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WATCH: One With the Earth - One With Each Other


ONE WITH THE EARTH - ONE WITH EACH OTHER: Indigenous plea to halt rainforest destruction brought to London’s Tate Modern in a stunning new short film.


Indigenous rainforest activists from Borneo bring Cecilia Vicuña’s ‘Brain Forest Quipu’ installation to life, in a moving solidarity ritual in the vast Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern gallery.


Woven with interviews from leading environmentalists from the UK and Malaysia, the ceremony forms the centrepiece of a new short film by award-winning, activist-filmmaker, Fergus Dingle. made new partnership campaign group:


‘One With the Earth – One With Each Other’ is a plea for solidarity with global Indigenous land-defenders. It cries loudly: ‘We are one with the Earth - We are one with each other. What we do to the Earth, we do to each other.’

CELINE LIM & KOMEOK JOE DELIVER THEIR SOLIDARITY SPEECH TO GLOBAL INDIGENOUS LAND DEFENDERS (Photo credit: Kelly Hill)

FILM DESCRIPTION Wearing traditional ceremonial robes from Sarawak, Celine Lim (a Kayan community leader and head of the Malaysian grassroots organisation SAVE Rivers) and Komeok Joe (a Penan elder and head of Indigenous organisation KERUAN) join activist-artist Gaby Solly.


They guide participants in a ceremony of movement, song and blessing, encircled by Vicuña’s ghostly 'Dead Forest Quipu' in the Tate’s Turbine Hall (the sculptural element of the Chilean Indigenous mestizo artist’s 'Brain Forest Quipu' installation.)

CELINE AND UNCLE KOMEOK BESTOW AN ASH BLESSING ON EACH OTHER (FILM STILL)


Dressed in white shawls, echoing Asian funeral traditions, participants follow activist-performers, the Red Rebel Brigade, into the Tate - a gong beats in time with their slow footsteps. Each person carries a bone-branch into Vicuña’s vast, hanging installation, these are raised high to honour Indigenous land-defenders and the forests they protect, before being laid as offerings at the quipu’s centre. Many are moved to tears.

RITUAL PARTICIPANTS - MOURNERS AND THE RED REBELS (FILM STILLS)


Stepping out of the Quipu, Lim and Joe deliver a solidarity speech to global Indigenous activists:

“We, the Indigenous People of the world, have lived for generations in synergy with our environment. Our ancestors built a way of life and practices that understood deeply our place as being a part of a whole. A part of a whole with our environment and how it is both powerful and fragile. Powerful because it provides us shelter, sustenance and life support. Fragile because it is finite in nature.


“We are speaking up against all the intentional side-lining that excluded us as the world’s best experts in protecting our system of life. Today, we demand our place at the table, we demand our rightful place to decide what is done on our land, we demand full inclusion in all governance and administration of our resources."

RAINFOREST SOLIDARITY RITUAL IN THE TATE MODERN'S TURBINE HALL (FILM STILL)


After bestowing a traditional Sarawak ‘Ash-Marking Blessing’ on participants, Komeok Joe and Celine Lim lead a procession out of the Tate through London. They read out letters from Sarawak’s Indigenous leaders to policy makers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, and to King Charles (Head of the Commonwealth), demanding action to attend to the UK’s role in continued tropical rainforest destruction in Sarawak and around the world.


OUTSIDE THE FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE, LONDON (FILM STILL)


Penan elder, Komeok Joe, interviewed during the film, explains:

“Without the forest the Penan people cannot survive. The forest is our bank, our supermarket our hospital. This is our life - the way we survive. We hope that governments open their ears to hear our demands: to stop the logging in Sarawak and to stop buying timber from Sarawak.”

KOMEOK JOE OUTSIDE THE TATE MODERN (FILM STILL)


Leading environmentalists, including Tony Juniper, veteran rainforest campaigner and former Director of Friends of the Earth, provide commentary throughout the film:

“People everywhere need to appreciate the need for solidarity with Indigenous communities who are engaged in this struggle. Everyone now gets climate change, everyone now gets the mass extinction - fewer people understand that the way to resolve this is in empowering different groups of people who take a view of the land and its management which is about the long-term, and which is about a holistic approach.”

ENVIRONMENTALIST, TONY JUNIPER, BY THE RIVER THAMES, OPPOSITE THE CITY OF LONDON (FILM STILL)


BACKGROUND

This action in January 2023 marked the launch of our new partnership campaign to ‘Clean Up the Tropical Timber Trade’. Read more about Celine and Komeok's visit here.


The ceremony and procession was devised and coordinated by Bristol activist-artist and member of Culture Declares Emergency, Gaby Solly. She wanted to create a tangible way of linking people in the UK with those in the global South who are fighting on the frontline for the survival of our planet, against bulldozers, chainsaws and international corporations.


Gaby explains:

“I am distressed by the state of upheaval in the world, both socially and environmentally. Our ‘industrial-growth’ society is divorced from nature, and forgetting this crucial interdependence now threatens our very existence.


“Combining artistic practice with activism and community-building opens hearts and minds to the troubling issues at the core of our Earth crisis, in a way that it is sometimes harder for science to do. I made so much sense to locate ourselves at Cecilia's Brain Forest Quipu which speaks directly to forest destruction, abuse of Indigenous Peoples' rights and the power of collective action. It has been a huge privilege and pleasure to help amplify Celine and Uncle Komeok’s voices through this creative action, and we will continue to work together.”

ACTIVIST-ARTIST, GABY SOLLY, RECEIVING AN ASH BLESSING FROM KOMEOK JOE (FILM STILL)


Activist-filmmaker, Fergus Dingle describes why he was eager to be involved with this project:

“As a filmmaker, it’s an honour to work with Indigenous land defenders. Storytelling is such a huge part of our resistance to climate breakdown, as we redefine our relationship with nature, acknowledge the harm done, and battle the ever rising tide of greenwash. Powerful, truthful stories must cut through and inspire people to join forces with these climate heroes.”

ACTIVIST-FILMMAKER, FERGUS DINGLE, BENEATH THE 'BRAIN FOREST QUIPU' (Photo: Gaby Solly)

Clare Oxborrow, Friends of the Earth’s forests and supply chains campaigner said:

“For too long, communities in Sarawak and elsewhere have been ignored while decisions are made to clear their traditional lands and forests. As a significant importer of Malaysian timber, the UK has a responsibility to ensure that our demand for wood, and other commodities like palm-oil, do not destroy precious forests and cause harm to people overseas.”


“This powerful film brings the voices of directly affected indigenous communities to the heart of London, and challenges us to examine our role in driving this destruction. The UK Government needs to hold companies to account for environmental harm and human-rights abuses in their supply chains, and to give affected communities the ability to seek redress for damage caused to their lands and lives.”

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH CAMPAIGNER, CLARE OXBORROW, ON THE THAMES BANKSIDE (FILM STILL)


Please watch and share on CUT' Campaign's social media channels:


(Downloads for screenings etc. are available on request)



SOLIDARITY LETTER TO GLOBAL INDIGENOUS LAND PROTECTORS FROM KOMEOK JOE AND CELINE LIM REPRESENTING THE PENAN AND KAYAN PEOPLES OF SARAWAK


23rd January 2023


To Indigenous Land Protectors of the world,


We thank our Creator, our Mother Earth, the spirits, our ancestors and our elders for their guidance.


I am Komeok Joe, of the Penan People of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. I speak in solidarity to Indigenous land protectors across the world, witnessed by friends who have gathered with me today, in London.

We have come together to find solutions to the problems our communities are facing as a result of climate change and the misguided economic policies and development practices that destroy our homelands.


As well as losing the natural resources that we rely on, traditional knowledge and cultural practices die off when lands are spoiled or taken away from the people by the governments, corporations and conservation agencies.


We are normal people and our power is limited. However, we are United by our friendship and our identity as indigenous peoples, and we will work in solidarity for the well-being of this earth, and for the health and happiness of our communities. We call for all the governments and international organizations to respect our values and rights and to stand with us as we look for solutions to the problems our communities are facing.


I, Celine Lim of the Kayan people of Sarawak Borneo, also speak in solidarity to Indigenous land defenders across the world, witnessed by friends and allies who have gathered with me today, in London


Enough. Enough of silencing the people whose lives and identities are tied to our earth and our forests.


Enough. Enough of taking away our rights to choose. On what happens to our land. Homes that we have lived in for generations.


Enough. Enough of the incompetency narratives that are placed on indigenous people worldwide. Claiming that we are outdated and unable to understand the complexity of your schemes and systems.


We, the indigenous people of the world have lived for generations in synergy with our environment. Our ancestors built a way of life and practices that understood deeply our place as being a part of a whole.


A part of a whole with our environment and how it is both powerful and fragile.

Powerful because it provides us shelter, sustenance and life support.

Fragile because it is finite in nature.


We are speaking up against all the intentional side-lining in your policies that excluded us as the world’s best experts in protecting our system of life.

Today. We demand our place at the table.


We demand our rightful place to decide what is done on our land.

We demand full inclusion in all governance and administration of our resources.

Hear us. From the ground up. Hear us loudly - “Enough! Enough!”


Respectfully yours,

Komeok Joe, KERUAN – Voices of the Penans (Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia)

Celine Lim, SAVE Rivers (Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia)


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