By Florence Stemo
Special to Rimbey Review
On Wednesday, May 7 the Rimbey Group of Amnesty International and the United Church Women will serve up a “World of Flavours”. This will include a meal featuring typical dishes of several countries, and a concert of ethnic songs performed by the Rimbey Community Chorus. Please see ad in this edition for time and place.
There is no charge for the evening, but donations will be gratefully received for two causes our AI Group is currently supporting. WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) continues to work through peaceful protest to press for better governance and social justice, in order to obtain basic human rights for the people of Zimbabwe. For our second cause this year we have looked southward to Columbia, whose Indigenous peoples are among the hardest hit by the intrusion of extractive industry into their lands.
Under International human rights standards, Indigenous peoples around the world have the right to make their own decisions about whether proposed resource projects on their lands are safe and acceptable. These rights are, however, often poorly protected in decisions related to oil and gas development, mining, and other extractive industries. Regulatory and review processes rarely include measures to insure that Indigenous peoples’ voices are heard. Reviews are held in locations far from the affected communities, often in a language that community members are uncomfortable with. Bias, corruption, and other obstacles often prevail; and there is no hope for an objective hearing. As Amnesty International has witnessed, in many countries people risk their lives just to ask questions about these projects. Columbia is one of them.
More than one-third of Indigenous peoples in Colombia are threatened with extermination. They face an emergency as serious as it is invisible. This crisis is fueled by violent incursions into Indigenous territories, forced displacement and the imposition of megaprojects. These projects are owned by corporations from various countries, including Canada.