We are shocked and alarmed by the news that the Philippine government has declared a list of 600 people to be communist terrorists. On the list are mostly indigenous leaders, environmental activists and human rights defenders. Among them are some of our partners, and we are deeply worried about them and the other people on this list.
This week, from 12 until 16 February, fourteen indigenous leaders and human rights defenders from forest countries came to the Netherlands to call upon Dutch policy makers to take serious action against human rights abuses, land grabbing and further deforestation in relation to large scale agriculture, timber logging and mining. The Dutch harbours of Rotterdam and Amsterdam receive enormeous amounts of soy and palm oil, both for the Dutch market and for further transport into Europe and elswhere.
Indigenous communities in Paraguay saw their attempts to regain their ancestral lands thwarted by German investors. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses that are included in many such treaties.
The EU is still one of the world’s largest importers of deforestation: EU demand for commodities like soy, palm oil, beef, coffee and cacao requires millions of hectares of tropical rainforest to be cleared. This deforestation has significant biodiversity and climate impacts, and is often linked to human rights violations and violence against local communities and indigenous peoples. Both ENDS and partners have been actively lobbying the EU Commission to adopt a robust action plan to address and prevent human rights violations and deforestation ‘embodied’ in EU imports of agricultural commodities.
We are deeply shocked about the murder on Dexter Condez, the 26-year-old leader of the Ati tribe, an indigenous group in the Philippines. He was shot dead Friday night February 22nd on the tourist island of Boracay. While no suspects have been arrested, the police thinks the motive could involve a dispute between de Ati tribe and developers over a piece of land. Our sympathy goes to the family, friends and the people he worked with.
On Wednesday, November 14, Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant published a joint op-ed by Both ENDS, Hivos, Greenpeace Netherlands and Witness about the deforestation in the Amazon region which is still going on rapidly, having disastrous consequences for the indigenous people who live in the area, for biodiversity and for the climate. The Netherlands is one of the largest buyers of Brazilian agricultural products such as soy and beef, and should ensure that deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations do not occur in these production chains. Unfortunately, this is not at all the case yet.
Pieter Jansen, programme officer at Both ENDS, interviewed Sukanta Sen from the Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK). BARCIK is an NGO that works in the field of environment, biodiversity conservation and development. They have been promoting the significance of local and indigenous knowledge in development initiatives as well as the empowerment process of local and indigenous communities.
After the second shocking murder of an indigenous rights activist in Honduras in less than two weeks the Dutch development bank, FMO, and the Finish development bank, FinnFund, announced a suspension of all their operations in Honduras. They declare that they will no longer engage in new projects or disbursements in the country, including in new disbursements in the Agua Zarca Project.