Monday, May 5, 2008

April 22 - May 5, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of April 22 - May 5, 2008

Indigenous Ainu People to Press Demands at G8 Summit

Japan's hosting of the G8 summit in Hokkaido in July will afford a rare opportunity for the Ainu people who live on the island to press their long-standing demand to be recognized as an indigenous people.

Officially, for the Jul 7-9 summit of rich nations, Japan’s leaders have said they would like to see global health high on the agenda as also sustainable forest development, climate change and development.

But the Ainu have other plans to roll out in Hokkaido at the Jul 1-4 Indigenous Peoples Summit, ahead of the G8 event. "If the government recognizes the Ainu as indigenous people everything would change," said Saki Mina, an Ainu leader, at a press conference here last week.

There are about 200,000 Ainu living throughout Japan though most are concentrated in the northern island of Hokkaido. Ainu were once thought of as the remnants of a Caucasoid group but this is yet to be proved. Read the rest of the story here....

United Nations Asked to Probe Plight of Pacific's Indigenous Peoples

Representatives of various indigenous groups in the Pacific region have asked a United Nations panel to sponsor seminars and visiting missions that would look into the rights and situations of the natives of colonized territories, whose environments are said to have been exploited by "foreign superpowers."

Environmental destructions through toxic waste dumping, mining and deforestation were among the top issues tackled by indigenous peoples in the Pacific region at the Seventh Session of the United Nation's Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Michael Dodson, member of the permanent forum, said indigenous lands and waters were being targeted by industrialized nations for dumping of toxic or radioactive wastes from industrial or military operations, often without informing residents of dangers. Read the rest of the story here....

Indigenous People's Hunger Strikers in Mexico Released from Prisons

After years of asserting their innocence, a group of indigenous Zapatista advocates are free, for now.

The Mexican government released 149 political prisoners in the first two weeks of April, including 37 hunger strikers, almost all of whom were indigenous people from Chiapas who had been alleging they were the victims of torture, false imprisonment for political reasons, and other abuses. Another 20 prisoners are still incarcerated in Chiapas and Tabasco, but activists have not relented in their efforts, as further abuses in and outside the prisons are coming to light.

The vast majority of the freed prisoners was indigenous activists, and had been imprisoned at some point between 1994 and 2006. They were involved with social change groups such as the Zapatista Other Campaign, the Independent Agricultural Worker and Campesino Center (CIOAC in Spanish) and the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), a group of indigenous Catholics active in social justice issues. Most of the freed men were from the Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal or Chole communities in the Chiapas region. Among the leaders who first came out were Zacario Hernandez, Enrique Hernandez, Pascual Heredia Hernandez, Jose Luis Lopez Sanchez, Ramon Guardaz Cruz and Antonio Diaz Ruiz. Read the rest of the story here....

Hearings of Proposed Tipaimukh Dam Available: Indigenous Peoples Resource

Tipaimukh Dam Public Hearings from 2004 till 2008.

The month of March 2008 events two public hearings for proposed Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, one at Tipaimukh dam site, Churachandpur District on 31 March 2008 and another at Keimai village, Tamenglong District, Manipur on 26th March 2008, both organized by the Manipur Pollution Control Board. The public hearing at Keimai village registered extraordinary support from the Assam Rifles and the Border Security Forces camps nearby and slaughtering of pigs for handpicked participants by project proponents in both hearings. The first public hearing on Tipaimukh dam project at Darlawn Community Hall, Darlawn, Mizoram on 2 December 2004 was severely criticized for its lack of transparency of the project proponent, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) and failure to provide vital documents, including Detailed Project Report, Environment Impact Assessment etc.

The Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, to be constructed 500 Metres downstream from the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in South-western corner of Manipur over Barak river, with firm generation capacity of 401.25MW, has been one of the most controversial mega developmental projects in Manipur. While the project proponents, the Government of India and Manipur and NEEPCO hailed the project as bearing immense potentials and economic benefits, several issues remained unresolved, primarily the insensitive attitude of the Government and the project proponents to the legitimate concerns of the project affected villagers in the upstream and downstream portion of the Barak River. Find the resource here....

Indigenous People's Voices Demand Climate Justice

In the massive half-moon shaped United Nations conference auditorium filled with hundreds of individuals robed in colorful traditional clothing, jewerly and ceremonial items, a young female’s voice echoes from the center of the room.

“We indigenous peoples are emphatic in stating that those primarily responsible for climate change are the governments and companies of the industrialized world,” said Edith Bastidas, executive director of the Centro de Cooperación al Indígena in Bolivia, during a day of testimonies April 22. “[They] are encouraging a production and consumption model that is destroying the biodiversity and natural resources of our Mother Earth.” Catch the rest of the story here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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