September 3, 2008

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 7, No. 35

Important but overlooked news from around the world.


QUOTED:

“They’re afraid that what they call ‘foreign interests’ will use the Indians to then exploit the Amazon.”

— Activist Tim Cahill on the politics behind Brazil’s battle over indigenous land rights (see “Top Stories,” below).

CONTENTS:

*Top Stories*
In South America, land rights go native
Journalist’s slaying stirs up trouble in Russia’s hinterland


TOP STORIES

* In South America, Land Rights go Native

A group of new reports finds that land-rights battles in South America may be tipping in favor of indigenous peoples.

In Brazil, the Supreme Court is deciding on the right of Amazon natives to live in their ancestral homelands.

Inter Press Service, a left-leaning advocacy news outlet, reports that the 11-member court has asked for more time to investigate whether a 1.7-million hectare reserve allotted to natives in the Amazon region was taken illegally by wealthy rice farmers.

Already one judge voted in favor of the natives, describing the farmers’ residency as “an unlawful possession.”

The remaining judges will decide by the end of the year, but conflict over land ownership is ongoing and in some cases has turned violent.

The leftist Web site Counter Punch notes ongoing skirmishes between farmers and natives, including an attempted eviction of the farmers by federal troops in March that saw 10 people injured.

The farmers then brought a legal challenge to a 2005 law granting a continuous tract to 19,000 indigenous residents in the northwestern state of Roraima.

Activists and environmentalists fear an unfavorable ruling would legitimize breaking up the territory.

Tim Cahill of Amnesty International told Counter Punch that the issue is not just about native land-rights — Brazil is also looking to more effectively secure its borders with Venezuela and Guyana for fear of outside influence on the natives.

“They’re afraid that what they call ‘foreign interests’ will use the Indians to then exploit the Amazon,” Cahill said.

In Peru, indigenous peoples are celebrating the repeal of two executive orders that expedite the privatization of native-owned land.

The vote came in the wake of nationwide protests, including the occupation of a utility company.

Legislator Victor Mayorga told IPS he expects a government veto, but believes it could be over-ridden.

–TJ Johnston/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“BRAZIL: Start of Landmark Case Bodes Well for Indigenous People”
Inter Press Service, August 28, 2008

“BRAZIL: Setting an Important Precedent for Indigenous Lands”
Inter Press Service, August 21, 2008

“The Battle for the Amazon”
Counter Punch, August 22, 2008

“PERU: Indigenous Groups Win Major Battle in Congress”
Inter Press Service, August 22, 2008

* Journalist Slaying Stirs up Trouble in Russian Hinterland

Hundreds of protestors packed the streets of a Russian city on Monday after a critic of the Kremlin was arrested and killed by police.

Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of a Web site in the rebellious Ingushetia region, was arrested on Sunday at an airport after getting off the same flight as the Moscow-supported leader of the region, according to the BBC.

Soon afterwards, he was shot in the head and dumped near a hospital, where he later died from his injuries, the BBC reported.

According to the Moscow Times, Russian authorities say that Yevloyev tried to grab a gun while police were taking him in for questioning, and that he was accidentally shot in the ensuing struggle.

An investigation is under way, authorities said.

The protest gathered in response to a posting on Yevloyev’s Web site, Ingushetiya.ru, and reports counted the turnout at anywhere from 500 to 3,000 people.

The editor-in-chief of the Web site, Roza Malsagova, accused Ingush President Murat Zyazikov of plotting to murder Yevloyev.

“This is how you wanted to silence us,” she wrote in an open letter posted on the site.

Malsagova has fled to France, where she is seeking political asylum, according to the Moscow Times.

Other writers on the Web site declared Moscow’s policy in the region one of “open genocide” against the Ingush people.

According to the London Telegraph, Ingushetia has been the scene of a number of deadly attacks in recent months, as a low-level Islamist insurgency has targeted local officials.

The region has a stormy history with the nearby South Ossetia region, where Russia has supported a breakaway region against the Georgian government, and, the Telegraph reports, Russia’s recent war with Georgia has further destabilized the situation.

–Will Crain / Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Hundreds Remember Slain Web Site Owner”
The Moscow Times, September 2, 2008

“Russia faces new Caucasus uprising in Ingushetia”
The Telegraph, September 1, 2008

“Anger at death of Kremlin critic”
BBC, September 1, 2008


Editors: Will Crain, Josh Wilson
Intern: T.J. Johnston

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