Terra Nullius is my latest column in Locus magazine; it explores the commonalities between the people who claim ownership over the things they use to make new creative works and the settler colonialists who arrived in various "new worlds" and declared them to be empty, erasing the people who were already there as a prelude to genocide.
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Hereditary millionaire war-criminal and brother of Betsy DeVos Erik Prince (previously) is full of good ideas: after founding the disgraced mercenary company Blackwater (and several subsequent reboots thereof), he proposed that the US could withdraw its military from Afghanistan and instead pay him to occupy the country with a mercenary army that would brutally subjugate its people on America's behalf.
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The nonprofit organization to which I belong recently put the personal data of around 410,000 people on the internet, connected to interactive street maps of where they lived. The data includes their full names, date and place of birth, known residential address, and often includes their professions and arrest records, sometimes even information about mental or physical handicaps. It also lists whether any of their grandparents were Jewish.
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Patrick Ball and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) (previously) use careful, rigorous statistical models to fill in the large blank spots left behind by acts of genocide, bringing their analysis to war crimes tribunals, truth and reconciliation proceedings, and other reckonings with gross human rights abuses.
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“On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.”
What the Trump administration is doing to these thousands of children is morally repulsive. We have to stop it. Read the rest
Our European immigrant ancestors did an unspeakable number of shitty things to North America's Indigenous peoples. Massacres, rapes, pillaging and residential schools designed to destroy their culture – we ticked off all of the genocidal boxes.
Take a visit to a nearby reservation and you'll find that the legacy of our white asshole doings still echo on today. Amidst the systematic racism and down-home bigotry that many natives in the United States and Canada are still putting up with, federal and local government officials are doing what they can to make amends for the atrocities of the past. Issuing an official apology for the indignities, pain and death visited upon those forced into Canada's residential school system is a good example of this.
However, not every gesture needs to be as grand in scope: inclusion, education and acceptance of indigenous cultures that were, for generations, forced outside of the mainstream, can go a long way towards healing the wounds of the past on a local level. To help move things along in this area, Professor Onowa McIvor of the University of Victoria's Department of Indigenous Education has put together a collection of words, greetings other and phrases in the languages of British Columbia's Indigenous peoples that can be incorporated into our day-to-day lives.
From The CBC:
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Learning how to say "hello" or displaying a welcome sign in the language of the local First Nation are just a few ways the author is encouraging people to get involved.
"To learn a greeting but also the appropriate response is a way of deepening our understanding of that language a little bit, and being able to have just a very short conversation," McIvor told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.
Charles Manson, world-famous cult leader and serial killer, died this week in a prison in California, after a life sentence. Ratko Mladic, Balkan war criminal, just received a life sentence in The Hague yesterday.
Sometimes, the right thing happens. Read the rest
In 1907, Charles Morgan of Broome Station sent this telegram to Henry Prinsep, the Chief Protector of Aborigines for Western Australia, in Perth: "Send cask arsenic exterminate aborigines letter will follow." Read the rest
From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, many Americans celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as "ragamuffins" in masked costumes and then thronged the streets, basically trick-or-treating for money and gifts. Read the rest
I've heard -- and repeated -- the theory that addiction rates among indigenous people in the Americas was caused by genetics -- specifically, that "new world" populations hadn't gone through the European plague years' genetic bottleneck that killed everyone who couldn't survive on alcoholic beverages (these having been boiled during their production and thus less likely to carry infectious diseases). Read the rest
Guatemala is a place where justice seldom reaches those who deserve it most. But today in Guatemala, something amazing has happened. And they're calling it “Guatemalan Spring.”
Rodney writes, "Between 1776 and 1887, the U.S. seized over 1.5 billion acres, an eighth of the world, from America's indigenous people by treaty and executive order. This 1:27 video maps it year by year." Read the rest
Emi McLean at the Open Society Justice Initiative's Rios Montt trial blog:
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With the events of recent weeks – the May 20 Constitutional Court decision to undo the guilty verdict in the Rios Montt trial and the new trial court’s expressed unavailability until April 2014 – it seems that continued legal proceedings against Rios Montt in the Ixil genocide trial will be in the best of scenarios on hold. However, there have been further developments in connection with another set of charges against former Guatemalan de facto president Efraín Rios Montt.
Photo: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org.
From 2-5 Eastern time today in Washington, DC, I will be among the moderators at a special event at the New America Foundation, "Genocide in Our Hemisphere: Justice and Reconciliation in Guatemala Beyond the Conviction of General Ríos Montt."
You can watch live online, the event will be streamed here.
Featured speakers at the event include scholars, massacre survivors, and people who were directly involved in the genocide trial of Ríos Montt, which ended with a guilty verdict on May 10, only to be thrown out ten days later in an unprecedented move by Guatemala's Constitutional Court.
More on the event in this Boing Boing post. If you're in DC and wish to attend, it is free, but it's best to sign up online. Read the rest
Benjamin Manuel Geronimo, massacre survivor, and representative of Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), speaking in the genocide trial in Guatemala City on May 9, 2010.
On Wednesday, May 29, I will be among the moderators at a very special event in Washington, DC at the New America Foundation, "Genocide in Our Hemisphere: Justice and Reconciliation in Guatemala Beyond the Conviction of General Ríos Montt." Featured speakers at the event include scholars, massacre survivors, and people who were directly involved in the genocide trial of Ríos Montt, which ended with a guilty verdict on May 10, only to be thrown out ten days later in an unprecedented move by Guatemala's Constitutional Court.
More on the event below. It's from 2-5pm. Attendance is free, but you must sign up online. Read the rest
Photo: Daniel Hernández-Salazar.
Protesters in Guatemala and other Latin American countries gathered on Friday to denounce the Guatemalan Constitutional Court's recent decision to overturn the genocide trial and guilty verdict of Ríos Montt. About 1,500 people, mostly indigenous Maya from Guatemala, gathered in Guatemala City. They marched along what posters described as the "Route of Impunity," from the Supreme Court where the ex-General was convicted on May 10 and sentenced to 80 years in jail, to the Constutional Court which threw out the trial ten days later.
Photos from the Guatemala City march below, along with images from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico, which were among the other countries where protests took place. Also below, snapshots from a pro-Ríos Montt protest that took place today in a suburb of Guatemala City: about 15 people gathered to denounce Communism and terrorism, and chant that "In Guatemala, there was no genocide." Read the rest