Listen and Accept Our Voice

Listen and Accept Our Voice

Listen and Accept Our Voice, is a video presentation created in response to the Northern Territory and Federal Government’s ongoing program of dispossession, impoverishment, criminalization, and assimilation of indigenous communities in Australia — a program that was first brought forward in the summer of 2007, under the guise of “saving the children.”

The film consists of an interview with Batumbil, a member of the Yolngu Family/Nation in the Northern Territory. Batumbil and her people wish to share what they think and feel about the government and its attempt to break up and close down their community.

They have never had a chance to speak to the government directly.

Yolngu and other Indigenous peoples have been living on their Homelands since well before Settlement. And since Mission days they have continuously asserted their desire and intention to remain on these traditional lands.

However, current and recent Government policies have attempted, repeatedly, to force people off what is traditionally and legally, their own country.

These measures have included such things as rolling back basic services to which every Australian citizen is entitled, and shutting down Homeland Schools while simultaneously linking school attendance to eligibiliy for social security eligibility. And so on.

Homelands have been characterised as sites of social dysfunction, violence and backwardness. They have been described as ‘cultural museums’ and much worse.

But to Yolngu and other Indigenous people Homelands are the source of language, culture, law and life.

Listen and Accept Our Voice


Expanding Yucca Mountain?

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

On Tuesday the Energy Department asked Congress to pass legislation so the proposed high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain could be built to handle far more of the deadly radioactive material than was intended when the site was first selected for study, in 1987. Congress had set a limit of 70,000 metric tons of waste for the site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas but the department said in its report that Yucca Mountain “can be expanded to accommodate three times, or more, the current statutory limit.”

That is based on past studies that have suggested the dump, which is now proposed to encompass 1,250 acres, could be expanded to cover as much as 4,200 acres.

Our advice to Congress is to simply toss out the report. We also believe it would be in the national interest for the new Obama administration, which takes over in January, to simply ignore the recommendation and proceed instead with a strategy to kill the dump plan.

US Defense Secretary Says NK Produced Nuclear Bombs

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says North Korea has indeed produced several nuclear bombs. The remarks come amid a controversy over a recent U.S. report describing the North as a nuclear weapons state.

In a Foreign Affairs magazine article, Gates said that Pyongyang has produced several nuclear bombs and that Iran is seeking to join the nuclear club.

Gates failed to elaborate on the North’s nuclear capabilities, but it is the first time for a U.S. defense secretary to recognize Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons production as an established fact.

Couple’s dreams of luxury home turn to radioactive dust

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When Peter and Michelle Vassiliou bought their luxury, waterfront house in one of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs, they looked forward to turning it into their dream home.

Seven years later their dreams are lying in radioactive dust after they discovered that that their home, in upmarket Hunter’s Hill is so contaminated by uranium that it is unfit to live in.

Tests on soil next to their bedroom showed radiation levels 350 times higher than that considered safe.

Tests show high radiation levels in Poolesville well

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One of Poolesville’s wells may need to be taken out of use due to elevated levels of radiation-emitting elements, according to preliminary test results.

The town has been testing its water since the Maryland Department of the Environment detected elevated alpha-emitting radionuclide levels in three of Poolesville’s nine wells — 4, 7 and 9/10 — in November 2005. All community water systems were tested to ensure compliance with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Alpha-emitting radionuclides, such as plutonium, polonium, radon, radium and uranium, are naturally occurring compounds that emit alpha radiation when they decay, according to Kathy Mihm, a geologist with S.S. Papadopoulos and Associates, which has been independently testing the town’s water. Adjusted gross alpha is a measurement of all alpha activity except for uranium and radon, which are measured separately.

Indigenous Peoples Censored at UN Climate Conference

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Indigenous Peoples Censored at UN Climate Conference

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Dec. 10, 2008

POZNAN, Poland — Indigenous People trying to speak at the UN Climate Conference were slamdunked by proponents of the global carbon market scam, designed to enrich the World Bank and chosen corporations by way of the sale of fictitious carbon credits. The following video shows statements by two non-governmental organizations, before Indigenous Peoples were denied a voice. The Indigenous Peoples’ censored statement, which was not read, follows the video.

Indigenous Peoples lands and forest are at risk in the carbon market schemes, which allows the world’s polluters to continue polluting. In the censored statement, Indigenous Peoples point out that four countries — the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — refused to vote in favor of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration, adopted by the UN, states that Indigenous Peoples have the right to “free, prior and informed consent,” a right which is currently being denied to Indigenous Peoples in UN climate summits.

The censored statement points out that Indigenous Peoples denounce the “outdated colonial structures” of these four countries.

The carbon market scam is the latest corporate profiteering scheme, promoted by a duped media, which seeks to seize Indigenous Peoples land and forests around the world. The censorship of Indigenous Peoples at the previous UN Climate Summit in Bali in 2007 was one of Project Censored’s most censored stories of the year.

The group of Indigenous Peoples are among the delegates attending the UN climate change gathering in Poznan. The forum is the half-way mark in the negotiating process leading up to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009, where an a climate change deal will be finalizeed to follow on the first phase of the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Video from: Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: Approaches to stimulate action, of the 29th Session of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)
Watch video by Rebecca Sommer:

The following statement was NOT read:

Statement of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change
December 10, 2008
We acknowledge the efforts of some Parties who have supported and worked with us to reflect our rights and our full and effective participation in this COP14. However, we DENOUNCE those Parties, including Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia who continue to exercise, outmoded, outdated colonial power structures that the rest of the world left behind decades ago.
We remind the parties that UNFCCC is NOT a consensus document AND perhaps a time has come for a simple majority vote that lets these four nations know how isolated their position is.
On the 60th Anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights IT IS APPALLING that any UNITED NATIONS BODY is still denies extending the Rights enshrined in this document to the Indigenous Peoples of the planet. It is a abrogation of BOTH the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Reference to the draft text ON SBSTA 29 agenda item 5, on REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action]. In the annex of this document, 1 (c ), we are profoundly disappointed that the Indigenous Peoples fundamental rights, INCLUDING the UNDRIP and other existing Human Rights instruments (Convention ILO169) are not included in the operative paragraphs of the latest document of SBSTA29 .
We, are just not ONE SINGLE indigenous people, as the document states. WE ARE a multitude of indigenous Peoples from multiple countries, with multiple languages, diverse cultures and background and experiences. TO REDUCE all this, to the concept of a singular unitary experience IS A DENIAL OF THE RICHNESS OF DIVERSITY THAT EXIST WITHIN, the framework of indigenous peoples as a collective of individual nations.
For this reason, WE, appeal to the UNFCCC and Parties take affirmative action to reaffirm the rights of Indigenous Peoples as codified in UNDRIP and other relevant Human Rights instruments (EG. Convention ILO 169). Any decision or measure that will be adopted at this COP, in particular the REDD process, must reaffirm the principle of free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples AND OUR RIGHT of the Indigenous Peoples TO SAY NO,. In that regard, Indigenous Peoples must be included as parties to official decisions, should be centrally involved in and benefit from, all climate change and forest programs and policies at all levels to ensure that they deliver justice and equity and contribute to sustainable development, biodiversity protection, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We, demand an IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION of all REDD initiatives and carbon market schemes in Indigenous Peoples territories UNTIL Indigenous Peoples Rights are fully RECOGNIZED, PROTECTED AND PROMOTED.
Thank you.

Currently, the 14th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is underway in Poznan, December 1 – 12. It is the half-way mark in the negotiating process leading up to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009, where an a climate change deal will be finalizeed to follow on the first phase of the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Impromptu protest by indigenous peoples to oppose draft REDD text

Over a 100 indigenous group leaders, including three members of the Papua New Guinea’s Eco-Forestry Forum, held placards outside the European Union pavilion

Wed, 10 Dec 2008
By Makereta Komai

POZNAN, POLAND –Local and international indigenous peoples groups staged an impromptu protest this evening (Tuesday), an hour before a contact group was to discuss the proposed new carbon trading mechanism, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

Over a 100 indigenous group leaders, including three members of the Papua New Guinea’s Eco-Forestry Forum, held placards outside the European Union pavilion to protest against four Annex 1 countries attempt to remove their rights from the legal text of REDD.

PNG’s Ken Mondiai said they are ‘outraged’ by the actions of United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand’s ‘opposition to including the recognition of indigenous people’s and local communities in a decision drafted today.’

The 45 minutes contact group session scheduled from 4.30pm was cancelled without an explanation.

Both Australian and New Zealand delegates refused to comment on the claims of the indigenous people’s groups.

“These four countries want to include REDD in the future climate change agreement, but they oppose protecting the rights of indigenous and forest peoples who will be directly affected by REDD measures, said Mr Mondiai.

The NGO’s claim that during discussions this morning, the four countries insisted that the word ‘rights’ and references to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be struck from the text.

“This is totally unacceptable for indigenous peoples, local communities as the forests being targeted for REDD are those which have sustained and protected them for thousands of years.

“Any REDD mechanism that does not respect and protect the rights if indigenous people’s and local communities will fail.

“We, therefore demand that an unequivocal reference to rights and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People’s be reinserted into the draft COP14 decision text on REDD,” the group said.

**Ms Makereta Komai is part of the Pacific Communications Team covering this event in Poznan, Poland
This event is officially known as the “14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 01 – 12 December 2008 Poznan, Poland.”
PACNEWS coverage is made possible with funding from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
REDD may harm forest people
Rhett A. Butler,
December 2, 2008
A new report finds that the World Bank is not doing enough to protect indigenous rights under its mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
REDD is a proposed mechanism to compensate developing countries for protecting their forests. The report — titled “Cutting Corners: World Bank’s forest and carbon fund fails forests and peoples” — was issued by the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN) and the Forest Peoples Program (FPP) at the start of UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland. “Cutting Corners” alleges that the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) — which provides seed funding for REDD projects — has rushed its review process and is failing to follow its own rules set to protect indigenous people and forest communities.
Such groups fear that without a proper framework, REDD could be used by governments and carbon traders to force forest people off their lands. “In this flawed process forest communities have not been properly consulted. As a result, donors could be complicit in a new global drive reinforcing old top-down policies that will only lead to more forest destruction,” said Saskia Ozinga, Coordinator of FERN. “We have seen from the EU’s FLEGT process, which aims to control illegal logging, that a proper consultation process will take years, but trying to shortcut consultations will just lead to long-term failure.”
“If measures to respect the rights of forest peoples are at the heart of efforts to combat deforestation, then forest and climate policies could do some good,” added Tom Griffiths, Coordinator of the Forest Peoples Program’s Responsible Finance Program.
“It is alarming that the early government plans, approved by the World Bank, are simply business as usual. None of these REDD plans deal with the critical issues of governance, human rights, land tenure reforms and Free, Prior and Informed Consent. “To attain sustainable forest and climate initiatives, forest peoples must be fully consulted about their design. International donors must also ensure that human rights and forest sector reforms are guaranteed before any international funding is released to developing countries for their national actions on forest and climate issues.”
“Cutting Corners” comes shortly after Friends of the Earth International (FOE), an environmental activist group, announced its opposition to REDD via a report titled “REDD Myths“. At the UNFCCC talks in Poznan, FOE says it will oppose attempts to include forests in carbon markets. “During the climate talks, we will be demanding that forests are kept out of carbon markets, that plantations are entirely excluded and land rights are enforced as the basis of any forest policy,” said Joseph Zacune, Climate and Energy Coordinator with FOE.
“If governments are serious about tackling climate change, deforestation must be stopped once and for all. To do this we need to tackle the consumption of agrofuels, meat and timber products which is driving deforestation and support good governance of forest resources.”
Other analysts say REDD — in a form that recognizes rural peoples’ rights — offers the best hope for preserving forests in the future while simultaneously fighting global warming. “REDD can benefit biodiversity conservation as well as indigenous and rural peoples,” wrote Daniel Nepstad, Stephan Schwartzman, and Paulo Moutinho in a report published last year. “To succeed, national REDD programs must be consistent with UNFCCC and other UN principles, be transparent and have the active involvement of indigenous peoples and forest communities.”
“Rejecting REDD will not defend indigenous rights. Substituting official aid from developed countries for carbon market funding will not be a better, less risky alternative for reducing deforestation. Indigenous rights abuses, often caused by the same activities that drive deforestation, must be addressed directly.”
Kate Dooley, Tom Griffiths, Helen Leake, Saskia Ozinga. Cutting Corners – World Bank’s forest and carbon fund fails forests and peoples. FERN. November 2008.
Kate Dooley. An overview of selected REDD proposals. FERN. November 2008.
Ronnie Hall. REDD myths: a critical review of proposed mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries. Friends of the Earth. December 2008.
Stephan Schwartzman, Daniel Nepstad, and Paulo Moutinho. GETTING REDD RIGHT – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Environmental Defense / The Woods Hole Research Center / Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM). December 2007
Breaking news
Repairing our reputation on human rights
ABC Online, Australia – By Elizabeth Evatt The language of the declaration is inspiring, starting with article 1: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Australian gov’t intends to endorse indigenous rights declaration
Xinhua, China – Dec 9, 2008 CANBERRA, Dec. (Xinhua) — The Australian government has indicated it still intends to endorse a United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous …
PMA: Indigenous Rights Petition to Parliament (press release), New Zealand – The first signatures on the national petition calling on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be presented …
Canada’s opposition to the human rights of Indigenous People at UN …
Canada NewsWire (press release), Canada – OTTAWA, Dec. 10 /CNW Telbec/ – This International Day for Human Rights on December 10 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of ..


Western Shoshone testimony: No nuclear transport on sovereign Shoshone land

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Western Shoshone testimony: No nuclear transport on sovereign Shoshone land


Finance Docket No. 35106
United States Department Of Energy Rail Construction And Operation Caliente Rail Line In Lincoln, Nye, And Esmeralda Counties, Nevada
Testimony of the Western Shoshone National Council
December 04, 2008

Mr. Ian Zabarte, Secretary of State
Western Shoshone National Council
P.O. Box 140062
Duckwater, NV 89314-0062

Testimony in Opposition to an Application
for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

My name is Ian Zabarte. I am the Secretary of State, of the Western Shoshone National Council, principle man for foreign affairs. I am here to defend the basic human rights and territorial sovereignty of Newe Sogobia, the Western Shoshone Nation. The Western Shoshone National Council is the original traditional self-determined government de jure of the Western Shoshone Nation. Our spiritual beliefs, culture and customs in relation to our country determine who we are as a people. Who we are collectively as a distinct people matters most and is what makes us feel useful as citizens in our own nation. We hold on to our beliefs and values because they are real, authentic and a part of our culture. Also, a part of our culture is an oral tradition. We appreciate this opportunity to provide oral testimony in the hope the United States will wake up from the American dream of indifference and environmental degradation.
The Western Shoshone National Council is opposed to the Department of Energy Application for a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Finance Document Number 35106 now before the Board. The Western Shoshone Nation challenges the basic assumptions of the US asserting ownership to the entire 300 mile long Caliente Rail Corridor as set forth in the Department of Energy application.
The Treaty of Ruby Valley is a fact of International Law and defines the intercourse between the United States and the Western Shoshone Nation. Treaties are the accepted manner of foreign relations practice between sovereign governments. The Treaty of Ruby Valley is in full force and effect. American patriots understand that treaties are the supreme law of the land under Article 6 of the United States Constitution. The Department of Energy misidentifies the ownership status of the lands within the proposed railroad corridor. By and through the Treaty of Ruby Valley the Western Shoshone Nation asserts original and continuing ownership to the lands that constitute the 300 mile proposed railroad corridor. In 1863 the United States agreed to purchase specific interest sought by the treaty then failed to fulfill the payment schedule in Article 7, a substantial breach of the purchase agreement clause. Our government position is that the status of the land returned to the status quo ante the treaty. Our government is willing to consider United States claims under provisions of the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Western Shoshone Nation seeks implementation of Article 6 creating a reservation from within the boundaries described in Article 5. Some of the suitable lands sought for implementing Article 5 are within the proposed corridor. Unfortunately, we have no word form Washington and instead suffer the crippling legacy of injustice and environmental racism as institutions of the United States government we trust to keep us safe fail to do so. The United States fails to restrain acts that violate the Treaty of Ruby Valley giving no justification for the violation of our borders, sovereignty or the well being of peaceful Western Shoshone people. The Western Shoshone people are already burdened by risk for United States nuclear development from 928 nuclear explosions that released radioactive fallout adversely affecting the health and quality of life of our people and land.
Deep social, cultural and political issues are at the core of the Western Shoshone Nation’s opposition to the Department of Energy application for a railroad construction certificate. The scars of Western Shoshone abuse as victims of the United States are not healed and not addressed by the Department of Energy application. The Western Shoshone perspective views the US government as making a practice of abuse, one government institution after another. On one had government agencies selectively target the most prominent Western Shoshone nationals for abuse, such as, Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone National Council Representative and former Western Shoshone National Council Chief Raymond Yowell, both of whom are engaged in the peaceful expression and display of property ownership rights contemplated by the Treaty of Ruby Valley, “…as hunters or herdsmen”. On the other hand, physically harm has resulted by the willful negligence of the United States to the health and well being of the Western Shoshone people in the testing of weapons of mass destruction. Willful negligence is the common theme uniting the past United States nuclear legacy with the current proposal to transport and store high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain within Newe Sogobia.
The Board is hereby formally noticed that any action certifying the Department of Energy application without a claim made under the Treaty of Ruby Valley is manifest of willful intent by the Board to commit crimes against the humanity and dignity of the Western Shoshone people.
Our country is occupied today by belligerent United States institutions that claim our title was extinguished by proceedings in the Indian Claims Commission and the Supreme Court in the case United States v. Dann. The Supreme Court ruled in error. Gradual encroachment, acts the United States claims constitute a taking in the Indian Claims Commission proceedings were allowed under the terms of the Treaty of Ruby Valley and could not effect a title transfer or extinguishment except within the terms of the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Treaty of Ruby Valley is a legal fact the Department of Energy continues to ignore. Further, the Indian Claims Commission never completed its statutorily required final report to Congress in Docket 326-K and was disbanded in 1978. The final report to Congress did not cease to be a condition of finality when the Indian Claims Commission was terminated by Congress in 1978. Thus, since the Indian Claims Commission no longer exists to file the necessary report, it is now too late for the United States to ever achieve “finality” in the Western Shoshone case within the statutory framework of the Indian Claims Commission Act. No reference to the assertions by the Department of Energy in the application that “Western Shoshone title to Nevada lands had gradually been extinguished…” exists. Such misrepresentations do a disservice to the Board and the public. What law authorizes gradual encroachment? There is none.
Consider, however, the 1861 Act Of Congress Organizing The Territory Of Nevada.
“…Provided, further, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining to the Indians in said Territory, so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or to include any territory which, by treaty with any Indian tribe, is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any State or Territory; but all such territory shall be excepted out of the boundaries and constitute no part of the Territory of Nevada, until said tribe shall signify their assent to the President of the United States to be included within the said Territory.
The rights of the Western Shoshone Nation continue to this day and beyond. The strength of the United States case for title to the lands at issue in the Department of Energy application is that of a belligerent trespasser at best. Title to the territorial sovereignty of the Western Shoshone Nation rests upon the vestitive facts that International Law recognizes as creating title — the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The United States willingly consented to the Treaty of Ruby Valley recognizing the legal right, privileges, powers and immunities that are true of Western Shoshone nationals that are not conferred upon others. Possession of the land is a root and practice of the Western Shoshone concept of property ownership in privity with other Western Shoshone nationals. Our nationality is Western Shoshone. Our allegiance is to the Western Shoshone Nation and a unique way of life that has been practiced within Newe Sogobia for a thousand generations. We oppose the Department of Energy Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity because it is a crime against humanity and not convenient or necessary for the United States Department of Energy, with the assistance of the Board, to destroy the social, cultural and political fabric of the Western Shoshone Nation by creating trackage within Newe Sogobia.