Pipeline Sabotage in UK: Does It Help Our Movement?

Pipeline Sabotage in UK: Does It Help Our Movement?

Editor’s Note: The natural world is dying and time is running out. DGR believes it is necessary to take any action possible to stop the destruction of the natural world. We believe sabotage of key infrastructures are more effective than social movements to bring the industrial civilization (and its death drive) down. In these dire times, we are glad to see increasing adoption of and advocacy for eco-sabotage. Fear that these actions will lead to further hostility from the powerful against the environmental movement are baseless. The powerful (including in UK) are already hostile to the environmental movement and the natural world. Any impact on hostility from the powerful is minimal. However, when it comes to tactics and strategy, context matters. No tactic can be judged as “effective” or “ineffective” in isolation. Goals, assumptions and political circumstances must be considered before selecting methods. As such, we think target selection is critical in evaluating an act of ecosabotage. Pipelines that transport oil are an example of strategic target selection. Windows of organizations linked to fossil fuels are not. Smashing windows or other similar small-scale acts of minor eco-sabotage may be useful for training and propaganda but it does little to challenge the power structure. Minor acts of eco-sabotage may be useful in drawing attention to the issue, by giving media attention to the issue (which is not guaranteed). DGR advocates to move beyond social-political goals and into physical material ones: challenging the power structure that enables destruction of nature through strategic dismantling of global industrial infrastructures. DGR also follows security culture. We maintain a strict firewall between underground action and aboveground organizing. That’s why, as an aboveground organization, we do not engage in any forms of underground action, nor do we know about any underground actions except through information published elsewhere. This article was originally published on opendemocracy.net

By Jack McGovan/Open Democracy UK climate activist group Pipe Busters first broke into the construction site for the Southampton to London Pipeline (SLP) in June. Using an array of carefully selected tools, from bolt cutters to a circular saw, they damaged several sections of uninstalled pipeline and a construction vehicle. This wasn’t a random act: the pipeline’s main function is to supply Heathrow with aviation fuel. “Aviation is a planet killer,” said Pipe Busters in an emailed statement. “Pipe Busters act to halt the expansion of flying that the SLP would make possible.” https://twitter.com/StopTheSLP/status/1539609635002400771 In a year in which heat records were smashed across the globe, a new wave of climate activists seems to have simultaneously begun its own campaign of breaking things. During the summer, Just Stop Oil activists destroyed several petrol pumps on the M25, while This Is Not a Drill smeared black paint on buildings and smashed the windows of organisations linked to fossil fuels. The disruption has continued into the autumn. Last week, Just Stop Oil threw black paint on Altcourse prison in Liverpool, in protest at one of their number being held in custody. On Monday, This Is Not a Drill’s website reported that campaigners had broken the front windows of the Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre at Cambridge University, to draw attention to the recent disastrous flooding in Pakistan. Outside the UK, the French arm of Extinction Rebellion made the news for filling golf course holes with cement. Another group, the Tyre Extinguishers, have started a crusade against SUVs in urban environments across a number of countries by deflating their tyres. Not that long ago, climate activism made the headlines for school children skipping class to protest, so these more radical tactics seem to mark a turning point.

Losing patience

“I’ve tried all the conventional main means of creating change – I’ve had meetings with my MP, I’ve signed petitions, I’ve participated in public consultations, I’ve organised and taken part in marches,” says Indigo Rumbelow, a Just Stop Oil activist. “The conventional ways of making change are done.” Marion Walker, spokesperson for the Tyre Extinguishers, added: “We want to live in towns and cities with clean air and safe streets. Politely asking and protesting for these things has failed. “The only thing we can do is make it impossible or extremely inconvenient to own [an SUV].” The need for urgent action on the climate is not in doubt. These campaigners are frustrated by what they see as a lack of meaningful steps taken by governments to stem the flow of carbon into the atmosphere. Despite the need to move away from fossil fuels, for instance, the UK government recently opened up a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas. Andreas Malm, associate professor in human ecology at Lund University in Sweden, made the case for sabotage as a legitimate form of climate activism in his provocative 2021 book ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ – and he seems to have inspired others to follow his lead. Deflating SUV tyres, for example, is something Malm writes about and says he has done in the past. But is breaking stuff – temporarily or otherwise – really an effective form of action for a movement trying to communicate on such a serious issue? “Coordinated, sustained social movements that do destroy property tend to be pretty effective over the long term,” says Benjamin Sovacool, professor in energy policy at Sussex University. Sovacool highlights three global movements – the abolition of slavery, the prohibition of alcohol and the civil rights movement – that used violence, including destroying property, to achieve their goals. “Some work in sociology even suggests that violent social movements are actually more effective than non-violent ones,” he adds. In his own paper, Sovacool cites research from the late 20th century that looked into US social movements, and found that American activists in the 1980s who were willing to use violence were able to reach their objectives more quickly than those who weren’t. He goes on to describe a number of actions that could fall under the umbrella of violence, from destroying property through to assassinations and bombings. Others refer to property destruction as “unarmed violence”, and research suggests movements that adopt this specific style of violent tactic are more successful than others. Movements highlighted as having used unarmed violence include the Chuquisaca Revolution in 1809, and the overthrowing of the military dictatorship in Argentina in 1983. But there isn’t a consensus. Other research looking at similar kinds of movements comes to a different conclusion, indicating that violent tactics are less successful in specific cases, such as those seeking regime change. For any kind of action to have an impact, though, it has to be noticed. German climate movement Letzte Generation, part of the international A22 network that includes Just Stop Oil, sabotaged a number of fuel pipelines across Germany this spring – more than 30 times in total, the group claims. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to really put pressure on the government to give us a reaction towards our demands?” says Lars Werner, who was involved in the action. “We did it publicly – it wasn’t an action that we wanted to hide from.” But despite their enormous logistical efforts, the media coverage was underwhelming. The corporations targeted didn’t react publicly, either. “The government could ignore what we were doing because there wasn’t much attention,” says Werner. Following the action, the group reverted to its old tactics of blocking roads.

Accountability or anonymity?

Indigo Rumbelow is keen to highlight the importance of accountability – showing names and faces – to Just Stop Oil’s activism. Other groups, such as the Tyre Extinguishers, prefer to remain anonymous. “We’re trying to change the narrative around fossil fuels,” says Rumbelow. “We’re not trying to materially stop fossil fuels – we don’t have enough people, resources or power for that. “But by having our face attached to the action and being able to explain, ‘I did this and I believe that I am right because it’s the only right thing to do’ – that’s how we’re going to change the political story,” she says. Choosing to remain anonymous, and not being accountable for your actions, can also be risky. “If you put a mask on, there’s the danger of labelling those people in masks as terrorists,” says Laurence Delina, assistant professor in environment and sustainability at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He adds that this can be taken advantage of by others, such as fossil fuel interests, to demonise activists and undermine their message.

Indigenous communities

Those on the frontlines of resource extraction, however, don’t have the privilege of being able to decide whether they want to be accountable or not. Many Indigenous communities – such as the Wet’suwet’en, Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, Mapuche and Sioux peoples across the American continent – have used their bodies to obstruct pipelines, as well as logging and mining vehicles, that would otherwise destroy their lands. Some have resorted to arson to protect their way of life. Not only do these communities have fewer options; retaliation is usually more severe too, sometimes deadly. A Guardian investigation revealed in 2019 that Canadian police had discussed using lethal force against Wet’suwet’en activists blocking the construction of a gas pipeline. Last year, Global Witness reported that 277 land and environmental activists were murdered in 2020 for defending their land and the planet. Most of these incidents occurred in the Global South. Despite differences in opinion, there is a consensus among Malm, Walker and Rumbelow that sabotage, if used, would be most successful as part of a broader movement – that it is one tool in a wider arsenal, not the answer in itself. Delina thinks that sabotage is a legitimate tactic, but only in situations where all other avenues of action have been explored, emphasising that he thinks non-violent actions are preferable. Sovacool doesn’t advocate for sabotage, but agrees that a multiplicity of tactics is useful, and that it’s important for us to be able to talk about how successful sabotage has been in the past. “I think each person has to decide on their own threshold for action,” he says.

Featured image: Sabotage of a train in Copenhagen on March 27, 1945 by National Museum of Denmark via Picryl

Indigenous Peoples Are Fighting to Save the Earth for All of Us

Indigenous Peoples Are Fighting to Save the Earth for All of Us

Featured image: James Anaya (former UN Special Rapporteur) visits Mapuche land in Argentina. Credit: Alejandro Parellada IWGIA

     by IWGIA / Intercontinental Cry

Imagine that your survival depended on defending your right to live where you are standing right now.

Any day, the government could decide to start extracting oil or constructing a highway, exactly where your family goes to sleep every night, without consulting you. Just picture the mine or highway polluting the water you drink and poisoning the soil so completely that crops can’t even grow. On top of this, every day you are pushed to speak a foreign language in a country that endangers your culture and way of life.

This scenario is not fictitious. It is a reality for many of the 370 million people worldwide who identify as Indigenous Peoples. If there could be a simple way to define them, we can agree that they are the living descendants of the pre-colonized inhabitants of lands now dominated by others.

It was only 10 years ago, when Indigenous Peoples around the globe achieved the most substantial victory in a century of demands: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The adoption of this declaration has been a breaking point, given the fact that 144 countries reaffirmed that Indigenous Peoples are entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international law. Since 2007, the UNDRIP has guided global efforts to overcome and repair the historical denial of their most fundamental rights, including the most basic right to self-determination.

UNDRIP brought the concept of collective rights to the table. This means that as a group, Indigenous Peoples possess rights that are indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as a distinct society. This is perhaps the reason why many find it difficult to relate to their struggles, since dominant societies base policy making and development actions on the protection of individual rights, such as the right to property or privacy.

Maya Weavers holding a proposal for the recognition of collective intellectual property, February 2017. Photo: AFEDES

Representing 5 percent of the world’s population, today many Indigenous Peoples are still excluded from society and deprived of their rights as equal citizens of a state. Living in 70 countries and speaking more than 4,000 native languages, they have gained increasing visibility for raising their voices on aggressive development policies that threaten the world’s remaining ecosystems and the biodiversity that depends on them.

As the world moves fast to explore and exploit these ecosystems to meet increasing consumption, Indigenous Peoples are at the top list of those murdered for defending their land.

Almost 130 environmental activists have been killed so far in 2017. Another four are expected to be killed in the next week.

This global trend is not a coincidence. Indigenous territories are the richest in biodiversity and today more than ever they are becoming the new battleground for human rights and the environment.

“Even though violence against Indigenous Peoples is increasing, the Declaration should be celebrated. Without this Declaration, Indigenous Peoples wouldn’t have a chance to fight”, describes Julie Koch, Director of International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).

The main driving force for the global assault on indigenous land is that state governments have largely failed to establish constitutional rights and protections for Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP provides states with a legal framework to establish these rights and protections.

The increasing rates of criminalization of indigenous leaders and the murder of environmental defenders shows us just how much work states have to do for the Indigenous Peoples of the world. It is also a strong reminder that the world’s Indigenous Peoples are key to saving our planet.

The global trend of attacks on Indigenous Peoples takes different shapes on different continents. Let’s go through some of it.

Latin America: Where the Extractive Agenda Threatens Indigenous Victories

Even though Latin America has a favourable legal framework to rely on, it is often reported as the most dangerous continent for environmentalists. Many of the reported killings were of people trying to combat illegal logging in the Amazon.

It only takes a quick look into Brazil to understand what the fight is all about. Here is where the highest number of environmental defenders have died on Earth. Since 2013, 900 indigenous leaders have been killed for defending their lands, despite legally owning 12.2 percent of the country’s territory and living peacefully in 704 collective territories.

Another eye-opening case is Venezuela, where actually the land demarcation process has only met 13 percent of the cases in the last 17 years, neglecting the urgent call to action stated in the Constitution. Just to make things more complicated, the government recently approved the creation of the AMO (Orinoco Mining Arc) region, a mega mining project that will give 150 companies from 35 countries access to 12 percent of the national territory. Once again, national policies seem to forget how illegal mining has already driven aggressions and threats towards the Yabarana, Hoti and Panare peoples close to the border with Brazil.

Surprisingly, Bolivia does not escape from this pattern. With a controversial political decision, Evo Morales gave the green light to construct a highway on indigenous land. This development project has for several years been opposed by environmentalists and the indigenous movement since it cuts through Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (well-known as TIPNIS). The construction of this highway is part of a bigger plan. The highway aims to extend the existing Brazilian-led effort commonly known as IIRSA (Initiative for the Regional Integration of South America). This entails a network of 531 mega-projects that include hydroelectric dams, highways, bridges, and electrical power systems that seek to ease the flow of transportation of soybeans and coca across the region. But the impacts are not only economic. The highway will considerably affect the traditional way of life of three indigenous groups: the Tsimanes, Yuracarés and Mojeño-Trinitarios.

Wampis Nation mapping territory in Peru. Credits Jacob Balzani Lööv

Asia: Where Discrimination Pairs with Militarization

Asia is home to 260 million Indigenous Peoples, making it the most culturally diverse region in the world. The land dispute pattern in this region is significantly worse due to heavy assimilation pressure and violent repression by state security forces. As Indigenous Peoples in other countries, they face the routine denial of self-determination, loss of control over their land and extreme discrimination.

One of the most clear examples of the lack of respect for indigenous land rights is the conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region in Bangladesh, where approximately 600,000 Indigenous Peoples live. Ever since the creation of Bangladesh, the elected representatives of the CHT have demanded regional autonomy. Being trapped between demilitarization and displacement, gross human rights have been committed and documented over the last 10 years. The most affected by the conflict are indigenous women. Being under the review of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), several reports highlight cases of gender-based violence against indigenous women connected with land grabbing.

Indigenous Peoples and minority populations in the Philippines are also hit by militarization. The “war on drugs” and the fight against Maoist rebels now led by President Duterte has led to many political extrajudicial killings in their communities. Indigenous Peoples are also cornered by the aggressive expansion of monocrop plantations, especially oil palm plantations in Mindanao. Community members from the municipalities of Bataraza and Española in Palawan have reported how their rights had been violated by several companies that continue to expand on community lands with the complicity of government officials.

The situation in Nepal follows the course of aggressive development. During 2016, many protests against road expansion and electricity transmission lines intensified. The common picture that local indigenous communities paint is that bulldozers enter their land to ensure infrastructure developments go according the plan.

Perhaps the most illustrative situation of discrimination comes from Japan. The huge gap in public awareness shows the long lasting effects of systematic discrimination. A national survey released by the government in 2016 showed that 72.1 percent of Ainu people agreed that “discrimination against the Ainu people exist”, meanwhile 50.7 percent of the general public stated that “discrimination does not exist”.

Africa: Where Evictions are Driven by Conservation and Agribusiness

Laws protecting Indigenous Peoples are weak or nonexistent throughout continental Africa. With very little political support and space for critical NGOs and media that can effectively report on human rights violations, conservationist and agribusiness agendas frequently push Indigenous Peoples from their homelands.

In Loliondo village in Tanzania, indigenous communities suffer from a systematic attack that aims to reduce their number of livestock, which is vital for their survival. Increasing tensions and clashes with farmers and ranchers are usually driven by recurrent drought. Another common tactic used by the military is to burn houses, which speeds up illegal evictions.

Just last month, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority rangers, with the support of Loliondo police, burned down about 185 Maasai bomas (homesteads). The evictions left approximately 6,800 people homeless, with most of their property destroyed.

Evictions are also a current challenge for Indigenous Peoples in Kenya, where the definition of community lands is not in place to allow the urgent need to formalize land ownership. Earlier this year, drought caused traditional herdsmen to steal pasture from landowners, burning down tourist lodges and grabbing the attention of the world media in the process. Laikipia, meanwhile, has experienced unprecedented grazing pressure and the Maasai have been forced to endure limited access to water. This is not the first time that climate shock has systematically triggered violence over land rights in Northern Kenya. The chain of events is pretty straightforward: when there is no water, no grass grows and pastoralists’ cattle starve to death.

The other side of the coin is that Indigenous Peoples are gaining recognition in the courts. Against all odds, we saw an historic land ruling in Kenya this year in the hands of the Ogiek. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights set a vital precedent, recognizing that as Indigenous Peoples the Ogiek have the right to reparations from the Kenyan government for the suffering they have endured from forced evictions.

We Are All Fighting the Same Fight

If Indigenous Peoples remain unprotected, it will continue to have a direct impact on the shape of our planet and its capacity to sustain life. Many would think this gap has nothing to do with protecting the environment, but it absolutely does.

The fight for indigenous land rights is not just about rights, but about securing a sustainable future for everyone.

If states and corporations fail to protect those who are putting their lives on the line to defend the diversity we depend on, it may only be a matter of time before resource scarcity leads them to turn on everyone else.

Indigenous Peoples have pursued environmental justice since long before climate change became a mainstream issue. Ten years after their biggest victory, it is time we take indigenous land rights seriously to ensure we all continue to have water to drink, air to breathe, and even land to call home.


New Calls for Resistance Across the Amazon

New Calls for Resistance Across the Amazon

Featured image: Indigenous women carry the banner of the VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum (FOSPA) during the opening march from downtown Tarapoto to Universidad San Martin on April 28. Photo: Manuela Picq

     by Manuela Picq / Intercontinental Cry

Ever since European colonial powers started disputing borders on its rivers in the seventeenth century, the vast Amazon rainforest—known simply as Amazonia—has been under siege.

Amazon Peoples always resisted the colonial invasion, even after the borders were ultimately settled with the Amazon rainforest getting divided into the territories of nine states. They’ve had no choice. After all, the insatiable lust for ‘wealth at any cost’ did not lessen with time; the siege continued through the nineteenth century, in part with the rubber boom that gave way to the automobile boom.

The attack rages on even now, with the intensive push to extract everything the Amazon holds including oil, minerals, water, and land for agriculture and soy production.

Nations states are leading the land-grab, fostering environmental conflicts that kill nature defenders (most of them indigenous), displace communities, and destroy rivers for megaprojects. The organization Pastoral da Terra estimates that half a million people are directly affected by territorial conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon. About 90% of Brazilian land conflicts happen in Amazonia; 70% of murders in land conflicts take Amazon lives.

That is why people responded to “the call from the forest,” or “el llamado del bosque” in Spanish. This was the motto of the VIII Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, or Foro Social Pan Amazónico (FOSPA), that just gathered 1500 people in the town of Tarapoto, Peru.

The VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum in Tarapoto, Peru

Photo: Manuela Picq

FOSPA is a regional chapter of the well-established World Social Forum. It is based on the same model that brings together social movements, associations and individuals to find alternatives to global capitalism. From April 28 to May 1, indigenous peoples, activists, and scholars from various parts of Amazonia got together in the campus of Universidad Nacional San Martin.

FOSPA is an important space, not only because the region is at the forefront of the climate crisis but also because it represents 40% of South America and spreads across nine countries—Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana. The 370 indigenous nations in the region are an increasingly smaller part of a booming Amazon population that surpasses 33 million.

This VIII forum was well organized in an Amazon campus with comfortable work space and the shade of mango trees. In the absence of Wi-Fi, participants gathered around fruit juices and Amazon specialties baked in banana leaves at the food fair. The organizing committee, led by Romulo Torres, was most proud of creating the new model of pre-forum. For the first time, there were 11 pre-forums organized in 6 of the 9 Amazon countries to prepare the agendas.

The forum started with a celebratory march through Tarapoto. During three days, participants discussed the challenges of extractive development and land grab across the region. There was in total nine working groups organized around issues such as territoriality, megaprojects, climate change, food sovereignty, cities, education and communication.

During the opening march in defense of Amazonia, Elvira and Domingo, from Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Amazon (Confeniae) walk along Carlos Perez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and Ecuador’s Confederation of Kichwa Peoples (Ecuarunari). Photo: Manuela Picq

“Development is the problem”

Speakers strongly criticized models of development based on extractive industries. “Development is the problem, not the solution,” said Carlos Pérez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI).

Speakers blamed the political left for being equally invested as the right in extractive development, destroying life in the name of development. Toribia Lero Quishpe, from the CAOI and the Council of Ayllus Markas of the Quillasuyu (CONAMAQ) argued that this investment in capitalist gains corrupted the government of Evo Morales, who licensed over 500 rivers to multinational companies.

Gregorio Mirabal, from the Indigenous Network of the Amazon River Valley (COICA) and Venezuela’s Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIA) denounced a massive land grab by the state in the Orinoco region. He said the government is licensing land to mining companies from China and Spain to promote “ecological mining.” Indigenous populations, in turn, have not had a single land title recognized in 18 years and are denied rights to prior consultation.

Ongoing French colonization in Amazonia

A working group discusses the decolonization of power and self-government in Peru. Photo: Manuela Picq

One of the working groups focused on the decolonization of power; French Guyana being the last standing colonial territory in South America.

Rafael Pindard headed a delegation from the Movement for Decolonization and Social Emancipation (MDES) to generate awareness about Amazon territories that remain under the colonial control of France.

Amazon forests constitute over 90% of French Guyana. Delegates described laws that forbid Indigenous Peoples to fish and hunt on their ancestral territories. They explained the mechanisms of forced assimilation—the French state refuses to recognize the existence of six Indigenous Peoples, claiming that in France there is only one people, the French.

The Women’s Tribunal

The forceful participation of women was one of the forum’s most inspiring aspects. Amazon women held a strong presence in the march, plenary sessions and held a special working group on women.

The highlight was the Tribunal for Justice in Defense of the Rights of Pan-Amazonian and Andean Women. Four judges convened at the end of each day to listen to specific cases of women defenders. They heard individual as well as collective cases. Peruvian delegates presented the case of Maxima Acuña, a water defender from the Andean highlands of Cajamarca who faces death threats. Brazilian representatives from Altamira presented the case of the Movement Xingu Vivo para Sempre, which organizes resistance against the Belo Monte Dam.

The Women’s Tribunal also heard cases from across the continent. Liliam Lopez, from the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), presented the emblematic case of Berta Cáceres, assassinated in 2016 for leading the resistance in defense of rivers. Delegates from Chile presented the case of Lorenza Cayuhan, a Mapuche political prisoner jailed in Arauca for defending territory and forced to give birth handcuffed.


Many working groups called for a paradigm shift to move away from economic approaches that treat nature as a resource. Participants defended indigenous notions of living well, or vivir bien in Spanish.

There were many initiatives presented throughout the gathering. The working group on food sovereignty proposed to recover native produce and exchange seeds, for instance, through seed banks.

The final proposals of all working groups hang in the main tent allowing participants to add suggestions before the elaboration of the final document. Photo: Manuela Picq

Delegates from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) and the organization Terra Mater presented a collaborative project to protect 60 million acres of the mighty Amazon River’s headwaters – the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River watersheds in Ecuador and Peru. The Sacred Headwaters project seeks to ban all forms of extractive industries in the watershed and secure legal titles to indigenous territories.

Wrays Pérez, President of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation (GTAN Wampís) explained practices of indigenous autonomy. The Wampís, who have governed their territories for seven thousand years, have successfully preserved over a million hectares of forests and rivers in Santiago and Morona, Peru. The Wampís Nation designed its own legal statute based on Peruvian and international law, including those protecting the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Amazon communication

Radio Nave covered FOSPA, organizing live interviews and debates with participants. Photo: Manuela Picq

Many venues emphasized the importance of Amazon communication. All workshops and plenary sessions were transmitted live through FOSPATV and remain available on FOSPA’s webpage.

Community radios and medias covered the forum and interviewed participants, such as Radio Marañón, Radio La Nave, and Colombia’s Radio Waira Stereo 104 (Indigenous Zonal Organization of the Putumayo OZIP).

Documentary films played in the evenings, followed by discussions. The Brazilian documentary film “Belo Monte: After the Flood” played in Spanish for the first time, followed by a debate with people affected by hydro-dams in the Brazilian and Bolivian Amazons. Other films presented include “Las Damas de Azul”, “La Lagrima de Aceite” y “Labaka.”

The Tarapoto Declaration

A plenary assembly announces the final Declaration of Tarapoto, May 1 2017. Photo: Manuela Picq

The forum closed with the Carta de Tarapoto, a declaration in defense of life containing 24 proposals. The declaration collected the key demands of all working groups. It demands that states respect international indigenous rights and recognize integral territories. It invites communities to fight pervasive corruption attached to megaprojects and suggests communal monitoring to stop land-grabbing.

The declaration stresses the shared concerns and alliances of Amazonian and Andean peoples, explicitly recognizing how the two regions are interrelated and interdependent. It denounces state alliances with mining, oil, and hydroprojects. It defines extractive megaprojects as global capitalism and a racist civilizing project.

It echoes FOSPA’s intergenerational dimension, celebrating elders as a source of historical knowledge to guide the preservation of Amazon lifeways. Youth groups, who had their own working group, demanded that states recognize the rights of nature.

Women concerns are the focus of four points. In addition to making the Women’s Tribunal a permanent feature of FOSPA, the declaration calls for the end of all forms of violence against women and the recognition of women’s invisible labor. It asks for governments to detach from religious norms to follow international women rights.

In closing, the declaration expresses solidarity with peoples who live in situation of conflict, whose territories are invaded, and who are criminalized for defending the rights of nature.

It is in that spirit that the organizing committee decided to hold the next FOSPA in Colombia. Defenders of life are killed weekly despite the peace process, revealing a political process tightly embedded in the licensing of territories to extractive industries like gold mining.

The Colombian Amazon is calling. May it be a powerful wakeup call across and beyond the Amazons.

Protective Use of Force: Nonviolence in Practice and Who is Advocating For It

This is the tenth installment in a multi-part series. Browse the Protective Use of Force index to read more.

 via Deep Green Resistance UK

The aim of this post is to inform those interested in researching how to strategically confront the state using nonviolent direct action or force; and how this information might be applied to their situation.

Two books describe and analyse a number of struggles. In Strategic Nonviolent Conflict, [1] Ackerman and Kruegler analyse a number of nonviolent conflicts based on their Twelve Principles of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict, which I described in a previous post. The conflicts include: the First Russian Revolution 1904-1906; Ruhrkampf regional defense against occupation, 1923; the Indian Independence Movement, 1930-1931; Denmark occupation and resistance, 1940-1945; El Salvador civic strike, 1944; Resistance against the Polish Communist Party, 1980-1981.

In The Failure of Nonviolence, [2] Gelderloos describes and analyses over thirty nonviolent and militant struggles, which have occurred since the end of the cold war. He uses a four point criteria: whether a movement seized space for new social relations; whether it spread an awareness of new ideas (and secondarily if this awareness was passive or whether it inspired others to fight); whether it had elite support; whether it achieved any concrete gains in improving people’s lives.

The struggles he lists are: The Oka Crisis, The Zapatistas, The Pro-Democracy Movement in Indonesia, The Second Intifada, The Black Spring in Kabylie, The Corralito (in Argentina), the Day the World Said No to War, The Colour Revolution, Kuwait’s “Blue Revolution” and Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution,” The 2005 Banlieue Uprisings, Bolivia’s Water War and Gas War, Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution, The Oaxaca Rebellion, The 2006 CPE Protests, 2007 Saffron Revolution, The 2008 insurrection in Greece, Bersih Rallies, Guadeloupe General Strike, UK Student Movement, Tunisian Revolution, The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, The Libyan Civil War, The Syrian Civil War, 15M Movement and General Strikes, 2001 United Kingdom Anti-Austerity Protests, 2011 England riots, Occupy, The 2011-2013 Chile student protests, The Quebec Student Movement, and The Mapuche struggle.

The Global Nonviolent Action Database is also an online resources with some 1,000 examples of nonviolent actions.

Gelderloos also offers a very comprehensive list of those individuals advocating for pacifism and nonviolence. [3] Other organizations active in this realm include: the Albert Einstein Institution; the International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict, the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, Waging Nonviolence and Campaign Nonviolence.

The Radical Think Tank in London has been researching the ways in which nonviolent direct action could be used in the UK. Its members have identified three key mechanisms to enhance political participation and mobilisation to increase the campaign’s likelihood of success: (1) the conditional commitment or pledges; (2) dilemma actions, a lose-lose situation for the authorities; and (3) fostering open space, where people can talk freely about what’s bothering them, which is empowering and motivates them to act. They have also mapped out a number of hypothetical campaign progressions which combine all three mechanisms in order to show how much more effective they can be when combined.

This is the tenth installment in a multi-part series. Browse the Protective Use of Force index to read more.


  1. Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century, Peter Ackerman and Chris Kruegler, 1993
  2. Failure of Nonviolence, Peter Gelderloos, 2013, page 48-97
  3. Failure of Nonviolence, page 160-215

To repost this or other DGR original writings, please contact newsservice@deepgreenresistance.org

Despite river diversion, anti-dam activists in Colombia vow to win

By Polinizaciones

“This is not done here, we will continue to fight, but this feels worse than when the humans destroy the tree in the movie AVATAR,” lamented Luisa Aguas, from the local community organization Comunidad. On March 3 at approximately 5:37pm, Emgesa, affiliate of Spanish-Italian Energy Giant Enel-Endesa, announcedthat they had successfully begun the diverting of the Guacahayo-Yuma-Magdalena River from its natural course as part of the construction of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project in Huila, Colombia. Project Manager Julio Santafé told local press that late Sunday the remaining rocks and dirt will be excavated from the tunnel where the river will be diverted through to enable the next phase of the project of building the dam. The complete diverting of the river should be completed by Monday.

“The diverting of the River will only make us stronger and will for sure, lead to the death of Emgesa” said Miller Dussan, ASOQUIMBO Investigator and Professor of the South Colombian University, next to the highway during the meeting. Dussan shared that “Senate Vice-President Alexander Lopez has already released his questionnaire investigating the Minister of the Interior, German Vargas Lleras, for claiming he could not do anything about the violent removals on the [Feb.] 14th and 15th when later the Mayor of Paicol informed that he was pressured to do so by Vargas Lleras. Vargas Lleras brother is José Antonio Vargas Lleras who is the director of CODENSA the Colombian affiliate that owns and operates Endesa affiliates Bogotá Electrical Company and Emgesa.

After being pushed back over a month from protests and strikes held by affected local populations by the dam, Saturday’s diverting was programmed for the morning. However, multiple direct actions in the area of the construction delayed the diverting to the late afternoon. Nearly 300 hundred campesinos, indigenous, students and youth faced off with riot police at the construction sites entrance near the damaged Paso del Colegio Bridge closing off traffic to the entrance of the site, eventually marching to the national highway. At the same time around 90 fisher-people up river of the dam site occupied the tunnel and surrounding beaches until they were apprehended and detained for some time before being released. The group that marched to the highway held a meeting and blockade until the end of the day and there is currently still an encampment of fisher-people up river of the site. Throughout the day internet cyber-activist Anonymous, as part of #OpQuimbo, was blocking the website for the Ministry of Mines, Emgesa and the Huila regional government.

Saturday’s actions were part of a series of protests and direct actions called for by the Association of the Affected of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project –ASOQUIMBO that have been happening globally over the last week. In Huila the towns of Gigante, Garzón, La Plata and regional capitol Neiva, has seen thousands of grade-school students and youth take to the streets in marches paralyzing those urban centers. On national level solidarity actions in Bogotá, Cali, Pereira, Mocoa, and Medellin have taken place with calls to “flood the Ministry of Environment”. Internationally the support has come over the last week from protests or visits at Colombian Embassies in Miami, Washington DC & New York City, United States; Buenos Aires, Argentina and in London, UK. This next week there are more actions planned for Barcelona, Spain and second protest planned in Rome, Italy at the Enel Offices. All the actions have been in solidarity with the people of Huila and calling for a suspension of the Quimbo Dam and an end to the State violence used against protesters.

Since the violent removals of protesters from the bank of the river in Domingo Arias, Paicol on February 14 and 15, President Santos has publicly claimed that riot police used completely “normal procedures” and made no mention of the 7 people wounded, including one person who lost his right eye. He also stated that the “progress of the country would not be held back by personal interests”. During the day´s actions President Santo´s told media that the protests are “infiltrated by guerrillas” and “people not from the area”.

This comes a day after that President Santos receives the Hero of Environmental Conservation Award in Cartagena, presented to him by pro-business environmental organization Conservation International (CI). CI is best known for helping environmentally destructive corporations green-wash their image, while also being accused by indigenous communities of acts of biopiracy. Last week the new ranking for the 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) of the world´s countries was released by Yale University and Colombia had dropped 17 spots (EPI).

During Saturday´s mobilization the Minister of Mines and Energy, Mauricio Cárdenas, told national media, that three of the country’s major hydroelectric projects—Ituango in Antioquia, Amoyá in Tolima and the Quimbo—were all being threatened with “sabotage” by political and armed forces opposed to the projects.

On a continental level, these mobilizations against hydroelectric projects have increased in recent months throughout South and Central America. Just last month protesters of the Ngobe-Buglé people were brutalized and left two people dead in protests in Panamá against mining and a planned Dam and the conflicts with Brazil´s mega dams in the Amazon Basin such as Belo Monte are on-going. In addition to the Quimbo Dam, Endesa is also damming rivers and creating multiple conflicts within Mapuche Territory along the Bio Bio River in Southern Chile and along the Chixoy River in Mayan Territory of Guatemala.

Also Saturday, the National Treasury announced that starting next week prosecutors from the Environmental Crimes and Anti-Corruption Unit will be opening an investigation to look into possible irregularities with the U$334 million contract that the Colombian government signed with companies Emgesa and Impregilo for the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project . The prosecutors will also look into allegations of environmental destruction, forced displacement and threats to local inhabitants. In the evening further south in the municipality of Timaná, approximately 60 milometers from the Quimbo site and the site of a future dam Emgesa hopes to build in Huila in the Pericongo Canyon, an earthquake hit the area with a rating of 3.5 on the Richter scale.

This week a statement is expected from the Comptroller’s Office regarding an on-going investigation since January of irregularities in the company’s census, compensation and resettlement of the affected population.

More marches are expected regionally and internationally on Tuesday, March 6 and ASOQUIMBO is maintaining its call for solidarity direct actions. Regionally the communities in resistance prepare for the next steps in the struggle for the defense of the Upper Guacahayo-Yuma-Magdalena River Valley.

While riding in the back of a truck in the rain leaving the site of the day´s actions, unemployed day laborer and part time fisher-woman Ximena Chavarro shared that “The State is leaving us very few options. It is disregarding and abusing its own laws and due process that protect us the inhabitants, our territory and the river which is everyone’s all to be able to secure Uribe´s ‘investor confidence’. Right now we all feel so violated and furious that we understand why others in similar situations resort to violence even though we have never wanted to go there.”