Africa
lake victora

Pipeline project threatens Lake Victoria

More than 260 organizations issued an open letter to banks and financial institutions involved in the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would carry oil from fields in western Uganda to a port on the northern coast of Tanzania, passing near critical wetlands in the Lake Victoria basin. The human rights and environmental organizations say the line’s construction poses “unacceptable” risks to communities in the immediate 1,445-kilometer (898-mile) path of the project and beyond. They are calling on banks not to fund the $3.5 billion project, and asking government leaders to shift funding from infrastructure for fossil fuels to renewable energy. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Mongabay)

The Andes
yaku

Indigenous candidate upsets Ecuador elections

Ecuador is heading to a run-off presidential race in April after leftist candidate Andrés Arauzof the Union of Hope (UNES) coalition won a first-round victory, following years of economic austerity made more painful by the pandemic. However, in a surprise development, his rival leftist Yaku Pérez Guartambel of the indigenous-based Pachakutik party emerged neck-to-neck with conservative banker Guillermo Lasso of the right-wing Creating Opportunities (CREO) party. The vote is still too close to call which challenger Arauz will face in the April run-off. Pérez portrays UNES and CREO alike as parties of the right that have embraced an economic model based on resource extraction. (Photo: Revista Crisis)

Central Asia
kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz ex-PM arrested for mineral corruption

The State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan reported the detention of former prime minister¬†Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev on charges of corruption and illegal enrichment. The State Committee alleges¬†that during his tenure as prime minister, Abylgaziev violated the law by signing a government decree providing Kumtor Gold Company additional territories for geological exploration and gold mining. Consequently, the total area of the mine doubled, contravening a previous decree banning the expansion of the mine so as to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Issyk-Kul Lake region.¬†(Map: Perry-Casta√Īeda Library)

Planet Watch
Line 3

Global petro-resistance greets 2021

As the year comes to a close, Native American activists and their allies in Minnesota are launching a weekly protest vigil against the planned Line 3 pipeline, that would bring more Canadian shale-oil to US markets. The¬†self-proclaimed “water protectors” pledge to continue the campaign into the winter. The Conservation Council of Western Australia¬†meanwhile launched¬†legal challenge against approval of the new Burrup Hub liquified natural gas facility,¬†asserting that¬†it is¬†the “most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia,” and “undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement.”¬†While Denmark has pledged to end North Sea oil exploitation by 2050 as a step toward meeting the Paris accord goals, other Scandinavian governments remain intransigent. The Supreme Court of Norway¬†has¬†upheld¬†a judgment allowing the government to grant oil licenses in new sections of the country’s continental shelf. The decision was challenged by environmental groups including¬†Nature & Youth Norway, who claimed that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights. (Photo: Stop Line 3)

Africa
Somkhele

South Africa: coal mine opponent killed in KwaZulu

Four gunmen shot and killed local anti-mining activist Fikile Ntshangase at her home in South Africa‚Äôs KwaZulu-Natal province. Ntshangase, 65, was a leading member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), which is taking legal action to prevent the expansion of an open-cast coal mine at Somkhele, on the southeastern border of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game park. MCEJO also says the mine’s existing operations should be halted because they are not compliant with environmental and other laws. The murder points to escalating pressure on communities across South Africa to accept environmentally damaging mining operations on their lands.¬†(Image: Divided We Dance)

Planet Watch
Innu

Innu Nation sues Hydro-Quebec

The Innu Nation of Labrador announced that it is seeking $4 billion in damages from Hydro-Quebec over its mega-dam on the Upper Churchill River. The suit, filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, seeks compensation for the theft of ancestral Innu land to build the Churchill Falls hydro-electric project, leading to devastation of their community’s culture and way of life. “The impact of Churchill Falls has been felt across generations of Innu,” said Grand Chief Etienne Rich. He charged that Hydro-Quebec and the provincial utility in Newfoundland, now called Nalcor Energy, “stole our land and flooded it in order to take advantage of the enormous hydro potential of the Churchill Falls. This project was undertaken without consulting us and without our consent.” New York City is pinning many of its hopes to cut carbon emissions on imported Canadian hydropower, but environmentalist opponents point to the impact of planned hydro projects on indigenous lands. (Image: Innu Nation)

Mexico
Oscar Eyraud Adams

Water protector slain in Baja California

Oscar Eyraud Adams, a community activist in the Mexican border town of Tecate, Baja California, was assassinated in an attack on his home by what local accounts described as an “armed commando.”¬†The following day, his brother-in-law was gunned down in a convenience store along the Tecate-Ensenada highway. Adams had been a prominent advocate for the Kumiai (also rendered Kumeyaay) indigenous people in their struggle for irrigation concessions for their remote communities in outlying rural areas of Tecate and Ensenada municipalities, which have been denied by the National Water Commission (ConAgua). Friends and supporters of Adams are blaming the assassinations on the “narco-state” and demanding that authorities investigate them as political crimes. (Photo:¬†@AguaParaTodxsMX)

Africa
GERD

Trump wades into Egypt-Ethiopia fight over Nile

Reportedly at the direct instigation of President Donald Trump, the US State Department ordered a suspension of aid to Ethiopia over its move to begin capturing water behind a controversial new mega-dam on the Blue Nile that is opposed by Egypt and Sudan. A State Department spokesperson said the decision to “temporarily pause” some aid to Addis Ababa “reflects our concern about Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to begin to fill the dam before an agreement and all necessary dam safety measures were in place.”¬†The freeze could affect as much as $100 million in aid. The reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) began filling in July, over the protests of Egypt and Sudan, which rely on the Nile for nearly all of their water needs. (Photo:¬†Water Power & Dam Construction)

Mexico
Yaqui

Mexico creates justice commission for Yaqui people

Mexican President Andr√©s Manuel L√≥pez Obrador¬†signed a decree that sets up a Justice Commission for the Yaqui People, seeking to resolve problems of land, water, health, education and infrastructure faced by the indigenous group. The decree was signed during a visit by L√≥pez Obrador to the Yaqui community of V√≠cam, in Sonora state. The decree seeks to redress a long history of oppression, massacres, slavery and land theft faced by the Yaqui. L√≥pez Obrador said that the Yaqui are Mexico’s most persecuted indigenous group, stating, “All the original inhabitants suffered robbery, but no people suffered as much as the Yaqui.” The president also said that he had agreed to modify the route of the planned Guaymas-El Oro gas pipeline that was supposed to run through Yaqui territory.¬†(Photo via Articulo 19)

Africa
Sudan rebels

Troops to Darfur as war re-escalates

The Sudanese government is sending more forces to the restive Darfur region, following a new escalation in violence there. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the troops are to protect people during the farming season. Dozens have been killed and several villages destroyed in Darfur over the past weeks, even as the UN Security Council discusses¬†an “exit strategy” for the peacekeeping force.¬†Ironically, efforts to instate the peace implementation process in Darfur may have contributed to the new surge in violence. With government encouragement, those displaced by the conflict finally started returning home in time for this year’s planting season. But this has led to new disputes between returnees and people who took over their lands in the intervening years. (Photo: Libya Observer)

Mexico
Ad√°n Vez Lira

Mining opponent assassinated in Veracruz, Mexico

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the assassination of Mexican environmental activist Ad√°n Vez Lira, who was shot while riding his motorcyle in the municipality of Actopan, Veracruz. Vez Lira worked with the Veracruz Assembly for Environmental Defense Initiatives (LAVIDA) to oppose mining operations that threaten local water sources. Gold and silver exploitation by the Canadian-based Almaden Minerals and Candelaria Mining are encoraching on the borders of La Mancha Ecological Reserve and contaminating springs and wells in nearby villages. (Photo via: El Imparcial)

Oceania
Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto accused of rights violations in Bougainville

Mining giant Rio Tinto is responsible for multiple human rights violations caused by pollution from its former mine on the Pacific island of Bougainville, the Human Rights Law Centreconcludes in a new investigative report. For 45 years, the Panguna copper and gold mine on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, was majority-owned by the British-Australian mining company, but in 2016 Rio Tinto divested from the mine, leaving behind more than a billion metric tons of mine waste. The report, After the Mine: Living with Rio Tinto’s Deadly Legacy, documents the devastating consequences of that action for the thousands of people living around the mine site. The report reveals communities living with contaminated water sources, land and crops flooded by toxic mud, and health problems ranging from skin diseases and respiratory ailments to pregnancy complications. (Image: Human Rights Law Centre)