Cape Breton activists offer support to Montenegro anti-war conservationists
For vast stretches of human time, Sinjajevina Mountain in Montenegro has been home to pastoralist communities living in peace and harmony with each other and the land, writes PeaceQuest Cape Breton’s Sean Howard this week.
Part of the Balkan nation’s Tara Canyon Biosphere Reserve, Sinjajevina is one of the largest unspoilt mountain pastures in Europe. But Montenegro joined NATO in 2017, and in the eyes of the world’s most powerful military alliance the mountain is indeed a perfect place…to practice for war.
In September 2019—in the absence of any environmental assessment or community consultation—plans for a training ground were announced. Two months later a campaign to ‘Save Sinjajevina’ was launched, and in October 2020 activists led by 150 farming families “formed a human chain in the grasslands,” prepared to use “their bodies as shields against the live ammunition” of an imminent exercise.
Sean Howard is urging the Canadian government to take up the cause within NATO, writing, “I wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of National Defence Anita Anand, and Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault, urging them to raise the Sinjajevina issue with their NATO counterparts, requesting at a minimum a moratorium on any military activity pending a full policy review. (I have since been assured by the Prime Minister’s Office that my “comments have been carefully reviewed,” and forwarded to Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs.)”
Learn more about the ‘Save Sinjajevina’ campaign which is supported by global protest movements led and inspired by Indigenous resistance, including the International Land Coalition, Land Rights Now, the Perangua activist network and the ICCA Consortium, fighting for the establishment of Indigenous Peoples’ & Community Conserved Territories & Areas (ICCAs).
- Read “For Love of a Mountain in Montenegro” by Sean Howard, published on March 1, 2023 by the Cape Breton Spectator
(Images: Save Sinjajevina website gallery)