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Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders

By staff - Global Witness, July 2020

For years, land and environmental defenders have been the first line of defence against climate breakdown. Yet despite clearer evidence than ever of the crucial role they play, far too many businesses, financiers and governments fail to safeguard their vital and peaceful work. 

The climate crisis is arguably the greatest global and existential threat we face. As it escalates, it serves to exacerbate many of the other serious problems in our world today – from economic inequality to racial injustice and the spread of zoonotic diseases.

For years, land and environmental defenders have been the first line of defence against the causes and impacts of climate breakdown. Time after time, they have challenged those companies operating recklessly, rampaging unhampered through forests, skies, wetlands, oceans and biodiversity hotspots.

Yet despite clearer evidence than ever of the crucial role they play and the dangers they increasingly face, far too many businesses, financiers and governments fail to safeguard their vital and peaceful work. 

Our annual report into the killings of land and environmental defenders in 2019 shows the highest number yet have been murdered in a single year. 212 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 – an average of more than four people a week.

Read the text (PDF).

Berta Is Dead, But The Movement She Started Lives

By Beverly Bell - Global Justice Ecology Project, April 5, 2017

The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. This past Monday, March 27, 24 years after Berta Cáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.

About 150 people from throughout Honduras and at least five other countries joined for a Lenca ceremony; a forum on challenges and advances; a concert; a film festival; and a humble feast of roasted pig, rice, tortillas, and birthday cake. The event closed late at night with an open-air performance of “Ancestras”, a new play by the Teatro Taller Tegucigalpa (Tegucigalpa Theater Workshop) about COPINH’s fight to defend the Gualcarque River, and structural injustice by the government and oligarchy.

COPNH has not only survived, it continues to serve as a source of inspiration for indigenous and other movements throughout Honduras and the world. As with Berta Cáceres’ life work, COPINH’s goes far beyond environmental defense. Its aim is to transform the political, economic, and environmental landscape of Honduras, and – in conjunction with movements elsewhere – of the world.

Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth-Mexico and Otros Mundos who was shot and almost killed in Cáceres’ home the night she was assassinated, said, “The death of Berta has not been the death of the struggle. On the contrary, it’s been a wake-up call.”

Canada’s New Anti-Terrorism Act and the “Green Syndicalist Menace”

By Jeff Shantz - Anarcho Syndicalist Review, Summer 2015

IWW EUC note: This article was written before the results of the recent election in Canada, in which voters ousted the Conservative Party in favor of the (ostensibly centrist) Liberal Democrats.

On January 30, 2015 the ruling Conservative Party government of Canada introduced its most recent terror panic based legislation, in the form of Bill C-51 (the Anti-Terrorism Act). The Bill has now passed House of Commons vote, on May 6, and is in final approval steps at the Canadian Senate.  Under the guise of “fighting terrorism” (people in Canada are much more likely to be killed by a moose than by a terrorist) C-51 criminalizes not only specific actions (“illegal protests,” “unlawful assembly,” wildcat strikes) but symbolic (including online) expressions of support for things like “economic disruption” (choose what that means).

In many respects C-51 stands as an attack against rank and file mobilization and action, beyond legal collective bargaining contexts, and against working class organizing beyond legislative challenges (i.e. direct actions). The Bill would formalize Conservative Party opinion, as already stated by former Environment Minister and current Finance Minister Joe Oliver who identified environmental activists as radical and terrorists. It is introduced in a context of growing government and corporate concern over emerging alliances against extractives industries.

This is the most recent of Conservative Party attempts to target and criminalize direct action and more militant organizing. It comes at the same time as freedom of information requests unearthed an RCMP “Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment” report on “Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry.” The RCMP document dedicates several sections to attempts to construct environmentalists and indigenous activists as threats to workers (and as terrorists). Clearly they see an important, and from their view necessary, wedge to drive between budding green syndicalist alliances, as between dockworkers and anarchists at some Westcoast ports and between rank and file resource workers and pipeline opponents.

The Bill contains a number of provisions that would explicitly target workers and workplace actions. These would focus on wildcat strikes, strikes of any kind that impact extractives industries or transport, and actions like slowdowns or disruptive job actions. Any workplace actions that occur outside of legally recognized union endeavors or collective agreement provisions could be targeted.

EcoUnionist News #36

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 22, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

We Just Come to Work Here; We Don't Come to Die:

1267-Watch:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

Greenwashing:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

EcoUnionist News #19

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 7, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Story:

Carbon Bubble:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

National Science Foundation Researcher Fired For Political Activism

By Mark Strauss - io9, September 11, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Valerie Barr, a professor of computer science at Union College, decided last summer to take a leave of absence to join the National Science Foundation and help improve science education among undergraduates. But when a background check revealed her involvement in left-wing groups 30 years ago, she was told to leave.

News of Barr’s dismissal comes three months after a respected policy analyst was fired from the Los Alamos National Laboratory following complaints about an anti-nuclear article that he had written. And, now according to a report in ScienceInsider, Valerie Barr’s colleagues worry that her experience will have a chilling effect on efforts to recruit other scientists under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)—which allows academics to temporarily work for NSF without quitting their existing jobs.

At the center of the story is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—a federal agency that wields tremendous authority in vetting recently hired government employees. In the case of Barr, the OPM declared her to be guilty of “dishonest conduct,” because she allegedly lied about connections to a domestic terrorist group.

Nobody was more surprised to hear about that than Barr herself. She says that, when she was 22-years-old, she was a “worker bee”—handing out leaflets and baking cookies—for two organizations, the Women’s Committee Against Genocide and the New Movement in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence. Federal investigators say those groups were affiliated with a third, the May 19 Communist Organization (M19CO), which committed a series of violent crimes, including the killing of two police officers and a security guard during a failed 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck near Nyack, New York.

Former ELF/Green Scare Prisoner “Exile” Now a Fascist

By Valdinoci - New York City Antifa, August 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It’s been an open secret for months that Nathan Block (better known as “Exile”), a former Green Scare prisoner who served a number of years in prison for several Earth Liberation Front actions, has become a fascist. This has been known not just through numerous personal accounts from Olympia, but from copious postings on his tumblr blog Loyalty Is Mightier Than Fire (Exile has confirmed to local anti-fascists that the blog is his).

Do you believe Anarchism and Nazism are compatible? All the anarchists killed by fascists could not be reached for comment.

Do you believe Anarchism and Nazism are compatible? All the anarchists killed by fascists could not be reached for comment.

If you are unfamiliar with the more obscure references to Nazism and the postwar fascist movement, except a few decorated swastikas, Exile’s blog might look like a creepy spiritual goth kid’s elaborate art project. However, if you understand the references, it is immediately obvious that Exile is going out of his way to promote a slew of fascist writers and imagery, especially those influenced by Esoteric Nazism and other forms of mystical fascism.

The most prominent is Julius Evola, an Italian Traditionalist philosopher who attacked the “modern world” as decadent and corrupt. (Evola is the go-to guy for fascists who want a Situationist, Frankfurt School, or anarchist-style critique of capitalism and the consumer society.) Evola worked for the Nazi SS and was the main intellectual figure in Italy’s vibrant postwar fascist milieu. Third Positionism – an anti-capitalist, racial separatist, and ecological version of fascism – has its origins partly in Evola. The very title of Exile’s blog comes from a quotation in one of Evola’s most famous political books, Men Among the Ruins, and Evola quotes are found throughout the blog. Exile has told people that “Evola will show us the way.”

Exile also likes to quote Miguel Serrano, a postwar esoteric Nazi from Chile. Serrano, along with the better-known Savitri Devi, promoted worshiping Hitler as a deity. Serrano wrote numerous books about Hitler; these ideas have influenced the spiritual parts of the neo-Nazi movement such as the Hitler-worshipping New Order organization (formerly the American Nazi Party).

In addition to these obscure Nazi references, Exile’s blog contains a slew of other Nazi images, including swastikas, as well as black suns and runes used by the Nazis. Some of these images are reproduced below; they are taken both from his tumblr, as well as from his “Likes” on other tumblrs.

Read the entire article here

KPFA FM Radio Broadcast: Repression Against Environmental Activists - Terra Verde, June 27, 2014

Terra Verde, KPFA 94.1 FM - June 27, 2014 at 2:00pm, Hosted By Laura Garzon Chica

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

(On this show) we explore the condemnation of eco-activism as terrorism punishable under the law (or outside the law) in the name of national security. Does the government's attack on civil disobedience signal an end to a legitimate democracy in the USA? What does the corroding of civil liberties and the gutting of the Bill of Rights mean for those who struggle to protect our environment, ourselves as a species, and other creatures? What about corporations and the intelligence industrial complex at large? How do these non-state actors engage in the push to prosecute environmentalists involved in nonviolent direct action as terrorists and/or spies? Guests Will Potter, Shahid Buttar, and Steve Ongerth tackle these questions with host Laura Garzon Chica.

Download this clip (mp3, 5.13, megabytes)

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June 11th International Day of Solidarity With Marie Mason, Eric McDavid & All Longterm Anarchist Prisoners 2014 Call Out

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Note: Marie Mason is a dues paying member of the IWW.

Though it may not seem like it from the depths of winter, June 11th is quickly approaching. As a revitalization of the day of support for eco-prisoners, the International Day of Solidarity with Marie Mason, EricMcDavid and Long-term Anarchist Prisoners has seen a huge outpouring of support and love for both Marie and Eric from all corners the globe over the past 3 years.

Significantly, in addition to the well-spring of both material and immaterial support, we've seen the proliferation of solidarity actions in many diverse contexts spreading the spirit and contributions to our struggles of those the state has attempted to disappear. Coordinated international solidarity has begun to flourish, with information about long-term anarchist and environmental prisoners crossing many geographic and linguistic barriers.

These efforts have had very tangible effects in the lives of Marie and Eric (and many others). Fundraisers have helped them remain true to their vegan principles, loved ones have been able to visit regularly even across vast distances, new generations of radical folks all over the world have reached out to them in solidarity. In short, June 11th has been greatly successful in helping to keep Marie, Eric and many other long-term anarchist and environmental prisoners in our hearts and minds, and to keep them alive in our struggles.

But this process of remembering - of "keeping alive" - is a tricky thing.

Our struggles and movements are often mired by a lack of memory, a lack of understanding and connecting with the past as a way to inform our actions in the present. This is both a product of the techno-alienation of our age as well as a consequence of tactical repression by state forces. The state, for the time being, has the ability to kidnap our comrades and bury them alive, to force them to languish in cold steel and concrete for decades on end. They're ripped from our communities, from our lives. And in their place exists a painful void.

The state, for its part, is banking on the veracity of the old adage "time heals all wounds"; it is hoping that this void will shrink and that we will "forget". If held in captivity long enough, so thinks the state, the actions of our courageous comrades will fade into the oblivion of history and we on the outside will be left without their constructive and loving presence in our struggles. We must fight against this repressive tendency; we must never forget.

Appeal from the Families of the Four No-TAV Demonstrators Arrested for Terrorism

From libcom.org, February 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

An extremely moving and heartfelt appeal from the families of four No Tav protesters, charged with terrorism and held in maximum security detention for allegedly damaging equipment on construction sites for the high speed rail link.

You’ve heard them talked about over the past few weeks. They are the people arrested on 9 December and charged (still to be proven) with attacking the TAV construction site in Chiomonte. A compressor was damaged in this attack and not a single person was injured. The charge, though, is of terrorism because ‘in this context’ these alleged actions ‘could have’ created panic in the population and severe damage to Italy. What? Damage to the public image. We’ll say it again: to the public image. The charge is based on the potential of this behaviour but, as the crime of unintentional terrorism does not exist in our legal system, this charge is of real and intentional terrorism. To make things clear, this is the same charge as in the ’70s and ’80s massacres, the bombs on trains and in the piazzas and, recently, in airports, underground metros and skyscrapers. Terrorism against people who were oblivious and unaware, which killed and which, yes, terrorised the entire population.

By contrast, our sons, brothers, sisters have always respected the lives of other people. They are generous people, they have ideas, they want a better world and are struggling to achieve that. They fight against every form of racism, denouncing the horrors of the CIE detention centres long before the press and public opinion discovered them and about which there is so much indignation today. They have created space and moments of confrontation. They’ve chosen to defend the life of an area, not to terrorise the population. Everyone in Val Susa will tell you this, as they are doing continually on their websites. And are these the people being terrorised? And can a burnt compressor really create severe damage to Italy?

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