On the Alto Rio Guamá reserve in Brazil, the Tembe tribe has been battling for decades to save its land from illegal loggers and settlers. As tension escalates, the Tembe people have now been forced to take up arms and confront the loggers, sparking violent clashes deep within the jungle. With the odds stacked against the tribe, VICE News traveled to the northern Brazilian state of Para to meet the Tembe and witness the tribe’s struggle to protect its land.
Journalist Taing Tri, 48, of the local Vealntri newspaper in Kratie province, Cambodia, was shot dead around 1 a.m. on 12 October 2014 as he attempted to document the transportation of illegal luxury wood near Pum Ksem Kang Krow village. The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) condemn this murder in the strongest terms possible and call on local authorities to take immediate action to investigate the case and bring the murderers to justice in order to end the cycle of impunity for those who perpetuate violence against journalists in Cambodia. “Mr. Tri’s murder is tragic and cannot go unpunished,” said CCIM Executive Director Pa Nguon Teang. “We must bring an end to impunity for those who commit violence against journalists, and we must do it now, starting with Mr. Tri.”
The Peruvian authorities must ensure that all those suspected of their murders must be brought to Justice. They must also extend protection to the remaining Indigenous People who are being intimidated and exploited by illegal loggers operating on their lands. The four people murdered were leaders of the Ashéninka people of the Peruvian Amazon. Among them was Edwin Chota a prominent anti-logging campaigner who had fought for his people’s right to gain titles to their land and expel illegal loggers who raided their forests on the Brazilian border. At the time of the murders they were preparing to bring their community’s case and a complaint against illegal loggers to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
IMA, Peru — An outspoken Peruvian opponent of illegal logging and three other native Ashaninka community leaders were shot and killed in the remote region bordering Brazil where they live, villagers and authorities said Monday. The activist, Edwin Chota, had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers, who he had tried for years to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title. Illegal loggers were suspected in the killings, said Ashaninka regional leader Reyder Sebastian. Pervasive corruption lets the loggers operate with impunity, stripping the Amazon region’s river basins of prized hardwoods, especially mahogany and tropical cedar. “He threatened to upset the status quo,” said David Salisbury, a professor at the University of Richmond who was advising Chota on the title quest and had known him for a decade. “The illegal loggers are on record for wanting Edwin dead.” Chota and the others were apparently killed on Sept. 1, the day they left Saweto, the village he led on the Upper Tamaya river, to hike to a sister Brazilian Ashaninka community, said the village schoolteacher, Maria Elena Paredes. When the men did not show at the Brazilian village, worried comrades who had traveled ahead of them returned and found the bodies — apparently killed by shotgun blasts — near some shacks on the Putaya river, Paredes said.
On July 31, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation will head to the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto and are calling on supporters to join them “in a walk for clean water and indigenous rights.” Two days before, on July 29, there will be a speaking event with Grassy Narrows Clan Mother Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister, writer and activist Leanne Simpson, and Stephen Lewis. Here’s why: It is shocking that neither Canada nor the province of Ontario have recognized even one case of mercury poisoning in the 50 years since the province allowed 10 tonnes of mercury to be dumped into the Wabigoon River, which provides numerous communities with water and fish. It is even more shocking that this river has never been cleaned up and continues to provide these communities with water and fish. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency advise that any spill larger than 2 tablespoons of mercury should be reported to the state environmental agency, and it is mandatory to call the National Response Center. But just north of the border, tonnes of mercury can be put into river systems with little concern about cleanup, remediation and human health – apparently. Citizens of Grassy Narrows, however, can’t afford to ignore mercury contamination. Grassy Narrows, or Asubpeechoseewagong in Anishnaabe, is located in Treaty 3 territory in northern Ontario. It is one of the communities still facing the impacts of the Dryden pulp and paper mill’s reckless disposal of mercury more than a half century after the spill.
The British Columbia government didn’t properly consult with a northern First Nation community about forestry activity and then failed to warn a logging contractor about an imminent blockade, according to a court judgement that orders the province pay the company $1.75 million. One lawyer involved in the case says the judgment, which follows several years of legal proceedings that included a trip to the Supreme Court of Canada, should serve as a yet another warning to the provincial government about the need to meaningfully consult with First Nations over resource development.
Whilst most teenagers appear to be overly obsessed with the latest version of the iPhone, one young woman nicknamed Greenleaf is making a valiant effort to bring attention to the issues of global warming. This courageous 16-year-old is taking a stand against climate change by tree sitting in a valuable grove of ancient trees near Trinidad, in Humboldt County. The trees are in danger of being clear-cut by Green Diamond Resource Companywho owns the land. Activists have named the 80-90-year-old tree Greenleaf occupies Neptune, and she may well be the youngest person to ever have undertaken this form of direct action. Greenleaf has been “sitting” in Neptune for 3 weeks, sometimes taking short breaks to visit home, but when we spoke her feet had not touched the ground for 4 days. Perched about 130 feet off the forest floor her tree house is built of a sky net and two platforms covered with tarps. She has room to move around and free-climb the tree although for safety reasons she is always tied to at least two points even whilst sleeping.