Indigenous peoples must be consulted first
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States (OAS), has officially requested the Brazilian Government to immediately suspend the Belo Monte Dam Complex in the Amazonian state of Para, citing the project’s potential harm to the rights of traditional communities living within the Xingu river basin. According to the IACHR, the Brazilian Government must comply with legal obligations to undertake a consultation process that is “free, prior, informed, of good faith and culturally appropriate” with indigenous peoples threatened by the project before further work can proceed. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs must inform the OAS within 15 days regarding urgent measures undertaken to comply with the Commission’s resolution.
The IACHR’s decision responds to a complaint submitted in November 2010 on behalf of local, traditional communities of the Xingu river basin. The complaint was presented by the Xingu Alive Forever Movement (MXVPS), the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), the Prelacy of the Roman Catholic Church in the Xingu region, the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), the Pará Society for the Defense of Human Rights (SDDH), Global Justice and the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA). According to the complaint, there were no appropriate consultations with affected indigenous and riverine communities regarding the impacts of the mega-dam project. The document argues that the dam would cause irreversible social and environmental damage, including forced displacement of communities, while threatening one of the Amazon’s most valuable areas for biodiversity conservation.
“By recognizing the rights of indigenous people to prior and informed consultations, the IACHR is requesting that the Brazilian Government stop the licensing and construction of the Belo Monte Dam project to ensure their right to decide,” said Roberta Amanajas, SDDH lawyer. “Continuing this project without proper consultations would constitute a violation of international law. In that case, the Brazilian Government would be internationally liable for the negative impacts caused by the dam.”
The IACHR also requests Brazil to adopt “vigorous and comprehensive measures” to protect the lives and personal integrity of isolated indigenous peoples in the Xingu river basin, as well as effective measures to prevent the spread of diseases and epidemics among traditional communities threatened by the project.
“The IACHR’s decision sends a clear message that the Brazilian Government’s unilateral decisions to promote economic growth at any cost are a violation of our country’s laws and the human rights of local traditional communities,” said Antonia Melo, MXVPS coordinator. “Our leaders no longer can use economic “development” as an excuse to ignore human rights and to push for projects of destruction and death to our natural heritage and to the peoples of Amazon, as is the case of Belo Monte.”
“The OAS’s decision is a warning to the Federal Government and a call to Brazilian society to broadly discuss the highly authoritarian and predatory development model being implemented in this country,” said Andressa Caldas, Global Justice director. Caldas recalls examples of human rights violations caused by other infrastructure projects within the PAC, the federal government’s ‘Accelerated Growth Program.’ “There are numerous cases involving the forced displacement of families without compensation, as well as serious environmental impacts, social disruption of communities, rising violence in areas surrounding construction sites and poor working conditions.”
Criticism of the Belo Monte dam comes not only from civil society organizations, and local communities, but also from scientists, researchers, and government institutions. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s office in Pará state has already filed ten civil lawsuits against the mega-project that are still awaiting final decisions.
“I am very moved by this news,” said Sheyla Juruna, an Indigenous leader of the Juruna community in Altamira. “Today, more than ever, I am sure that we were right to expose the Brazilian Government – including the federal judicial system – for violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Xingu and of all those who are fighting together to protect life and a healthy environment. We will maintain our firm resistance against the implementation of the Belo Monte Dam Complex.”
The IACHR’s decision is founded on international law established by the American Convention on Human Rights, Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP), and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as the Brazilian Constitution itself.
During Operation Cast Lead Israel committed massive war crimes for all the world to see. Among these crimes the use of White Phosphorus in densely populated areas, use of Depleted Uranium, bombing civilian targets of all sorts without military necessity, destroying civilian infrastructure with no military justification and the infamous massacre of the Samouni family… among many other crimes.
In the aftermath of Cast Lead, Justice Richard Goldstone, a Zionist Jew, was commissioned by the United Nations to write a report on the alleged war crimes. Although the report did not go nearly far enough in exposing the brutality of all the crimes committed, crimes committed by the fourth largest military in the world against a essentially defenceless and captive population, it did allege that Israel (and Hamas) was almost undoubtedly guilty of war crimes and possibly, crimes against humanity.
But on April 1st, 2011 Justice Goldstone had an apparent change of heart and effectively said that he was wrong. With regard to the Samouni family he said, Israel simply made a mistake. It seems that the world in which we live in, a world of impunity for the favoured Israeli state, is set to continue. Unless of course we the people decide enough is enough. — Ken O’Keefe
Members of Brandeis University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP) disrupted a university panel discussion of six visiting members of the Israeli Knesset, Monday evening (4 April), to alert the student community to the presence of a war criminal on campus.
The action at the predominantly Jewish university targeted MK Avi Dichter, a suspected international war criminal wanted for possible crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Convention.
In addition to ordering the torture of Palestinians during his tenure as the head of Israel’s General Security Services, Dichter has been charged with possible war crimes for his part in the 2002 killing of Hamas member Salah Shehade and 14 other Palestinian civilians, including 9 children, who were in his Gaza Strip apartment building when a one-ton Israeli bomb was dropped on it.
As Dicther was speaking at Brandeis, a dozen Brandeis students listed charges against Dichter, including torture and the bombing of civilians, distributed warrants for his arrest, and demanded he turn himself in to authorities.
They ended their disruption by chanting in Hebrew “Don’t worry Avi Dicther, we’ll meet you in the Hague.”
“We believe that Avi Dichter must be put to trial for his crimes against humanity,” said participant Liza Behrendt.
Participant ParaskaTolan stated, “War criminals have a right to speak on our campus, but students also have the right to hold them publicly accountable for their crimes. This serves as a message that Dichter should not feel welcome, even at Brandeis University.”
In November 2010 Dichter canceled a trip to Spain due to fear he would be detained or arrested by Spanish authorities for his involvement in alleged war crimes against Palestinians.
Madrid officials told Dichter that Spain did not intend to offer him immunity from arrest or interrogation, after which he canceled his participation in the event.
The former GSS chief has been charged in the Spanish state with possible war crimes for his part in the 2002 killings in Gaza.There are additional charges pending in Spanish court against Dichter for his possible role in the Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009 (Operation Cast Lead), at which time he was Israel’s minister of internal security.
Lisa Hanania, a Palestinian student at Brandeis and member of SJP, said Monday that she was extremely disturbed by the racist comments from some of the MKs. “MK TzipiHotovely claimed that ‘Arabs have a different D.N.A. that lacks humanity.’ As a citizen of Israel, I am deeply concerned that claims as such pave the way for the state to slide into an openly racist ethnocracy.”
The students emphasize that, although they targeted Dichter specifically, all Israeli MKs should be held accountable for recent racist legislation such as the”Loyalty Oath,” the criminalization of Nakba commemoration and the institutionalization of residential discrimination.
MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow had a discussion last week (3/31/11) about the U.S. role in the Libya War with Col. Jack Jacobs, an MSNBC military consultant. Jacobs described the U.S. military’s “ability to jam communications that take place between units or among units of Gadhafi‘s army,” then referred to the U.S.’s
ability to jam electronic transmissions that occur when Gadhafi’s army, ground forces try to fire at allied planes. The instant that a radar system is turned on on the ground, we can detect it and in very short order, send a precision-guided munition that follows the radar beam all the way down to its source.
After responding to that with “Wow,” Maddow asked:
One of the things that people have questioned is if the U.S. has this high level of electronic capability, why is Libyan state TV still on the air? Is that not one of the things they would want to shut down?
Maddow’s questions echo similar calls by U.S. journalists during the Iraq invasion for an attack on Iraqi government TV–calls that were heeded when the U.S. destroyed the TV studios with a missile attack on March 25, 2003. As FAIR wrote in a media advisory, “U.S. Media Applaud Bombing of Iraqi TV” (3/27/03):
Prior to the bombing, some even seemed anxious to know why the broadcast facilities hadn’t been attacked yet. Fox News Channel‘s John Gibson wondered (3/24/03): “Should we take Iraqi TV off the air? Should we put one down the stove pipe there?” Fox‘s Bill O’Reilly (3/24/03) agreed: “I think they should have taken out the television, the Iraqi television…. Why haven’t they taken out the Iraqi television towers?” MSNBC correspondent David Shuster offered: “A lot of questions about why state-run television is allowed to continue broadcasting. After all, the coalition forces know where those broadcast towers are located.”
There is a good reason, actually, why Iraqi TV should not have been attacked: Journalists are civilians, even those who enthusiastically support their country’s military efforts, and therefore targeting them is a war crime. The idea that journalists reporting in a country the U.S. is at war with deserve protection seems to have been rejected by the Pentagon, however. As FAIR wrote in “IS Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?” (4/10/03):
In the Kosovo War, the U.S. attacked the offices of state-owned Radio-Television Serbia, in what Amnesty International called a “direct attack on a civilian object” which “therefore constitutes a war crime.” On March 25, the U.S. began airstrikes on government-run Iraqi TV, in what the International Federation of Journalists (Reuters, 3/26/03) suggested might also be a Geneva Convention violation, since it the U.S. was “targeting a television network simply because they don’t like the message it gives out.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists declined to count the Serbian journalists killed by the United States in its annual list of murdered journalists, a move that FAIR warned at the time would contribute to a sense that “enemy” journalists are fair game (Extra!, 9-10/00). Maddow’s question suggests that treating reporters as enemy combatants has indeed become the new normal.
Dirar Abu Sisi, the Gazan engineer who was abducted by Israeli security personnel whilst traveling by train through the Ukraine, has been formally charged by an Israeli court on Monday.
The charges include belonging to a militant group (Hamas) and involvement in the firing of rockets into Israel form the Gaza Strip, which is charged as attempted murder.
It is claimed that Abu Sisi was in charge of the Hamas military academy and that he was responsible for upgrading the abilities of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, increasing their range and ability to pierce through armored military vehicles.
Abu Sisi’s lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, stated that Abus Sisi had confessed to charges, but that these confessions came under severe duress from interrogators that Ben-Natan claims was tantamount to torture, but that she could not go into detail as to the confessions due to the gag order imposed in Israel.
Abu Sisi’s sister, Suzanne, has stated that her brother is not involved in any political faction and that his work was as the director of Gaza’s only power plant. She stated that he took the position prior to Hamas’ election victory, and continued his role subsequently.
The Israeli army awaits the improvement of weather conditions to resume its assassinations operations targeted at leaders and activists affiliated with Hamas military wing. In a report published by the Hebrew version of Ynet Monday, a military commentator, Ron Bin Yeshay, said that the resumption of assassinations comes in an effort to excursive deterrence in confronting Palestinian factions two years after the bloody war launched on the Gaza Strip.
Bin Yeshay, indicated that the decision to take these operations to the next level was made recently in a small ministerial meeting presided over by Benjamin Netanyahu. Also at the meeting were leaders of Israel’s security organs.
Netanyahu reportedly was reserved over the idea of launching a full-fledged military operation.
According to Bin Yeshay, in the event that Hamas steps up its operations against Israel in the wake of the assassination operations planned, the Israeli army may resort to targeting the movement’s political leadership.
The Israeli intelligence, he says, hopes the assassinations would prompt Hamas to prevent other Palestinian factions from launching rockets onto the Israeli entity.
Bin Yeshay warns that this kind of provocation would put thousands of ‘settlers’ around the Gaza Strip under the mercy of resistance rockets as well as jeopardize chances for trading prisoners with Hamas.