Argentina: Judgement Against Oil Company Recognizes Indigenous Peoples' Rights

In the province of Neuquén issued a ruling against the oil company Piedra del Aguila, who entered the land without consultation of the Mapuce Community Trawel Huenctru Leufú. The ruling covers they have clearly violated the rights of indigenous peoples.


The ruling, issued on 16 February 2011 by Judge Mario O. Tommasi, rejected an injunction filed by the quarrying company in 2007, which called for the cessation of acts that hinder the work of oil exploration in the area the Twins and Los Leones.


The ruling challenged the order on several grounds. These include the recognition of the population as a Community Leufu Trawel Wenctru Mapuce seated in the place Cerro Leon, in the province of Neuquén, department Picún Leufú.


It also recognizes the Community territory and constitutional. States that the common ownership of indigenous peoples is not individual possession of the Civil Code, since it is based on the pre-existence to the State and the fact that she has preserved the traditional occupation.


Also demonstrated the lack of compliance with the procedure of consultation or joint management of natural resources. The right of participation involves the establishment of a genuine dialogue between the parties, which is characterized by communication and understanding, mutual respect, good faith and sincere desire to reach an agreement.


Similarly, warns that the involvement of communities should be free and fully in all stages of the process and that consultation should take place before the adoption of decisions. And determines the failure of national and provincial constitutions, the ILO Convention 169, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


It is noteworthy that during the more than three years of the trial, the company entered the Community territory and fought with police assistance to community members, supported on the orders of other judges.


Source: Servindi - First Peoples Human Rights Coalition


11:16 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Amazon Indians protest in London as judge blocks Brazil dam

These projects will force my people from their land and end our way of life.’ Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, Ashaninka leader.

Three Amazon Indians protested in London today against dams which threaten to destroy the lands and lives of thousands of tribal people.

Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, an
Ashaninka Indian from Peru, Sheyla Juruna, a Juruna Indian from the Xingu region and Almir Surui of the Surui tribe in Brazil, are calling for three controversial dam projects in the Amazon to be halted.



The Indians protested, with Survival International supporters, outside the office of the Brazilian state development bank BNDES, which is providing much of the funding for the dams.

Meanwhile a Brazilian judge has blocked progress on one of the dams – the huge Belo Monte project – over environmental concerns. The ruling will certainly be challenged by the government.

The Belo Monte mega-dam planned for the Xingu river would be the world’s third largest dam. If constructed it will devastate a huge area of forest. There are reports of uncontacted Indians near the dam site.

Belo Monte and the other schemes – the Madeira dams in Brazil and Pakitzapango in Peru, are themselves just a part of Brazil’s ambitious plans to harness hydro-power in Brazil and Peru to fuel the next stage in the country’s rapid economic growth.



Sheyla Juruna has said, 'The dams will bring irreversible cultural, social and environmental damage. BNDES, by investing in the dams, is investing in the destruction of the Amazon. We are being treated like animals – all our rights are being violated.

Source : Survival International

11:15 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


Uncontacted Amazon Indians face annihilation

 A shocking report obtained by Survival International reveals that the home of the nomadic Awá tribe suffered more deforestation than any other indigenous territory in the Amazon in 2009.

Around 60 to 100 Awá have managed to remain uncontacted, but their last refuge is now being destroyed.

A huge influx of loggers and settlers has invaded the territory, but virtually nothing has been done to remove them, despite the authorities being aware of their identities.

The report, by Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department
FUNAI, shows that 31% of the forest in the Awá territory has been illegally cut down.

The tribe lives in three of the five indigenous areas which suffered most deforestation in 2009 – the latest year for which statistics are available. There are about 360 contacted Awá, living in several communities.

Satellite images show that deforestation in the area has hugely increased over the past two decades and is now occurring close to where
uncontacted Indians have been sighted. 

Pire’i Ma’a, an Awá man, told Survival, ‘The loggers are destroying all the land… This is Indian land… I am angry, very angry with the loggers, extremely angry. There is no game for me to hunt, and my children are hungry’.

Watch video of Awá men talking about logging and deforestation threats. 

Some Awá have stopped hunting altogether as they feel threatened by the illegal loggers working nearby.

Two weeks ago, the BBC’s ‘Human Planet’ featured Awá women caring for orphaned baby monkeys by suckling them.

A Brazilian anthropologist has stated the tribe faces genocide, and a FUNAI official declared on Globo TV that it will become extinct if the authorities do not take urgent action.

(The devastating impacts of deforestation on the Awá will be highlighted in the BBC programme ‘The Chinese are Coming’, to be shown tomorrow on BBC 2 at 9.00 pm.)

As a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe, one of only two such tribes remaining in Brazil, the Awá rely totally on their forest to survive. Many Awá
have died in brutal massacres at the hands of ranchers and loggers.

Contact between these Indians and the outsiders could have devastating effects as the Indians have very little resistance to outside diseases.

Brazilian law requires that the Awá land be protected for the Indians, but the authorities have failed to act.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘We are watching a tragedy unfold before our eyes –and the cause of it is quite simply a total failure of Brazil’s authorities to uphold the law and protect the Awá territory.’

Source : Survival International

11:15 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Native Brazilians plea for dam project to be scrapped

Indigenous tribes, backed by environmentalists, on Tuesday delivered a petition demanding Brazil's government scrap a controversial 11-billion-dollar dam project in the Amazon jungle.

"This big construction will bring bad things on our villages and our forests," one indigenous leader, Raoni, told AFP as he delivered the document to officials in Brasilia alongside 200 other representatives.

Raoni, wearing a traditional feathered headdress, black and red paint on his face, and a big seed to make his lower lip protrude, was the most visible opponent to the project, having several times shared the stage with the British pop singer Sting.

The Belo Monte dam is portrayed by Brazil's government as a key piece of its plan to boost national energy production needed for one of the world's fastest-growing emerging economies.

It recently gave the go-ahead for work to begin on the facility, which would be the third biggest dam in the world, after China's Three Gorges construction and the Itaipu dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

But tribes, local residents, environmentalists and a few foreign celebrities -- including Sting and "Avatar" director James Cameron -- are calling for the Belo Monte project to be cancelled, saying it would do harm to the world's biggest virgin forest region.

They are pressuring Brazil's new President Dilma Rousseff, who took power last month, to reverse the plans set in motion by her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"Dilma, respect the people of the Amazon," the demonstrators yelled during the petition handover.

"The government is not listening to the population and had dictatorially imposed a project that will force out 40,000 people living in the area," said one of them, Bishop Tomas Balduino of the Pastoral Land Commission.

The Brazilian government has vowed to minimize the environmental and social impact of the dam and asserted that no traditional indigenous land was to be affected.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.


11:14 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Kashia Pomo Tribe Wins Victory in Defense of Tribal Gathering Rights

The Kashia Pomo Tribe in Sonoma County won a major victory in defense of their tribal fishing and gathering rights on Thursday, February 3.

The California Fish and Game Commission in Sacramento voted to allow the Tribe to continue gathering and conducting ceremonies in a marine protected area at Stewarts Point. The decision made permanent a temporary provision that the Commission approved last year to allow the Tribe to continue fishing and gathering off the site for one year.

"Our people believe we first walked onto the Earth right there at Stewarts Point, and a lot of our traditions are passed down along that coast," said Reno Franklin, vice chair of the tribe, as quoted in today's article by Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee (

Archeological evidence indicates the tribe has used Stewarts Point and surrounding shoreline for 12,000 years, according to Franklin. It has been a source of food including mussels, abalone, seaweed and fish, as well as a place for ceremonies.

Though not mentioned in Matt Weiser's article, it is important to note that this victory against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative would not have occurred except for two major actions by the Tribe and their allies.

First, Kashia Pomo Tribal elders, hosted by landowner Archie Richardson, conducted a historic blessing ceremony off Stewarts Point last April 30, the day prior to the closure of the sacred site by the Fish and Game Commission.

The ceremony drew members of the Kashia Pomo, Point Arena Reservation and other Tribes, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, environmentalists and human rights activists to stand in solidarity against the unjust closure. This closure openly violated the American Religious Freedom Act and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Second, Kashia Pomo leaders and their lawyer gave an excellent presentation documenting the Tribe's historic use of the area to the Fish and Game Commission, putting the Commission in the situation where they really had no other choice than to grant the exemption.

This victory by the Kashia Pomo sets a great precedent in allowing for continued gathering and ceremonies by other Indian Tribes in California marine protected areas.

Unfortunately, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative has completely taken water pollution, oil spills and drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering in its bizarre concept of "marine protected areas." The officials that implemented the MLPA Initiative included an oil industry lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interest.


© 2000–2011 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.


11:13 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Breaking New Ground for Indigenous Rights in Southern Africa

In recent years, courts in southern Africa have obstinately avoided referencing progressive international laws and treaties in their judgments. This has largely been a function of the growing partisanship of benches. As presidents across the region have stacked the judiciary in their favor, judges have been only too happy to oblige the executive by putting on blinkers and sticking rigidly to a narrow interpretation of human rights. “Let the rest of the world expand the scope of human rights,” they seem to have been saying. “Here we can stop the march of progress.”

But last week’s landmark judgment by the Botswana Court of Appeal in favor of an indigenous community provided a radical departure from this trend. In a scathing condemnation of the government's conduct, Justice Ramodibedi JA offered activists—and everyone concerned about human rights—a ray of hope.

For more than two decades, Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve has been at the center of the struggle for indigenous peoples’ rights in southern Africa. On January 27, indigenous groups won the latest round in their battle against the government—thanks to the Court of Appeal’s decisive ruling. But the judgment could also have repercussions far beyond Botswana—by influencing court cases across the region involving marginalized communities fighting for their fundamental socio-economic rights, such as access to land and water.

And water was at the heart of this latest legal battle. Twice—in 1997 and 2002—the government of Botswana unlawfully relocated inhabitants of the reserve, which is part of the traditional lands of the San and Bakgalagadi people (sometimes referred to as the "Basarwa"). For those who refused to relocate to areas adjacent to the park, the government terminated their basic services, including access to drinking water—as a brutal means of coercion.

When some individuals from the Mothomelo community opted to remain in the reserve rather than relocate, the government dismantled the pump and water tank at the borehole that they relied on for their survival—and then prevented other members of the community living outside the reserve from providing any assistance. No one was allowed to bring water tanks or any other equipment into the reserve and so in desperation in 2002, the community took the government to court.

In 2006, Botswana’s High Court—in the famous Sesana case—declared that the community was in lawful possession of the land, and that they were “deprived of such possession by the government forcibly... and without their consent.” However, the government argued that despite this decision it was not obliged to provide communities inside the reserve with water and other basic services or to restore the services that it had cut off.  Nor would the communities be allowed to re-commission the borehole themselves, or contract anyone else to do so.

In last week’s decision, the Court of Appeal delivered a succinct—and devastating—appraisal of the government’s attitude:  “Government seems to be saying to the appellants:  you can live in your settlement in the [Central Kalahari Game Reserve] as long as you don’t abstract water other than from plants.”

In upholding the community’s right to re-commission the borehole at Mothomelo and to sink other boreholes for domestic purposes, Justice Ramodibedi JA crafted a judgment that is a model of lucid thinking and writing—and one that demonstrates explicit empathy for those whose rights have been violated. In one poignant—and for the government, particularly damning—section, he “observed at once that it is a harrowing story of human suffering and despair caused by a shortage of water in the harsh climactic conditions of the Kalahari desert, where the applicants and their ‘Basarwa’ community live.”

However, while the government has been smarting and the community celebrating, many people have missed the most radical—and potentially far-reaching—element of the judgment. The community’s lawyers had sought redress based partly on section 7(1) of Botswana’s Constitution, which reads: “7(1) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”

Surveying the miseries inflicted on the community by the government’s decision to cut off all access to water, the court concluded in unequivocal terms that the denial of the right to water constitutes degrading treatment.

Referring to a 2003 UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ report that states the “...human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity...[and is] a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights...” as well as the 2010 recognition by the UN General Assembly of the right to safe and clean drinking water as a fundamental human right – the court held that the government had indeed violated Section 7(1) of the Constitution, which prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

This represents a radical departure from judicial norms prevailing in most of southern Africa, where it is uncommon for judges to rely on international treaties and norms, and where the enforcement of socio-economic rights is often regarded as a thorny issue best left to the discretion of the Executive.

The Court of Appeal in Botswana has now demonstrated that it is willing to take into consideration non-binding—but profoundly important—statements emanating from the emerging international consensus on the fundamental importance of socio-economic rights to the fulfillment of human dignity.

For communities across southern Africa who face the daily challenge of accessing water, food and shelter, this judgment represents a small but significant step towards the realization of their right to be treated with the dignity that inheres in all members of the human family.

We can only hope that other courts in southern Africa will be so bold as to follow in the footsteps of this remarkable judgment.

The Mail and Guardian.


11:12 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


Wikileaks: US embassy condemned eviction of Kalahari Bushmen

The US Ambassador to Botswana strongly condemned the government’s forced eviction of the Kalahari Bushmen, according to secret US embassy cables released today.

Ambassador Joseph Huggins told his bosses in Washington in 2005 that the Bushmen had been ‘dumped in economically absolutely unviable situations without forethought, and without follow-up support. The lack of imagination displayed… is breathtaking.’

He concluded by saying, ‘The special tragedy of New Xade’s dependent population [i.e. the Bushmen in the relocation camp] is that it could have been avoided.’

Read the Ambassador’s cable

Botswana’s government forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their ancestral lands inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002. The Bushmen were dumped in government relocation camps outside the reserve where HIV/Aids, alcoholism, and other problems previously unknown to the Bushmen are rife.

After visiting New Xade relocation camp, Ambassador Huggins noted ‘despair among youth’. The cables also reveal Huggins’ frustration with Botswana’s then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ernest Mpofu. Having suggested that the government reconsider its approach to the Bushmen, Huggins found that Mpofu ‘dismissed all such suggestions’ which were ‘met with thinly veiled scorn’.

The cables also detail Huggins’ discussions with a representative of a local NGO who criticized the government for ‘the lack of consultation, and the lack of transparency in decision-making when it came to the treatment of [the Bushmen]’.  The representative, who has not been named, also told Huggins that Bushmen ‘are systematically being discriminated against by the [government], which moves them away from wherever there might be an income-generating opportunity’, and that they ‘believed that plans for mining were the reason that the [Bushman] groups were removed’.

Following the evictions, the Bushmen took the government to court in a legal battle that became the longest and most expensive in the country’s history.
In a landmark ruling in 2006, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the evictions had been illegal and unconstitutional and that the Bushmen have the right to return to their lands.

However, despite the ruling, the government has continued to make life in the reserve impossible for the Bushmen. It has banned them from
accessing a well which they rely on for water and which they used before the government sealed it in a bid to force them off their lands.

The Bushmen launched further litigation against the government in a bid to gain access to their well. A High Court judge
dismissed their case in 2010, expressing sympathy with the government, and an appeal hearing was held on Monday. The ruling will be delivered on either 27th or 31st January.

The day after the hearing was held, Gem Diamonds announced that the Botswana government has
issued it a licence to open a diamond mine at one of the Bushman communities inside the reserve. While the government had always maintained that the concession was sub-economic, Gem Diamonds values the mine at $3 billion.

Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Yet again, the Botswana government is shown to have been behind needless suffering, scorn, discrimination, and even death, for its most deprived citizens, the Bushmen. This is not just the opinion of some human rights activists and the Bushmen themselves, it is a matter of fact as reported by the US government. However much wealth they bring to the few, diamonds should not be bought at the cost of the destruction of these Bushman peoples’.
Source : Survival International


15:41 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Romblon’s indigenous community cries foul on mining project

The indigenous Ati community in Romblon’s Odiongan town has rejected a mining company’s claim that it had consented to a mining exploration in the community’s ancestral domain.

Ati chieftain Pabling Vallejo said his community is against the exploration project during a forum on Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and mining conducted by Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM).

Ivanhoe Philippines, a subsidiary of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. Canada, has applied for mining exploration permit that would cover several towns in the island.

The Ati community who lives in the upland Aurora village asserts the project encroaches on their territorial domain.

"I have sent a letter to Ivanhoe that my community does not accept their exploration project, we will not allow them to operate even if they had already presented their project to us last year,” Vallejo said.

Ivanhoe, which allegedly conducted a Free Prior Informed Consent Process (FPIC) process in the last quarter of 2010 held in the indigenous village, averred that its exploration will not affect the Ati’s territory.

But the Ati leader maintained they did not give any consent to the mining company to conduct any exploration in the area.

“It should be clarified that what we signed during last year's meeting with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and Ivanhoe was for attendance documentation purposes, not for any consent," declared Vallejo.

NCIP Romblon service center officer Fernando Fante has assured the Ati community of the agency’s commitment to protect their rights.

He said the regional office has mobilized its technical team to assess the situation.

"A certificate of non-overlap may be granted to the mining company, however we still need to conduct technical assessment to determine the exact coordinates of the mining claim using global positioning system tracking and proper mapping," said Fante.

But REFAM during a dialogue with Fante, presented maps of Ivanhoe’s exploration applications showing that Aurora village falls within the mining claim.

"This is my first time to encounter this kind of case, hence, legal and technical experts are needed to ensure the protection of indigenous peoples' rights and I am thankful that our regional office is sending assistance to solve this issue," Fante further explained.

REFAM chairman Msgr. Ernie Fetalino expressed hopes their preliminary investigation will bring NCIP to safeguard the rights of the indigenous community.

"Our preliminary investigation shows that the indigenous peoples are vulnerable and we hope that NCIP will do its best to protect them within the principles of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and genuine FPIC," he declared.

More than 15,000 hectares on Tablas Island comprising the municipalities of Odiongan, San Andres, Calatrava, San Agustin, Sta. Maria, Alcantara and Looc are being eyed for gold and copper exploration.

A mining moratorium is currently in effect in the entire province by virtue of a provincial executive order issued by Governor Eduardo Firmalo last January 10. (CBCPNews)

Source : CBCP News


15:40 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Vedanta fights back over Indian hill tribe’s sacred mountain

FTSE 100 mining giant Vedanta is challenging a ban on mining the sacred mountain of India’s Dongria Kondh tribe. The Orissa High Court will hear the case on Wednesday 2 February

The Dongria Kondh, whose plight has been compared to the fictional Na’vi in Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, won an historic victory against Vedanta last year. India’s Environment Ministry blocked Vedanta’s multimillion-dollar bid to create an open-pit bauxite mine on the Dongria’s sacred mountain, stating that Vedanta had shown ‘blatant disregard for the rights of the tribal groups.’
Since the victory, both Vedanta Aluminium (a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources) and the Orissa Mining Corporation have filed petitions in Orissa challenging the decision, as well as an associated decision to restrict the growth of an alumina refinery also operated by Vedanta.

Speaking to Survival International recently, one Dongria Kondh man said, ‘We do not think that we have won. We hear that mining has been stopped but whilst the factory [refinery] is still there our people, our land, may be taken away some day.’

Vedanta’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal held separate meetings with India’s Prime Minister and the Environment Minister recently. Following their meeting, the Environment Minister told journalists, ‘mining is a closed chapter, but so far as the expansion project is concerned we can consider it…provided they meet some conditions.’

In an interview Mr Agarwal said recently, ‘I am more sensitive about our people, about our adivasi [tribal] people, than anybody else’.  However two independent investigations commissioned by the Indian Environment Ministry each concluded that Vedanta’s plans were likely to ‘destroy’ the Dongria Kondh
Demonstrations against Vedanta have continued since the Ministry’s decision, with thousands marching to the gates of Vedanta’s alumina refinery, demanding it be shut down.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said ‘The Dongria’s David and Goliath battle is not over yet, and their supporters around the world are still watching. Last year sense and justice prevailed in Niyamgiri; let us hope that it continues to do so and Anil Agarwal finally gives up on his disastrous plan.’
Source : Survival International

15:39 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Success: Peru acts to save uncontacted tribes

Peru’s authorities have announced that they will work together with Brazil to stop loggers entering isolated Indians’ territory along the two countries’ joint border.

The move is the first success of Survival’s campaign to protect the uncontacted Indians of the Peru-Brazil border.

Global coverage of the newly-released photos made public this week has pushed the Peruvian government into action.

In a statement released February 2nd, Peru’s Foreign Ministry announced that they will ‘establish contact with Brazil’s FUNAI institute [Department of Indian Affairs]… to preserve these peoples and avoid the incursion of illegal loggers and the depredation of the Amazon.’

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is a really encouraging first step, let’s hope their declared intention turns into real action quickly.’
Source : Survival International

15:37 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

One year after extinction of Bo, Andaman tribe in danger

One year after the death of the last member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands (January 26), Survival International has warned that the neighbouring Jarawa tribe is also in danger.

Boa Sr, the last of the Bo, died last January aged around 85. The Jarawa tribe number 365 people, and fiercely resisted contact with outsiders until 1998.

Now an illegal road cuts through the Jarawa’s rainforest, and poachers and tourists invade their land. Poachers steal the animals the Jarawa need to survive and, like the tourists, risk introducing diseases to which the tribe have no immunity. Survival is urging the Indian government to close the road and to keep outsiders out of the tribe’s forest.

The MP for the Andaman Islands, who wants to keep the road open, called last month for India to ‘civilize’ the Jarawa.

The Bo, the Jarawa and other tribes are thought to have lived on the Andaman Islands for about 55,000 years, making them the descendants of some of the oldest human cultures on Earth.

The Bo were one of ten tribes now collectively known as the Great Andamanese. Most of the Great Andamanese were killed or died of diseases brought by the British, who colonized the islands in 1858. The British tried to ‘civilize’ them by capturing them and keeping them in an ‘Andaman Home’, where many died.

Survival’s Sophie Grig said today, ‘The Jarawa are perfectly capable of deciding their own future, as long as the forest they rely on is protected and they are not forced to live in the way someone else thinks best. History has shown that attempts to impose development on tribal people and remove them from their land are disastrous.’

Survival researchers who have visited the Andaman Islands are available for interview.
Source : Survival International

15:36 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Local Communities Protect Their Amazon

San Martín is one of the three most deforested Amazon regions in Peru. But now local residents and non-governmental organisations have joined with local and regional authorities to defend the flora, fauna and water resources and halt the destruction of the rainforests.

As the region's rivers began drying up, the residents of San Martín, in the northeastern Peruvian rainforest, were spurred to participate in a government programme that provides concessions over state-owned lands rich in biodiversity for the purposes of conservation.

So far they have been granted four concessions, covering a total area of 267,133 hectares, while waiting for a reply on five other requests.

The Peruvian forestry law established private and community conservation and sustainable development projects in 2001, and civil society has become actively involved.

Over the last 50 years, more than 1.6 million hectares of old-growth forests have been cleared in San Martín, an amount equivalent to 30 percent of the total area of the region, according to non-governmental environmental groups.

In addition, there were 1,711 forest fires recorded in the country last year, compared to 968 the previous year.

"We live in a region where deforestation is already having an impact on access to and availability of environmental goods and services that are crucial for survival, especially water," Karina Pinasco, a representative of the non-governmental Association of Amazonians for the Amazon (AMPA), told Tierramérica.

Numerous cities in the region are only supplied with water two hours a day. The situation has been aggravated by the influx of people from the Andes region, oil and mining projects, and the impacts of climate change, Pinasco noted.

"Changes in the climate are increasingly extreme," she said. Periods of drought, heavy rainfall and cold waves have intensified, she explained.

The people of San Martín have become aware of the need to organise, said the activist, and now realise that "not everything can be left in the hands of the authorities."

Throughout Peru, 26 conservation concessions have been granted by the national and regional forestry authorities, valid for periods of up to 40 years and renewable upon expiry.

In addition, there are close to 994,000 hectares of land protected under different legal instruments, equivalent to an area larger than Lake Titicaca in the southeastern region of Puno, according to the non-governmental Peruvian Environmental Law Society (SPDA).

Conservation concessions have the greatest demand countrywide, and cover a total of 796,208 hectares in state-owned natural areas where priority has been placed on the preservation of biodiversity and maintenance of environmental services.

But the country's laws also provide for other forms of protection: conservation areas on privately owned land; "servidumbre ecológica" or conservation easement, in which several landowners agree to develop an environmental service without state involvement; and ecotourism concessions.

The conservation concessions guarantee the "the legal security of the communities' territories and prevent the granting of other rights in the same place, which helps to prevent conflicts," said Pinasco.

The four concessions in San Martín protect strategic areas that contribute to the sustainable management of Río Abiseo National Park, recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a World Natural and Cultural Heritage site in 1990.

The largest of the concessions is the one in Alto Huayabamba, which encompasses the Marañón and Huallaga river basins and highland plains between 4,670 and 1,800 metres above sea level.

In Alto Huayabamba there are 12 permanent and temporary lagoons, as well as animal species like the Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Oreonax flavicauda) and a material record of the Chachapoya indigenous culture.

"The Huayabamba river basin is a key area for San Martín and the Amazon region. Its forests regulate the water system and store significant stocks of carbon and other greenhouse gases," Pinasco commented.

On Dec. 27 the official gazette El Peruano published the regional ordinance that declares the Huayabamba basin a restricted area for mining and oil activity and for human settlements.

AMPA obtained this concession in 2006 and supports other local community initiatives, such as those in Ojos de Agua, Huicungo and El Breo, with the aim of reducing the pressure of extractive activities.

For most of the last 50 years, conservation was the exclusive responsibility of the state, stressed Pedro Solano of the SPDA. "This model controlled by organisations of local residents is an interesting approach that allows them to play a leading role in the management of their territory," he said.

Currently, five of the 25 regional governments have the authority to grant forest concessions. San Martín was the first to exercise this right, and opted for conservation projects, instead of logging projects.

"In San Martín there is the largest number of municipal and regional conservation initiatives, because the authorities have come to realise that they should support them," Solano told Tierramérica.

The authorities and residents of San Martín spearheaded a legal battle that resulted in a landmark decision. In 2009, the Constitutional Court ruled to protect the Escalera Cordillera Regional Conservation Area, where a concession had been granted for oil exploration.

"It is the only state ruling where life was given higher priority than private investment," commented Pinasco.

The Escalera Cordillera encompasses the headwaters of the Cumbaza, Caynarachi and Shanusi rivers, which supply water to more than 300,000 people.

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.) (END) IPS

15:35 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Easter Islanders Seek U.N. Intervention in Dispute with Chile

"We are a peaceful people. We don't like war. We don't want police and military on our land," said Erity Teave, an indigenous activist from the Chilean-administered Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean.

With tears welling up in her eyes, but still trying to manage a graceful smile, she asked: "Do you think the U.N. can do something to protect my people?"

Teave, an indigenous activist who is currently visiting the United States, told IPS that her people were looking for urgent international action to protect them from what she described as "terrorism" by the authorities in Santiago.

"Our land is our mother," she said in a brief encounter before heading to a meeting of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues earlier this month. "We call our land 'Kainga,' which means womb. We don't believe in buying or selling it."

Established in 2000 by the U.N. Economic and Social Council, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body, with a mandate to discuss indigenous peoples' issues related to social development, culture, the environment, education, and human rights.

Worldwide, there are about 370 million indigenous people whose right to exercise sovereignty over their lands and protect their ways of life is no longer a question that the vast majority of U.N. member states consider controversial.

In 2007, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution endorsing the historic Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that native peoples anywhere in the world have the right to protect their lands, resources, and culture.

The U.N. treaty on biological diversity also recognises the rights of the indigenous peoples to protect their lands and belief systems. It recognises that indigenous knowledge is an important tool in global efforts aimed at reversing the loss of species.

Indigenous peoples' knowledge about how to preserve plant and animals species cannot be ignored because they are the "custodians of nature", according to Ahmed Djoghlaf, the chief of the Secretariat of the U.N. treaty on biological diversity. "They know…they live in close proximity to nature."

But despite such international resolutions to protect indigenous peoples' rights, there appears to be a degree of callousness on the part of the international community towards the people of Easter Island and indigenous communities in many parts of the world.

Easter Island, which was annexed by Chile in 1888, is one of UNESCO's world heritage sites. Located about 2,000 miles from the Chile in the Pacific Ocean, it is the most isolated island on the planet.

Published reports suggest that more than 20 people were injured as a result of excessive use of force by the Chilean police in early December when the natives protested against what they described as "illegal" occupation of their lands by Chileans.

Pictures and videos placed on YouTube's website show dozens of native men and women soaked in blood as a result of excessive use of force by the Chilean police.

Witnesses say the police fired pellets on native Rapa Nui people who had managed to repossess some of the buildings last year. Rapa Nui people assert that the buildings belonged to their elders and were taken by outsiders illegally.

The island, with a population of about 4,000, is a major tourist attraction due to its giant carved stone heads, known as Moais. The natives are protesting against the Chilean plans to increase immigration and tourism.

A leading international rights advocacy group described the current tension between the natives and Chilean security forces as "unprecedented" and "of a very serious nature" at the Hanga Roa Hotel on Easter Island.

The group said in a statement sent to IPS that a strong police contingent, under the orders of the attorney general, have surrounded the premises and are blocking anyone from leaving or entering. This started on Jan. 13.

In a statement, Oscar Vargas, a former prosecutor on the island, and an attorney for the Hitorangi clan, said: "This is a forced fast, as a result of an order made without authority."

According to Vargas, the alleged offences are non-violent and under Chilean law are punishable only by a fine. "In this case," he said, "by the virtue of the law of Easter Island, the natural owners of the dispute land cannot be charged."

Marisol Hito, a spokeswoman for the Hitorangi clan, made an urgent appeal to the international community this week to pressure the Chilean government to stop abuses against the people of Rapa Nui.

Repeated attempts by IPS to interview officials at the Chilean mission to the U.N. were not successful. One diplomat called back, but refused to comment on the subject.

Like many other member states, Chile is signatory to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

A U.N. staff member at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues told IPS that he was not authorised to speak to the press.

However, in a recent statement, the U.N. Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, said he was gravely concerned about the actions of the Chilean security forces and urged Santiago to make every effort to conduct a dialogue in good faith with the representatives of the Rapa Nui people.

For her part, Teave said her people on the island were not going to give up on their right to be independent from the Chilean domination and control and that she and other leaders would approach the U.N. rights bodies.

"We want to have our own government. That is our right. We have our own laws," she said. "They (the Chilean government) don't understand our needs."

She and other Easter Islanders said they were planning to take their case to the Geneva-based U.N. Committee against Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The CERD is responsible for monitoring global compliance with the 1969 Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an international treaty that has been ratified by an overwhelming majority of the U.N. member states.




15:34 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Bushman arrested while helping tribe’s lawyer visit clients

The high profile Bushman activist Jumanda Gakelebone was arrested and held overnight while travelling through his homeland in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve over the weekend. The arrest left the Bushman’s lawyer, who was in the reserve to consult his clients over a case currently before Botswana’s appeal court, stranded in the desert without a guide or translator.

Gakelebone, a member of Bushman organization First People of the Kalahari (FPK), was arrested for travelling inside the reserve without a permit. FPK has been campaigning for the Bushmen’s right to live on their ancestral land for years.

After he was released, Mr Gakelebone told Survival International, ‘[the arrest] shows the government intention. I count [the reserve] as home. That’s where I was born. I do not need a permit.’

Gakelebone was travelling through the reserve with the Bushmen’s lawyer Gordon Bennett, shortly after a crucial court hearing over the Bushmen’s right to access drinking water on their land inside the reserve. Botswana’s Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the case tomorrow.

The Bushmen were forcibly evicted from their land in the reserve in 2002, but after a four year legal battle won a landmark ruling allowing them to return. Since then the Botswana government has made life inside the reserve unbearable, banning the Bushmen from hunting or using a water borehole they had relied on for decades.

The water ban has been roundly condemned by, among others, the UN and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Recently released Wikileaks cables have revealed the US Ambassador also condemned the Botswana government’s treatment of the Bushmen.

Last week the Botswana government approved Gem Diamonds’ application to build a $3 billion mine in a Bushman community in the reserve.

15:33 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Botswana approves $3bn mine as Bushman water case gets underway

Botswana’s government has green-lighted a massive $3bn mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve – in the middle of the Kalahari Bushmen’s appeal against the Botswana authorities’ refusal to allow them access to water there.

Gem Diamonds announced today that its application to open a huge diamond mine near the Bushman community of Gope in the reserve has been approved. The company claims to have secured the consent of
the Bushmen on whose lands the mine will be located.

Survival International, however, has repeatedly told Gem Diamonds that the Bushmen are entitled to independent advice on what the likely impact of the mine will be. No such advice has been given, and many Bushmen whose lands will be affected still live outside the reserve in resettlement camps after their 2002 eviction, as the government refuses to allow them to hunt or even access water in the reserve.

Survival and the Bushmen have always maintained that the Bushmen were evicted to make way for
diamond mining. The government long denied this, claiming the diamond deposit at Gope was ‘sub-economic’.

A Bushman who wanted to remain anonymous said today, ‘Why does the government choose to issue the mining licence today, while
our appeal for water is underway? It seems like this is their answer to our case. They are saying to us that even if we win our case and get water, the diamond mine will go ahead.

‘This is final proof that the government's argument that they don't want us to live in the CKGR to protect the wildlife is a lie. Who do they think will damage the wildlife? The people who have lived there for thousands of years, or a $3billion mine with roads, power lines, thousands of tons of waste and hundreds of people going to and fro?’

Survival Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Gem Diamonds’ claim that the Bushmen have given their consent to the mine would be laughable, if it weren't tragic. How can people who are denied water to force them out of the reserve possibly be in a position to give their free and informed consent? Particularly when no-one apart from Gem Diamonds and the government has told them what impact this massive mine might have on them? Survival said for years that the government wanted to open up the reserve for diamond mining. The government denied it – but we have sadly been proven right.’

15:32 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


Statement of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, before the eviction of indigenous Rapanui.

I would like to inform all concerned that I have maintained communication with the Government of Chile, holding an exchange of information on the status of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. I expressed my concern about eviction measures undertaken by members of the security forces in response to acts of claims that have been various clans Rapanui in the last five months on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) as a result of the historical claims by the Rapanui people on the island.

In this regard, the Government has informed me that it has promoted various measures to address the claims of the Rapa Nui people, including conducting roundtables.

Despite the report from the Government, it is clear that the situation remains worrisome, as stated by the recent events in Easter Island, in particular the events of December 29, 2010.

According to information I received, about 70 people peacefully occupied Rapanui Riro Kainga Square in the center of Hanga Roa, as an act of protest in claiming their ancestral territorial rights. They were evicted by a hundred heavily armed police, who beat about twenty people, including several women and children. This occurred after the failure to achieve an agreement between the Government and Parliament Rapanui to voluntarily terminate the occupation of the square Riro Kainga.

Furthermore, according to information received, forced evictions may continue to occur, as might be the case for members of Hito Rangi clan who have been summoned by prosecutors for the upcoming January 13th, 2011 at a public hearing formalizing the alleged crime of usurpation.

I expressed my concern to the Government for these events and violent clashes, with the threat of possible future evictions.

All these facts have come to destabilize relations between the state and clan in Rapanui, and does not create a climate conducive to conducting a process for dialogue.

In this sense, in a letter sent to the Government on January 10, 2011, I have recommended to prevent further evictions and police presence on the island, that does not exceed what is necessary and proportionate to ensure the safety of its inhabitants.

In this regard I note with interest the decision of the Court of Appeals of Valparaiso, 11 November 2010, role 343, which in turn dismissed an application for eviction of the clan Hito, noting that ‘the islanders are considered legitimate owners of the Island ‘and’ can not be ignored that the size of the issues discussed, they acquire a political character.

I have also urged the Government to make every effort to conduct a dialogue in good faith with representatives of the Rapa Nui people to solve, as soon as possible the real underlying problems that explain the current situation.

I believe that it is particularly acute in relation to the recognition and effective guarantee of the right of Rapanui clans on their ancestral lands, based on his own customary tenure, in accordance with ILO Convention 169, of which Chile is a party, and other relevant international standards.

Finally, I made an urgent appeal to Government to take the necessary measures to avoid threats or harm to the physical safety of members of the Rapanui people and punish those responsible for any excessive or disproportionate use of force during the police operations of eviction.

As the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, I will continue to monitor closely the situation of the rights of the Rapanui people, maintaining dialogue with the Government and all stakeholders to contribute to finding solutions according to human rights standards. ”
source : First Peoples Rights Coalition


18:02 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


An unprecedented situation of a very serious nature is going on right now  at the  Hanga Roa Hotel on Easter Island.     A strong police contingent, under the orders of Attorney General have surrounded the premises and are blocking anyone from leaving or entering.  This started on January 13th, 2011. 

According to Oscar Vargas, a formed prosecutor on the island, and an attorney for the Hitorangi clan, said,  "this is a forced fast, as a result of an order made without authority .  The only  alleged offenses are non-violent and under Chilean law are punishable only by a fine. And, in this case by the virtue of the Law of Easter Island the natural owners of the dispute land cannot be charged.” 

These actions came a day after the judge on the island Bernado Toro was forced to recuse himself for corruption and discrimination,   and the  deputy judge Jacobo Hey, recused himself because of his friendly relationship with the Hitorangi clan.  Currently there is no judge assigned to hear the case of usurpation which was filed by the  Hotel investors led by Jeanette Schiess. 

The Schiess are desperate to criminally charge the Hitorangi clan and commence evictions by January 14th..     The Prosecutor  denounced the Police Chief’s order  to enter the  hotel, evict  and arrest every member of the Hitorangi clan, including women and children. 

"With this absurd measure of duress, this a drastic  an infringement of the human rights of Rapa Nui, including their right to life (preventing food and substance) and mental integrity," said Vargas. 

It should be noted that both parents of a two-year twins are inside the hotel and  are separate from their babies.  

Being surrounded by the police the Hitorangi Clan members in distress and are remind us of the tragic events of December 3, and 29.   The violence and repression are known throughout  the international community. There was even a ruling by the UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya.

Anticipating this situation, the legal team of Rapa Nui managed to enter, at 12:16 A.M. on January 14, to give the family  habeas corpus protection in the Court of Appeals of Valparaiso, in order to safeguard the integrity of the occupants and owners of ancestral lands Hanga Roa hotel.

This action was taken at the request of the Prosecutor on the island even though the island currently does not have a judge.  Claims have been made about the existence of "other offenses" other than theft, which were not specified. 

"All they are trying to do is  criminalize the Hitorangi clan so they will be forbidden to return to their ancestral land," said Oscar Vargas, their lawyer. 

Marisol Hito, a spokeswoman for the Hitorangi clan, made an urgent appeal to the  international community to pressure the Chilean government to stop abuses against the people of Rapa Nui.

18:01 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Bushmen ‘determined’ as legal battle over water approaches climax

On January 17th, Botswana’s Court of Appeal will begin a hearing to decide  whether Kalahari Bushmen living on their ancestral lands have the right to water.

The Bushmen, who returned to their lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve after a
previous court victory, are appealing against a 2010 High Court ruling that denied their right to access a well in the reserve they had used for decades.

The 2010 ruling, which came a week before the UN formally recognized water as a fundamental human right, has been slammed by Africa’s key human rights body for denying the Bushmen’s ‘right to life’.

Without the well, the Bushmen are
forced to make arduous journeys by foot or donkey to fetch water from outside the reserve.

With talks with the government having failed, the Bushmen turned to the courts to gain access to their well. The Bushmen, who are simply seeking permission to use the well, are appealing on the grounds that the denial of water subjects them to inhuman and degrading treatment.

At the same time as banning the Bushmen from accessing water, the Botswana government has
drilled new wells for wildlife in the reserve, and is due to give Gem Diamonds the go ahead to mine at one of the Bushman communities. It also allowed Wilderness Safaris to erect a luxury tourist lodge on Bushman land in the reserve, complete with bar and swimming pool for tourists.

President Khama, whose nephew and personal lawyer sit on the board of directors of Wilderness Safaris, has previously described the Bushmen’s way of life as ‘an archaic fantasy’, and recently
referred to them as ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’.

One Bushman from the region who wished to remain anonymous, said, ‘We are still hoping, not to be given anything, but simply for justice and our rights. The government hopes that by denying us water, it will force us from the reserve once more. It must know by now that we are determined to live with our ancestors on the land we have known since time began.’

18:00 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Borneo indigenous leaders arrested

Police in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, have arrested two indigenous leaders for possession of ‘seditious materials’.

The offices of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) were raided and its secretary, Nicholas Mujah, arrested along with two others, while indigenous lawyer Abun Sui Anyit was arrested at a Sarawak airport last Thursday. The two men were held separately and questioned, then released on bail. Abun Sui Anyit was called for further questioning by police yesterday.

A SADIA staff member and an election observer, who were also arrested at the SADIA office, were not questioned.

Mujah and Anyit both had CDs containing recordings of independent radio and television broadcasts.

Sarawak’s indigenous peoples, including the Iban and the hunter-gatherer
Penan tribe, have seen much of their rainforest destroyed by logging companies licensed by the state government. Palm oil companies, also with government backing, are now establishing plantations on indigenous land.

Nicholas Mujah said today, ‘I am asking the international community to focus your hearts on the suffering of indigenous peoples in Sarawak, Malaysia. The government has renewed its aggressive activities among indigenous activists and rights defenders because of the upcoming election. We are struggling for survival and fighting legal battles against the government over our ancestral land, to stop it being taken from us.’

The Sarawak government has repeatedly curtailed the civil rights of those who oppose its policies. More than a hundred members of the Penan tribe were arrested in 1987 when they mounted road blockades to try to keep logging companies out of their forests.

Sarawak’s state elections are due to take place by July this year. The state’s Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has been in power since 1981.

Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Taib Mahmud is facing increasing criticism of his government’s total disregard for indigenous peoples’ rights. Arresting their leaders is unlikely to boost his popularity.’
Source : Survival International

17:58 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


World Amazigh Congress reviews the state of Amazigh rights

The International Federal Council (CF) of the World Amazigh Congress (Congrès Mondial Amazigh, CMA) recently held its 7th annual meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, to discuss the current state of Amazigh rights.

Founded in 1995, the CMA is an umbrella organization that represents the Imazighen, Indigenous Peoples more commonly known as the Berbers and the Tuareg. The Imazighen inhabit a vast territory in North Africa which stretches from the Oasis of Siwa in Egypt, through Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, the Canary Islands and the Sahara desert to the north of Niger, Mali, and Burkina-Faso.

Among the Federal Council's many observations at the meeting, they note that, in Libya:

"The Khadafi regime... continues to follow its apartheid politics towards Imazighen, depriving them of their language and culture, and threatening them with death when they claim their Amazigh identity. Three Libyan citizens have particularly been targeted by this racist state of Libya: the Amazigh singer Abdellah Ashini, unjustly accused of advocating illegal immigration to Europe, who was arbitrarily condemned to five years of prison, and Mazigh and Madghis Bouzakhar, both arrested in their Tripoli home, for having, it seems, had a scholarly conversation with an Italian citizen. To this day, the location where the two brothers are being held prisoners remains secret.

"In Libya, thousands of Tuaregs who originally came from the north of Mali and Niger and live in the south of Libya (Ubari, Sebha, Murzuq) have not been granted Libyan citizenship and are seriously discriminated against: they do not have any right to decent lodging, or to access to higher education, (reserved for Libyan citizens), or to open a bank account, or get a passport. They constitute a marginalized illegal population which is kept hidden from foreign visitors, as citizens of a third category.

"Moreover, the Libyan regime uses both corruption and terror to push certain Tuaregs to publicly renounce their Amazigh identities and declare themselves “Arabs.” Thus, the Libyan State pretends to be the leader of African unity, but dangerously manipulates ethnic factors to sow division and conflict between peoples . CMA is outraged by such practices of another era, and emphatically condemns the marginalization and repression burdening all Imazighen in Libya. CMA demands the immediate freeing of political prisoners and the end of anti-Amazigh racism in Libya."

Concerning Amazigh rights in Morocco, the CF denounced the incarceration of Chakib El-Kheyari, a member of CF/CMA, stating:

"It is a flagrant injustice, for Chakib simply acted as a lawful citizen and defender of human rights when he uncovered the drug traffic and the corruption in which are implicated high ranked officers of the army, the police and Moroccan authorities. It is abnormal to condemn an innocent man while letting outlaws live in freedom. Also, members of CMA condemned the imprisonment of young members of the Amazigh cultural movement, who were subjected to a highly unfair trial. It is time for Morocco to abandon its repressive measures of the black years and to free political prisoners Chakib El-Kheyari, Mustapha Oussaya and Hamid Ouadouch.

They also denounced "serious violations of fundamental liberties and the abrogation of rights" in Algeria; the "Politics of denial of Amazigh identity and forced assimilation" in Tunisia; and, in the Canary Islands, reaffirmed their support of the local indigenous population which "continue[s] to be subjected to Spanish colonization which deprives them of the wealth of their natural resources and of its socio-cultural identity."

Finally, the CF took note of the Tuareg's ongoing struggles in Mali and Niger, stating:

"In Tuareg territory, notably in Niger and Mali, promises outlined in the several accords signed between Tuareg representatives and governments, since the beginning of the 1990’s, have been essentially ignored. Tuareg people are surviving between the anvil of drought and the hammers of states and multinational corporations which occupy their territories and ruthlessly exploit their natural resources. When Tuaregs attempt to organize in order to warn of danger, State authorities are always prompt to suppress these efforts violently, as it happened last October in the north of Mali when Tuareg youth attempted to gather in Timbuktu. Police intervened to bring an end to their gathering and two of them, Moussa Ag Acharatoumam and Boubeker Ag Fadil, were arrested and detained in police custody in Bamako for seventeen days during which they were subjected to brutal treatment, insults and threats. CMA denounces such abuse of power and calls upon the international community to come forth with concrete support of the Tuareg people of the desert, who are under threat of extinction."

Overall, the Federal Council concurred that, "if some official pronouncements in international venues... appear to be favorable to human rights, they do not in fact reflect a reality which negates and obscures the Amazigh identity, as well as serious violations of elementary human rights or fundamental liberties of Imazighen, individual and collective."
Source : Intercontinental Cry

11:43 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

European Union backs indigenous peoples’ rights worldwide

The European Commission (EC) is one of the main sources of funding of the UN Human Rights programme, with an average of four million US dollars per year since 2001. Financial backing from the European Union (EU Member States and EC) has made up two-thirds of all voluntary contributions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Such financing usually supports thematic projects or can be allocated to specific activities. In January 2010, OHCHR and the Indigenous Peoples' Center for Documentation, Research and Information (doCip) entered into a partnership with EU funds through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights to facilitate the participation of indigenous peoples in UN meetings related to indigenous issues.

Throughout the year, OHCHR and doCip worked together to ensure that some 5000 indigenous leaders, regional networks, organizations and communities, as well as 3000 international organizations, governments representatives, academics and media were included in fora organized to promote the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Apart from disseminating information, documents and news about indigenous peoples’ rights to stakeholders in several languages, the project also set up operations in Geneva and New York to foster interaction between indigenous, UN and Government representatives at meetings such as the Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process.

The NGO has also embarked on a project to digitalize and make accessible online more than 100 publications on indigenous peoples’ human rights, traditional knowledge, health, and the effect on them of climate change.

Ms. Zeinabou Wallate Aly, a Tuareg from Mali, was one of the indigenous representatives sponsored through the project for a six-month transfer of knowledge training which took place in Geneva from June to December 2010. 

Wallate Aly and fellow trainees learned how to promote their organizations and their field work through various means including the creation of a website and the establishment of a documentation centre. Another objective of the training was to teach participants how to ensure the durability of their organization by fundraising, particularly via the EC and EU Member States. The fellows have also vowed to continue working on their respective organizations for at least three more years and to transfer the knowledge they have acquired once they return to their respective countries.

“Before, we did not have access to the European Commission representatives in Mali because we did not know how to present our case to them, we always needed a go-between. Now, thanks to this training, I know how to reach them and I can also train my colleagues who didn’t have the opportunity to come to Geneva”, Wallate Aly said.

“We have a lot of information for Tuaregs but it’s all stacked in boxes, not really organized”, she added. “I hope that thanks to my training I can now ask for financing from the European Commission to help me set-up an information centre for Tuaregs, especially students, considering such information is rarely accessible in my country.”

Ms. Aissatou Oumarou, from the Mbororo people of Chad whose organization works to promote women’s rights and development in her country, also found the training useful in guiding indigenous representatives on how to address international meetings.

“We were able to understand how the UN works and how to put together our addresses to the Human Rights Council, for example. We had the opportunity to find out more about how other indigenous peoples live in other countries.”

“According to testimonies of many stakeholders, we can state that the partnership between OHCHR and doCip contributes to the effective participation of the indigenous peoples of all regions of the world to the various UN conferences debating their rights - in particular thanks to its plurilingual activities”, said Pierrette Birraux, Scientific director at doCip. “This strongly reinforces the credibility of the indigenous peoples’ process at the UN.”

© OHCHR 1996-2010


11:42 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


United Nations Climate Change Conference Cancun - COP 16 / CMP 6

The United Nations climate change conference began with modest aims and ended early Saturday with modest achievements. But while the measures adopted here may have scant near-term impact on the warming of the planet, the international process for dealing with the issue got a significant vote of confidence.

The agreement fell well short of the broad changes scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change in coming decades. But it lays the groundwork for stronger measures in the future, if nations are able to overcome the emotional arguments that have crippled climate change negotiations in recent years.

The package known as the Cancún Agreements gives the more than 190 countries participating in the conference another year to decide whether to extend the frayed Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that requires most wealthy nations to trim their emissions while providing assistance to developing countries to pursue a cleaner energy future.

The agreement is not a legally binding treaty, but the success of these talks allows the process to seek a more robust accord at next year’s climate conference in Durban, South Africa.

“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning,” said Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who serves as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “It is not what is ultimately required, but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition.”

The agreement sets up a new fund to help poor countries adapt to climate changes, creates new mechanisms for transfer of clean energy technology, provides compensation for the preservation of tropical forests and strengthens the emissions reductions pledges that came out of the last United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen last year.

The conference approved the package over the objections of Bolivia, which condemned the pact as too weak. Bolivia’s chief climate negotiator, Pablo Solón, said that the emissions reductions laid out in the plan would allow global temperatures to rise as much as 4 degrees Celsius over the next half century, twice the stated goal of the agreement and a level that would doom millions in the poorest and most vulnerable nations.

But his protests did not block acceptance of the package. Delegates from island states and the least-developed countries warmly welcomed the pact because it would start the flow of billions of dollars to assist them to adopt cleaner energy systems and adapt to inevitable changes in the climate, like sea rise and drought.

But it left unresolved where the $100 billion in annual climate-related aid that the wealthy nations have promised to provide would come from.

Todd Stern, the American climate envoy, said the package achieved much of what he had hoped, including a more solid commitment by all nations to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and a more formalized international program of reporting and verification of reductions. It adds needed specifics to the fuzzy promises of last year’s Copenhagen Accord, he said.

“This is a significant step forward that builds on the progress made in Copenhagen,” he said in a news conference after the package was adopted. “It successfully anchors mitigation pledges of the Copenhagen Accord and builds on the transparency element of the accord with substantial detail and content.”

Mr. Stern had been particularly insistent that the agreement include a consistent formula for countries to disclose their emissions, report on the measures they are taking to reduce them and provide detailed statements of economic assumptions and methodology. Although a number of large developing nations like China, Brazil and South Africa balked at the intrusiveness of the system, Mr. Stern helped devise a compromise they could live with.

Yvo de Boer, who stepped down this year after four years as executive secretary of the United Nations climate office, said that the success of this year’s conference was in large measure attributable to the modesty of its goals.

“This process has never been characterized by leaps and bounds,” he said in an interview. “It has been characterized by small steps. And I’d rather see this small step here in Cancún than the international community tripping over itself in an effort to make a large leap.”

In all, the success of the Cancún talks was a shot in the arm for a process that some had likened to a zombie, stumbling aimlessly but refusing to die.

“None of this, of course, is world changing,” said Michael A. Levi, who follows climate issues at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “The Cancún agreement should be applauded not because it solves everything, but because it chooses not to: it focuses on those areas where the U.N. process has the most potential to be useful, and avoids other areas where the U.N. process is a dead end. The outcome does not change the fact that most of the important work of cutting emissions will be driven outside the U.
N. process.”

John Collins Rudolf contributed reporting fro
m New York.
Yachay Wasi is in Operational Relations with UNESCO



15:24 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Nukak’s desperate plea to return home

A leader of the Nukak tribe from the Colombian Amazon has made a desperate appeal for his people’s survival before the country’s top human rights committee.

’We want to return to our forest,’ said Joaquín Nuká, ‘from where the FARC guerrillas forced us out – why, we don’t know.’

The Nukak are a nomadic hunter-gatherer people from the Guaviare region of south-east Colombia. They have been forced to flee from their lands by the FARC, a left-wing rebel army that claims the Nukak pose a security risk to their illegal operations in the area.  

Since first emerging from the forest in 1988,
more than half of the Nukak have been wiped out, mostly by common diseases caused by contact with outsiders. The Indians are now struggling to adapt to a new sedentary way of life, living on the outskirts of towns and relying on government handouts to survive.

‘[In the forest] we lived amongst all the food of the jungle,’ Joaquín told national radio station, Caracol. ‘The food that they give us here in San José is good, it is white people’s food, but it badly affects the children, we miss our forest foods.’

Despite government efforts and an ongoing ‘War on Drugs’ that has received considerable funding from the United States,
coca cultivation for cocaine continues to ravage the region.

 One of the most controversial methods employed to eradicate coca involves spraying deadly pesticides on the crops from planes.  This has only served to push the farmers into ever-remote regions in the jungle, provoking violence against the indigenous communities who live there.

Vice-president of the committee, Senator Alexander López, said, ‘The forced displacement … especially of indigenous communities such as the Jiw and Nukak, poses a severe threat to their survival as peoples… The Indians should return to their territories immediately and their way of life should be protected with dignity.’

The Nukak are one of
more than 30 indigenous peoples who face extinction in Colombia according to national indigenous organization, ONIC, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Survival International is campaigning for the Nukak’s right to return to their reserve, on condition that it is made secure and that they receive proper health care.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This desperately depressing predicament has gone on for far too long. The Nukak and other indigenous peoples have been left to bear the brunt of the government’s failed anti-drugs policies.’
Source: Survival International

15:21 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Indigenous rights declaration universally endorsed

By adopting the Declaration, States have committed to recognizing indigenous peoples rights under international law, with the right to be respected as distinct peoples and the right to determine their own development according to their culture, priorities, and customary laws.

The Declaration further affirms that Governments shall consult indigenous peoples with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent prior to approval of any project affecting their lands, any potential displacement and relocation of populations, and adoption or implementation of administrative or legislative measures which may affect them.

The United States was one of the only four countries which had voted against the Declaration when it was submitted for adoption at the General Assembly in 2007 - Australia, Canada and New Zealand were the other three opponents. Since then, these three countries have endorsed the Declaration and expressed their own understanding on certain aspects of the text.

While endorsing the Declaration, the United States has expressed its own understanding of the right to self determination, and on free, prior and informed consent.

The endorsement has sparked many reactions among indigenous rights circles globally. Tonya Gonnella Frichner, North American Regional Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), expressed her satisfaction at the United States’ official support of the Declaration.

“It is now coming on board with the community of nations that adopted it at the General Assembly in 2007”, she said. “We are counting on the good will of the United States which would mean that the U.S. would move forward, without restrictions, in a positive way implementing the Declaration as it was adopted, by the United Nations.”

Myrna Cunningham, from the Miskitu people of Waspam in Nicaragua, and a newly appointed UNPFII member is hopeful the endorsement would strengthen respect for indigenous peoples. “The Declaration not only constitutes an international standard with regards to indigenous peoples’ issues, but it also sets an agenda. Thus, if duly taken into consideration, US endorsement of the Declaration would result in a stronger respect for indigenous peoples and in the implementation of specific measures to ensure their full participation in projects that may affect them.”

Jannie Lasimbang, from the Sabah community of Malaysia said that for indigenous peoples of Asia, the endorsement by the US would be an added reason for governments to recognise indigenous peoples in their respective countries.

“It will also emphasize the need to put the Declaration into action, in particular, aspects that will assert the rights of indigenous peoples”, she added.  “President Obama in his remarks accords Native Americans the recognition they deserve and the need to learn from history in order to move forward and addressed many aspects related to indigenous peoples' self-determination.”

The Declaration is now among the most widely accepted UN human rights instruments.  It is the most comprehensive statement addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples to date, establishing collective rights and minimum standards on survival, dignity, and wellbeing to a greater extent than any other international text.

While such recognition exists in some national laws, some of the Declaration’s provisions have yet to be respected. This is a particular concern for Mr. Kanyinke Sena, an indigenous Ogiek from Kenya.

“Given the USA global presence and influence, this new policy shift gives indigenous peoples globally a new ally, with the much needed political, social and economic muscle, with whom they will together hold hands in the onward march towards the recognition, respect and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples on the basis of the Declaration.”

source : ubcic


15:19 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Forgotten Promises Leave Indigenous Peoples Poorer and Hungrier

Nearly three years into President Álvaro Colom's four-year term, Guatemala's indigenous people have seen little improvement in their lives -- and they represent approximately half the country's population.

"The situation of the native peoples may be even worse than before. Poverty has increased, the quality of education is very poor, and there is no intercultural perspective in health services," Eduardo Sacayón, director of the Interethnic Studies Institute at Guatemala's University of San Carlos, told IPS.

The social-democratic President Colom promised when he was sworn in, Jan. 14, 2008, that he would govern "with a Maya face," in favour of the poor and excluded. "Today is the beginning of privileges for the poor, today is the beginning of privileges for those without opportunities," he said at the time.

But Sacayón says the reality is quite different: "It is a structural and historic issue of always seeing what is indigenous as something that is not worth the effort, that has no value, or is a burden to the country."

According to official statistics, 40 percent of the Guatemalan population is indigenous, and include Maya, Garífuna and Xinca peoples. Though they themselves claim that more than 60 percent of Guatemala's 14 million inhabitants are indigenous.

"Since the arrival of the Spaniards (in the late 15th century), Guatemalan society has had the idea that what is indigenous has no merit, and only what is Western has value. That concept is nothing more than a racist and discriminatory viewpoint, but it is repeated through the governments, the political parties and even the media," Sacayón said.

In 2000, eight out of 10 indigenous Guatemalans were poor, while among the non-indigenous the rate was four out of 10. Those numbers have seen little change since 2006, says the third report on progress towards meeting the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), presented by the government last week.

The UN established the MDGs in 2000, with 2015 as the deadline for achieving set targets, based on indicators from 1990. The goals include reducing poverty, guaranteeing universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing maternal and infant mortality, and fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

According to the report that the government presented last week, extreme poverty -- primarily affecting indigenous peoples, saw a decline in Guatemala of just a half percentage point between 2000 and 2006: 15.7 to 15.2 percent. Meanwhile, poverty in general fell from 56.2 to 51 percent.

The prevalence of chronic malnutrition among indigenous children ages five and under was 58.6 percent in 2008-2009, almost twice the rate of non- indigenous children (30.6 percent).

In 2002, 69.5 percent of indigenous children suffered chronic malnutrition, compared to 35.7 percent of non-indigenous children.

As for education, the numbers show the indigenous segment of the population at a clear disadvantage: Just 13.2 percent of the post-secondary student population in 2008 was indigenous, according to the National Human Development Report 2009-2010, of the UN Development Programme.

Despite these indicators of the indigenous reality, support for this segment of society is practically nonexistent, according to Sacayón.

"No policies have been developed for indigenous peoples, nor is there compliance with Convention 169 (of the International Labour Organisation on indigenous and tribal peoples)," because transnational and mining interests have prevailed in areas where those communities are affected, he said.

The country's indigenous populations have largely opposed mining concessions when the plans have been brought up for public hearings, in accordance with Convention 169, which has been in force in Guatemala since 1997. Nevertheless, the projects continue.

"Indigenous peoples continue to be seen as second-class citizens," in line with the predominant attitudes of discrimination and racism, Otilia Lux, an opposition lawmaker on the congressional Indigenous Affairs Committee, told IPS.

As for efforts in Congress, Lux explained that important laws have been presented for the benefit of the Maya people, such as the rural development law to improve access to land and housing, and the law to make the indigenous hearings binding for whether to allow transnational mining companies to operate in their lands.

But those laws don't get passed, she said.

This being the case, according to Lux the native peoples must create political spaces for themselves, so they have the footing to demand recognition of their rights.

One such opportunity will come in September 2011, when the Guatemalans elect a new president for the next four years, as well as 153 deputies for the unicameral Congress, 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament, and 333 mayors.

Domingo Hernández, of the Waqib' Kej National Maya Convergence, an umbrella for several groups, told IPS that President Colom spoke of leading "with a Maya face," but on the contrary, repression of indigenous peoples has increased, as has indigenous poverty and migration during his time in office.

Expanding access to education, health, work and land, in the context of meeting the requirements of the ILO's Convention 169, should be essential for the government if it truly wants to attend to the needs of the Maya population, according to Hernández.

Juan José Hurtado, of the non-governmental organisation Pop No'j ("weaving ideas, knowledge and wisdom" - in the Maya language), said there are institutions in place, like the Fund for Guatemalan Indigenous Development, created in 1994, and the Presidential Commission Against Discrimination and Racism, from 2002, among others, "but they lack the capacity for action or implementation."

In his opinion, Guatemala should follow the examples of countries like Bolivia and Venezuela, which have more political spaces for indigenous participation in political decision-making.



15:17 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Borneo tribes under threat from massive palm oil expansion

The hunter-gatherer Penan and other tribes are under threat from new plans to expand palm oil plantations massively in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

The Sarawak government has announced plans to double the area used for
palm oil by 2020, using indigenous land which it says is ‘mostly under-utilized and without titles’.

Logging companies have destroyed much of the rainforest the Penan rely on. They and other tribes are now seeing their land being sold off for palm oil plantations. Indigenous people have filed more than 100 land rights cases in the Sarawak courts.

One Penan woman told
Survival International, ‘The forest is my roof and my shelter and the forest is also where I can find food to eat. But when the oil palm comes in everything will be gone.’

A Penan headman called Matu, whose land has already been planted with palm oil, said, ‘Our land and our forests have been taken by force. Our fruit trees are gone, our hunting grounds are very limited, and the rivers are polluted, so the fish are dying. Before, there were lots of wild boar around here. Now, we only find one every two or three months.’

The government target for 2020 is two million hectares. Sarawak’s land development minister James Masing told Malaysian newspaper The Star that palm oil had emerged as the state's third largest foreign exchange earner after petroleum and liquified natural gas. He said his ministry was working to remove red tape and look into a ‘more aggressive development’ of indigenous land.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Sarawak government is, as usual, putting profit before people, and is blatant in its disregard for indigenous peoples’ rights. More palm oil plantations will be a disaster for the Penan, and they don’t want them.’

Palm oil is used for biofuel and in many foods and cosmetics.
source : Survival International

15:13 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


Declaration of Solidarity - Indigenous Peoples' Responses to the Climate Crisis


We, 76 indigenous peoples representatives and advocates from 15 countries in Asia, Pacific, Australia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe, bind ourselves in solidarity for the pursuit of indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and liberation at this international conference.

We reaffirm our inherent rights to self-determination and collective ownership of our land, territory and resources knowledge, and to freely determine our political status and define our own course of development appropriate to our particular situations and cultures. We have struggled to assert these rights since time immemorial. Along the way, we have had victories like the adoption of the UNDRIP and other UN instruments, as well as losses and martyrs, but we continue to struggle until today, in response to the alarming realities we continue to experience.

Indigenous peoples face serious and urgent problems including the violation of our collective rights as indigenous peoples, oppression by states, development aggression and plunder of our land and resources by multinational corporations and international financial institutions in collusion with the local elite. Government policies and neglect have led to continuing impoverishment, discrimination and deprivation of our identity. The US-led war of terror and State’s counter-insurgency programs and policies result in increased militarization and extrajudicial killings in an atmosphere of impunity. All of these amount to virtual genocide of indigenous peoples in various parts of the world, resulting in mental trauma, active population transfer, displacement, minoritization and marginalization of indigenous peoples in our own lands.

The urgent climate crisis exacerbates these difficult conditions that indigenous peoples are experiencing today. Northern governments, especially the US, corporations and IFIs are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. However, they have refused to honor their historical responsibility to reduce emissions and pay reparations, and are deepening the environmental crisis with new plans for expanded resource extraction, unregulated free trade, invasive investment, privatization and unlimited growth. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples, who contribute the least to global warming, are severely affected by climate change, hampering their capacities to cope with these problems.

Negotiations among States through the UNFCCC processes have turned climate change into a trade issue and an opportunity for profit. The right to pollute is being traded as a commodity through carbon emissions trading. Adaptation and mitigation measures such as REDD, REDD+ and other market-based mechanisms are offered as solutions but have negative impacts and cause divisions among indigenous peoples, whose access and control of forest resources are eroded. The WTO is also now talking of liberalizing trade of environmental goods and services, which will further compromise our rights. Throughout these discussions, indigenous peoples voices have not been heard because we have had no real and meaningful participation, being relegated to the sidelines as mere observers.

We believe that the root cause of the enormous problems we face today is the neoliberal global capitalist system, which puts profits before people and the planet. Central to this system is the expropriation and control of resources by multinational corporations, and dispossession and marginalization of small producers, workers, peasants, women and indigenous peoples.

A genuinely sustainable and comprehensive solution to the climate crisis lies in a fundamental shift towards people’s sovereignty over our shared heritage. This requires a thoroughgoing change from current production and consumption patterns, which promote mass consumerism and extravagance to sustainable ways and standards of living.

To our credit, indigenous peoples around the world continue to practice and demonstrate viable alternatives and solutions to the climate crisis and the profit-driven development paradigm. We stand by our traditional knowledge and practices such as sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, seed-keeping, simple living, cooperative labor and mutual help, indigenous socio-political institutions, community-based adaptation, mitigation and disaster response, which are viable solutions to the global crisis as proven through generations. We acknowledge the important role of indigenous women in maintaining our traditional ways of life.

We believe that building a strong and united international indigenous peoples movement for self-determination is the urgent call of the day. This movement stands for the right of indigenous peoples to govern ourselves and for liberation from imperialism, state oppression and human rights violations. In its various forms, self-determination may include legal recognition and proportionate representation of indigenous peoples in State mechanisms, autonomous self-rule, federalism or asserting sovereignty from an oppressive state. We will work for the empowerment of our peoples, and for the victory of the people’s will over the powers-that-be, while respecting the legitimacy and forms of struggle and self-determination that our peoples opt to employ.

On this historic occasion of the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to the Climate Crisis, we celebrate our struggles as indigenous peoples. We commit to support each other, build wider solidarity and to continue to strengthen our peoples’ movements.

As a result of this conference, we resolve to:

1. Uphold indigenous peoples’ rights to survival, self-determination, liberation and social justice. Organize ourselves, as the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation, together with other indigenous peoples around the world, to strengthen our solidarity and coordinate our efforts beyond this conference.

2. Defend our land against development aggression and plunder of our resources by mining, logging, megadams, oil exploration, biofuel and industrial plantations, politically and economically motivated population transfer and other so-called ‘development’ impositions. Work for the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights, including the important role of indigenous youth and women in the struggle for control and ownership over our ancestral territories and sustainable management of our resources.

3. Hold imperialist countries, MNCs/TNCs and financial institutions accountable for their historical environmental debt to humanity. We say No! to all market-based mechanisms and false solutions to climate change and demand that indigenous peoples’ rights be respected worldwide in addressing the climate crisis. We call for sustainable solutions to the climate crisis, including adaptation and mitigation strategies based on indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and practices. Create our own spaces for indigenous peoples participation and engagement in the climate change debate. Support and adopt the Peoples Protocol on Climate Change and enrich this further to reflect indigenous peoples perspectives.

4. Push for proactive government and international programs and policies in response to climate disasters affecting indigenous peoples, who are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Document successful efforts, indigenous science, traditional knowledge and practices on climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially indigenous women’s roles, and integrate these practices into our responses to climate disasters.

5. Resist corporate monopoly and control of agriculture and all its instruments such as IRRI, WTO, etc. and promote biodiverse ecological agriculture. Promote community-based indigenous sustainable agricultural practices, conduct continuing study and exchange on indigenous production systems, and do policy advocacy to get governments to commit to food sovereignty. Campaign against land acquisitions and military offensives that undermine the food sovereignty of indigenous peoples.

6. Condemn militarization, political repression, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, military invasion and occupation of ancestral lands and all forms of human rights violations perpetrated by State forces against indigenous peoples. Uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Peoples (Algiers Declaration), and other international conventions. Combat criminalization, vilification, terrorist-labeling of indigenous activists and leaders and the misuse of indigenous culture for counter-insurgency objectives of States in line with the US-led War on Terror. Stop recruitment of indigenous persons, especially the youth into State military and paramilitary forces.

7. Stop all forms of socio-economic and politically motivated population transfer in indigenous peoples territory and cease cultural genocide and ethnocide of indigenous peoples.

8. Support the struggles of indigenous peoples for self-determination, liberation and sovereignty in its various forms. Continue to learn from each other and conduct studies on the various experiences in the exercise of self-determination. Form broad alliances and connect our movements to the wider struggles of other sectors, national and international movements across a wide spectrum of society in recognition of our common targets and aspirations.

In keeping with our indigenous tradition of consensus building, we affirm and approve this declaration. We draw lessons from our past struggles and strength from our martyrs. Let it be known widely that we will pursue our struggle for self-determination and liberation of indigenous peoples to its rightful end!

"For us, our strength comes from our ancestors, our determination to succeed from our children, and our success from our unity." - Maori activist

Signed by the conference participants.

No. 55 Ferguson Road
Baguio City 2600, Philippines
Tel. No. +63 74 3044239
Fax No. +63 74 4437159
Website: www.cpaphils.org


11:06 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

Botswana government rejects high-profile court ruling

Four years on from a court victory which saw the Kalahari Bushmen win the right to live on their ancestral lands, the Botswana government has issued a statement flouting the ruling.

In 2002, the Botswana government forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their ancestral lands inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. On 13th December 2006, after the longest and most expensive legal battle in the country’s history, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the government had
forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their lands illegally and unconstitutionally.

However, since the ruling, the government has continued to prevent the Bushmen from returning home, and has issued a statement that flies in the face of the High Court judgment.

the statement, the government claims that it ‘does not force [the Bushmen] to move out of the Game Reserve’, and that the Bushmen ‘have welcomed the developments at their new settlements’. However, the court found that the Bushmen ‘were dispossessed of the land they occupied wrongfully and unlawfully and without their consent.’

The statement also argues that the government has provided the Bushmen with ‘developments at their new settlements, such as the provision of educational and medical facilities, and numerous other opportunities, for improving their quality of life.’ Yet 13 years after the main resettlement camp was created, virtually no Bushmen have found permanent employment, and alcoholism and disease are rife. As one of the judges said, ‘[The government] might want to consider whether the disappearance of a people isn’t too high a price to pay for offering services at a centralized location’.

Despite the court finding that the ‘simultaneous stoppage of the supply of food rations and the issuing of [hunting licences] is tantamount to condemning the remaining residents of the [reserve] to death by starvation’, the government has banned the Bushmen from
accessing water or hunting for food on their own lands. Its statement accuses the Bushmen of ‘poaching’ on their own lands, arguing that this has led to ‘a decline of all species in the reserve’, even though there is no evidence for this.

The government statement also criticizes Survival, arguing that the organization ‘wants [the Bushmen] to live a life of poverty and disease’. However, one of the judges praised
Survival International for giving ‘courage and support to a people who historically were too weak economically and politically to question decisions affecting them’.

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘'The Botswana government is now just repeating the same old stuff it said in 2002, and which was proved to be a complete fabrication. It’s not just Survival which said the government  had made it all up, countless independent journalists who visited the area confirmed it. The government is trying to clear the Bushmen off their lands for
diamond mining and tourism, it's as simple as that. It’s been trying for thirteen years and might succeed. Survival will intensify its calls for boycotts of diamonds and tourism. Let the consumer decide if he or she wants to be party to the destruction of the Bushmen.’

Source : Survival International


11:04 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


Amnesty International concerned about human rights violations committed against the Rapa Nui, in the context of unresolved land claims of Indigenous Peoples

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the situation on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), following the events of 3 December in which over 20 indigenous people were injured during an operation to evict them from buildings and land that they occupied as part of a protest. A number of detentions were made.

Serious injuries were sustained by both indigenous protesters and police during the operation to evict protesters occupying a number of public and private buildings and land. The long-standing protest by some indigenous clans in demand of ancestral land, and in rejection of the Chilean government’s long-standing failure to adequately address their rights, is ongoing.

Chilean security forces, numbering around 45, began their operation in the early hours of the morning, according to reports. When the group refused to leave and others gathered at the scene, the police opened fire with pellet guns, and physically beat up some protesters. Many, including 50 year old Leviante Araki, president of the Rapa Nui Parliament, sustained serious injuries from the shootings. It is understood that the indigenous protesters responded using sticks and stones. The families of protesters also reported mistreatment of their relatives who were detained and held in the local police station.

According to reports, there were serious delays in treating those who were injured after they were taken to the local hospital, due to lack of capacity on the island to deal with such a high number of injuries. It is understood that some of the injured clan members have not sought medical treatment.

The government confirmed that the day after the violence they brought in an additional 100 police officers especially to deal with the situation and that these officers remain on the island. Amnesty International has received concerns that they may be targeting clan members who are providing information to lawyers who are presenting a request for precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The occupations have been underway since August. In September, Indigenous peoples occupying the Hotel Hanga Roa, situated on land they are claiming as part of their ancestral territory, were evicted. Since the violence on 3 December, government authorities have reported that they have “recovered” six out of 18 properties occupied. It is understood that protesters withdrew voluntarily from some of the premises they were occupying.

Amnesty International notes that although the Chilean authorities have the right and duty to guarantee law and order, they should do so with proportional use of force, complying at all times with their obligations to respect human rights. The organization calls upon the Chilean government to investigate fully any excesses that may have been committed.

Amnesty International also notes the recent commitment by Chile to Indigenous Peoples’ rights through the ratification of ILO Convention 169, which contains standards for the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to consultation and ancestral lands. Chile also recently endorsed the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ rights which requires states to provide redress for lands taken without their free, prior and informed consent. According to the organization, these international standards – together with domestic constitutional guarantees of Indigenous Peoples’ rights – provide a necessary framework for guiding future discussions between Indigenous leaders and government officials.

Amnesty International urges the Chilean authorities to:

-        Ensure the use of proportional force in all law enforcement  operations, and investigate any human rights violations committed;
-        Ensure the availability of medical services to treat those injured during occupations and law enforcement operations;
-        Ensure that police do not target individuals or clans on the basis of their having sought legal advice, or because they hold evidence regarding possible excesses committed during law enforcement operations.
-        Ensure the rights of Rapa Nui indigenous peoples enshrined in international human rights standards, including their right to free, prior and informed consent with regard projects that may affect their rights and livelihood.
-        Ensure Rapa Nui Indigenous peoples have access to a fair process for claiming rights to ancestral lands.


Rapanui or Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) is in the south eastern Pacific Ocean and is a special territory of Chile. It is located around 3,500 kilometers west of the coast of Chile. About 2,200 of the island's 5,000 residents are Indigenous Peoples ‘Rapa Nui’. Many of them are concerned by the effects of increased immigration to the island, and the fact that a flourishing tourist industry benefits outsider companies whose profits flow offshore. With decades-long disputes over property ownership, some Rapa Nui have begun to occupy government owned properties they say were illegally taken from their families generations ago.

The indigenous Rapa Nui concerns relate to long-standing land tenure issues. Since the island was annexed by Chile in 1888, following an agreement between island authorities and the Chilean government, indigenous peoples have witnessed the gradual loss of their territories. The situation was exacerbated by a 1979 decree law that allowed non-indigenous peoples on the island to be granted title to land.

In 2003, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples called for “guarantees for the protection of the rights of the native Rapa Nui people over their land and resources and their right to respect for their social organization and cultural life”, in particular in the context of a planned autonomy statute for the island. The Rapporteur also reported on indigenous peoples’ concerns around the “constant threat to land ownership” posed by the law allowing non-indigenous islanders to purchase land.

In response to the ongoing problem, in September the Chilean government announced the creation of working groups [mesas de dialogo] to discuss an agreement that would address their concerns regarding land titling, immigration to the island, an autonomy statute and a development plan. Some clans from the island have criticized the government’s failure to consult before setting up the working groups, as well as their being conditioned on ending occupations, and the perceived ineffectiveness of the mechanism.

In 2009, a number of States, including Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Austria, New Zealand, Uruguay, the Holy See and Canada, all recommended that Chile improve its record on recognizing and implementing indigenous peoples’ land rights during the country’s Universal Periodic Review in the United Nations Human Rights Council. In this respect, Amnesty International reminds the Chilean State of the commitment it made in the same review to “follow the recommendations which have been made about adopting and achieving the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an important political instrument.”
source : Amnesty International

11:03 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |


US-backed elite Indonesian forces target churchmen and civilians

A leading churchman in West Papua has called on President Obama to withdraw US cooperation with Indonesia’s elite ‘Kopassus’ forces, after finding himself on a military ‘enemies’ list. Kopassus soldiers murdered a previous ‘enemy’, Papuan leader Theys Eluay, in 2001.

Reverend Benny Giay, an outspoken defender of human rights in West Papua, has found himself on a list of ‘enemies’, which appears to have been leaked by Indonesia’s Kopassus forces. US assistance to Kopassus was renewed in July this year.

Kopassus is notorious for human rights violations in West Papua and East Timor. Rev. Giay told
Survival International that by renewing ties with Kopassus, ‘The US is supporting the policy to oppress the Papuans, to wipe us out.’

The leaked documents show Indonesia’s special forces to be targeting church leaders and unarmed civilian activists in Papua, defining them as Kopassus’s main ‘enemy’. The Indonesian military has not denied the veracity of the documents.

A secret report from the task force says the civilians are ‘much more dangerous’ than the armed opposition. For example, it states that the civilians persist in ‘propagating the issue of severe human rights violations in Papua’ i.e. ‘murders and abductions that are done by the security forces’.

Another Papuan churchman, Rev. Socratez Yoman, heads the list of Kopassus ‘enemies’. He told Survival, ‘I speak up for justice, peace, human rights and dignity. I must speak up for my people.’ He shrugged off the death threats and intimidation that he and many others on the list suffer, by saying, ‘This is our daily life.’

The revelations from Kopassus come only weeks after a shocking video was released of
Indonesian soldiers torturing two tribal Papuan men.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry said, ‘It is shameful that the US has renewed its ties with Kopassus when they continue to target churchmen and civilians merely for speaking out about the suffering of their people.’
Source : Survival International


20:09 Gepost door Martina Roels | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |