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October in Review, Part I

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Issue: 64 Section: Month in Review

October 15, 2009

October in Review, Part I

Of Columbus, coups, and war criminals

by Dominion Staff

A poster against the coup in Honduras, part of a series by Graphic Artists Against the Coup. [cc 2.0] Photo: Alex Dukal

Sixty-five thousand Indigenous people demonstrated against Columbus Day in southwest Colombia. The mobilization, part of the Minga process that shook Colombia last year, marked "517 years of struggle against genocide, laws of displacement, the imposition of foreign economic policies, the handing over of resources to multinational corporations and human rights violations," according to Colombian organizers.

In Guatemala, one man was killed by gunfire on Columbus Day, when tens of thousands of people blocked roadways to protest open-pit mining and hydro electric projects. "We don't commemorate [Columbus Day], but instead the Indigenous Peoples Day of Dignity and Resistance, and we're demonstrating to demand the end of operations of mega-projects," Indigenous leader Juana Mulul told AFP.

In Venezuela, activists toppled a statue of Columbus in Caracas.

In Denver, Colorado, dozens of people protested the official Columbus Day parade. "We let them [the parade organizers] know that every time they have this parade, it won't go unanswered until they celebrate Indigenous cultures instead of their colonization," Terry Burnsed, a professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver told The Denver Post.

In Honduras, President Manuel Zelaya remained trapped in the Brazilian embassy. The coup regime, led by Roberto Micheletti, "suspended civil liberties and shut down independent sources of news, including the TV station Cholusat Sur and Radio Globo," according to historian Greg Grandin. A new tally showed at least 14 people have been killed since the coup took place. Landowners in Honduras hired Colombian paramilitaries belonging to the United Autodefense of Colombia (AUC) group to protect their properties.

Migrant workers and their allies gathered in Edmonton to protest the conditions of people subject to the Temporary Foreign Worker program. The protests in Edmonton came as the federal government introduced new regulations limiting the amount of years that temporary foreign workers can stay in Canada.

A camp for people fleeing fighting between the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda and the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo. A new report indicates that 900,000 people have been displaced because of this conflict since January. [cc 2.0] Photo: Julien Harneis

Two men were killed in Guatemala by private security and suspected paramilitaries in an area where Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals is attempting to kick start a nickel mining project.

Powertech Uranium Corp, a Vancouver-based uranium mining company, was granted a key permit in their quest to develop a new mine in South Dakota. The proposed mine is in the Black Hills, an area sacred to Native American less than 100km from the Pine Ridge Reservation. Indigenous people throughout the US and Canada will launch a campaign against uranium mining beginning in October.

The government of British Columbia introduced Bill 13, which would "give municipal officers the ability to enter private residences and remove or cover what's deemed to be illegal signage after giving only 24 hours notice," according to the Canadian Press. “Telling people who exercise free speech that local authorities may barge in, rip down signs inside your property, fine you or throw you in jail will underscore the growing impression that our governments care more about their own camera appearances at Olympic events than about people’s rights,” Robert Holmes, president of the BC Civil Liberties Association, told BCLocalNews.com.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service gained new powers that allow the spy agency to monitor Canadians abroad without permission from the foreign country.

The Hudson's Bay Company unveiled the 2010 Olympic clothing line, including knock-off Cowichan sweaters, to be made in China. "To have an authentic product available and to not go with it seems like a real slap in the face, especially when they've lauded these Games as involving the First Nations," Tim Strang, an employee at Hill's Native Art, told the Victoria Times-Colonist.

The Independent reported that Canada's Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, chief commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, told the paper that regardless of the 2011 pullout target for Canadian troops, "after spending £3bn [CAD4.9 billion] on new equipment including armour and helicopters, and an upsurge in recruiting, his force would be ready to continue with the mission if ordered to do so by the government in Ottawa."

US President Barrack Obama deployed another 13,000 troops to Afghanistan, as hundreds of people protested at the White House on the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

British parents whose children were killed in the Iraq war called former PM Tony Blair a "war criminal" during an official inquiry into Britain's role in the invasion. "I hold Tony Blair personally responsible for the death of my son. There’s a lot of anger here, and I would like Tony Blair to be indicted as a war criminal," mother Deirde Gover told the press.

Eight people were killed and 14 wounded in a bomb attack on a marketplace in Baghdad.

A report found that 1,000 civilians have been killed, 7,000 women and girls raped, and almost 900,000 people displaced from the Eastern Congo since January 2009, as a consequence of fighting between Rwandan Hutu militias and the Congolese government, which is backed by the United Nations. "The UN needs to make it clear that if the Congolese government wants its continued military support, the army should remove abusive soldiers from command positions and its soldiers should stop attacking civilians," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Another report revealed that more than 70,000 women die every year as a result of unsafe abortions. "Unsafe abortions, including deaths from unsafe abortions, have not changed, even though overall rates of abortion are declining," Sharon Camp of the Guttmacher Institute, the group that prepared the report, told IPS.

A climate activist in Britain was prevented from traveling to mainland Europe when he was detained and questioned under the Terrorism Act. "People who are practicing civil disobedience on climate change in the face of ineffectual government action are certainly not terrorists, and I am sure that their actions will be vindicated by history," activist Chris Kitchen told The Guardian.

Canwest Global Communications filed for creditor protection due to the conglomerate's inability to pay its $4 billion debt. It is expected that the company, which owns TV networks and daily papers across Canada, will have a restructuring plan in place by January.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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