VISUAL ART JAPANESE ART AFTER FUKUSHIMA: RETURN OF GODZILLA RMIT Gallery Until May 30
Japanese Art After Fukushima is part of an excellent festival, Art + Climate = Change, which gathers local and international artists working with environmental ideas. It has spanned numerous venues across the state and is an important initiative of Guy Abrahams from the non-profit-making Climarte.
BALI, Indonesia (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Under a full moon one night in 2006, 30 machete-wielding men surrounded Aleta Baun in the middle of a forest as she headed home to breastfeed her youngest daughter.
“Each of the men slapped me, pulled my hair and kicked me. They banged my head against a tree. I now get headaches often,” she told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It was very, very painful but I just prayed. I still feel thankful they just hit me and did not kill me”, Baun, now 54, told Reuters.
Baun was leading protests against mining operations in her West Timor community. Baun was protesting against the miners for destroying the land sacred to her people, the Molo Indigenous people. Baun’s attackers told her blatantly that night; they had been hired to kill her.
Baun’s husband was at home tending to their children when she was attacked. Baun had called her husband before she was attacked.
“He(husband)said, ‘We will come and help you,’ and I asked, ‘How many of you are there?’. When he said ‘Five,’ I told him, ‘That’s useless. Don’t come. Stay at home so if something happens to me there’s someone to look after the kids”.
Baun’s attackers took the only $20 on her. After discussing they would gang-rape or kill her, they hacked her legs with machetes, and left her to die.
Baun survived the attack but the threats continued, placing the lives of her husband and children in grave danger. She was finally forced to leave home for a year.
On October 14, I posted a story about 30 Pacific Climate Warriors heading to Newcastle, Australia on Friday October 17 to stage a blockade on Australia coal exporters. The warriors were joined by many Australians on the shores on Newcastle to protest.
Written and from the point of view of one of the protestors and fellow Papua New Guinean, Arianne Kassman, this is an update on what took place last Friday. Arianne wrote this story for Reuters, Thurs, 23, Oct 2014.
Over 700 islands, more than 800 languages and cultures and some 1500 bird species – Papua New Guinea’s diversity is without a doubt unique and the country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful flora and fauna.
Land is one of the most valuable assets in PNG. More than 90 percent of the land is customary land and owned by the people.
I was born and raised in the capital city of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby. I was brought up in a strong Christian family and my traditions and my culture were also a part of my upbringing. I also learned the importance of different cultural obligations I had to my people and the land.
Today, all of this continues to be threatened by climate change. Rising sea levels, coastal flooding and king tides are all too common along the coast and for many of the islands.
This month, I travelled to Australia together with my 30 brothers and sisters from the Pacific to bring a message to Australia that decisions being made are having serious consequences on my home.
Even though it is one of our closest neighbours, Australia’s continued commitment to expanding the fossil fuel industry is destroying my home. Australia is the world’s second largest coal exporter – with plans to triple those exports in the coming years.
It is also one of the world’s largest gas exporters, with plans underway to make Australia the largest exporter in the world. These are plans that are distant from me, but ones that are felt by me and my people.
For Pacific Island communities the connection to the land, and to the sea, is paramount. The land plays a central role in our culture. But now, as sea levels rise, storms increase, and droughts hit, we are losing that connection. The sea, which used to play a central, calming role, in our community has now become a force to be feared.
For the Cartaret Islands this loss couldn’t be felt more. Their entire connection to their land has been lost. And that is the fate being faced by communities all across the Pacific. Just recently king tides hit Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.
When a king tide hits in those countries there is nowhere to go – the land is literally flooded. These are nations that have already been given a death sentence, told by scientists that within decades their entire land will be under water, that the only connection they will have to their land, and their culture, will be a passport.
This is what the fossil fuel industry is doing to us. Through their reckless plans to massively expand the mining of coal and gas they are trying to lock us into a future of disaster, one of rising sea levels, floods, storms and the destruction of livelihoods and places we call home. It is a future of destruction based on a shallow desire for greater profits.
This year, however, we have decided to no longer let this future be dictated for us. For years we have tried to negotiate with global leaders to halt emissions and stop climate change. But it has fallen on deaf ears.
That’s why I joined 30 Pacific Climate Warriors who travelled to Australia, leading a peaceful blockade of the Newcastle Coal Port on October 17. We are calling out the industry for their plans to drown our Islands. And we were joined by thousands of other Australians – those who joined us in Newcastle, or the others who led peaceful occupations of the headquarters of the fossil fuel industry in the week that followed.
We are refusing to drown; we are fighting for our islands, and for a safe climate for all of us. We’re creating a line not in the sand but in the port with traditional canoes that we have built, which no coal ships shall pass.
It is not too late. We can save the Pacific. We must save the Pacific and we must stand up, not only for the Pacific, but for all those around the world impacted by climate change. But to do so we need to stand up to the industry that is willfully destroying our home. We need to stop these destructive plans in their track.
I came to Australia not because I wanted to, but because I had to do whatever it takes to preserve my culture, my traditions, my home, the birth place of my heritage and my identity. I am proud to join the 30 Pacific Climate Warriors, and the hundreds of Australians who are standing up in support.
This is the action we need to take to save our islands. This is the action we need to take to keep our islands above water.
(refer to link below for my previous post on the same subject)
There is but one week to go until what’s being billed as the biggest climate march in history occurs, in New York City, as world leaders converge to talk at the United Nations on the crisis facing our planet. Will they listen to the people thronging the streets? The People’s Climate March organizers hope so. They, and the scientists, say our survival as a species depends on it. This powerful hour-long documentary, Disruption, details the science behind the push to get the world’s politicians to listen and take action. Although the Native voices are not front and center in this film, Indigenous Peoples are mentioned here and are among the organizers and sponsors of the planned mass protest. RELATED: Indigenous Peoples at Forefront of Historic People’s Climate March in New York City “Indigenous Peoples’ traditional teachings have long warned that if human beings failed to protect and care for Mother Earth and the natural world, the survival of humanity would be threatened,” notes the indigenous section of the People’s Climate March website. “Today, increasingly severe impacts of climate change threaten ecosystems and food production around the world and Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines of climate change impacts. Indigenous Peoples are participating in the People’s Climate March to bring attention to the devastating impacts of climate change and to share our hopes and teachings for living in harmony with Mother Earth.” Watch the video below; it will not feel like an hour.
Among many talents, skills and expertise they have on environment, my dear friends Rae and John Sheridan are scientists and climate activists. Last week I posted a picture and brief story about their new pup Chaos who they adopted while fighting to protect the environment in New South Wales, Australia. This protest event took place in July. Here is a short factual account by Rae Sheridan about the events that took place when Rae, John and the members of 350.org took a stance on the establishment of a coal mine in Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine site.
Above, Rae Sheridan on the scene of the protest when she got arrested.
Far right and in front, Rae and John Sheridan hold banners with members of the 350.org.
A Physical Stance Counts
by Rae Sheridan
The police road block two kilometres from camp was our first taste of being part of a ‘suspect’ group. After the road-block, we were welcomed at camp and immediately given a tour of the very considerable facilities; kitchen, information tent, campfire gathering circle, farm barn-cum meeting hall, solar recharging nook, communications unit, toilets, showers and a little further the tepee belonging to indigenous activist Muzz the owner of an impressive part dingo Mother, Dubi, and her irresistible ten 7-week-old pups.
The NSW convoy arrived as we put up our tents. A flurry of activity followed with a walk up a nearby hill led by Muzz and Dubi. From a craggy summit lookout we had a good view of the surrounding rural farms and in the glancing rays of a winter sunset we learnt of what was at stake with the clear felling of the critically endangered Grassy Whitebox woodland, and cultural heritage sites of the Gomeroi people, the traditional owners of the Leard State Forest.
There were around 200 people in camp. Before dinner we met in the barn for a basic briefing which covered some of the history of the campaign, legal aspects and an outline of the two planned actions for the next day. We decided along with about 40 others to be in the band that would seek to trespass on Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine site to disrupt the logging operations knowing that if successful we would be arrested. Others planned to blockade a mine approach road. Dinner was a buzz with folk meeting and sharing stories. There was a sense of anticipation and excitement. For many of us, this was our first foray into deliberate arrestable illegality. Further planning followed. Our band was asked to form sub groups to devolve care, making checking on each other and monitoring of the whole group easier. We choose intrepid as our foursome’s name … fitting for the most senior of the smaller groups. We put together our provisions for the next day in our back packs and set alarms for 1:30am. With a 2am start planned we realised that the moon would have set and we’d be walking in the dark.
The trip to the mine site had to be overland as the roads were policed on every approach. As our 12 kilometre route passed houses and crossed roads we had to walk in silence and without lights. Led by three local ‘scouts’ we evaporated in single file into the darkness …along tracks, across recently sewn fields, along fence lines, across creeks and finally into forest. For our subgroup of veteran bushwalkers this was an unusual variant in which a loftier purpose added to the fun. Our timing was spot on. At dawn we crossed onto the mine site and past the Whitehaven Coal signage warning of trespassing. Within minutes flickering orange lights announced the arrival of 2 ‘security’ utes. Both ‘sides’ knew their ‘rights’. The security guards could not touch us, just advise. We marched on shepherded by security fore and aft, stopping to plant eucalypt seedlings and greet the dawn with photographs of the landscape intact on one side of the road and levelled on the other. Girt by pink plastic ribbons, some isolated ‘habitat’ trees still stood erect. Their wild inhabitants had 24 hours to evacuate before their homes would also be felled.
We moved to a road junction attracting more security officers on all sides. They warned us to be careful, not to venture off the road in case we should ‘trip’. More sapling planting was accompanied by singing, a banner display and a bite to eat. Eventually three police vehicles arrived stimulating another round of photography on both ‘sides’. We were charged with trespassing, our packs examined and as two Greenpeace paragliders sailed overhead, each of us was photographed, our details taken and, in groups, we were ferried off the site in paddywagons to a road junction near our camp. The entire 4 hour standoff was marked with civility touched with a cast of theatricality. John’s request for a senior’s discount on the fine was taken in good spirits. Back at camp we learnt that the other larger party had made a colourful ‘act up’ on one of the roads leading to the mine site. There was a short debrief after lunch.
How do you assess the impact of the protest? Social media, local media and some mainstream news outlets reported the action. The deforestation ceased the next week after the company was threatened with a court injunction. The fight will be back in court in September. Meanwhile the site is being thoroughly cleansed of trashed forest in preparation for explosion-driven excavation. The fight to save what remains of this unique forest is ongoing.
The experience left me convinced that physically taking a stand counts. I feel it is a necessary frontline strategy to combat environmental injustice. For me it is the logical next line of action – a restorer of mental health in the face of so much frustration and it was fun. Taking action has had a ripple effect. In my immediate circle of friends and relatives taking direct action has raised awareness of the threat of coal mining. It has stimulating self reflection in others leading to a reassessment of what getting arrested means. My 70th birthday could not have been spent in a better way for a better cause. On a less personal level non-violent direct action definitely feeds the voracious media and brings wide awareness.
I was impressed with the organisation, preparation and the monitoring of this direct action by the numerous supporting groups especially 350.org. I was impressed by the commitment of the wonderful local farming families. My quandary is why more ‘affected’ people are not involved? I’m convinced that the arrest of one popular ‘famous’ person such as a football player or singer would overcome a crucial hiatus in changing attitudes to non-violent direct action. More folk would be motivated and mobilised. It is reassuring to hear that there is a growing demand for non-violent direct action workshops. I cannot help but feel that the more the public hear stories from individuals at the protest line the more non-violent direct actions will be seen as an effective, risk adverse and safe form of protest…. especially for the retired who do not have the threat of a career being compromised by having a ‘record’.
It is now two weeks after the action. I have been fined $100 and not the $350 that was expected. John, as yet, has not received notification. A collateral benefit is that we have become besotted parents to one of Dubi’s pups.
We look forward to being part of further non violent direct actions as an effective way to support farmers such as Rick Laird and the climate change movement.
Rick Laird, fifth-generation farmer from Maules Creek, said, “We have exhausted every legal and political avenue to make our voices heard. Whitehaven’s mine will destroy our community and our livelihood. We’ve seen this happen in mining areas all over the country – eventually the farmers will be forced to move out. My family has lived here for generations: we are prepared to fight for this place.”