Progress or Atrocity

The quotes below come from the article found in the above link. The example here is just one of the most recent of numerous incidents over the years. Other examples are easy enough to find.

“Civilized” people like to think of themselves as ‘refined’ and ‘above the fray’ right? Or at the very least, developed and polite and ‘not an animal’. So what does it say about a ‘civilized’ people who destroy a group of people’s way of life in order to establish a WWF park?

For nearly a decade, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been working with the Congolese government to set up the Messok Dja National Park with the help of funding bodies like the European Commission (EC), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

During this time, WWF-funded park rangers have actively patrolled the area. The Baka, who are vehemently opposed to the national park, have routinely denounced the rangers, whom they accuse of violence, discrimination and torture.

One Baka woman described how “The wildlife guards just want to kill us. Once, I had just gone to do some dam-fishing. I was coming back with some fish to grill in packages made of leaves, to eat with my husband and children. I’m coming back with the pot of fish, I put it down. Just like that, the ecoguards grab me: Bam, bam, bam. For no reason. I hadn’t provoked them, I didn’t owe them anything. They just beat me and I don’t even know what for.”

Another man reported, “We just suffer these terrible beatings here for nothing. If they see us, they just beat us with machetes. Bam, bam, bam [on your body].”

This is the face of “Civilized Colonialism”. Civilization encroaching upon the remaining lands of indigenous people little by little until they create some “legal” means of legitimizing and rationalizing their disregard for life. In this case, a National Park is being created that encompasses the land where the Baka people live.

So what does this mean for the Baka?

Confronted with an alien way of life outside of the forest, the Baka face the very real possibility of food scarcity. “We live from the Lipolo forest: wild mangoes, fish, meat, wild honey and yams, everything… but it’s now blocked off and we’re left to suffer. We don’t know how we can live.”

How can this type of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ be condoned by anyone with a regard for life? Where are those groups and agents of morality and spirituality that ‘civilization’ is so proud of?

Why are they quiet? Could it be because they arose from the very foundation that created ‘civilization’? The thinking that is required to continue the spread of ‘civilization’ is the same thinking that allows you not to feel the repercussions of your behavior.

To make matters worse, the Baka communities have never given their consent for the national park, with one local Baka chief explaining, “We can’t agree to it. Everything is there: food, life, health all come from that forest. If we were to give up the forest, we’d be sacrificing our children’s lives, our parents’ lives, our own lives. It would be as if someone were committing suicide.”

The Baka remain resolute in their opposition to the project. The forest is not only key to their survival, it lies at the heart of their sense of community and identity. Life outside it is simply inconceivable to them.

Why is ‘civilized’ human so blind to his/her atrocities performed in the name of his ‘tribe’ – Civilization. Is it because if we looked, it would require us to acknowledge that it is the same path we took to now be where we are?

What is difference between what is happening to the Baka people and what happened to Native Americans? I’m not talking about the level or degree of harm to the peoples. I am talking about the process of civilization. So instead of going in and committing genocide through violence, civilized human now uses controlled violence and international law to get what it wants.

So I ask all ‘Civilized’ people – This is what you call progress?

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