rory Carroll, “Fracking In California Used 70 Million Gallons Of Water In 2014,” Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/02/fracking-california-water_n_6997324.html

[7] Elizabeth Shogren, “Senate considers legislation to help the West store and conserve water,” High Country News, June 3, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/california-farmers-fear-irrigation-water-will-go-to-salmon-instead

[8] Sarah Tory, “Canadian water for California’s drought?” High Country News, April 28, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/could-canadas-water-solve-californias-drought-1

[9] Ben Goldfarb, “Fowl play: California’s drought fingered in bird deaths,” High Country News, April 2, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/fowl-play-californias-drought-fingered-in-bird-deaths

[10] Keith Schneider, “California Fire Danger Mounts in Sierra Nevada Forests,” Circle of Blue, July 10, 2015, http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/as-california-drought-rebalances-sierra-forests-fire-danger-mounts/

[11] Stephen Dark, “Last Stand: Goshutes battle to save their sacred water,” Salt Lake City Weekly, May 9, 2012, http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-35-15894-last-stand.html?current_page=all

[12] Kate Schimel, “Gov. Brown slashes Sacramento Delta environmental protection,” High Country News, May 7, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/gov-jerry-brown-slashes-delta-environmental-protection

[13] Sarah Tory, “Canadian water for California’s drought?” High Country News, April 28, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/could-canadas-water-solve-californias-drought-1

[14] Ed Becenti, “Senate Bill 2109 Seeks to Extinguish Navajo and Hopi Water Rights,” Native News Network, April 4, 2012, http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/senate-bill-2109-seeks-to-extinguish-navajo-and-hopi-water-rights.html

 

Tamarisk control slowly pays off

Diorhabda carinulata, the Tamarisk Beetle

Diorhabda carinulata, the Tamarisk Beetle

It took decades for invasive tamarisk trees to overtake waterways across much of the West, and local weed control experts say that it could take decades more for willows and other native trees to adequately recover.

While researchers have come to different conclusions about the impacts that tamarisk has on wildlife and water availability, there is no doubt that the plant has greatly changed the region’s streams and rivers.

Read more at Moab Sun News.

Diné plan to block access for uranium transport

Originally posted on Southwest Earth First!:

Protect Mt. Taylor: No Uranium Mining On Sacred Lands!

From the Albuquerque Journal:

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A uranium mining company seeking a mineral lease on state land in northwestern Arizona could have a hard time transporting the ore off-site because of the Navajo Nation’s objections to an industry that left a legacy of death and disease among tribal members.

The section of land in Coconino County is surrounded by the Navajo Nation’s Big Boquillas Ranch. The tribe has said it will not grant Wate Mining Company LLC permission to drive commercial trucks filled with chunks of uranium ore across its land to be processed at a milling site in Blanding, Utah.

The Navajo Nation was the site of extensive uranium mining for weapons during the Cold War. Although most of the physical hazards, including open mine shafts, have been fixed at hundreds of sites, concerns of radiation hazards remain.

The tribe banned uranium mining on its lands…

View original 396 more words

Call for solidarity actions on Tuesday November 27th

Originally posted on unistotencamp:

Raising Resistance: Solidarity with the Unist’ot’en.
Call for actions on Tuesday November 27th

Traduction Francaise ici: http://montreal.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/14663

————————————————–
UPDATES(keep checking back)
Or on Facebook here
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* To promote and follow the actions on social media use #nopipelines
* Click here to download info leaflet that can be handed out, version francaise
* Press release link here
* After the action, email your photos and videos to hwalia8@gmail.com and post them to: https://www.facebook.com/unistoten

List of actions on Tues Nov 27th:

Trinidad: Canadian High Commission at 10:30 am. 3-3A Sweet Briar Rd., St. Clair, Port of Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Organized by Rights Action Group and Trini Eco Warriors.

Chico, California: Noon at Kinder Morgan Chico Terminal, 2570 Hegan Lane.

Edmonton: Noon at Royal Bank, 10843 82 Avenue Northwest. FB event here.

Hamilton: Noon at Royal Bank, Jackson Square. FB event here.

Kamloops: Noon in front…

View original 1,650 more words

Opposition mounts as first tar sands mine in US gets a green light, by Melanie Jae Martin

Activists in Utah crafted this sign with bitumen found in pools on the ground at an abandoned tar sands mine. Photo courtesy Before It Starts, via Flickr.

Thanks for Waging Nonviolence (http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/09/opposition-mounts-as-first-tar-sands-mine-in-us-gets-a-green-light/) for this article.

Last week, a new front opened in the struggle against tar sands mining in the U.S. If you didn’t know that tar sands mining is in the works on this side of the border in the first place, you’re not alone. Most people don’t realize that tar sands extraction, which has caused tremendous pollution and environmental degradation in Canada, has crossed the border to U.S. soil, where it has taken root in Utah.

Activists on both sides of the border have been working fervently to halt the spread of tar sands in Canada and the piping of tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas. Beginning with Tar Sands Action’s mass arrests outside the White House in August 2011, followed by the Indigenous Environmental Network’s protests at the climate talks in Durban that December, activists have made Canadian tar sands mining and the Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico a high-profile issue this past year.

Now, direct action campaigns like the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas are continuing the effort to stop construction of the southern leg of the pipeline by disrupting business as usual for the oil industry. The threat of tar sands mining in the U.S., however, complicates the struggle. It forces geographically divergent groups to either divide their efforts or find ways to unite across vast distances. That’s why groups like Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Before It Starts are forming a strategy that can join, as well as compliment, the tornado of opposition that has formed against the tar sands industry.

Before It Starts — co-founded by Ashley Anderson, who began Peaceful Uprising with Tim DeChrisopher in 2009 — is focusing primarily on national outreach, while Utah Tar Sands Resistance is focusing on forging local and regional coalitions. In both groups, activists who have experience in nonviolent direct action are prepared to ramp up efforts when the time is right. Thus far, however, the struggle has mainly been waged in the courtroom.

This two-acre mine is just the beginning of U.S. Oil Sands’ plans for the region. Photo courtesy Before It Starts, via Flickr.

The environmental group Living Rivers initiated a legal challenge in 2010 to halt the progress of what’s set to become the first commercial tar sands mine in the U.S. — a forested area in Eastern Utah called PR Spring, which the state has leased a portion of to the Canadian mining company U.S. Oil Sands. Living Rivers has contested the company’s permit to dump wastewater at the mine, but last week, the judge — an employee of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality — sided with U.S. Oil Sands, granting it the right to pour toxic wastewater into the remote wilderness of eastern Utah.

The case hinged on whether or not PR Spring contains groundwater. In the hearing back in May, U.S. Oil Sands argued that the land holds no groundwater, which means that polluting the land wouldn’t contaminate water systems. But according to engineering geologist Elliott Lips, who spoke as a witness for Living Rivers, the land holds numerous seeps and springs, which the toxic tailings would pollute before either continuing to flow into rivers or percolating downward into the Mesa Verde aquifer. Ultimately, the judge was satisfied knowing that the company had conducted its own tests and would have reported water if it had found any.

Raphael Cordray, co-founder of the Utah Tar Sands Resistance, explains that tar sands mining would be incredibly destructive in a number of ways, such as polluting water, lowering river levels and destroying diverse ecosystems. “There’s so much wild land in our state, and that’s something I’m proud of,” she said. “That’s our legacy. And it’s a treasure for the whole world. Some of these places they’re trying to mine are so unique that if more people realized they existed, they’d certainly be considered national parks.”

To catalyze mass resistance, the group plans to lead trips to the site. “Helping people experience the majesty of this land firsthand will show people how much is at stake, and move them to take a stronger stand,” said Utah Tar Sands Resistance co-founder Lionel Trepanier.

Together with activists from Peaceful Uprising and Living Rivers, Utah Tar Sands Resistance visited the PR Spring site two weeks ago, and members returned home ready to ramp up efforts to halt the mining. As a member of both groups, I went along on the trip, because I wanted to see firsthand what the land looked like and whether the mining company’s claims about the absence of groundwater were accurate.

As it turns out, they couldn’t be more false. Water has etched its presence into this land, leaving creek beds that may run low at times but never go away. And clearly, the area holds plenty of water to support the large herds of deer and elk, as well as the aspen, Douglas firs and pinyon pines that make up the dense forest covering much of the land.

The surrounding forest is threatened by U.S. Oil Sands expansion. Photo courtesy Before It Starts, via Flickr.

This vibrant green scenery was juxtaposed by the two-acre strip mine just feet away from the forest’s edge. The difference between life and death could not have been more stark. Looking into the face of such destruction, I realized it’s no longer about saving the ecosystem, or saving our water — it’s about saving life on Earth. But that kind of effort isn’t possible without a broad movement behind it.

According to Lionel Trepanier, the groups working on this issue are looking to Texas’ Tar Sands Blockade as a model for building a broad coalition that includes “diverse groups of people like ranchers, hunters, the Indigenous community and climate justice activists.”

“I think we so often assume that someone won’t agree with us just because they seem different from us, when they could be our biggest ally,” said Cordray. “We’re committed to breaking down those barriers formed by fear of reaching out, and approaching people as human beings who need clean water and a healthy environment just as much as we do.”

While still in the first leg of its campaign to stop tar sands and oil shale mining, the group is reaching out with its teach-in and slideshow presentation to a wide range of outdoors retailers, religious communities and groups concerned about environmental quality in the city. When they handed out flyers and spoke with attendees at a recent Nature Conservancy film screening, they were surprised at how many people in the seemingly politically moderate, middle-class crowd were outraged at the prospect of tar sands mining coming to Utah.

An elk herd grazes along the ridgeline near the U.S. Oil Sands mine. Photo courtesy Before It Starts, via Flickr.

“People are genuinely shocked this is happening,” said Trepanier. “They just want some direction, some guidance.”

After the Utah Tar Sands Resistance secures a vehicle to use for the trips, they’ll invite people at the teach-ins to attend, and will bring as many as possible to the site. They feel that being in nature together will break down barriers, helping them to see each other not as the labels society assigns them, but as human beings who are mutually dependent on the ecosystem, and on each other.

To raise awareness and empower people to join a coalition that ultimately aims to halt the destruction of tar sands and equally-destructive oil shale mining, Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Peaceful Uprising have been working together on creative methods of outreach. In April, they staged a flash mob dubbed Citizens’ Public Hearing in the office of the state agency leasing out public land for tar sands mining. Dozens of people flooded the office, where a woman playing an elementary school student announced that she had called a public hearing to expose the agency’s misguided decision to let state lands be destroyed. They also performed a similar street play, called Bringing Science Lessons to the Governor, outside the governor’s mansion when he held a luncheon to talk energy policy with four other Western governors.

Members are now building a “tar sands monster,” a Frankenstein-inspired creature who never wanted to be pulled from the earth to pollute the waters, which they believe will make an attention-getting mascot for their efforts. The activists also plan to use online videos of their theatrical endeavors as an outreach tool to get activists across the country thinking about joining them in their struggle when the time is right.

Uniting a diverse range of people such as activists, farmers, landowners and outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom may have not previously thought of themselves as activists, will be important, as this is only the beginning of proposed tar sands operations in the U.S. The state agency (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA) that leased the PR Spring site to U.S. Oil Sands holds pockets of land scattered around the state, which it may lease for tar sands and oil shale mining.

The Bureau of Land Management is also considering leasing nearly 2.5 million acres of public land throughout Utah, Wyoming and Colorado for tar sands and oil shale mining. Much of this would overlap with indigenous land or is in close proximity to national parks and other protected areas.

In the meantime, Living Rivers will likely appeal the decision to let U.S. Oil Sands dump wastewater into the land. Its success, however, will be determined by the extent to which groups like Utah Tar Sands Resistance can educate and empower the general public. Such a base of support, like the one that has formed in Texas, will not only pose a challenge to fossil fuel interests, but also help to usher in a new era of environmental justice.

From DGR News: Judge throws out Quechan injunction against wind farm project threatening ancestral sites

 

Image by Pattern Energy, with inserts by Jim Pelley

By Ahni / Intercontinental Cry

A Federal judge has thrown out the Quechan Nation’s request for an injunction against the controversial Ocotillo Express Wind Project in western Imperial County, California.

The Quechan filed for the injunction on May 14, just three days after the Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, gave “fast-track” approval for the project. The Quechan complaint stated that the Department of Interior, in approving the project, “violated… federal laws, regulations, and policies including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA); National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA); National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); Administrative Procedures Act (APA); and the CDCA [The California Desert Conservation Area] Plan.”

The complaint went on to explain that the massive 10,150-acre project area contains 287 archaeological sites including geoglyphs, petroglyphs, sleeping circles and other sites of spiritual significance; thousands of artifacts, and at least 12 burial (an exhaustive survey has not been carried out).

Construction of the 112-turbine project would utterly devastate these sites.

Furthermore, the project jeopardizes the delicate desert ecosystem which is “home to the Federally endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and the flat-tailed horned lizard, a perennial candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act,” says Chris Clarke, Director of Desert Biodiversity. “The turbines on the site would stand 450 feet tall with blades more than 180 feet long. With blades of that length, if the turbines spin at a leisurely 10 rpm the speed of the blade tips will approach 140 miles per hour, a serious threat to the region’s migratory birds — including the protected golden eagle,” he continues.

A day after filing for an injunction, on May 15, Quechan Tribal Council President Kenny Escalanti issued this statement outside the offices of Pattern Energy, the company behind the project.

He also spoke at a press conference alongside environmentalists and area residents in which he calls on President Obama to meet with tribal leaders and halt the destruction of sacred sites.

Robert Scheid, Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, spoke at the same press conference, calling on people across America to seek a national moratorium on industrial-scale energy projects on public lands. “Viejas leaders have asked to meet with President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar”, reports East County Magazine “to share concerns over violations of laws that are supposed to protect tribal cultural resources; but have received no response”.

With the denial of the Quechan petition, Pattern Energy can now proceed with their construction plans without restraint. And they aren’t wasting any time. A new website documenting the daily destruction of the Ocotillo desert has just been launched: www.SaveOcotillo.picturepush.com.

If the construction is completed, the wind turbines will spin for no more than 30 years.

From Intercontinental Cry: http://intercontinentalcry.org/judge-denies-quechan-injunction-controversial-wind-project/

Wild Roots, Feral Futures–4th Annual Rewilding & Eco-Defense Gathering

Wild Roots Feral Futures is an informal, completely free and non-commercial, and loosely organized event operating on (less than a) shoe-string budget, formed entirely off of donated, scavenged, or liberated supplies and sustained through 100% volunteer effort.

This year, we are reaching out to the greater community in an appeal for funding donations. All proceeds go directly to acquiring essential collective supplies and food, as well as reimbursing trainers, speakers, teachers, performers, medics, and others who are traveling long distances to provide us with their services, knowledge, skills, and expertise.

Donation records & expense reports will be openly reviewed on the ground at Wild Roots Feral Futures by the organizers’ collective and any other attendees/participants interested in such transparency and accountability.Every dollar helps. Thank you in advance!

Beauty

The living storm passed over the Colorado Plateau today, raking the sandstone canyons with rain and snow virgas, and the sun set among steel gray clouds, painting the faintest wispy shreds a bright orange.  What more could anyone want, except that gross pile of tomorrow’s garbage we’re told to want?  Every cell in me loves this harsh land.  Who am I if I don’t rise up and defend it from the fools and thieves that seek to gut it for a few more moments of illusory wealth?

Cultures of Resistance

The book Deep Green Resistance studies the American Civil Rights Movement, the British Women’s Social and Political Union, and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. All these “cultures of resistance” provide loyal support for their members, so they may do the difficult work of demanding social and political change. I’ve looked into a few other such cultures and offer them here:

An excellent example is the diverse resistance put up by many ethnic minorities to Burma’s military dictatorship. The State Law and Restoration Council (SLORC), a military junta of General Ne Win, took control of Burma in 1962 and renamed it Myanmar. Already troubled by decades of British colonialism and a 1942 Japanese invasion, Burma’s diverse peoples—Rohingya, Karen, Padaung, Mons, Kachins, Akha, many more—were subjected to enslavement, rape, forced prostitution, all the usual manner of violence committed by the powerful against the powerless.

The military government also (as usual) sold off great swaths of forest to foreign timber companies, and seized slaves and land for other economic enterprises like railroads and agriculture. The Burmese human-rights disaster is somewhat well-known for the politician Aung San Suu Kyi, kept under arrest by the SLORC despite her overwhelming 1990 election win. The movie Beyond Rangoon also has publicized this struggle. Though exactly the sort of entrenched oppression supposedly condemned by the West, the very opposite of democracy, no serious intervention was ever mounted from outside Burma. One reason, perhaps, is that the SLORC’s business partners were familiar to anyone in the US: Amoco, Texaco, and PepsiCo, then owners of Pepsi-Cola, Taco Bell, Frito Lay, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. Admiring the bravery of Aung San Suu Kyi is one thing—she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her devoted, nonviolent activism—divesting from an obscure overseas horror when there’s cash to be made, quite another.

Though there were some UN efforts to alleviate the suffering in Burma, by and large the people were on their own. There would be no cavalcade of outraged freedom fighters taking on the SLORC or its army, the Tatmadaw, on behalf of the 300,000 Rohingya refugees forcibly displaced into desperate camps in neighboring Bangladesh. It’s frankly impossible for most people in the US to imagine just how terrifying this sort of frontier resource warfare really is; I surely can’t begin to grasp it. Human rights activist Edith T. Mirante writes: “[T]he Refugees described a systematic campaign of terror-rape by the Tatmadaw. A military buildup in the area had apparently been accompanied by one of the largest-scale uses of tactical rape in Asia since Japan’s 1937 occupation of Nanking, China. It is worth noting that present-day [1993] Burma is ruled by a general trained under that same Japanese fascist military.” Women and young girls from the frontier zones were also abducted and sold to Thai brothels. They were advertised as being “AIDS free,” but as Mirante writes, “they don’t remain AIDS free for long.”

Women traditionally held positions of respect within their pre-colonial communities, and this carried forward into the resistance to the military dictatorship. The Shan people believed a woman’s bullet could defeat an enemy’s defensive magic, and I daresay they were right. Mon women—the Mon are a Buddhist people—served in the rebel army in combat roles, “perhaps inspired by Chama Devi, queen of an ancient Mon empire.” There was scarcely anything so fearsome to Burma’s tribal people as a tattooed woman with a gun. A well-organized, complementary non-violent strategy played an important role, as well: “[E]thnic minority women in exile have worked tirelessly to make people in other countries aware of Burma’s plight. Shan, Karen, Kachins, Pa-O, and other female activists have organized demonstrations around the world, lobbied governments and international organizations for refugee aid, and publicized issues like the destruction of Burma’s rain forests and the threats of AIDS and forced prostitution.”

A similar coalition of indigenous peoples in Canada has recently formed to fight tar sands pipelines and oil tanker traffic in the lands and waters that have sustained them for thousands of years. In a rare, breathtaking show of solidarity, “more than 130 First Nations governments in western Canada have firmly declared that they do not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and that they will not support such projects anywhere in the traditional territories of opposed First Nations; as a result, there is unprecedented unified opposition to both the Enbridge and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker projects,” according to West Coast Environmental Law. Canada’s tar sands mines are so outrageously destructive, so obviously the last desperate grasping of the end of the oil age, that opposition is finally beginning to match the scale of the psychopathology driving such activity. The coalition-building and superb organizing is a model to be admired and duplicated.

In a very different part of the world, the alliance Moskitia Asia Takanka has defended the tropical Moskitia rainforest and Patuca River from the occupying Honduran government for thirty-five years. As the international human rights group Cultural Survival notes, “For 3,000 years, Indigenous people have plied their dugout canoes up and down the Patuca River, the central artery of Honduras’ vast Moskitia lowland rainforest. On its rich floodplain they grow cocoa, oranges, rice, beans, cassava, and other crops for subsistence and sale, and its fish provide a vital source of protein. ‘The river is our life,’ says Lorenzo Tinglas, president of the Tawahka people’s governing council. ‘Any threat to the Patuca is a threat to four Indigenous Peoples—the Tawahka, Pech, Miskitu, and Garifuna—and we will fight to the death to protect it.’”

Danielle DeLuca writes in Cultural Survival Quarterly: “Despite years of protest from local Indigenous Peoples and international environmental groups, in January 2011 the Honduras government signed a contract with a Chinese company to start construction on the first of three dams that would have many irreversible consequences in the Moskitia, Central America’s most biologically diverse tropical wilderness…[C]ommunities are fighting for their futures as dam construction gets underway.”

There are plenty more examples: The 1980s militant resistance of the Bougainville islanders to a copper and gold mine owned by industrial giant Rio Tinto-Zinc and the Papua New Guinean government, that successfully closed the mine. This struggle was popularized in the documentary film The Coconut Revolution, and is fascinating not only because the small Bougainville population took on the Papua New Guinea Army and won, using resources like coconut oil for diesel fuel, but for its tidy representation of every facet of the global situation: their landbase was being destroyed for a limited resource they themselves had no use for, their water was being poisoned and they had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, commodity prices are pressuring the mine to reopen.

Endnotes

http://mendnigerdelta.com/ Accessed 3/7/12.

McBay, Aric; Keith, Lierre; and Jensen, Derrick. (2011.) Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. New York, NY.: Seven Stories Press. 113-192.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi Accessed 3/2/12.

Another story of women’s important role in armed struggle is the Nepalese People’s Liberation Army, “Maoist guerrillas, who were waging an underground war to abolish monarchy in Nepal and promulgate a constitution of, by and for the people.” http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106139 Accessed 2/21/12. Thanks to Premadasi Amada for bringing this to my attention.

Mirante, Edith T. (1993.) Burma’s Ethnic Minority Women: From Abuse to Resistance. In: Miller, Marc S., editor. (1993.) State of the Peoples: a global human rights report on societies in danger. Boston, MA.: Beacon Press. 7-14.

Mirante, Edith T. (1993.) Burmese Looking Glass: A Human Rights Adventure and a Jungle Revolution. New York, NY.: Atlantic Monthly Press.

http://wcel.org/resources/environmental-law-alert/first-nations-north-south-and-interior-stand-against-oil-tankers Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/02/13/nation-building-how-enbridge-pipeline-issue-unified-northern-bc Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G5KtqPSW8Q Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/01/17/enbridge-northern-gateway-joint-review-panel-smithers-finds-100-opposition Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/enbridge-pipeline-first-nation-says-an-oil-spill-is-inevitable-and-would-wipe-out-their-1627405.htm Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/02/13/nation-building-how-enbridge-pipeline-issue-unified-northern-bc Accessed 3/3/12.

http://www.culturalsurvival.org/take-action/honduras-dont-dam-patuca-river Accessed 7/8/11.

http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/pursuit-autonomy-indigenous-peoples-oppose-dam-construction Accessed 3/4/12.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDpvxQe_Jhg&feature=gv Accessed 3/4/12. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bougainville_%E2%80%93_Our_Island_Our_Fight Accessed 3/4/12.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/bougainville-president-backs-panguna-mine/story-e6frg8zx-1226058523408 Accessed 2/19/12.

http://www.abc.net.au/correspondents/content/2010/s2900363.htm Accessed 2/19/12.

http://www.mpi.org.au/1new-page.aspx Accessed 2/19/12. See also: http://www.mpi.org.au/about-mpi.aspx