AGAINST THE WAR IN CHECHNYA
Appeal of the Georgian and Chechen non-governmental
On November 8, 1999 in Tbilisi a meeting of environmental NGOs from Georgia and Chechnya was held which discussed the ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS of the WAR IN CHECHNYA.
We address you with the appeal to do everything in your power in order to stop this cruel war, as a result of which the whole nation is being extinguished and most beautiful nature of the Caucasus is being destroyed. This war is doubtlessly leading to the global environmental catastrophe due to the bombing and rocket shooting on enormous quantity of chemical and oil refinery plants on the territory of the Chechen Republic of Ichkerya (these factories amounted to 30% of the whole industry capacity in the former USSR while, at the same time the territory of the Chechen Republic then has amounted only to 0.08% of the territory of the USSR).
The Situation in Chechnya and in the Caucasus is being complicated by the fact that, near the capital of Chechnya, on the Karakh Mountain at the river Terek flowing into the Caspian Sea, a huge disposal site for the radioactive waste is being situated. This specialised complex ("Radon") was built during the Soviet times in 1965. The radioactive sources buried there include: «Cobalt -60», Plutonium &endash; Beryl, Radium &endash; 226, Caesium &endash; 137, Thorium, Thulium -170, Iridium - 192, Americium&endash; 241, Iod&endash; 131, etc. Their volume is 906m3.
In the surroundings of the city of Grozny in various regions at the factories and enterprises one can find 67 different sources of radiation with long periods of semi-fusion. And these units everyday are subjected to the rocket shootings and bombings.
According to the data of the scientists from Georgia, Chechnya and other countries of Caucasus, in case of un-hermetisation of only one disposal site «Radon» this region will become lifeless.
In connection with this threat of destruction hanging above Chechnya and the Caucasian region, we are organising an international week of protest actions against the war in Chechnya on November 15-22. During this week, and namely on November 18-19, the OSCE Summit will be taking place in Istanbul, Turkey.
We appeal to all, for whom the peace on the earth is precious and who wants to contribute in the protection of universal human rights, to join us and organise protest actions with the slogans to immediately stop the war on the territory of Chechnya.
By taking this initiative the NGOs of Georgia and Chechnya consider that the joining of actions of people from different countries for peace and refusal from the violence, can play important role inthe timely resolution of the arms conflict in Chechnya and can prevent the environmental catastrophe.
We believe that at the verge of the third millennium the humankind does not have the right to resolve the conflict issues by way of violence and arms. Any conflict issues should be resolved at the negotiation table. We believe in the possibility of solving the conflict in Chechnya in a peaceful way.
OSCE has already recognised that the situation of the refugees from Chechnya is a humanitarian catastrophe. We do not want to allow the environmental disaster..
The Protest Week, in which thousand of people will take place, will help establish the relations that are based on the refusal from violence and will give the possibility to prepare the ground for stepping into the next millennium without the wars.
We have great hopes in your resolution and support.
On behalf of the participants of the Meeting:Nana Nemsadze, Chairperson, The Green Movement of Georgia
THE SITUATION IN CHECHNYA TODAY - SOME DETAILS
On July 9th 1999 the Russian government started attacking the border check-points of Chechnya. Several check-points near to the village Lomaz-Yurt were shot at from Russian artillery installations and helicopters.
5th September 26 people killed in the village of Balansu in Nojay-yurt region by the bombing operation of Russian military planes.
6th September Villages Ishkhan-yurt and Zondak were bombed. The hospital was damaged and 26 houses destroyed. The population had to leave the village.
8th September Itum-kali region was bombed with many victims.
16th September The village of Kisil-yurt in Nojay-yurt region was bombed. 9 people were injured, one killed. 17 people died in the bombing of the village of Benoy in Vedeno region. The following towns and villages were bombed: Shali, Itum-kali, Borzoy, Avtury, Germenchuk, Serjen-yurt, Vedeno, Alkhan-kala, Urus-martan. Much damage and many victims resulted.
28th September The village of Znamenskoe was bombed. 7 people were killed. The village of Roshni-chu hit by two surface-to-surface missiles. Buildings were destroyed.
1st October The pumping station and pipeline were bombed in Tolstoy-yurt and Vinogradnoe. 17 died. Station destroyed.
5th October Russian tanks shot six vehicles carrying refugees in Shelkovskoe region. 40 people were killed, mainly women and children, when the bus they were travelling in suffered a direct hit from one of the tanks. 11 injured.
7th October Russian airforce attacked the village of Elistanji. 54 died, more than 100 were injured. Many of them were left under the ruins of destroyed houses. More than half of them were children. More than 220 houses destroyed.
9th-10th October The regions of Grozny, Gudermes, Vedenskoy, Nojay-yurt, Nadterechny were bombed by artillery non-stop during these days. The Russian airforce attacked and bombed the town of Urus-Martan and villages of Goragorsk and Vedeno. 12 were killed and 30 injured. More then 2000 were left homeless.
21st October The central market and maternity hospital of Grozny were attacked by surface-to-surface missiles. In the market 137 died and more than 400 were injured. In the maternity hospital 15 newly born babies died, many mothers and the personnel were injured. Because of lack of medical supplies some injured people died.
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Where does the vast wealth of the United States come from?
It is hard to read the financial and popular press today without encountering stories that suggest the answer is the creativity of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
To this prevailing, romanticized perspective, Winona LaDuke offers a jolt of reality: Many of the great U.S. fortunes are based on somebody else's wealth -- the natural resources of Native Americans.
In her eloquent new book, All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press), LaDuke documents the historic -- and ongoing -- process of Native American dispossession.
LaDuke, a member of the Anishinaabeg nation, lives on the White Earth Reservation, in northern Minnesota. She describes how a series of treaties and U.S. laws transferred land from the Anishinaabeg to incoming settlers and converted commonly held Anishinaabeg land into individual parcels, with much of it soon alienated from Anishinaabeg (and a huge chunk taken by the state of Minnesota, illegally, for taxes).
The big winners in the process were Frederick Weyerhaueser and the company he created. "Some are made rich and some are made poor," LaDuke writes. "In 1895, White Earth 'neighbor' Frederick Weyerhaueser owned more acres of timber than anyone else in the world." Today, descendant companies of Weyerhaueser continue to clearcut what remains of the Minnesota pine forests.
In upstate New York and Canada, the Mohawk nation retains land in scattered reservations -- a tiny fraction of their former possessions. The Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve borders the St. Lawrence River. Families that once relied on fishing and farming have been forced, she writes, to abandon their livelihoods because the river is so polluted with PCBs dumped by General Motors and air pollution depositions have poisoned the land.
"Many of the families used to eat 20-25 fish meals a month," LaDuke quotes an Akwesasne environmental expert as saying. "It's now said that the traditional Mohawk diet is spaghetti."
All Our Relations features another half dozen case studies of corporate and governmental assaults on Native American land and livelihoods. Dispossession of Native American lands has led to what LaDuke calls "structural poverty." Structural poverty, she told us, "ensues when you do not have control over the land or any of your assets."
"It is not a question of material wealth, but having conditions of human dignity within the reservation," she says, citing a litany of devastating statistics on Native American poverty rates, crime rates and access to health care. "You can throw whatever social program you want at this, but until we are allowed to determine our own destiny, these are the problems we are going to face."
Dispossession has inflicted on Native Americans an intertwined spiritual poverty as well, she says. "You have some [Native Americans] whose whole way of life are based on buffalo, but we have no buffalo. This loss causes a kind of grieving in our community."
But LaDuke's All Our Relations is as much a hopeful as depressing book. She chronicles Native American resistance to incursions from multinational corporations, government agencies which frequently act to further corporate interests and a white-dominated society which too often maintains a settler mentality.
She profiles women like Gail Small, "the kind of woman you'd want to watch your back at a meeting with dubious characters." An attorney, Small runs a group called Native Action, which has led the strikingly successful fight against coal company strip mining on the Northern Cheyenne and other Montana reservations. Native Action has also pushed for affirmative development proposals, forcing the First Interstate Bank System to provide loans to Northern Cheyennes through use of the Community Reinvestment Act and helping establish a Northern Cheyenne high school.
LaDuke herself is an inspiring figure, working with her White Earth Land Recovery Project not only to pressure states and the federal government to return Native American lands (which because they are government held, would not require the displacement of any individual property holders), but also trying to enact a sustainable forest management plan for White Earth, supporting the development of wind power on the reservation and establishing a project, Native Harvest, to "restore traditional foods and capture a fair market price for traditionally and organically grown foods" such as wild hominy corn, organic raspberries, wild rice, buffalo sausage and maple syrup.
All Our Relations is a wonderful read, and an important book -- both for telling a story of plunder and exploitation too often forgotten, and because, as LaDuke notes, "this whole discussion is really not about the Seminoles and the panther" or other particular problems facing particular groups of Native Americans -- "it is really about America."
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999, http://www.corporatepredators.org)