state of exception
Ecuador is currently seeing another indigenous uprising in response to the proposed Law of Water (amongst others). Yesterday, a group indigenous protesters (mainly from the Shuar nation) in the Amazon were shot at from a helicopter, leaving two dead and nine other wounded.
colonos is replicating here briefly a statement of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and providing some links to further sources.
The proposed Law of Water is said to be in violation of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which prohibits all forms of privatisation of water. The law would allow for privatisation of water through the back door and prioritise needs of big developments (hydropower and mining) over those of the people. Moreover, in its article 43 it allows for the use of the Armed Forces in situations of protest and conflict around water use (such as when people would protest the diversion of community water for use in mining).
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The following interview was published in Le Monde on 25 May 2009 and translated by NOT BORED! 27 May 2009. It also appears in the Tarnac9 blog, and here, as well as in this tag collection. Spread the word!
LeMonde | 5.25.09 – Here are the responses to the questions that we [Isabelle Mandraud and Caroline Monnot] posed in writing to Julien Coupat. Placed under investigation on 15 November 2008 for “terrorism,” along with eight other people interrogated in Tarnac (Correze) and Paris, he is suspected of having sabotaged the suspended electrical cables of the SNCF. He is the last one still incarcerated. (He has asked that certain words be in italics.)
Q. How are you spending your time?
A. Very well, thank you. Chin-ups, jogging and reading.
Q. Can you recall the circumstances of your arrest for us?
A. A gang of youths, hooded and armed to the teeth, broke into our house. They threatened us, handcuffed us, and took us away, after having broken everything to pieces. They first took us into very fast cars capable of moving at more than 170 kilometers an hour on the highways. In their conversations, the name of a certain Mr Marion (former leader of the anti-terrorist police) came up often. His virile exploits amused them very much, such as the time he slapped one of his colleagues in the face, in good spirits and at a going-away party. They sequestered us for four days in one of their “people’s prisons,” where they stunned us with questions in which absurdity competed with obscenity.
The one who seemed to be the brains of the operation vaguely excused himself from this circus by explaining that it was the fault of the “services,” the higher-ups, all kinds of people who want [to talk to] us very much. Today, my kidnappers are still free. Certain recent and diverse facts attest to the fact that they continue to rage with total impunity.
Q. The sabotage of the SNCF cables in France was claimed [by someone] in Germany. What do you say about that?
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Assuming that there is a global crisis – financial, climate change and starvation – and assuming that something could be done about it – what would it be? The initial reaction has been to push for more of the same – more debts to be created in order to keep economic power in the same hands. Maybe a few policy changes to avoid too extreme corruption and self-aggrandisement, removal of some draconian measures, but that’s about it. Spend more, that is way to go. It sounds so simple and in a sense it is: wiping the rich people’s slates clean so that they can lend more money for the poor to spend. If it makes you think of spiralling further down into an abyss we’re on the same wave length.
In order, then, to get the American people to spend more money that they don’t have – the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion in 2008, constituting a next level in the financial collapse of a system based on ever-increasing debt – president Obama is suggesting “a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week“. Part of this bill seeks to lift some of the extreme anti-Cuban legislation that was introduced during the administration of Bush the Second.
There is no doubt about it, Obama – the man in the White House – gives good speeches, but even an old World Banker takes note of the fact that Obama’s grand plan to save the world and “the hardest working people on Earth” (he says it as if it a good thing??) from their predicaments is insubstantial (These videos gives you an insight from the inside – if you really want to know about all the little sheenanigans of a failed system or just want to see the Emperor of the Free World sit before you in his shiny new clothes. Characteristic of times of crisis he looks and sounds like a rhetorical stooge with a nationalistic appeal “the greatest force of progress and prosperity [and climate change?!]”)
Anyway, the Cuban news is a tangent that invites viewing the world from a Latin American perspective.
“Ayahuasca is going global“, said a prominent psychedelic researcher recently, and it is also going mainstream as part of journeying across the planet. In the Californian TV series “Weeds” the leading act, Marie-Louise Parker’s character, Nancy Botwin, drinks ayahuasca under rather suspect circumstances with the leader of a drug-, guns- and human- trafficking Mexican mafia, who is also the mayor of Tijuana for added comic value. The ceremony is led by a young shaman who is told by the spirit of the medicinal brew not to give it to Nancy; she is not ready for it, so to speak, but he uses the words “I should not give it to her” and the gangster boss says “that’s alright, I’ll give it to her then”. Not off to a good start, but then again what do those shamans know about what a mobster’s girlfriend needs?
Watch the ayahuasca sequence here:
There are various issues at play here. Firstly, the most obvious one of the slightly forced drinking where the strong male insists that the little girl drinks despite warnings by the learned practitioner. That, however, is not so bad, – perhaps he knew better..
Update on Nottingham “terror” arrest: A lying University will not be an “open and free arena for debate and dissent”
This is a follow-up to the recent case at Nottingham University where the combination of misinformed, xenophobic colleagues, an administration without perspective and law making far beyond the rule of law led to the arrest and prolonged detainment of a student and staff and confiscation of their belongings simply for doing their job: finding, printing and investigating documents.
What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate and a sheepish, dependent and pathetic bunch of business administrators – jacks of all administrative trades, masters of no intellect – who call the anti terror cops on their own students and staff without reflection, without (reasonable) thought and with no sense of reality at all.
Colonos have just written to Alf Nilsen to clarify the exact meaning of the third last paragraph, which commences: “Fourthly, the claim that…” which appears to be written a bit too hastily or merely goes right over my head 🙂
However, for now – here goes, see for yourself where it’s at:
Dear all – some of you may have written to the Registrar at the University of Nottingham, Dr. Paul Greatrix, to protest the recent false terror arrests at our university, and some of you might also have received a reply. My colleagues and I would like to point out a number of inconsistencies in this reply – see below, and as always: please circulate!!
Comments on University Communication on Recent Events
CONSIDER THIS. A fine example of the distortion of the rule of law that the Terrorism Act of 2000 is. It provides the opportunity to switch of due process and being innocent until proven guilty – moreover, and the important catalyst here, it encourages mis- and uninformed people to call the authorities on their neighbour. Boy Cry wolf, where do we go from here? Like climate change processes operate through positive feedback loops, so do law and culture. Two people have probably just been radicalised – and thousands give them their support. As the leaders of the world creep further and deeper into the ir castles their guns and laws are all the more loud. A downward spiral for profit.
I’m writing to call your attention to a recent incident at the University of Nottingham, where one of our graduate students at the School of Politics and International Relations and an administrative member of staff at the Department of Engineering were arrested by armed police under the Terrorism Act of 2000.
Their alleged “crime” was that the graduate student had downloaded an Al-Qaeda training manual from a US government website for research purposes, as he’s writing his MA dissertation on Islamic extremism and international terrorist networks. He had then sent this to his friend in the Department of Engineering for printing. The printed material had been spotted by other staff and reported to the University authorities who passed on the information to the police.
The two were then arrested by armed police on May 14 and held for six days without charge, before being released without charge on May 20. During the six days they were imprisoned, the men had their homes raided and their families harassed by the police. It is worth noticing that in talking to one of my colleagues, a police officer remarked that the incident would never have occurred if the people involved had been blonde, Swedish PhD students (the two men were of British-Pakistani and Algerian backgrounds respectively).
The incident was recently reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement online:
Needless to say, this raises hugely important issues both about academic freedom and civil liberties. Obviously, there is the issue that for those of us involved in research on contentious issues we will by necessity have to consult primary materials of a controversial nature, and the fact that the material is controversial should not lead to it being deemed as illegitimate research material. Moreover, we should not under any circumstances have to fear for infringements upon our civil liberties as a consequence of doing our jobs. Moreover, it goes without saying that the university should guarantee the academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, and civil liberties of all members of staff and students, irrespective of ethnic and religious background or political beliefs!
I would be most grateful if you could circulate this e-mail as widely as possible in the interest of raising awareness and attention about this incident and the wider issues of academic freedom that it gives rise to, to as many of your friends and colleagues as possible!
Please consider writing to the University of Nottingham to express your concern about this case. Letters should be sent to the Registrar, Dr Paul Greatrix, at email@example.com; please send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Alf Gunvald Nilsen
RCUK Fellow, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, England, UK
Office: (0044) (0) 1159514032
This is a video in Spanish about the struggle of the Mapuche:
Here is a bit of information in English:
“Today all Mapuche are terrorists, unless we can argue the converse. This is the new justice”, says the farmer Victor Ancalaf Llaupe bitterly. On January 2nd, 2004, the Mapuche Indian was sentenced to 10 years in prison for ‘terrorist activity’. As he filed an appeal, the sentence was reduced to 5 years and one day. The 37-year-old father of five children had founded a Mapuche civil rights movement in Chile in 1997. Back then he was arrested on several occasions and accused of timber theft. In addition to that, he was accused of having abducted a minister and setting fire to three agricultural vehicles after he had been involved in a brief sit-in of a courthouse. In the revision of Llaupe’s case, he was charged with “terrorist arson”. All other charges were dropped. However, the sentence that he received for a crime he may not even have committed is as high as if he were a dangerous criminal.”
In the night of November 30 – December 1, over 50 people (including 3 minors), mainly from the community of Dayuma near Coca in the Northern Amazon region of Ecuador, were violently arrested by the military acting on orders of President Rafael Correa who pronounced a State of Emergency in the Amazonian Province of Orellana (Decree 770) due to protests in the oil producing province for improving road infrastructure and basic services and against feared quasi-privatisation of the state-owned oil company PETROECUADOR.
A grassroots summit.
On November 16, indigenous, mestizo and African-Ecuadorian community leaders, farmers, environmentalists, activists, and individuals affected or concerned about the environmental situation in Ecuador gathered at the Catholic University in Quito for the First Summit of Communities Criminalized for Defending Nature.
Over recent years, violent confrontations, repression and human rights violations have increasingly characterised environmental conflicts in all parts of the country. The summit was organised by a variety of social movements in order to publicly highlight political, juridical, and extra-judicial persecutions and abuses of social and environmental activists.
Testimonies of persons jailed, criminalised, shot and stories of those assassinated were shared and collected and the social, political and economic reasons and consequences of the persecutions analysed. The global nature of repression against movements opposed to environmentally and socially damaging projects was emphasised, and the summit declared solidarity and support for all social and environmental grassroots movements worldwide.
The summit participants later marched to hand members of the National Constitutional Assembly a petition for amnesty for the over 200 community leaders currently imprisoned for the execution of their right to protest and to live in a healthy environment. The petition also demanded an end to the ceaseless violations of human rights and community rights to ancestral land generated by mining, oil exploitation, logging, hydroelectrical power stations, and shrimp farming.
(Freely translated and abridged from Javier Mazeres’ article of the same title, published in the newsletter of the Catalonian Association Ali Supay – www.alisupay.org)