Owen Lydiard

at large

Secretive Government

  • The way the ITU operates seems rather too secretive to me, so I was happy to join the Stop the Internet Coup campaign. Dec 2012.
  • The UK Labour government's long awaited Freedom of Information bill, when first drafted by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, contained pages of exemptions, which I objected to in June 1999 and again in Feb 2000.
  • Former MI5 officer David Shayler revealed that the UK secret services had been spying on various Labour politicians. I backed the Public Friend No1 that was launched in his support against legal efforts by the UK government to jail him.
  • Forest clearance on the Philippine island of Palawan was displacing the Batak and Tagbanwa indigenous people, who stood to gain no benefit from it, so I wrote to Palawan's Mayor Hegedorn urging reasonable behaviour. Although he has introduced some environmentally friendly projects, habitat loss is still a major concern for Palawan's 232 endemic species.

Survival of tribal peoples

Many of these campaigns were brought to my attention by Survival International.
  • Exxon Mobil's exploration for oil in Peru in 1996 risked dire consequences for the indigenous tribes in those areas, which I put to Mobil and President Fujimori. They abandoned block 77 in 1998, and block 78 in 2000.
  • Peruvian loggers and mineral explorers putting previously uncontacted tribes at risk of violent eviction and western disease - President Garcia published the fantastic view that such tribes were 'invented' by anti-capitalists. My letter to him urged more responsible behaviour. He was voted out of office in 2001, though came back in 2006.
  • The Canadian government, while in the middle of negotiating land ownership with the Innu, were simultaneously giving chunks of disputed land to multinationals, which I put in a letter to Jean Chretien, Prime Minister in 2000.
  • Botswana in 1997 decided to evict the Khwe and the Bakgalagadi tribes of the Kalahari desert. I complained to President Mogae back in 1998 and then in 2000.
  • The Jarawa people of the Andaman Islands, a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal belonging to India, were in 1999 being threatened with forcible resettlement, which seemed like a recipe for disaster to me, so I put this to Ms Maneka Gandhi Minister of Welfare at the time.
  • Colombian paramilitaries were busy in 1999 shooting opponents of the Urrá Dam megaproject, in particular the Emberá Katío people that were due to lose their land. I wrote wrote to President Andrés Pastrana to urge the Colombian government to look after all its people.

Big business misbehaviour

  • I joined the long-standing Nestlé SA boycott, which was a protest against their promotion of formula baby milk started in 1977.
  • In 1996 I protested to Unilever about their refusal to label GM Soya products in the UK.
  • BT in 2001 were effectively demanding £100 extra per year for broadband services to non-windows users. I complained to David Edmonds, DG of OFTEL.

Random stuff

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