“People vs. Fossil Fuels’’: Winona LaDuke & Mass Protests Call on Biden to Stop Line 3 Pipeline

“People vs. Fossil Fuels’’: Winona LaDuke & Mass Protests Call on Biden to Stop Line 3 Pipeline

This piece was first published at Democracy Now!




In response to the completion of the contested Line 3 pipeline, which is now reportedly operational, thousands of Indigenous leaders and climate justice advocates are kicking off the “People vs. Fossil Fuels’’ mobilization, an Indigenous-led five-day action of civil disobedience at the White House to demand President Biden declare a climate emergency, divest from fossil fuels and launch a “just renewable energy revolution.” “This pipeline doesn’t respect treaty rights,” says Winona LaDuke, longtime Indigenous activist and founder of Honor the Earth, a platform to raise awareness of and money for Indigenous struggles for environmental justice. “They’re just trying to continue their egregious behavior. It’s so tragic that, on the one hand, the Biden administration is like, ’We’re going to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but we’re still going to smash you in northern Minnesota and smash the rest of the country.’” LaDuke faces criminal charges linked to her protest of pipelines in three different counties.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, as we continue to talk about Indigenous action to save our Earth. This week, thousands of Indigenous leaders and climate justice advocates are expected to participate in a historic five-day massive action of civil disobedience at the White House to continue to pressure President Biden to declare a climate emergency, divest from fossil fuels and launch a, quote, “just renewable energy revolution.”

The “People vs. Fossil Fuels” mobilization, led by the Indigenous Environmental Network, 350.org, Sunrise Movement, the Center for Biological Diversity and others, comes as Canadian pipeline company Enbridge has completed the construction of its contested Line 3 crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. The pipeline is reportedly now operational, violating the treaty rights of local Indigenous communities. Line 3 is set to carry over half a million barrels of tar sands oil every day from Alberta, Canada, through Minnesota to the tip of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, threatening sacred wild rice watersheds in Minnesota, local waters and lands, and doubling Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Indigenous leaders and land and water defenders, who have been resisting Line 3 for years, often putting their own bodies on the line, vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline. Last week, a small group of water protectors confronted Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar at a fundraising event, where advocates say plates cost $1,000 a person, demanding her to take action against Line 3.

WATER PROTECTOR: We’re asking you to call on President Biden to stop Line 3. It has a higher carbon footprint than the entire state of Minnesota. And this climate crisis — I mean, you saw Hurricane Ida. You saw how many people died. And we just really need you to call on him and ask him to stop it.

AIDE: Excuse us.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Yes, I know about the concern.

WATER PROTECTOR: Because you have so much power. You have so much power.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR: I’ve brought those concerns to him. Thank you.

WATER PROTECTOR: And as a young person, the climate crisis is a thing that really concerns me, and stopping Line 3. We can’t have climate justice without you stopping Line 3 and asking President Biden.


WATER PROTECTOR: I know that you don’t have a vote, and I know that you can’t vote in the Senate to stop Line 3. But President Biden has that power. And you have the power.

AMY GOODMAN: “You have the power.” More than 900 water protectors have been arrested over their resistance to Line 3, with some protesters facing felony charges as they were brutalized by police. Some water protectors also reported being denied medical care and being placed in solitary confinement after their arrests. Well, The Guardian newspaper revealed last week that Enbridge paid Minnesota police $2.4 million in reimbursements, all costs tied to the arrests and surveillance of hundreds of water protectors, including officer training, wages, overtime, meals, hotels and equipment for the local police, paid for by an international corporation.

For more, we’re joined in Ponsford, Minnesota, by Winona LaDuke, longtime Indigenous activist, who’s been organizing for years to block Enbridge Line 3. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, is executive director of Honor the Earth. Her piece for the Minneapolis Star Tribune is headlined “Line 3 opponents can savor this defeat.” Her latest book, To Be a Water Protector.

Winona, welcome back to Democracy Now! So, if you can talk about these latest revelations of this Canadian company paying the local police to arrest you all, and also what it means that Enbridge says Line 3 is operational?

WINONA LADUKE: [inaudible] Enbridge’s Line 3 is operational will say that they’ve been hurrying really fast because the federal court has yet to rule on whether Enbridge has any ability to move forward. There’s no federal environmental impact statement on this project, which is why we want Joe Biden to stop it. I mean, they stole 5 billion gallons of water, fracked 28 rivers out, and then they have this broken aquifer losing 100,000 gallons a day of water. They have no idea how to fix this stuff, since January. You know, it’s really horrible up here. So, you know, Enbridge has been trying to rush to get this online before the court will rule against them, because, generally, courts have not ruled in favor of pipelines. That’s the status that we have seen, you know, in the federal court ruling on the DAPL, where the federal court ordered them to close down. This is the same company. Enbridge was 28% of DAPL. And when the federal court ordered them to close down the pipe, they said no. When the state of Michigan ordered them to close down a pipe this last May, they said no. So they’re just trying to continue their egregious behavior.

It’s so tragic that, you know, on one hand, the Biden administration is like, “We are going to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but we’re still going to smash you in northern Minnesota and smash the rest of the country.” Same thing, you know, Klobuchar and Smith, the two Minnesota senators, shameful their lack of courage, not only for Indigenous people but for the planet, you know?

So Enbridge is trying to get that oil out. In the meantime, it’s a disaster up here. I’m still up here monitoring the line and monitoring what’s going on, because it’s crazy. And just to say, they don’t have Indigenous Peoples’ Day apparently in Becker County, because have a court date today. So, you know, no break for Indigenous people. You could still go to court. You know, it’s just insane up here.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how does your activism change now that it’s supposedly operational, the pipeline? And what exactly does it mean? For people who aren’t familiar with Line 3, talk about its course, from Canada through the United States, and why you’re so concerned about this particular pipeline.

WINONA LADUKE: OK. Well, first of all, the pipeline is 915,000 barrels a day of oil. That’s a lot of oil that’s going to move through it, if they get their way. And that oil, like, this is the last tar sands pipeline. Now, how we know this is the last tar sands pipeline is that our alma mater — remember, Amy, when we were at Harvard trying to get them to divest in South Africa? No, but they just are divesting in fossil fuels. Everybody is fleeing the tar sands. And it’s an industry that’s at its end. Like, Canada needs to quit trying to breathe life into the tar sands and breathe life into boarding schools and residential schools. They need to just stop being the criminals that they are.

You know, so, forcing them — they’re four years behind schedule, if they get to oil. And in that four years behind schedule, the industry is falling apart. There’s no new investment in tar sands infrastructure. And it’s the dirtiest oil in the world. Then add to that the fact that the company can’t even get insurance for its pipeline. Like, I’m just trying to understand what kind of fiscal responsibility exists in the state of Minnesota, that Enbridge divulged a couple of weeks ago that they can’t get insurance for their pipeline. And so, you have an accident, it’s going to be just like Bhopal and Union Carbide. These guys are going to pack up and go back to Canada. You know, I mean, it is a really horrific situation. And, you know, the impact of it is so wrong. You know, I mean, it’s not only the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants, but right now our rivers are dry. They took 5 billion gallons of water from the north. Enbridge and the Walz administration are climate criminals.

And the Biden administration needs to stand up. You know, on one hand, I’m looking at Joe Biden, and I’m so grateful. Like, Bears Ears, that was the right thing to do, you know, to get back and to be the people that are supporting Indigenous people and Land Back. Let’s go, Joe. Let’s go. Let’s go, Joe. You know, 80 million acres of national parks stolen from Indian people, let’s start returning those, too, along with creating new national parks. We could just start returning land that was stolen. That would be a great step.

And then, actually, when you have Indigenous people in your administration, Joe, like Deb Haaland or maybe Jaime Pinkham at the Army Corps of Engineers, let them do their job, instead of having politics, oily politics, intervene. You know, I know that Deb Haaland does not support this pipeline. No sane person supports this pipeline. Only people who want to take oil money from Canadian multinationals support this pipeline. And I know that Jaime Pinkham, assistant in the Army Corps of Engineers, came up here, came up and visited, and saw what was going on and the disaster.

Our tribes have sued, you know, trying to stop this, sued in federal court. That federal court hearing is yet. And our tribes also have a tribal court hearing, where the federal courts have ordered Enbridge to come to our court, because we say that they’re climate criminals and they’re destroying the rights of wild rice. Actually, the state DNR has been ordered into tribal court.

You know, so, Joe, if you appoint Indian people, don’t just make them pretty Indian people that sit in your administration. Let them do their job. Indigenous thinking is what we need in the colonial administration. That’s when change happens.

AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up, Winona, in August, you met with the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights defenders to share the police violence suffered by water protectors protesting the Line 3 construction site. And now we are learning just how much money the Canadian corporation gave to the local police to do the arrests, to do the training, etc. What happened with the U.N. rapporteur?

WINONA LADUKE: The U.N. rapporteur has asked the United States a bunch of questions and is expecting a response on what exactly the United States is planning to do to protect the human rights of Indigenous peoples, because this pipeline does not respect not only treaty rights, but, you know, when you get 900 people arrested and they’re brutalized with all kinds of — you know, I mean, it is torture. Some of what was done to these people is classified as it’s excessive force. So, the United Nations has called to task the United States on the Enbridge pipeline. And so, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, that’s part of what we are saying, too, is it’s a time to account.

And I just want to say that this isn’t just like our problem, because the Enbridge model — like, first of all, Canadian multinationals kill people in Third World countries. That’s what they do. You know, that is known. Seventy-five percent of the world’s mining corporations are Canadian, and all through Latin America there’s human rights violations. This is no different. This is a Canadian multinational and Indigenous people. And two years ago, we told Attorney General from Minnesota Keith Ellison that this was going to be a problem. You know, we have had no action. And instead what we have is our rights continue to be violated. And, you know, I’ve got charges in three counties, more probably coming soon. I mean, this is like —

AMY GOODMAN: What do you face?

WINONA LADUKE: And this is a national problem, because the Minnesota model is being considered nationally, that corporations should finance your police. And that is — you know, in any way you look at it, that’s definitely a violation of the public trust, to have corporations financed by the police. And the Minnesota —

AMY GOODMAN: What charges do you face, Winona?

WINONA LADUKE: I’ve got trespassing, obstruction. I think I’ve got some public safety, you know, causing public safety problems because cops could have been doing something else instead of monitoring people on the pipeline. A lot of trespassing charges — Aitkin, Hubbard, Wadena County. I’ve got charges in three counties so far.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, best of luck to you today in court, Winona LaDuke, longtime indigenous activist, executive director of Honor the Earth, speaking to us from northern Minnesota.

When we come back, we look at the Russian journalist who was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Stay with us.

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Thailand’s Indigenous Peoples fight for ‘land of our heart’ (commentary)

Thailand’s Indigenous Peoples fight for ‘land of our heart’ (commentary)

In this article, originally published on Mongabay, Pirawan Wongnithisathaporn and Thomas Worsdell describe how the indigenous peoples of Thailand, like many across the world, find themselves navigating global climate agendas and national environmental laws that position human rights as antagonistic to achieving biodiversity targets. This misguided notion has resulted in conflicting and outdated forestry laws and an increasingly securitized conservation strategy, which are jeopardizing the possibility of creating solutions that benefit the climate as well as people.

by Pirawan Wongnithisathaporn and Thomas Worsdell

  • Thailand’s legal frameworks for biodiversity conservation and international climate commitments omit the important role that its Indigenous Peoples play as stewards of the environment.
  • A militarized conservation approach has seen Indigenous communities evicted from their ancestral lands, prosecuted for enacting traditional practices, and even assaulted and killed.
  • At the heart of the problem is lack of legal recognition of Indigenous groups, and therefore a refusal to grant them tenure rights.
  • This article is a commentary and the views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

On Sept. 3, 2019, the remains of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, a Karen environmental and community rights defender who was disappeared in 2014, were found in an oil drum submerged under the Kaeng Krachan dam suspension bridge in Phetchaburi, Thailand. Billy was last seen by his community while being arrested by Kaeng Krachan National Park superintendent Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn and his officers for allegedly collecting wild honey illegally.

Three years before Billy’s disappearance, under the same superintendent’s watch, 98 houses and rice barns were burned in the village of Baan Jai Phaen Din, also in Kaeng Krachan National Park. Charges filed by the community against the former superintendent and the officers were controversially dropped in early 2020. In the meantime, Thai authorities continue to claim the settlement is illegal.

Established in 1981, Kaeng Krachan National Park sits on Thailand’s central border with Myanmar. Before being evicted by the military in 1996, the Karen Indigenous Peoples lived sustainably for centuries inside the park in their original village of Baan Jai Paen Din, meaning “land of our heart.” Ever since the eviction, they have been systematically resettled into the lowlands.

Recently, Karen members began returning to Baan Jai Paen Din in the uplands. As a result, they once again face renewed threats of eviction from the military and the country’s conservation authorities. The ongoing conflict in Kaeng Krachan is perhaps Thailand’s most well-known conflict between Indigenous Peoples and conservation activities — but it’s far from the only one. The Kaeng Krachan conflict is a clear example of deeper issues embedded in Thailand’s legislative system.

The Indigenous Peoples of Thailand, like many across the world, find themselves navigating global climate agendas and national environmental laws that position human rights as antagonistic to achieving biodiversity targets. This misguided notion has resulted in conflicting and outdated forestry laws and an increasingly securitized conservation strategy, which are jeopardizing the possibility of creating solutions that benefit the climate as well as people.

In Thailand, as in other countries, the moral imperative of preserving Earth systems is being used as an avenue for continued rights abuses against already vulnerable and marginalized communities. Rather than recognize the rights of those who have traditionally managed lands, Thai environmental policy favors centralized approaches to conserving “strategic” resources. As biodiversity becomes increasingly scarce, combating biodiversity loss through increasingly militarized means seems to be less about conserving species populations and more about ensuring territorial control. The implications of these militarized approaches are militarized outcomes, conflict, abuse, displacement, disappearances and violence.

Indigenous relationship with land

Justifying the displacement of Indigenous Peoples from biodiverse areas for the purpose of conservation is a contradiction. Indigenous Peoples inhabit some of the most biodiverse and intact landscapes on Earth, and their knowledge and associated ways of life are widely recognized as being vital for conserving biodiversity. The acknowledgement of Indigenous knowledge is enshrined within the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. In national contexts, acknowledgement rarely translates to strategies that actually democratize decision-making or devolve leadership to Indigenous knowledge holders. Moreover, this knowledge cannot be treated the same as other knowledge systems. While Indigenous knowledge can be documented and shared, its conservation benefits are inextricably linked to the spaces in which it is enacted. Therefore, the displacement of communities leads to the assimilation of Indigenous ways of life into the wider realms of society, which ultimately results in a breakdown of their knowledge systems.

Highland Indigenous Peoples cannot simply relocate their culture and way of life to the different demands of a valley. When this happens, the loss of knowledge and identity central to locally applied environmental solutions become stories fondly shared by elders rather than strategies collectively enacted by communities to survive in their local environments. This is what the Indigenous Peoples in Thailand are fighting for: the right to continue their way of life in the “land[s] of their heart” that have supported them through generations.

Sadly, Thai laws and government conservation strategies have failed to recognize these relationships Indigenous Peoples have with their land, a relationship built on the notion that the nature being conserved and the Indigenous Peoples who live within it are both the community. This is, in part, the basis of many conflicts between Indigenous Peoples and their governing institutions across the world. What separates the plight of Indigenous Peoples in one country from another are the different national legislative mechanisms and political will (or lack thereof) to apply or redefine laws which recognize identities and promote the agency and self-determination of community-driven solutions.

Understanding Thai environmental laws

A country’s laws are intertwined with its history, and for Thailand these laws are embedded in its process of nation building. First, we must recognize that Thailand was never physically colonized by European states. However, due to close business ties with neighboring colonial governments, it adopted many similar land management and natural resource governance regimes.

Nation building also entailed building a Thai identity that was linked to the country’s dominant language and ethnicity, Buddhism, and the monarch. As a result, for most of Thailand’s history, its Indigenous Peoples have long been regarded as non-Thai, even outsiders or illegal migrants. This view has contributed to their systemic exclusion from Thai society all together. Last year, there were about 480,000 registered stateless people in Thailand, most of whom are Indigenous Peoples living in mountainous border areas. About 77,000 Indigenous elders in Thailand lack citizenship.

In the case of Baan Jai Phaen Din, park officials claim Indigenous Peoples to be migrants from Myanmar. This is a tactic used to justify their resettlement to the wider public. This view of Indigenous Peoples as outsiders by mainstream Thai society and within national laws has been a consistent struggle for the Thai Indigenous movement, despite data from a military Ordinance Survey Department showing that the Karen have lived in Baan Jai Phaen Din for more than 100 years.

In 1997, under the late King Rama IX, the hill tribes gained their current definition of Chao Thai Phu Khao (“Thai people who live in the Mountain”) from the government. While this definition finally recognized Indigenous Peoples as “Thai people,” it is a label that fails to acknowledge them as “Indigenous Peoples” in line with definitions in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As a result, Thailand has still not fully recognized the Indigenous identities (Indigeneity) of the peoples who live within its borders. This lack of recognition or a selective understanding of what it means to be Indigenous is a common challenge across Asia as well as Africa.

Indigenous Peoples are associated with having “historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies” and a “strong link to territories and natural resources.” Using only this part of the definition, it is easy to see how governments in Asia and Africa argue that all of its citizens are Indigenous and equally protected to rights under a country’s constitution. But Indigeneity is a complex construction, linked also to languages, cultural manifestations, ancestral lands, the desire to uphold traditional ways of life, and a collective self-identification as Indigenous. Indigeneity is linked to a different set of relations with the surrounding world, with the land. As reflected in the name of “Baan Jai Phaen Din,” the land is their heart and supports the continuation of their Indigenous culture that they are fighting to preserve.

Thai law does not support the relationship Indigenous Peoples have with their lands, consequently ignoring their rights to lands and forests. Even while Thailand has adopted the UNDRIP, it has not created the required laws specific to Indigenous Peoples that support their ways of life. Thailand has also not ratified the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989 (ILO 169). One of the strongest laws supporting Indigenous rights is one within the Ministry of Culture; however it is the very definition and understanding of culture that is called into question in the Indigenous debate. Government officials are happy to promote traditional song, dance and artisanal work — attractive to tourists and transferable to the city and valley — but they are reluctant to enforce the ownership of traditional lands that are the foundation for that culture.

Instead, terms like chao khao, meaning “hill people,” reflect notions of “backwardness” and being environmentally destructive. With climate change, forest fires in the north have become more severe as the dry season becomes drier and longer. Indigenous villagers have been forced to fight fires, amid zero-burn policies that restrict traditional fire management practices, while being simultaneously blamed by the state for causing them. These narratives of supposedly destructive Indigenous practices are used in union with outsider or illegal migrant discourses to justify their eviction to civil society. In Kaeng Krachan, when the Karen returned to Baan Jai Phaen Din and began clearing land for rotational agricultural practices (recognized in 2013 as a national item of intangible cultural heritage), park officials filed charges against the community for “destroying the watershed.” This is simply not true. In fact, felling trees and creating fallow plots for rotational agriculture benefits the soils and biodiversity in the area.

In protected areas, a saga of violence and injustice

Thailand’s protected areas cover 19% of its national territory and are home to 1.1 million people. All trees, unless planted on private property, belong to the king of Thailand, and so do the lands on which they grow. This centralized control is reflected in the management of these protected areas, 80% of which constitute “strict nature reserves” and “national parks” under the IUCN’s definitions, managed by either government or government-delegated organizations. This leaves Indigenous Peoples with no ownership or managerial rights.

Enforcing this managerial regime has caused violence. On May 2, 2020, Luan Yeepa, 55, a Lisu member who was collecting fallen branches for firewood at the edge of his arable plot in Chiang Mai province, was assaulted by eight uniformed Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary patrol officers. It was not an isolated case. In neighboring Pha Daeng National Park, the Lisu villages of Rin Loung, Tung Din Dam and Pha Bong Namg, to name a few, have had parcels of agricultural lands seized and crops destroyed by the park due to a forest reclamation policy aimed at increasing forest cover to 40% of the country’s terrestrial area. This policy, pushed by the junta-led government that took power in 2014, is at the core of Thailand’s international climate commitments.

The forest reclamation policy criminalizes Indigenous Peoples for using their customary lands and enacting their traditional practices. Between 2014 and 2019, Indigenous and local people were sent to court in a record 29,350 cases involving 136,576 hectares (337,487 acres) of farmlands being “reclaimed” by national parks. In 2019, 2,851 people were charged with encroaching into protected areas and 17,341.6 hectares (42,852 acres) of their farmlands were appropriated. By June 2020, a further 1,830 cases against Indigenous and local peoples were recorded. A summary of these cases was presented to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) by the Network of Indigenous Peoples in Thailand.

What does the future hold for Thailand’s Indigenous Peoples?

Thailand’s forest reclamation policy is also connected to a string of amendments to environmental laws. One is the National Park Act B.E. 2562 (2019) amendment, aimed at resolving long-standing conflicts between communities and the state. As part of the amendment, 600,000 hectares (1.48 million acres) of non-forested lands were surveyed, and communities inhabiting these lands are now waiting to be granted 20-year use concessions from the government. Lands not recognized will be formularized as belonging to the government for the ostensible purpose of reforestation.

While this seems like a positive development, research shows that a further 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of Indigenous and local community lands lack legal recognition, almost three times those surveyed in official figures. These concessions do not translate to ownership nor do they secure tenure. The national park amendment also increases the fines, restrictions and penalties for using forested areas. Under the policy, conflicts will undoubtedly continue, if not get worse all together. As the international community promotes climate financing, a lack of tenure rights may lead to continued evictions to secure control of important carbon sinks.

For several years, Thai authorities have attempted to get Kaeng Krachan National Park recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the committee has yet to add the park to the list, citing a lack of participation from local communities. But the government continues its attempts without amending its relations with the Karen community. In light of this, it is critical for the international community to create binding commitments for governments to recognize land rights and self-determination of communities as central to achieving their environmental commitments.

A recent study by the Rights and Resources Initiative showed that between 1.65 billion to 1.87 billion Indigenous and local peoples live in important biodiverse areas that require urgent conservation attention. In Thailand alone, these biodiverse spaces are home to 42 million people. As the future of the Karen conflict remains uncertain, what is certain is that if conservation strategies do not recognize local peoples’ rights to govern their lands, any efforts to prevent biodiversity loss will fail.

Pirawan Wongnithisathaporn is a Pgakenyaw Karen Indigenous person from Chiang Mai province, Thailand. She works in the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact’s Environmental program integrating Indigenous knowledge and the rights of environmental defenders into climate change and biodiversity frameworks within the CBD and other international platforms.

Thomas Worsdell is a consultant for the Rights and Resources Initiative. His work focuses on the intersections between Indigenous Peoples’, local communities’ and Afro-Descendants’ rights with biodiversity conservation and environmental policy.

Friday, May 7th #Defund Line 3 Global Day of Action

Friday, May 7th #Defund Line 3 Global Day of Action

Original Press Release

Together we are powerful. Since the #DefundLine3 campaign launched in February, bank executives have received more than 700,000 emails, 7,000 calendar invites and 3,000 phone calls, demanding that they stop funding Line 3. There have been protests at bank branches in 16 states. Collectively, we’ve raised more than $70,000 for those on the frontlines.
Now, we’re pulling all of that energy together for one powerful, coordinated day of action.
There are already actions confirmed in more than 40 US cities ― in New York, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and more ― as well as in the UK, France, Holland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Canada and Sierra Leone.
If there isn’t an action near you, organize one! Actions can be small. Going to a local bank branch with your friend to deliver a letter or petition can be a powerful action. Actions can be large. Think hundreds of people shutting down the streets outside of a bank’s headquarters.
Whatever type of action you plan, Stop the Money Pipeline organizers will be here to support you every step of the way. To organize your own action, please fill out this form and an organizer will be in touch.
On the frontlines, more than 240 people have now been arrested for taking bold direct action to stop the construction of Line 3.
Just a few weeks ago, Indigenous Water Protectors sang and prayed inside of a waaginogaaning, the traditional structure of Anishinaabe peoples, as allies locked to each other around the lodge, blocking Line 3 construction for hours.

After they were arrested, the Indigenous Water Protectors were strip-searched, shackled and kenneled ― for nonviolent misdemeanors. Meanwhile, Enbridge has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on riot gear, tear gas, and weapons for local militarized police forces that are regularly surveilling and harrassing nonviolent Water Protectors.

The #DefundLine3 Global Day of Action on May 7th is a powerful opportunity for us to stand in solidarity with those who are leading the fight on the frontlines ― and to send a direct, powerful message to Wall Street that funding climate chaos and the violation of Indigenous rights will not be tolerated.
-Simone Senogles
P.S. Want to learn more about the #DefundLine3 campaign? Check out this blog or this blog from Tara Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective.
India’s Farmer Strike: We Have Marched Before, We Will March Again.

India’s Farmer Strike: We Have Marched Before, We Will March Again.

Editor’s note: DGR strongly opposes the three new farm laws that have inspired the farmer’s protests in India. However, we do not necessarily agree with all of the demands of the protestors.

This article original appeared on the People’s Archive of Rural India on January 28, 2021. Written By Shraddha Agarwal.
Featured image by the Author

“We borrowed a 1,000 rupees from the seths [farm owners] to come here. In return, we will work in their fields for 4-5 days,” said Vijaybai Gangorde, 45.

She arrived in Nashik on January 23 at noon, in a tempo painted blue and orange – one of the first to reach the Golf Club Maidan in the city, to join the vehicle jatha (march) to Mumbai.

Vijaybai’s 41-year cousin, Tarabai Jadhav, was also travelling with her from Mohadi, their village in Nashik district’s Dindori taluka. They both work as farm labourers there for a daily wage of Rs. 200-250. The cousins came to Nashik to join other farmers – about 15,000 from mainly Nanded, Nandurbar, Nashik and Palghar districts of Maharashtra – going to Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, about 180 kilometres away, to protest against the new farm laws.

“We are marching for our upajivika [livelihood],” said Tarabai.

A sit-in and a march to Raj Bhavan, the Governor’s residence, in south Mumbai have been organised by the Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha on January 25-26, to express solidarity with the protesting farmers at Delhi’s borders. Farmers from 21 districts of Maharashtra, assembled together by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), are gathering in Mumbai for these protests.

For over two months, lakhs of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been staging protests at five sites on the borders of Delhi. They have been protesting against three farm laws that the central government first issued as ordinances on June 5, 2020, then introduced as farm bills in Parliament on September 14 and hastened to become Acts by the 20th of that month. 

The laws are: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act. 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The farmers see this legislation as devastating for their livelihoods by expanding the space for large corporate to exercise even greater power over farming. They also undermine the main forms of support to the cultivator, including the minimum support price (MSP), the agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs), state procurement and more. The laws have also been criticised as affecting every Indian as they disable the right to legal recourse of all citizens, undermining Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.

Vijaybai and Tarabai, who belong to the Koli Malhar Adivasi community, a Scheduled Tribe, paid Rs. 1,000 each for a seat in the hired tempo to Mumbai and back. They borrowed the amount because they had no savings. “We had no work during the [Covid-19] lockdown,” said Tarabai. “The state government had promised 20 kilos of wheat free for each family, but only 10 kilos was distributed.”

This is not the first time that Vijaybai and Tarabai are marching in protest.

“We had come on both the marches – in 2018 and 2019,”

they say, referring to the Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai in March 2018, and the follow-up rally in February 2019, when farmers voiced their demand for land rights, remunerative prices for produce, loan waivers and drought relief. It is also not the first jatha from Nashik to protest against the new farm laws. On December 21, 2020, around 2,000 farmers had collected in Nashik, of which 1,000 set out to join their northern counterparts on the outskirts of Delhi.

“The only way we Adivasis can be heard is by marching [for our rights]. This time, too, we will make our voices heard,”

said Vijaybai, making her way with Tarabai to the centre of Golf Club Maidan, to listen to the speeches of AIKS leaders. After all the vehicles had assembled, the convoy left Nashik at 6 p.m. that evening. At Ghatandevi temple in Igatpuri taluka, Nashik district, the marchers halted for the night. Many of them had packed a simple meal – bajra rotis and garlic chutney – from home. After dinner, they spread out thick blankets over tarpaulin sheets on the ground beside the temple and fell sleep.

The next day, the plan was to walk down the Kasara ghat near Igatpuri and reach the Mumbai-Nashik highway.

As they prepared to leave at 8 a.m., a group of farm labourers discussed their children’s future in the agriculture sector. “Even though my son and daughter have both completed their degrees, they’re working on farms for a meagre income of Rs. 100-150 [per day],” said 48-year-old Mukunda Kongil, from Nandurkipada village in Trimbakeshwar taluka, Nashik district. Mukunda’s son has a BCom degree, and his daughter has done a BEd, but they both work as farm labourers now. “The jobs go only to non-Adivasis,” says Mukunda, who belongs to the Warli (or Varli) Adivasi community, a Scheduled Tribe.

“My son worked so hard in his college and now he works on farms every day,” said 47-year-old Janibai Dhangare, also a Warli Adivasi from Nandurkipada. “My daughter finished her pandhravi [Class 15, that is, a BA degree]. She tried to get a job in Trimbakeshwar, but there was no work for her. She did not want to leave me and go to Mumbai. That city is too far and she will miss home-cooked meals,” she said, packing away her leftover bhakris and loading her bag into the tempo.

The farmers and farm labourers walked for 12 kilometres from the ghat to highway with their flags, raising slogans against the new farm laws.

Their demand is for a repeal of the three laws as well as of the new labour codes, while also seeking a law to guarantee remunerative minimum support prices (MSP) and countrywide procurement facilities, said AKIS president, Ashok Dhawale. “This march is an important contribution to the historic nationwide struggle of lakhs of farmers in Delhi and all over the country against the neoliberal and pro-corporate policies of the central government,” said Dhawale, who is travelling with the group.

Upon reaching the highway, the farmers took their places in the vehicles and proceeded towards Thane. Along the way, various organisations supplied them with water bottles, snacks and biscuits. They stopped for lunch at a gurudwara in Thane. It was 7 p.m. on January 24 when the jatha reached Azad Maidan in south Mumbai. Tired, but with their spirits intact, some farmers from Palghar district entered the ground singing and dancing to the tune of the tarpa, a traditional Adivasi wind instrument.

“I am hungry. My whole body is hurting, but I’ll be fine after some food and rest,” said Vijaybai, after settling down with her group of farm labourers. “This is not new for us,” she said. “We have marched before and we will march again.”

Shraddha Agarwal is a reporter and content editor at the People’s Archive of Rural India

Will People Go On General Strike?

Will People Go On General Strike?

Paul Feather calls us to reframe this time of crisis: “Shall we permit the storytellers to name what it is that we do? They would call this a lockdown, but we are going through the motions of a general strike. Our foe is down. Are there no holds barred? Strike now! Strike down their stories. Break their magic wand.”

I have been told that this is war.

That this virus makes frontlines of our hospitals and calls for measures untold of before.

That there will be victory gardens again.

Ford will make ventilators for the fight, and United We Stand.

Are there no holds barred then? Where is the enemy that we may strike? But wait! Is there time for a treaty?

Perhaps we may yet consolidate our allies—these gathering armies that bristle at each other may yet coalesce against a greater foe. This has happened before, has it not?

Lift your gaze.

When Pizarro landed in Peru, he met an empire quite as plagued by infighting and partisanship as our own. We should be wary of reducing the outcome of complex encounters to absurd things like causes, but the Incas were quite confident in the integrity of their empire. They were unconcerned about conquest by a few hundred smelly white men, and opposed factions within the Inca’s domain sought to wield these invaders against other factions. For this lack of unity, at least in part, they were killed. Por viruela. By a virus.

We will do this also. We will not unite in what they tell me is this war against the virus.

Our so-called leaders, the media, and other influencers also seek to wield this new invader as a weapon of their own. This is a form of domestication, for we cannot tolerate a wild thing. Eventually they will tame this virus with vaccines, but in the meantime those who would wield the power of this wild beast will keep it on a leash made of story. They will weave together narratives for their already docile people—for they are the storytellers, and we the captive audience. But, they will offer us a choice. Some semblance of freedom. We may choose which side we’re on.

Here is the choice we are given; the story we are told; the dichotomy we must never question. Shall we ask for protection from our government?—lockdown measures to protect the fragile among us—or do we argue for loosened restrictions (even if this means more deaths) to protect the economic system? This is your choice. It’s the Heartless and Practical Capitalists against the Naive and Compassionate Socialists—which side will you choose? In this war against the virus, sacrifices must be made. What will it be—protection or profit?

Lift. Your. Gaze.

I question this declaration of war. I will not fight a fight against so new an enemy when I have old enemies enough. Nor will I submit that my stories be told in the dichotomies of power and politics. I am at odds with this economy already, it’s true—I would love nothing more than to shut it down—but I am wary of these strenuous protections. These lockdown measures respond to the death of privileged people and nothing else. Where is the National Guard when indigenous lands are stolen? When is the global economy shut down to save those who die mining conflict minerals in the Congo? Where is the infrastructure mobilization that stops the deaths of malnourished children?

There is a war we are already fighting, and it is the same war that the Incans lost five hundred years ago. Where are our allies in this war?
The virus has struck. The economy reels and casts about for weapons against this new foe. It reaches for that magic wand that tells the stories, and in so doing it regains initiative and footing. Shall we permit the storytellers to name what it is that we do? They would call this a lockdown, but we are going through the motions of a general strike. Our foe is down. Are there no holds barred? Strike now! Strike down their stories. Break their magic wand.

Do not let them name what we do.

Do not let them tell us that they lock us down for our own protection—that we cower before this virus to protect the fragile among us. We will say what we are doing, and it is a strike. We will protect the aged and infirm, yes. But when they call us out again, we will not come. Or we will come with our demands. And if we are frustrated at so many who do not isolate themselves and so accelerate the spreading virus, let us draw them into solidarity with our effort by offering something to gain. Call it a strike. Offer the carrot and not the stick. Listen to their demands.

This is all a bit naïve of course. There are big wheels turning that do not stop so quickly. I know this, for I have pushed against them all my life. I do not believe the workforce will suddenly coalesce behind a story that the storytellers have not written for us, but I do believe we might leave behind a word. A piece of punctuation. A blot of ink upon the story which cannot be wiped out.

And also there is this: There are bigger wheels than those that turn in this machine, and lest we also succumb to our temptation to wield the wildness of the virus for our own ends—however noble they appear—let us remember that it is the virus who wields us. Let us not domesticate or leash this power. Let us seek to be the point of the sword and not the hand that holds it.

But let us strike.

Paul Feather is an animist farmer and writer living in Georgia, USA.  He is the co-author of three books, and some of his work has been published in Dark Mountain. His writing may be found at www.paulandterra.com.

Argentinian Feminist Collective Calls for International Women’s Strike on March 8th

Featured Image: A strike against violence against women in Buenos Aires, October 2016. (Image: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

      by  / Feminist Current

The Argentinian feminist collective behind Black Wednesday back in October have called for an International Women’s Strike. Planned to coincide with the International Day to End Violence Against Women, Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) is calling for women everywhere to strike on March 8th.

Black Wednesday was the first region-wide march to protest male violence against women and girls. It rallied women in Latin America around the concept of femicide, which describes the murder of women and girls at the hands of men. Femicide targets females specifically, and is an epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in countries across the world. As such, it is the cornerstone of Latin American feminist activism.

In their manifesto, Ni Una Menos states:

“We strike because the victims of femicide are missing among us. Their voices were violently shut down by the chilling drum of one femicide per day in Argentina.”

Although Ni Una Menos is based out of Argentina, on Black Wednesday women and girls were joined in a massive display of feminist solidarity by thousands in Uruguay, Paraguay, Perú, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, México, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Spain. Following the success of the Polish women’s strike against abortion, Black Wednesday, and the Women’s March in Washington and sister marches, numerous countries around the world are expected to join the March 8th strike.

Ni Una Menos’ manifesto reads:

“This March 8th the earth will shake. Women around the world will unite and organize around one common goal: an International Women’s Strike. We women will strike, organize and build solidarity among ourselves. We will practice the world in which we want to live.

We strike to bring attention to:

The capital that exploits us in the informal economy. The state and market forces that exploit us when they put us in debt. The nation-states that criminalize our migration. The fact that we make less money than men and our wage discrimination is, on average, 27 per cent. We strike because of the economic violences that heighten our vulnerability to misogynist violence, whose most violent extreme is femicide. We strike to demand abortion on demand and so that no girl is forced to become a mother.

Among us are missing the lesbians and transwomen who were murdered under hate crimes. The political prisoners, the persecuted, the women murdered in our Latin American territory for defending the land and resources. Among us are missing the women who died and the ones who remain in prison due to unsafe abortions. We are missing among us the ones who were disappeared by traffickers and the victims of sexual exploitation.

We appropriate the tool of striking because our demands are urgent. The strength of our movement is in the bond we create with other women. We are braiding a new internationalism. We see the neoconservative turn that’s taking place in the region and in the world, so the feminist movement is surging as an alternative. 2017 is the time for our revolution.

When our homes become hell, we organize to defend each other and protect one another. In the face of the crimes of machismo and its pedagogy of cruelty and in the face of the media’s attempt to victimize us and terrorize us, we make of our individual grieving a collective comfort and a shared enragement. In the face of cruelty: more feminism.”

With over 30 countries set to join the strike, the rallying cry,  “Solidarity is our weapon,” is fitting. Indeed, this has always been the ethos of the women’s movement. Now more than ever before, solidarity is exactly what is needed.