Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flame of Solidarity for Hmong at United Nations


Sunday April 26th 2008

By Damon Gerard Corrie

I dared to 'dream out loud' on Wednesday April 23rd when I felt compelled to write the article 'Without Solidarity we are all doomed to failure' - which highlighted the heartbreaking plight of the 7,000 Hmong Indigenous People in northern Laos; in South-East Asia.
Now it appears that the global indigenous unity I wished for the Hmong is becoming a reality at the current Seventh Session on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations.

Mr. Thomas Alarcon of the Juridical Commission for Development for the Andean First Nations (Peru), apparently told the leadership of the Congress of World Hmong People that the Carib Chief of Dominica and myself might be willing and/or able to assist them; and I am eternally grateful for Thomas for that....because 4 senior leaders of that Organization requested to meet with us last night as a result.

At 6pm our Hmong brothers arrived - including the President of the CWHP, Thomas met them in the lobby of our hotel and escorted them to our room on the eleventh floor, I met them at the door and with both hands shook the right hand of each as we welcomed them in.
We had a long fruitful discourse, they gave us as much information as they possibly could in the 4 hours we spent in each others company, and asked the Thomas, the Carib Chief and myself for advice and solidarity - which we gave without hesitation.
One of the High points of the night was at 9pm when the aging leader of the persecuted 7,000 Hmong in Laos called the CWHP president's cell phone from a mountain top in northern Laos via a satellite phone smuggled to him recently by Hmong supporters abroad.
I had only just watched this veteran leader on the Al-Jazeera documentary 4 days prior, and here I was - hearing his voice live as he relayed news to his people standing next to was surreal.
I am also noticing how 4 and 9 - the two sacred numbers for my Eagle Clan Arawak people have been featuring all through this particular episode in my life, beginning with my registration at UN headquarters on Monday April 21st at 9.04 am.

Another high point of the night was when the CWHP President asked Thomas Alarcon, myself and Carib Chief Williams; to write the Statement of Solidarity which they will circulate among all the Indigenous Peoples representatives at the UN this week to gain support.
I feel proud to have been a co-author of that statement, and among the first 4 persons to affix my signature to it.

The low points of the night were the recent photos smuggled out of northern laos of new Laotian army attrocities that were shown to me, they disturbed me to the extent that I could not sleep last night after my Hmong brothers left; and I do not think I have wept like that since I held the dead body of my 3 day old first daughter Aderi in my arms 14 years ago.
The first photo was of a young Hmong woman, her beautiful long black hair sullied by leaves and debris around her beautiful face as she lay naked and dead on her back on the forest floor, her nipples had been cut off; and her pregnant stomach had been cut open just below her navel.
In my soul that was my wife and my baby, how did her husband feel (if he was even still alive) when he saw that scene in person? How would you feel?

The second photo was of a young teenaged boy, the soldiers had disemboweled him and left him to die, but he clung to life with his entrails in his hands for many hours before succumbing.
In my soul that was my son Hatuey who is 14 now, how did his parents feel when they found him like that? As a parent how would you feel?

The third item was a confession in an American newspaper by a former CIA operative who recruited Hmong over 40 years ago during the Vietnam war for the United States government.
He descibed in great detail how at first they recuited young men from 18 years and over, but when those got too few they took Hmong males from the age of 14; eventually not enough of those were left alive so they took Hmong boys from ages 9-13 ...they couldn't go lower "Because that was the youngest age they could still hold and fire a rifle".
He went on to recount the last Hmong Child Soldier he airlifted into battle in a Bell Helicopter before the Vietnam war ended, the boy was about 11 he reckoned and very small - so much so that he had to fold and fasten his man-sized army fatigues to his body with cord so it would not fall off.
When the helicopter landed the little boy scrambled out and immediately fell flat on his face due to the weight of his gun and back-pack. The very next day the same CIA officer saw the boys limbless body being retreived from the same battlefield.
In my soul that was my second son Tecumseh who is a wee fellow for his 12 years of age and I pictured his sweet smiling face on a mangled little corpse.

The last photo I saw was of a cage full of 28 beautiful little Hmong girls at an army camp in Laos, my Hmong brothers knew their ages, from 9 to 14 they told me. The girls were safely smuggled out of Laos and into Thailand - where their lives could have been save, but instead the Thai authorities deported them back to Laos - and to the awaiting clutches of the Laos military.
Do you know what happened to those 28 beautiful little girls? They were shared out to all the Laotian soldiers in that camp who all took turns raping them until their little lives were snuffed out - and their bodies dumped into an un-marked grave.
In my soul my second daughter sabantho who is 9 was among them in that cage, and I felt the rage and sense of helplessness of a father unable to protect his daugher from the great evil that was about to be inflicted on her in her youthful innocence.

The Hmong Indigenous Nation are an independent people with a distinctive culture, language and religion; and they are one of the oldest tribal peoples in greater Asia with roots dating back to the Hmong Kingdom of King Chiyou in 3,000 BC.
The Hmong civilization, peoples, lands and territories were greatly afected by the imperialism in Asia by regional and European powers begining with such treaties as the 'Franco-Chinese Treat of 1885', and the 'Franco-Siam Treaty of 1907, which determined the modern day political and geographical boundaries of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Traditional Hmong territories were fractured into isolated regions by these two treaties.

The Hmong were recruited to fight by all parties to the international conflicts of the First French Indochina War, the Second Indochina War, and the Laotian Civil War from 1946-1975; in battles to control South-East Asia. The national security of the Hmong People was never included in the cease-fire agreements to end the war in South-East Asia in Paris in 1972 - and in Vientiane in 1973.

Both the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR)and the socialist republic of Vietnam violated the peace agreements in 1975 and started to implement a policy of extermination of the Hmong Indigenous People from then until the present year 2008; in which hundreds of thousands of Hmong people were killed. It is a Genocide that both the Lao PDR and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam deny.
Despite calls for access to investigate the situation and begin conflict resolution by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) in 2005, the Lao PDR and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have denied access and continued to violate International Human Rights laws and ignored their respective countries obligations as member countries of the United Nations.

In addition to waging Genocide against the Hmong Indigenous Nation, the Lao PDR also seized Hmong traditiional lands, territories and natural resources - and awarded them to International investors; and offerred the same for Special co-operation Treaties and debt-relief exchange agreements.

The Hmong in Laos continue to be victims of imperialism, grave desecration, occupation, population displacement, poverty, racism, chemical warfare, forced starvation, torture, rape, illegal detention and imprisonment, refugee repatriation, child trafficking, dissappearances, forced relocation, assassination, poisoning, execution and genocide.

The Lao PDR Armed Forces - with direct assistance from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, continue to persecute the Hmong Indigenous People of Laos by every means at their disposal.
Over 4 decades later - they are still fanatically persecuting the Hmong in Laos for being allies of the United States in the 1960's - during the Vietnam war, despite the fact that virtually no Hmong in Laos alive today had any personal involvement with that conflict; and the Hmong have actually been begging for the peace agreement they made in good faith with their tormentors since 1975 to be upheld - to no avail.

* The World Bank is part of the apparatus of the United Nations, the Lao PDR government depends heavily on World Bank aid, and all that is required for the savage slaughter of the Hmong in Laos to be halted is for the World Bank to suspend aid 'until and unless' the government of Lao PDR grant the requested access to the UN CERD special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples to investigate the this too Herculanean a task for the World Bank to accomplish?
* Will not a President of the United States have the conscience and moral fortitude to exert a modicum of its tremendous influence on a politicaly insignificant state like Laos - to help the Hmong people whom the United States have caused to endure all of this pain and suffering in the first place?
* Will His Excellency President Evo Morales of Bolivia - the only Indigenous head of state in the Americas remember the blood and tears of the genocide in the Andes inflicted on his own ancestors - and do just one thing to help the Hmong People in their hour of need today?
* Will a Caribbean Political Leader be noble enough to merely raise the issue of the UN CERD access at the United Nations General Assembly?
For we the Indigenous Arawak and Carib peoples of the Caribbean also faced such a fanatical genocide 5 centuries ago and our tragedy should not be forgotten by those in positions of power in our region today who can prevent it from occurring to others crying out for justice!

As I end this article I leave you the reader with this final scene:
By the end of the meeting all my Hmong brothers were struggling to hold back their tears, and I remember being asked 4 questions that I still have no answer for...and that I will never forget; before leaving one of the Hmong (and cousin of Yachue Chao) turned to me and said:
"Brother, there is a God - but how are these things possible?
How could he let such terrible things happen to people who did not do anything?
Why does no-one in the world care about us?
Why does no-one do anything to help us?"

Damon Gerard Corrie
Eagle Clan Arawaks
Member of the Caribbean Caucus
United Nations Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues
Seventh Session
April 21st-May 2nd 2008
New York

Seventh Generation Fund at the UN: Importance of water


Intervention to the Seventh Session of the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2008

Submitted by the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development

Agenda Item 3: Special theme: Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of Indigenous peoples and new challenges
Protection of Water

Thank you, Madame Chair, for the opportunity of addressing the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, an Indigenous Peoples’ non-governmental organization directly engaged with Indigenous communities and Nations to design and implement ecologically and culturally harmonious strategies for sovereignty, human rights, environmental and social justice, sacred sites protection, and the revitalization of traditional economies, submits this intervention on Agenda Item 3, under the Special theme of Climate Change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of Indigenous peoples and new challenges, with the following signatories: American Indian Law Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, Andes Chinchasuyo, Native Youth Coalition, Centre for Organization Research and Education, Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, Western Shoshone Defense Project, Tonatierra, Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization, Idiwanan An Chawe (Zuni), and the UNPFII Youth Caucus.
For the last three years our organization and co-signatories have addressed the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the Protection of Water as a human right, and we are honored to do so again under this year’s special theme. In this regard, we call for the recognition of Water as essential to Life, crucial for bio-cultural diversity and for sustaining all aspects of Indigenous Peoples’ survival and well-being, including assuring our physical health, nurturing our spiritual development, and central for the continued vitality of our cultures and traditional livelihoods. We recognize that Water is the most vulnerable element of all forms of Life in light of Climate Change and its impacts. Time is of the essence. We must take action now as some places are flooded and others stricken with drought. With this in mind, we urgently reiterate the critical significance of protecting Water sources and Indigenous Peoples’ full, unencumbered access to clean Water on our territories and advance these recommendations.

1. We appeal to the Permanent Forum to strongly advocate for the establishment of a United Nations International Year for Water which can among other mandates, conduct focused research and emphasize critical concerns of Water in relation to Indigenous Peoples and Nations of the world against the backdrop of tremendous impacts on the accessibility, potability, and holistic integrity of Water, due to Climate Change.
2. We further implore that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues call for a study on Water and then, the immediate appointment of a United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Water and Water Catchment Areas in order to gather testimony directly from Indigenous Nations of the world targeted for or impacted by Water privatization, diversion, toxic contamination, dams, pollution, commodification, non-sustainable energy development, and other environmental injustices that damage natural, potable, and accessible Water supplies on which Indigenous Peoples rely for spiritual and nutritional sustenance. We recall that this recommendation was carried forth by the Permanent Forum to the Economic and Social Development Council when we first requested this in 2005, and we ask that this appeal is recognized and advanced by this body to ECOSOC again this year.
3. We strongly urge that the Permanent Forum recommend to ECOSOC to call for the coordination of an official UN Experts Meeting on Water that initiates a close review and assessment of Water allocation, regulation and access policies that affect the rights of Indigenous Nations, the health of our Peoples and that of future generations. This high level Experts Meeting on Water can explore and establish indicators of Water Well-being for Indigenous Nations, and the world community, particularly in light of increasing negative Water impacts due to Climate Change. This meeting can share the information about traditional use of Water in order to recover the ceremonies, appropriate esoteric language terms, and protocols in relation to Water.
4. We ask that the Permanent Forum take immediate steps for its participation in the 2009 Policy Session of the Third Implementation Cycle of the 17th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17) that will focus on the following thematic issues, as they relate to water issues and Indigenous Peoples’ rights: agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, and Africa. And, that the Permanent Forum will coordinate with the CSD’s Indigenous partnership organizations.
5. That the Permanent Forum take steps through ECOSOC to facilitate a meeting with UN Water, that coordinates the UN Decade on Water 2005-2015, the UN World Water Day, March 20th, and the International Decade for Action – “Water for Life,” 2005-2015 with a goal to identify protective, preventive and restorative mechanisms for our Waters and to assure that Water is accessible to Indigenous Peoples, as well as to repair our diverse ecosystems that rely on the health of natural Water flows where they have been damaged or exploited.
6. We also condemn the use of national militaries and corporate private armies employed to prevent Indigenous communities’ access to their traditional Water sources for drinking, agriculture, fishing, transport and ceremonies. We call on the Permanent Forum to take leadership in working with ECOSOC to denounce repressive actions and call for a halt to such abuse of security forces and legislation that inappropriately justifies this.
7. We affirm President Evo Morales call for a UN Convention on Water, and further, that Indigenous Peoples participate in the development of that convention.
8. That the Permanent Forum call for a World Conference on Water and Peace in collaboration with Indigenous Nations.
9. Any initiatives on Water must observe and recognize all articles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Narrative Justification
We call it kyawe, pa’a, and mni; Water. The significance of Water is expressed in a rainbow of songs, stories, and ceremonies, holding a potent place in our cultures, linking us together in a continuous, Life affirming cycle. And yet, increasingly, our territories are either parched or flooded – being destroyed by the unquenchable greed of industrialization, a feature of colonization. Springs that our ancestors emerged from within the womb of Mother Earth, the precious watersheds that feed our lakes and fields and sustain our bodies, and rivers that carry our prayers to the forever after, are being contaminated, dammed, diverted, and siphoned. Ancient glaciers are fast melting into the sea, displacing our peoples, threatening our coastal zones with submersion and endangering the continuity of all Life. These are the ever increasing impacts of Climate Change.
Human rights violations, including the ongoing invasions onto Indigenous territories, and the attendant wrongful taking of our natural resources, particularly the nearly unhindered exploitation, diversion and commodification of Water, obstruct critically needed access to our Waterways and threaten the survival of Indigenous Peoples and of our distinct cultures. These assaults have direct and tremendously destructive impacts and further impoverish our already vulnerable, besieged Peoples, and threaten our cultural continuity.
Air poisons us and the rain burns. The land, our Mother Earth, bleeds toxins. Water is undrinkable, or further unreachable. Our ancestors and leaders have prophecies that foretell of these changes now occurring across the globe. And, we must be proactive in finding ways to survive because the Natural Law – the spiritual justice that is unfolding in response to assaults against the Earth - will have no mercy. The incredible, negative effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples’ potable Water systems and accessibility are a new challenge with which our Nations are faced. It is exacerbated by the continuing privatization and exploitation of Water and other resources on our territories by ever-thirsty multi-national corporations, shortsighted governmental development policies, and encroachment activities by non-indigenous settlements. This forces us into poverty and pushes us further to the edge of existence, where many are already barely holding on by their fingertips for survival.
As different strategies are created to respond to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples’ retain our right to free, prior, and informed consent before any development takes place on our territories, by any outside entities, including the World Bank and States, whose actions may impact or abrogate our aboriginal and/or treaty rights including the human right of access to clean Water for all aspects of our life. In fact we maintain that Indigenous Peoples have a right to say “no” to halt any development on our territories because we know that what some may consider sustainable solutions to Climate Change such as agro-fuels production, mega-hydroelectric dams or hydro-geothermal development does in fact, displace our Peoples, exploit our territories, subvert our cultures, and further oppress the accessibility and health of our water systems and homelands.
Esteemed members of this Forum, Indigenous women throughout the world who often have the primary responsibility of locating and carrying Water for the survival of their families, and may risk their lives to do so, now find only dust instead of Water. In too many places, a polluted stream is our only source of Water. And in too many places, our peoples are struck down by waterborne and vector borne disease, due to the lack of accessible, clean water on our territories caused by Climate Change. We hunger and can no longer plant our gardens, not because we have forgotten how to nurture life from a seed, but because without access to Water, our crops cannot flourish, and we cannot thrive without them.
Brothers and sisters of the world, what were once rich landscapes awake with forests and gardens, rivers and cornfields, alive with animals and birds, and a harmonious biodiversity of Indigenous cultures, are quickly becoming parched lands which only our tears can soften. Soon, even our most lush lands will be barren. Soon, even our tears will dry up and we will only have blood in our eyes as the wars for oil transform into Water Wars that shroud the globe in a clash which humanity cannot survive. Too many of us are already dying of thirst. Our children, and the generations to come, will inherit this conflict and it is for them that we call upon the Permanent Forum and offer this intervention, for the Water - the essence of Life, for world peace.
Elahkwa – thank you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bush's toxic highway, Mexico to Canada, with all the pesticides you can eat ...

"José Can You See? Bush's Trojan Taco"

By Greg Palast
Monday April 21, 2008 (for

Psst! George Bush has a secret. While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has snuck back down to New Orleans for a meeting of the NAFTA Three: the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico. You're not supposed to know that - for two reasons: First, the summit planned for the N.O. two years back was meant to showcase the rebuilt Big Easy, a monument to can-do Bush-o-nomics. Well, it is a monument to Bush's leadership: The city still looks like Dresden 1946, with over half the original residents living in toxic trailers or wandering lost and broke in America.
The second reason Bush has kept this major summit a virtual secret is its real agenda. More important, the agenda-makers, the guys who called the meeting, must remain as far out of camera range as possible: The North American Competitiveness Council. Never heard of The Council? Well, maybe you've heard of the counselors: the chief executives of Wal-Mart, Chevron Oil, Lockheed-Martin and 27 other multinational masters of the corporate universe. And why did the landlords of our continent order our presidents to a three-nation pajama party? Their term is "harmonization." Harmonization has nothing to do with singing in fifths like Simon and Garfunkel. Harmonization means making rules and regulations the same in all three countries. Or, more specifically, watering down rules - on health, safety, labor rights, oil drilling, polluting and so on - in other words, any regulations that get between The Council members and their profits. Take for example, pesticides. Wal-Mart and agri-business don't want to reduce the legal amount of poison allowed in what you eat. Solution: "harmonize" US and Canadian pesticide standards to Mexico's. Can they do that? Can Bush just say, "Eat your peas - even if they're radioactive?" Under NAFTA, at least the way George Bush reads it (or has it read to him), he can. At any rate, he does. The three chiefs of state will meet privately with the thirty corporate chiefs where they are also expected to legally erase more of our borders, to expand the "NAFTA highway." Technically, the NAFTA highway is a set of legal rules governing transcontinental shipment. Some fear NAFTA highway expansion will allow a new flood of cheap Mexican products into the US and Canada. Not so. Their hunger to expand the NAFTA highway is to bring in even cheaper Chinese goods.
Say what? As trade expert Maud Barlow explained to me, the new "NAFTA highway" will allow Chinese stuff dumped into Mexico to be hauled northward as duty-free "Mexican" products. That's one of the quiet agendas of this "Summit for Security and Prosperity", (SSP) the official Orwellian name for this meet. Think of the SSP "harmonization" as the Trojan Taco of trade. Barlow is Chairwoman of the Council of Canadians. She is known as the "Ralph Nader of Canada" (not Nader version 2.0, The Spoiler Candidate, but Nader version 1.0, the consumer advocate). Because Americans are too distracted by the Punch-and-Judy primaries to complain about this lobby-fest on the bayou, Canadian Barlow is leading street protests against this greed-grab. I caught up with this courageous Canadian (I've seen her face down corporate bullying we can't imagine in the US) on her way down to New Orleans. Barlow's particular concerns are first, the NSS agreement promotes a five-fold increase in the mining of Canadian tar sands for import, as liquid crude oil, into the USA, an idea filthier than a re-make of Debbie Does Dallas. "This is an insane model of development," she says, especially given Bush's recent claim that he wants to slow global warming. Bush himself is pushing his Canadian and Mexican counterparts to adopt US-style "Homeland Security" measures so that, says Barlow, "we'll all be zip-locked together in one security bag." There will be other anti-SSP protesters in New Orleans as well, from America's populist Right. They are concerned that the Security and Prosperity Summit is worse than the "NAFTA on steroids" that Barlow fears. The populists see in the SPP a nascent "North American Union," and the elimination of the good old US of A.
They're wrong, of course. The U.S. of A. has been long eliminated, at least economically. The Competitiveness Council is a multinational crew, with one shared set of country clubs, beach homes, art collections, union busters and lobbyists knowing no borders. The populist radio hosts railing against the coming North American Union don't realize that these CEOs won't take away their flags or Fourth of July or Star-Spangled Banner. The rags and flags will always be kept around to con the schmucks along the Yahoo Belt into donating their children to the Iraq Occupation or other misadventures. A billionaire like Carlos Slim, the richest man on the planet (sorry, Mr. Gates), didn't buy the Mexican government to "protect" his nation from Gringos but to protect his media monopoly. So there is no United States of America nor Canada nor Mexico - at least as we like to imagine ourselves in our national fairy tales: self-governing democracies run by we the people or nosotros el pueblo. There's just the diktats of the North American Prosperity Council. Get used to it. Barlow said that the US Ambassador to Canada told her the legal changes wrought in New Orleans will not be put before the three national Congresses for a vote. "We don't want to open up another NAFTA." So, they'll skip the voting stuff. Democracy is so, like, 20th Century.
Barlow said that the US Ambassador to Canada told her the legal changes wrought in New Orleans will not be put before the three national Congresses for a vote. "We don't want to open up another NAFTA." So, they'll skip the voting stuff. Democracy is so, like, 20th Century. Is Bush just a reluctant participant in this "harmonizing" of our economic fate? The meetings are secret, so I can't say for sure. But I note that, at the opening ceremony, if you read his lips, you can see our president singing the national anthem as, "José, can you see?" ***********Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Sign up for Palast's investigative reports for BBC on RSS feed at

Make a donation to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund and receive a DVD of the untold story of the drowning of New Orleans, Big Easy to Big Empty, made for Democracy Now! at Note: On May 1, in New York, Palast will speak at the international conference of the victims of Barrick Gold mining operations, the Canadian-American company whose board members included the former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney and the former President of the United States, George Bush Sr. Information soon at

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Longest Walk, Chris Teves Photos

Photos by Chris Teves on the Longest Walk Northern Route: Miguel and Richard in Kansas; Paul Owns The Sabre at Sand Creek; Longest Walkers in Colorado. (Please double click on photos to enlarge)

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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