Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August 20-27, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Weeks of August 20 - August 27, 2008

Naga Indigenous View On UN Declaration

I am extremely happy to be allowed opportunity such as this, to share the indigenous peoples’ common aspiration and to update our shared struggle in our search for recognition and just peace. The united Nations’ declaration on the indigenous peoples’ rights to self determination should be a realization of the necessity to address, through actions, the extreme conditions the indigenous peoples throughout, are under today.

The natives of the world are being subdued and marginalized within adverse boundaries arranged by the whims of more powerful peoples without the will of the indigenous peoples.

In case of my people, the Naga people, we have political merit as well as uncorrupt history of our own, having endured most trying times in order to protect our national identity against enormous Indian military campaigns ever since the Naga people had refused to take part in the Indian Union.

Ours is an issue of a “separate national identity” and not one of a mere part of Indian Union within seemingly a secular domain of “unity in diversity”. Read more on the Naga view on the UN Declaration here....

Guatemala Formally Recognizes Its Indigenous People

In a groundbreaking move toward national reconciliation and unity among its peoples, the Guatemalan government has formally recognized the Maya and other native cultures in this Central American nation, granting them an official government seat to represent their rights and interests. 13th generation Maya Kiche spiritual leader and head of the National Mayan Council of Elders of Guatemala, Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, has been chosen by Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom Caballeros as the Ambassador Extraordinary Itinerant of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala.

The Ceremony

On Saturday, August 9, 2008, Grandfather Cirilo as Don Alejandro is affectionately known, was formally inaugurated in his new role as Ambassador by President Colom. The date was chosen to coincide with and commemorate the Day of Indigenous People of the World, instituted by the United Nations in 1994. Attended by close to 2,000 people, the event marked an unprecedented step by a head of state to recognize the rights of all of its people and work toward full solidarity and collaboration with and among them.

Inauguration ceremonies began at sunrise on August 9 at the site of an ancient Mayan temple in Guatemala City, where the attending Elders led a traditional fire ceremony in front of 250 indigenous people, mostly from Guatemala. The ceremonies then moved on to the National Palace, the former seat of Guatemala's government and the building that marks the precise center of Guatemala. A chorus of indigenous children from San Juan Sacatepequez greeted the attendees. The formal act of bestowing Grandfather Cirilo with the title of Ambassador was accompanied by speeches by President Alvaro Colom and other luminaries. The day concluded with traditional Mayan dances and a marimba concert. Read more about Guatemala's recognition of its indigenous peoples here....

Peru Moves To End Amazon Protests

Peru has declared a state of emergency in jungle areas where indigenous groups are blocking oil and gas installations in protest at a new land sale law.

The government said violent acts by protesters had put security at risk.

The measure allows the authorities to send in troops and bans public gatherings for 30 days.

Some 65 Amazon tribes say the law will make it easier for big energy companies to buy up their land, parts of which are known to be rich in oil and gas.

The indigenous people have been demonstrating for more than a week at hydro-electric dams and oil and gas installations in three different parts of Peru's Amazon basin.
They are angry at a law which they say makes it easier for investors to buy their land because it lowers the bar for consent from two-thirds of a community assembly to a simple majority.

The legislation is one of a number of laws being passed as part of Peru's free trade agreement with the US.

"They have mobilized themselves for the right to life, the right to keep their territory and to defend the environment - the Amazon rainforest which is the lungs of the world," said Alberto Pizango, head of the indigenous Amazonian organization, AIDESEP. Read more about indigenous protests in Peru's Amazon here....

Evolution Of Tharus Took Place Right In Nepal’s Dang-Deukhuri Valley

Mr. Mahesh Tharu, now a Constitutional Assembly member was a former State minister for Local Development. He has also served as an associate professor in the past at the Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dang district.

He has several books to his credit.

Mr. Chaudhary is the author of the books “Madhesh Kahan Cha” and “Nepali Tarai Ra Teska Bhumi Putra Haru”. In line for publications are “Scientific study of the Tharu Language”, “Historical Study of Dang and the Tharu Community”.

Mr. Tharu is basically a research scholar whose articles are taken in good taste by the Nepali academicians though some would like to differ with his contentions.

Last week, we approached this suave research scholar for a tête-à-tête on contemporary political events unfolding in Nepal and also on some issues related with his community. Read more about the Tharus evolution here....

Patient Advocacy Frees 96 Slaves In Democratic Republic of Congo

A three-month campaign in by the World Peasants/Indigenous Organization (WPIO) has resulted in the release of 96 people who had been held as slaves in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

During the "Ten for One Peace Campaign," 50 people who were working as forced miners for companies in Lulimba were freed, along with 46 people from 12 indigenous families who had been enslaved for generations.

The son of a pygmy man owned by a mining company, Burhabale Cisangani was born into slavery.

Orphaned at age 7, he was forced to do hard labor in the Lulimba area of Congo for masters who made him work even when sick and forbade him to marry. For 28 years, this was the only life he knew.

But this spring, Mr Cisangani became a free man, thanks to the courageous efforts of the World Peasants/Indigenous Organization (WPIO), a partner of The Advocacy Project (AP) based in Uganda.

Earlier this year, a team of twenty-five WPIO activists spent three months visiting 240 families and a number of companies in five territories in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during their "Ten for One Peace Campaign." The campaign resulted in the release of almost 100 people who had been held as slaves.

"Victims of slavery have been routinely destroyed by sexual exploitation and other human rights abuses," WPIO Director Freddy Wangabo wrote in a recent release of the campaign's results. "More collective sacrifices and responsibility are needed for the interest of humankind to protect pygmies... and the other poorest communities in the country." Read more about the indigenous slaves freed in Africa here....

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

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