Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for May, 2009

Shell compound breached in Glengad during Rossport Solidarity Camp gathering

31.05.2009 19:03

This afternoon at 5pm, over 200 people from the local community and the Rossport Solidarity Camp Summer Gathering attempted to dismantle Shell’s illegal compound at Glengad
After a day of direct action training, local people and their supporters walked to the south side of the compound where they attempted to breach the fence in two places. They were met by strong opposition from over sixty Gardai, including many from the Public Order Unit.

At least five people who scaled the fence into the compound were held by security guards and later arrested.

Later in the afternoon, as the crowd were leaving, a further arrest was made when the Gardai targeted a prominent campaigner and forcibly detained him for speaking out against the actions of the Gardai.

Today’s action comes the day after Maura Harrington was released after 13 days in Mount Joy prison, Dublin for non-payment of fines, including a one thousand euro contribution to the Garda Benevolent Fund.

Around 200 people are attending the RSC summer gathering. It’s a beautifully sunny weekend and preperations are now well under way for another summer of action against Shell in Mayo, on land and sea. Come and be part of it!

gordon

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Corporate Land Grabs in Africa

Western Corporations buying up land in the Global South for Carbon Offsets, Agrofuels and ready for  profiteering at the next food crisis.


The International Food Policy Research Institute has just released a
detailed report on huge corporate purchases of land in some of the poorest countries in Africa. In the next food crisis, huge profits can be made, while millions starve. Some secret agreements came to light during last month’s rebellion in Madagascar. See more details in the IFPRI food blog and Geoffrey York’s report on what he calls “the new colonialism” in the Globe and Mail 5 May 09.

As startling as the facts is the source: IFPRI could hardly be more official, headquartered on Washington’s K Street, headed by a conservative Australian economist, financed by governments and foundations, one of 15 CGIAR research centres stuffed with academic agricultural specialists, some of whom have supported GMOs. That such a source would sound the alarm of a massive threat to the global commons and food security speaks volumes. Many of the land grabs are European carbon fund investments, the new casino of the financiers. Africa is not the only target: see IFPRI map “Land Grabbing” by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries and Stephen Leahy “Global land rush” in IPS News 5 May 09 citing deals in Pakistan, Phillipines, Burma, China and Latin America. Grain has an even longer list (Nov 2008), backed by a blog of clippings.

The semi-official IISD, in Thirst for distant lands (May 2009, pp.11-18) warns that such leases constitute “property” under international trade law. A host country trying to stop subsequent environmental damage due to chemicals, loss of water or food supply, could face $million lawsuits from the “owner” similar to NAFTA chapter 11.

Here are some of the African deals reported by IFPRI (One hectare = 2.47 acres).

Angola
Lonrho (UK) rice lease: 25,000 hectares

Democratic Republic of Congo
China biofuel oil palm plantation: 2.8 million hectares

Egypt
Jenat (Saudi) barley, wheat and livestock feed: 10,000 hectares

Ethiopia
India $4-billion (U.S.): in flower-growing and sugar estates
Dubai World Trading Co. tea: 5,000 hectares
Flora EcoPower (Germany) biofuel: 13,000 hectares
Sun Biofuels (UK) jatropha, a biofuel crop: extent unknown
Saudi land lease: $100-million (U.S.)

Kenya
Qatar fruit and vegetable lease: 20,000 hectares

Madagascar
Daewoo (South Korea) corn: 1.3 million hectares, cancelled when the scandal broke.
Varun International (India) rice: secret lease of 465,000 hectares

Malawi
Djibouti land lease, extent unknown

Mali
Libya lease for rice: 100,000 hectares

Mozambique
China proposed $800-million (U.S.) for rice, cancelled after protests rose.
Skebab (Sweden) biofuel: 100,000 hectares
Sun Biofuels (UK) jatropha biofuel: extent unknown

Nigeria
Trans4mation Agric-tech Ltd. (UK): 10,000 hectares.
China (unknown company rice: 10,000 hectares

Sudan
Egypt wheat land: 2 million tons a year
Jordan leases for livestock and crops: 25,000 hectares
Kuwait: a “giant” strategic partnership, details unknown
Qatar set up a joint holding company in agriculture
Saudi Arabia lease for wheat, vegetables, and livestock: 10,000 hectares
South Korea lease for wheat: 690,000 hectares
United Arab Emirates lease for food crops: 30,000 initially, seeking another 378,000 hectares

Tanzania
Saudi Arabia proposal for 500,000 hectares
China rice lease: 300 hectares
CAMS Group (UK) sweet sorghum biofuel land purchase: 45,000 hectares
Sun Biofuels (UK) jatropha biofuel: 5,500 hectares

Zambia
China jatropha proposal: 2 million hectares.

Kingsnorth Policing Cover-up

29 May 2009

090808_marcvallee_climate_camp_mass_action_9The failure to publish the long awaited report on policing tactics last summer is leading to accusations of a cover-up. Chris Ames reports

The Home Office and Kent Police have buried a report on the policing of last summer’s climate camp at Kingsnorth power station, provoking suspicions that it was critical of the controversial police tactics at the protest.

During the protest last August, activists complained of aggressive policing, including violence against peaceful protestors, excessive use of stop and search powers, arbitrary arrests and mass confiscation of personal property. A number of MPs called for an inquiry.

Last December, policing minister Vernon Coaker told MPs that the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was “considering the lessons to be learned” from Kingsnorth. He said he would discuss its report with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and would then “be happy to share those conclusions” with Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary David Howarth.

But the report has been shelved, apparently because Kent Police did not like its findings, despite sending it back to be revised. Soon after receiving a “final” version, Chief Constable Michael Fuller commissioned a second review, on the grounds that the NPIA report “was not an evaluation of the operation overall or whether or not strategic and tactical objectives were achieved”.

The force also refused to hand the report to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Kent Police have declined to say what the report’s findings were, in spite of a claim that its policy “has always been to be open and transparent in everything we do”.

The Home Office is now presenting the second review, which is being carried out by an assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, as a “report by the NPIA”, even though both the NPIA and South Yorkshire Police have stated that the NPIA are not involved.

Howarth has tabled a parliamentary question asking when the Home Office expects to receive the original report. He has not yet had a reply. He told Index: “It would be disturbing if the police and Home Office were not being wholly transparent about the outcome of the review into the policing of Kingsnorth. This is not a time for the police to close ranks. A democratic police force should not be afraid of healthy public debate and scrutiny. A fully open discussion is an essential part of the process of rebuilding public confidence in the policing of protest.”

Coaker referred to the original NPIA report several times when he gave evidence to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in December. He said: “I want to see what that report says with respect to Kingsnorth.” Six days later, he had to apologise to MPs for an earlier, false, claim that 70 police officers at the climate camp had been injured by demonstrators. But he declined to comment on his previous assertion that police tactics had been “appropriate and proportionate”. He told Howarth that he would “wait for the NPIA report”.

But Kent’s Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Leppard has now claimed that the report was only “an initial debrief”. He said: “As a police force, we are always keen to learn and advance our techniques and that is why we asked the NPIA to carry out a full review.”

Kent Police’s refusal to give the original report to the IPCC has increased suspicions that it was critical of the force’s tactics. In March, the force made a voluntary referral to the IPCC of a highly critical report on Kingsnorth, which was published by the Liberal Democrats. The IPCC’s commissioner for south-east England, Mike Franklin, then asked to see the NPIA report.

According to the IPCC, “Kent Police told the commissioner that they had asked for additional work to be done on the report and that they would share it with him when it was complete.” Although Kent Police have not stated the exact date on which they received the final NPIA report, it seems clear that they had already been given it by that time.

In spite of Coaker’s pledge to consider the report, the Home Office has declined to say whether he took steps to obtain it. Like Kent Police, it is now referring to the South Yorkshire police review as an NPIA report, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from the shelving of the original report.

A spokesperson said: “The conclusions of the report by the NPIA will be shared with the Home Office in June. We will in turn be ensuring that these lessons are picked up across the police service and linked into the [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary] review of [the policing of the G20 protests].” She added: “At NPIA’s suggestion this review will be led by a Deputy Police Constable (DCC)with wide public order experience (from South Yorkshire), supported by NPIA.”

But this claim is contradicted by the NPIA and South Yorkshire Police, who have both stated that the new review has nothing to do with the NPIA. South Yorkshire police told Index: “The review was commissioned jointly by Kent Constabulary’s Chief Constable Michael Fuller and ACPO’s lead for public order, Deputy Chief Constable Sue Sim from Northumbria Police. The NPIA are not involved.”

The disappearance of the original report has aroused suspicions among campaigners. A spokesperson for the climate camp legal team said: “The policing at Kingsnorth was completely over the top, with the indiscriminate use of stop and search powers, the mass confiscation of personal property, and aggressive behaviour by police officers. The police do all they can to cover up their heavy handed behaviour, and so we aren’t surprised to learn that this potentially critical report has been buried.”

She added: “The right to protest is a vital part of our democracy and the police must not be allowed to silence public dissent on crucial issues such as climate change.”

The human price of coal mining

clisna1a westsider in colombia writes:

Fifteen years ago Roche was a hub of rural activity in the municipal of Barranca, La Guajira, a dry arid region in the northeastern tip of Colombia. It was home to 500 families but 483 families have gone. In their place is a sea of red and white striped posts, marking out the plots of land that until recently contained the daily lives, cultures and family memories of the thousands of people who have been forced to leave their lives. The posts mark out the land that is now owned by Cerrejón, one of the largest opencast coal mines in the country.

To walk among these posts filled me with an intense feeling of sadness of lives being slowly suffocated as the mine creeps forward. To live among these posts, with the whines of mine machinery playing over the sound of the wildlife, appears to me like psychological torture for the remaining 17 families.

The majority of Roche’s residents, along with those of nearby villages Patilla, Chancleta and Tamaquito, lived off the fertile land by the banks of the River Rancheria. Life revolved around growing food crops both for themselves and on larger farms as hired hands, rearing cattle, hunting rabbit and goat, and fishing. The Roche residents who remain spoke to us of life now. The land has been poisoned by the coal dust and is no longer productive. The track down to the river from which they used to collect sand for making cement had a trench dug across it preventing vehicle access. Men have been detained by the police when fishing, told that Cerrejón now owns the river that runs past their village and thus illegal to fish in it. Men have been detained when hunting, for trespassing on what was once village lands but is now the private property of Cerrejón.

The local socio-economic system of the area is being obliterated, forcing people from the communties of Patilla, Chancleta, Roche and Tamaquito, an indigenous community, to leave in search of a source of food and income elsewhere. The highest levels of displacement in Roche came post 2001 when a nearby village, Tabaco, was razed to the ground by bulldozers protected by the Colombian armed forces.

“Tabaco pyschologically affected us and people began to sell up for whatever price the company was offering. Cerrejón took advantage of the fear to buy the land for next to nothing and people had to leave Roche, their community.” Resident of Roche

Former residents of Tabaco recently signed an agreement with the owners of Cerrejón, BHP Biliton, Anglo American and Xstrata in which they will be relocated and compensated. I was shown the payment slip for the compensation by a woman wanting answers I could not give. She could not understand how the compensation was for just $200,000 pesos (about £50). “Is this it? Is this our compensation after everything we suffered and 8 years of fighting for some justice? It is an insult.”

While there is an urgency for a solution, the communities are adamant that they deserve at the very least a dignified compensation for their physical and psychic losses, and to be relocated to a site of their choosing with a quality of life at least equal to what they had before the communities social fabric was unpicked.

P1000852(1)

“Every day we feel the contamination getting worse, we need solutions to this now. The good practice of the company would be to relocate the entire village in one go, instead they are doing it individually, and only with people born in the villages, and so dividing the communities.”

On Wednesday 20th April, at the invitation of the communities of Roche, Chancleta, and Tamaquito, and under pressure by a visiting international delegation and Sintracarbon, the union representing Cerrejón workers, representatives of Cerrejón attended a meeting with around 150 people from the communities. More would have liked to have participated but health issues, which they connect to the mine’s presence, made this difficult.

The first issue on the agenda was about the resettlement process. Involuntary resettlement due to mining projects, according to the World Bank, should be done in coordination with the affected communities.

“First Cerreón has to work with us in making a list of what relocation involves, housing, productive projects, amenities. After this is done, they should consult around every one of these points. But they didn’t, their first error. Second error, which can be considered more serious, is that despite the company not doing this, they published on their webpage a completed plan for settlement and said that they had consulted with the communities of Roche, Chancleta and Patilla. What did the company want with this lie? Trick the community? the international community? the local governance? all of the above?“

P1000868(1)

Other issues presented by the community were around the productive projects, health issues, and the behaviour of the company towards the communities. The final issue of the day was around independent advisors.

Community members had previously reflected that whereas Cerrejón has access to an expert team of advisors, the communities have nothing and as such are being manipulated and lied to by the company. For example, one member spoke about how they were invited to a meeting in the mine, where Cerrejón’s legal advisor told them that they did not need advisors, as the company would just negotiate directly with them. Recognising the near comicalness of being told this by a very advisor of Cerrejón, the communities of Roche, Tamaquito and Chancleta united and presented a proposal to Cerrejón. No more negotiations until they have independent advisors, paid for by the company. Cerrejón must give a yes or no by the 31st May.

The following day we met with community members from Barranco, another village. They told us how representatives of Cerrejón are holding meetings and visiting families to talk about future relocation. What was interesting was how the people had been convinced so quickly that they had no other choice, but to go. They know though that they will have to fight for this to be in a dignified and just manner.

It appears to me that Cerrejón is willing to spend the money necessary on its well paid Corporate Social Responsibility and public relations team but not willing to spend the money necessary for a dignified and just relocation of the communities who live on top of the valuable coal.

What is the thinking, individually and institutionally, that justifies these decisions? The dangers of what a just relocation precedent would mean globally? Historical white racism that sees these communities as inferior and therefore not as deserving? And what thinking justifies extracting the coal out the ground at such an incredible speed that, according to Sintracarbon, in 30 years there will be no coal left, the mine will close and the dominant economy of the region will collapse?

from:  http://gizzacroggy.blogspot.com

Bristol Co-Mutiny

Comutiny Final Flyer Black and WhiteSMALL

Come and join the Co-Mutiny!
Bristol September 12th – 20th, 2009
Social Change not Climate Change

self- created recession, war, climate change, repression, environmental
degredation and poverty the list goes on…

But there is hope. Anti government protests are taking place across the
world, factory and school occupations have spread throughout the UK. Local
communities .  We are relearning old skills and learning new
ones for the transition to a just society.

In Bristol and surrounds, a diverse bunch of enraged creatives, dreamers
and schemers, builders and gardeners, workers and students have been drawn
together by the common threads of our indignation at how a combination of
corporate greed, social injustice and environmental degradation is leading
us all towards climate chaos and financial collapse. We invite you to
converge on Bristol for an uprising of autonomous actions and events from
practival skill share to direct action.

12th – 20th of September 2009. Come on down, join the mutiny, get in touch!

OPEN PLANNING MEETING: 13th June 2009, 12pm Bridewell Police Station (the
old one! – does it have another name?)
The Co-Mutineers will be organising actions and events but we need you to
get involved, wherever you are from and whatever your experience. We
encourage autonomous actions.

We are looking for groups and individuals to come along with ideas, plots
and plans for actions, workshops and skill shares. We need you to make
this happen!

For more info: email: comutiny@riseup.net or web: comutiny.wordpress.com/

nothing wrong with our society

Theres nothing wrong with our society. Apart from the corrupt politicians, the greedy and incompetent business men and the violent and human right- abusing police force.

The only silver lining is that it may stop xenophobes going on about all those terrible corrupt foreigners. Noses in the trough? Our Politicians are having a fucking bath in it.

But, thats hardly surprising for an anarchist.

For those who are just  happy to vote evey 5 years or so : WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ?

Take Responsibilty and Take Control.

Summer of Rage – Camping it up

carryonscreenshot

1.Boiling Over – Scotland’s Gathering for Climate Action: 11th – 14th June, Glasgow

2.No Borders Camp, Calais 23rd-29th June (www.calaisnoborder.eu.org.) 3.July Danish Climate Camp 11/19th July(http://camp09.dk/)

4.The Camp for Climate Action in Scotland: Some time 3rd – 11th August (http://climatecampscotland.org.uk/)

5. Belgian/Dutch Climate Action Camp August 3-9 2009, near Antwerp http://www.klimaatactiekamp.org/

6.French Climate Camp August 3rd-9th (http://campclimat.org/) August 3-9th

7.Cymru Climate Camp.13th-16th August 2009 – Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales (Next Gathering: June 6th, South Wales – Location TBC) http://climatecampcymru.org/

8.No Borders Camp, Lesvos, Greece August (25-31) (http://lesvos09.antira.info/)

9.The Camp for Climate Action 2009 will take place Somewhere within London between 27 August and 2 September.

10.Bristol Co-Mutiny: Social Change Not Climate Change. 13th-19th Sept (Next Meeting’s 11th May and 13th June – http://www.westsideclimateaction.wordpress.com