Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 10 - 16, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of September 10 - 16, 2008

The Hope of the Yukpa People Clings to the Bolivarian Constitution

The aboriginal people Yukpa, ancient settlers of the Perij√° Sierra, Zulia state, expect to see realized the property rights over their ancestral lands, as it is established on Article 119 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

That article reads that 'The State will recognize the existence of indigenous peoples and communities, their social, political and economic organization, their cultures, customs and usages, languages and religions, as well as their habitat and natural rights over the lands that they ancestral and traditionally occupy and which are necessary to develop and grant their ways of life.'

And the article adds up that 'It will correspond to the National Executive, with the participation of the indigenous peoples, to delimit and grant the right of collective ownership of their lands, which will be inalienable, imprescriptible, inembargable and nontransferable in accordance with the established in this Constitution and in the law.'

Impelled by hunger and poverty, and in the midst of a collective effort to recover the lands from which they were compulsively evicted in different periods by land eaters, transnational oil companies and governments, the Yukpas have been lately repopulating, decisive and progressively, these areas and they seem determined to recover them at all cost. Read more about the Yukpas peoples here....

Cauca: A Microcosm of Colombia, A Reflection of Our World

During the first two weeks of August, more than two dozen youth were assassinated by suspected paramilitary groups in the streets of Santander de Quilichao, and an extensive death threat was directed to Indigenous groups in the area.

In tandem with the rising tide of violence in Cauca, a department in Colombia’s southwest, the Colombian government is using the media to attack solidarity activists in Colombia and Canada through dangerous allegations.

Call it the storm after the passing calm that swept Colombia and the world after the July 2 rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 prisoners of war held by the FARC.

Paramilitary violence historically pursues a double agenda of social cleansing and political cleansing through threats, detentions and killings; in this case, young men have been killed by paramilitaries in what some locals likened to a low-level drug war in Santander de Quilichao. The extrajudicial assassinations carried out in Santander de Quilichao, a town of about 100,000 people, are part of the paramilitary agenda to rid a given territory of their perceived enemies, and create fear among the general population. Read more about Cauca and Columbia here....

Indigenous Japanese See Culture as Key to Survival

Unlike his father, who used to get arrested fighting for Japan's indigenous Ainu people, Koji Yuki sees the key to securing his community's rights in preserving and spreading the culture.

As a child, Yuki's family fled discrimination on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, the traditional homeland of the Ainu, for Tokyo.

His father Shoji often clashed with police, shooting to notoriety when he scratched the name of Hokkaido's governor off the sculpture of an Ainu hero and called him an intruder.

By the time he was seven years old, Yuki's mother had left the family and he says now that she probably "got fed up with my father's radicalism".
"I think I understand her feelings," he said.

"I don't think anything will be created out of negative feelings. Our culture is full of treasures. I want to share them with others," Yuki said.

Yuki detached himself from any activities related to the Ainu until his early 30s but now aged 44, he has set up the Ainu Art Project, a loose support network of Ainu artists who dance, sing, tell stories and make coats with traditional patterns.
Like many other indigenous cultures, the Ainu are animist, believing spirits dwell in plants and animals. Read more about Ainu indigenous peoples here....

How Intellectual Property Rights Have Failed Pacific Cultures


It is an ambitious research venture underway this very moment on the picturesque island of Moorea in idyllic French Polynesia.

Over the next three years, the project’s scientists will be scouring every nook and cranny of the island, from the tip of its highest point to the bottom of its reefs, to sample its animal and plant life, fungus, larvae and anything else that moves or breathes there.

The project’s scientists aim to “construct a library of genetic markers and physical identifiers for every species of plant, animal and fungi on the island, then making that database publicly available as a resource for ecologists and evolutionary biologists around the world”.

Moorea is home to the University of California Berkeley’s Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station and France’s Centre de Reserchers Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environenment, who are partners in this research.

By using DNA collected from their work, scientists will be able to “show how organisms fit together in the ecosystem” and therefore get a better view of nature’s every nuances. Read more about intellectual property rights in the Pacific here....

Fresh Violence in Bolivia Stokes Civil War Fears

Deadly clashes in Bolivia Thursday stoked fears of further widespread unrest and possibly even civil war, amid a furor over the expulsion of the US ambassador to the country.

At least two people were killed and a dozen people wounded in violent clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters in the northeastern town of Cobija, officials said.

It was the third day of street violence in parts of the country.

Asked about the unrest President Evo Morales, opening a public works project in La Paz, said: "We are going to be patient and cautious.

"We are going to hang in there. But patience has its limits, really," Morales stressed.

The conflagration was a worsening of a months-long political standoff between Morales, who has been pushing through socialist reforms since becoming president in 2006, and conservative governors in the east opposed to his reforms.

Morales, the first indigenous president of majority-indigenous Bolivia, has sought to distribute resources more equally in the poorest country in South America.

The conflict has racial overtones as relatively prosperous regions of the eastern lowlands, where more people are of European descent and mixed-race, are keen to hold on to local resources they see as being pulled away by the impoverished indigenous highlands.

Morales's spokesman, Ivan Canelas, said Wednesday conditions opened the way to "a sort of civil war." Read more about violence in Bolivia here....

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

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