UK Govt. Declares Chagos Marine Reserve

I have to give full props to the BBC for this short but inclusive bulletin, it talks about the islanders far more than any of the petitions (see here or here) or the co-opted environmental shills for the marine reserve ever did-

The UK government has designated an area around the Chagos Islands as the world’s largest marine reserve. The reserve would cover a 544,000 sq km area around the Indian Ocean archipelago, regarded as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems. This will include a “no-take” marine reserve where commercial fishing will be banned.

But islanders, who live in exile, have expressed concern that a reserve may in effect ban them from returning. The islands are known for their clean waters and unspoilt corals. Conservationists say the islands possess up to half the healthy reefs in the Indian Ocean. However, Chagossians have said the protected zone could prevent them from fishing – their main livelihood.

The former residents, who were evicted from the British overseas territory between 1967 and 1971 to make way for a US Air Force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, have fought a long-running battle in the UK courts for the right to return.

Reprieve Take Up The Case Of Chagos Ignored By Corporate Environmentalists

Also worth seeing is Johann Hari’s exposé of co-opted environmental shills. While this focusses on the rendered clients of Reprieve it does also talk about the dispossessed Chagossians and makes the good point that human rights are being abused while other lifeforms gain some protection.

Reprieve:- The British Government is this week expected to announce that 210,000 sq km around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean will become the world’s largest marine reserve.

Sadly, the proposed legislation fails to protect members of the controversial species homo sapiens.

Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands, has been used for illegal rendition and detention of Reprieve clients Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni and Mustafa Setmarian Naser. The strange omission of the homo sapiens species in the new legislation raises serious questions as to why they should not be afforded the same legal protections as marine life.

On the 1st March Clive Stafford Smith raised Reprieve’s concerns with the Foreign Secretary in a letter (full version may be downloaded Here):

More than 30 years ago, the entire population of the Chagos Islands was removed to Mauritius against their will, to make way for an American military base. It seems unlikely that conservation law would have allowed for the wholesale destruction of the natural habitat of, say, Dendrodoris tuberculosa (the warty sea slug), in order to build such a base – but this was perhaps the first example of the warty sea slug having greater rights than the lowly homo sapiens in the region.

The current legal position in BIOT is bizarre. Almost uniquely amongst states, the territorial waters of the BIOT only extend out to 3 nautical miles, rather than the 12 miles allowed by international law. Inside the 3 mile limit, in theory, the species Homo sapiens has reasonable legal protection. BIOT’s laws roughly mirror those of England and Wales. There should be no detention without trial, no kidnapping and no rendition. Torture is a crime. The Geneva Conventions have the force of law. A court system exists to enforce the basic rights of members of this life form..

However, beyond 3 miles, these legal protections for Homo sapiens have no application. The BIOT courts and BIOT police have no jurisdiction to prevent the capture, torture or even the killing of members of the species if, for example, they are dragged onto a prison ship against their will by some people in American uniforms.

Indeed, we are currently representing a member of our species, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, in his claim against the FCO. As you know, Mr Madni was subjected to ‘extraordinary’ rendition (i.e. kidnapping for torture) via Diego Garcia.

Tthe effect of your proposals would be peculiar. All other animal and fish life will enjoy protection up to 200 miles out from Diego Garcia. In addition to the worthy warty sea slug, every polyp of Gardineroseris planulata (honeycomb coral), and every Chaetodon trifascialis (chevron butterflyfish) will enjoy strict protection from being captured, killed or mistreated many miles from land. It seems that the only exception will be for our own taxonomic group, who will not be included in this wide-ranging and sensible proposal.

Reprieve Director, Clive Stafford Smith said :

“On Diego Garcia you may be arrested for violating the rights of a Warty Sea Slug, but no-one will object if you land a plane with a kidnapped, shackled, hooded man trapped in a coffin-shaped box. This happened to our client, Mr Madni, and it cannot be right. We fully support the Government’s plan to protect sea slugs on the island – but only if Homo Sapiens are to be given the same protection.” (ht2 Earwicga)

Environmentalists 4 Ethnic Cleansing

I have written twice to a petition site over this petition and had no reply, see if you can spot what’s wrong with it-

The Chagos Islands, located near the centre of the Indian Ocean, are a UK Overseas territory and by far the richest marine ecosystem under British jurisdiction. They are a very special and rare place, a relatively unpolluted and undisturbed part of the world, with reefs and oceans still teeming with life.

Yet marine life almost everywhere – including fish, invertebrates, mammals, seabirds and turtles – is suffering massive losses as a result of over-exploitation, bycatch and pollution. Combine these with the effects of acidification brought about from rising carbon dioxide emissions, and the very survival of many marine species is in doubt.

With your help, we can protect the reef and ocean ecosystem of the Chagos for present and future generations – but we only have until 12 February 2010 to convince the UK government! Please sign our petition urging the British government to declare the world’s largest marine protected area and give protection to one of the best coral reefs left on this planet.

Did you get it? Because the The Chagos Environment Network & Chagos Conservation Trust certainly don’t nor do Care2, no mention of the Chagos Islanders who were forcibly removed by the UK government so it could rent the islands (primarily the largest one Diego Garcia) to the US military that uses it to launch bombing raids on the Middle East and transit renditioned captives. Now call me weird but before I get all flustered trying to get a nature reserve established I would put my energies into righting the wrong of the dispossession of the Chagossians. The Independent has now caught onto this and makes the same point, very very powerful and successful environmental lobbying has superseded the rights of the islanders, which would rather suit both the UK & US as they get to hide a crime against humanity in a warm fuzzy- Ooh look we’re saving the planet. Short version -you can stuff your petition up your arse until the human rights of the Chagos Islanders are respected. While the Chagos Conservation Trust are careful to state when pushed (though good luck finding mention of the ethnic cleansing of the Chagossians on their site)-

The marine reserve proposal stresses the advantage of the islands being “uninhabited” and mentions the former residents only briefly and obliquely, saying that any decision would be “without prejudice” to the current court case in Europe, and adds: “This means that should circumstances change, all the options for a marine protected area may need to be reconsidered.”

I would ask you to do as I am and write to the Chagos Conservation Trust and the Foreign Office and tell them to stop laundering a historic ethnic cleansing under a Greenwash. After all the Chagossians are amenable to the idea, so stop writing them out of history-

Among those leading the criticism is a retired senior diplomat, David Snoxell, who is the co-ordinator of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group. “The consultation is extremely unfair to the Chagossians,” says Mr Snoxell. “It deliberately ignores them. People are running this campaign with the idea of keeping the islands uninhabited for time immemorial.” The Chagossians themselves would very much welcome a marine protected area, but they need to be part of it, Mr Snoxell says.

“We will support the project only if we are physically involved in it all the way, and our right of return to the Chagos Archipelago is not compromised,” said Roch Evenor, a spokesman for the islanders and secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association. “With the Chagossians living on Chagos we will be able to help the marine protected area, as our presence will be a deterrent factor for illegal fishermen who are fishing the sea cucumbers and sharks. We can co-exist – the Chagos archipelago could be something great if we all put our heads together and collaborate.”

The full Independent article-

A major conservation row is developing over proposals for Britain to establish the biggest and most unspoiled marine nature reserve in the world. The issue of the Chagos Islands raises the increasingly difficult question of how to weigh up the protection of the best remaining parts of nature, in a rapidly degrading world, against the needs and rights of people.

It concerns the Chagos Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a group of isolated coral islands teeming with wildlife which is considered to be among the least polluted marine locations on Earth. Its seawater is the cleanest ever tested; its coral reefs are completely unspoiled; its whole ecosystem, with its countless seabirds, turtles, coconut-cracking crabs (the world’s largest), dolphins, sharks and nearly 1,000 other species of fish, is pristine.

Officially British Indian Ocean Territory, the islands are the subject of an ambitious plan by conservationists – backed by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband – to keep them the way they are, by creating a marine protected area, where fishing and all other exploitation would be banned, of 210,000 square miles – more than twice the land surface of Great Britain. In an age when the oceans and their biodiversity are being ever more despoiled, it would be a supreme example of marine conservation and one of the wildlife wonders of the world – in effect, Britain’s Great Barrier Reef, or Britain’s Galapagos.

The plan excites many wildlife enthusiasts and has the formal support of several of Britain’s major conservation bodies, from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew and the Zoological Society of London to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The backing of the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary is significant. A public consultation on the plan ends on Friday.

But there is a notable omission from the plan. It takes no account of the wishes of the original inhabitants, the Chagossians – the 1,500 people living on the islands who, between 1967 and 1973, were deported wholesale by Britain, so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be used by the US as an airbase for strategic nuclear bombers.

When, in the 1990s, details emerged of the Chagossians’ enforced exile, which left them in poverty and unhappiness on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, it was widely seen as a substantial natural injustice; and in 2000 the then-Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, gave them permission to return.

Read the rest of this entry »

Business As Usual

(IPS/TerraViva) – China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has stolen a march over the rest of Asia in unilaterally declaring its carbon intensity cuts a day after President Barack Obama did late last month for the U.S.

The U.S. has proposed a 17 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2020—less than one-seventh of what the European Union has committed. India, the fifth largest emitter, was forced to fall in line, so as not to be seen as recalcitrant.

Both China and India have toed the U.S. approach in citing their voluntary reductions from 2005 levels, whereas the Kyoto Protocol regime has stipulated emission cuts from 1990. This puts China’s offer of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 and India’s 20 to 25 percent in a different perspective.

Since emissions have been rising in these two giant economies between 1990 and 2005, the reductions are not so ambitious and do not deviate that much from business as usual.

Posted in Environment. Tags: . Comments Off on Business As Usual

Bhopal

BHOPAL, India (AFP) – Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak in India on Thursday marked 25 years since the world’s worst industrial accident with rallies demanding those to blame for thousands of deaths finally face justice. Residents and activists capped a week of commemorations with a march to the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, where on December 3, 1984 a cloud of methyl isocyanate killed up to 10,000 people in three days.

Studies released earlier this week showed the shanty towns surrounding the site were still laced with lethal chemicals that are polluting groundwater and soil, causing birth defects and a range of chronic illnesses. “The survivors of the tragedy, through these protests, are venting their ire against the state government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group of Information and Action.

Research by the Indian Council for Medical Research showed 25,000 people had died from the consequences of exposure since 1984. After those studies concluded, government statistics said 100,000 people were chronically sick, with more than 30,000 people living in areas around the factory where water was contaminated.

Criminal cases against former Union Carbide executives are pending in various Indian and US courts which hold them and Dow liable for the catastrophe. Amnesty International called on Dow to “cooperate fully in the ongoing legal proceedings in order to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.

Posted in Environment, Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Bhopal

Inhospitable

There are a number of other post-conflict issues in Gaza that need to be addressed. The land is dying. There are toxic deposits from all the munitions that have been dropped. There are serious issues with water—its depletion and its contamination. There is a high instance of nitrates in the soil that is especially dangerous to children. If these issues are not addressed, Gaza may not even be habitable by World Health Organization norms.

Desmond Travers, one of the four members of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

Posted in Environment, Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Inhospitable

Vestas Repossessed By Bailiffs

Workers who staged a sit-in protest at a wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight have left the building. Bailiffs entered the offices of Vestas in Newport at 1200 BST after the firm was granted a possession order. One man jumped from a balcony and was taken to hospital as a precaution and two abseiled from a wall.

Workers had occupied an office inside the plant since 20 July in protest at plans to axe 625 jobs, which the firm said was due to a fall in demand. Bailiffs were told they could use “reasonable force” to remove the remaining six workers after a court order was issued on Thursday.

Crowds of supporters lined the site cheering on the men before they were were spoken to by police. They had raised a sign from a balcony outside which said “Vestas, this is only the start, you will lose.” One of the workers told the BBC: “It was all a bit bewildering to get out but a big relief. I hugged my daughter who shed a few tears and saw my family. We feel that we have won a moral victory.”

A rooftop demonstration at a second Vestas site in East Cowes, by climate change protesters, is set to continue for “as long” as the workers want it to, a spokesman said.

The fight goes on savevestas.wordpress.com meanwhile…fucking bailiffs, the thugs of capital, collaborators, cowards and betrayers, as usual.