THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY at the United Nations, April 2010 – OR: The power of the Internet for Democracy!

{I had no idea my website went so far, needless to say my whole month is made – my thanks to fellow Amerindian, Damon Corrie! Hail from the 6th great-grandson of ‘Joseph‘ Chatoyer (Black Carib ChieftainSt Vincent’s sole National Hero): Ian}

Thanks to the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) and the Tribal Link Foundation of the USA (founded and led by the visionary and dedicated Indigenous Rights advocate Ms. Pamela Kraft) – I was availed the opportunity to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the 3rd consecutive year; after my Tribal link training course (best ever in my opinion) was first completed.

It is because of the support of the UCTP that I as a representative of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations (an entity I finance myself that refuses any external funding in order to remainvociferously neutral and independent of any political intimidation‘)’ – that I have had the OPPORTUNITY to become one of the better known Indigenous rights activists and campaigners from the Caribbean region recognised by the OAS (since 2000) and the UN (since 2008).

But allow me to begin my rambling abbreviated Epiphany from the beginning:

On my American Airlines flight from Barbados to JFK New York a lady several rows ahead of me had an epileptic fit, there was much screaming and lashing out etc, and there was some talk of diverting to land elsewhere sooner – so that she could receive medical attention; later I realized that AA no-longer accepts cash payments for any items offered on board and only accepts credit card payments – but beyond these two nothing unseemly occurred for the duration of the flight.

Upon arrival at JFK I feared (as I always do these days) that my raggedy multiple entry US visa which exists tenuously on added pages that are Scotch-taped into a ten year-old canceled passport – that I staple onto my new valid one, would be rejected by the US Immigration Officer that I had to face….for an older officer in Miami had told me once (out of perhaps 50 trips to the USA) in no uncertain terms “If I see you come before me with a Visa looking like this again I’ll refuse you entry” – and I was only in-transit via Miami to Panama!

Nevertheless, I faced a friendly US Immigration Officer (which is customary, I have found) and I was processed into the country, Customs officers were equally pleasant and I was soon at the Ground Transportation Information desk to obtain a ticket for one of the shuttle vans that service JFK.

While awaiting my transport (it took 40 minutes, but that is routine I was told) I had the time to talk to a lovely English couple with two teen-aged children (a boy and a girl) who had just arrived on the same flight as I had from Barbados – where they had spent a one week Holiday on the West Coast.

I could not help asking them if they found their trip expensive or if they were treated unpleasantly etc.

The couple had nothing but good things to say about Barbados, they did not find food expensive (only clothing – but were not there to shop anyway) and said they had experienced no negative treatment by Barbadians, they said they hoped to visit again next year for 2 weeks as they did not see much of the island this time around.

At this point I (being cognizant of the ‘Tourism is our business’ mantra preached in Barbados) told them “I conduct off-the beaten-track Eco-adventure tours in Barbados, not as a living – but more as a hobby; so call me when you visit again and I’ll give you guys a free day tour“. The couple looked pleasantly surprised and we soon parted ways as my transportation had just arrived.

Upon reaching my Hotel in downtown Manhattan, I checked in and headed straight to my shared room on the 12th floor, I was overjoyed to be greeted by Mr. Jiten Yumnam – my Indigenous Manipuri brother from North-East India (illegally invaded and annexed just after WWII by the first Indian Prime Minister Mr. Nehru – and still militarily occupied with ruthless barbarity to this day) soon after the British forces (which had recognized the ancient sovereignty of the Mongol kingdoms of this part of Asia) had departed.

Jiten looked thinner than when I met him for the first time in 2009, and the electric shock tortures and beatings he was subjected to for his 4 months of illegal incarceration in India for merely speaking out against destructive policies of the Indian government in his country, has taken its toll on his health.

On the bright side, he is still alive today – and it was in no small part to a chain of events that went like this:

Jiten read a statement at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 8th Session in 2009 which revealed the truth about the deceptively perceived ‘Greatest democracy in Asia‘ image that India has perpetrated in the world (this caught the ire of Indian authorities), then I helped to spread the awareness of the Indian false propaganda image being swallowed by gullible Caribbean governments in my own part of the world via the BAJAN REPORTER BLOG-SITE, this too came to the attention of Indian authorities and is being monitored by them to this day.

Upon Jiten’s return to India – it was not long before they used his vocal opposition to a very destructive Mega-Dam project in his region to arrest him on the usual bogus charges they use of being an ‘insurrectionist‘ or ‘terrorist‘ etc, his days would have been numbered – just like ALL the other thousands of arrested and disappeared/accidentally died in custody (code language formurdered by the authorities‘) indigenous peoples of North-East India who dare to stand up and oppose the evils of the bloodthirsty Indian war machine.

However, a Naga friend of both Jiten and myself was alerted by Jitens family of his illegal detention, our Naga brother then alerted me, I then alerted the BAJAN REPORTER and Tribal Link Foundation (who had sponsored both Jiten and myself to attend the UN in 2009), Tribal Link then alerted a key ally in a senior position in the UN, our UN contact then alerted the Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon himself, India was made aware that the highest levels of the UN were aware of Jitens case …and it as not long before the the orders from Delhi to release Mr. Yumnam were dispatched.

Jiten asked me the same night I arrived and I quote:

Manipuri Hero - Jiten Yumnam

Manipuri Hero - Jiten Yumnam

But who is the Bajan Reporter really – is it you? People all over Asia are reading about my case on the Bajan Reporter and asking me who is the person – and where is Barbados?

I just laughed and said, “No it is not me, it is a web news site of one of Barbados’s most famous former TV news anchors Mr. Ian Bourne – who has become the greatest champion of Indigenous Issues in the Caribbean journalistic fraternity, I’ll tell him that people all over Asia are reading his site, the Internet really is a powerful tool for justice when you think about it… but the main thing is that you are free and we are together here again“.

Our Naga brother was also in the room, I will not mention his name for obvious reasons of his personal safety, as was our younger brother Ghazali from the Alifaru people of the 999 Molukkan islands – who have been brutally oppressed for 60 years by the second worst (India is #1) Imperialistic military in Asia – INDONESIA, in 2008 on my first sponsored trip to the UN for the Permanent Forum Ghazali’s mother Pelpina has read a statement similarly exposing hidden atrocities (in her people’s case committed by Indonesia) and in two days 2 men were sent to the UN by the Indonesian Armed Forces to silence her, luckily Pelpina was not there when they arrived, for even though one cannot smuggle a firearm passed the UN security checkpoints – who is to say that another death delivering device such as a hypodermic needle containing a lethal concoction (for example) was not in their possession?

There are many ways to assassinate someone quietly or in a time delayed manner thereby making it appear to be of ‘natural causes‘ such as a heart attack.

They could have easily just followed her back to her hotel, many a crowded street in between the UN and our hotel where one can ‘accidentally’ bump into someone and deliver a deadly ‘prick‘ in a split second. Pelpina was forced to flee New York and return Post-haste to Holland where she resides in exile.

The same channels were alerted to this and the matter was a mini-controversy in 2008, but these are the risk one fighting for the freedom of an oppressed people must face – more often than not; risk of death and Human Rights work are practically synonymous in the Indigenous ‘fourth world’.

Damon Corrie with Colleagues presenting "The Arawak Dictionary"

Damon Corrie and President Roberto Borrero present Mrs. Elsa Stamatopoulou - Director of the Office for the Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations - with the English to Arawak Dictionary

We were later joined by our elder Indigenous brother Tafue from Tuvalu – I man we consider to be one of the hardest working men on the Climate change issue facing the Pacific Island States today, Tafue and I like to talk about matters of a more spiritual nature most of the time; and I enjoy our discourses.

On a personal note I was availed the opportunity to present Mrs. Elsa Stamatopoulou of the UN (a very senior staffer and great friend and ally of Indigenous Peoples for over 20 years) with a copy of the Eagle Clan Arawak Dictionary that I compiled with the aid of my fluent speaking Arawak parents-in-law in 2000.

The rest I would like to write about here would not be permissible for the sheer space it would consume, but I think many of the main points have been adequately touched upon.

Yours sincerely,

Damon Gerard Corrie

One Response

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  1. Well done brother Damon, that is the idea,keep the flames burning, we must not forget the world indigenous population is second only to china, if we are able to unite with one another we can do wounders, we now have this opportunity with the use of the internet let us make the best use of it .Solidarity.


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