Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 11-17, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of February 11-17, 2009

Colombia: President Pledges Tough Response To FARC Killings

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe pledged on Tuesday to step up the fight against terrorism after FARC rebels said they executed eight Colombian native Indians for passing intelligence to the army.

"Our decision today is to reinforce our anti-terrorist policies," Uribe said during a visit to Brazil.

"They want to win prestige with some releases, and at the same time they cynically bloody the streets of several Colombian cities with car bombs and cynically assassinate Indians," Uribe said during a joint news conference with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Car bombs went off in the city of Neiva in January and in Cali at the start of February, killing two people and wounding 39. The government blamed the FARC, which stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

On Tuesday, the FARC took responsibility for the death of eight Awa indigenous people near the border with Ecuador.

"All eight men admitted they had been working with the army for two years in this," the FARC said in a statement posted on a website regularly used by the rebels,

"As a result of the military operations, their responsibility in the deaths of numerous guerrillas and their undeniable active involvement in the conflict, they were executed," the statement said.

The Colombian army, which has been pummeling the guerrillas in the past few years, denied the villagers were spying on the FARC and condemned the group for murders it said would further erode its credibility. Read more about the Colombian killings here....

Australia: Warren Mundine Joins Australian Uranium Association To Act As Go-Between For Aborigines

FORMER national ALP president and Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine says he'll act as a go-between to ensure indigenous communities benefit from uranium mining on their land.

Mr Mundine has become a board member of the Australian Uranium Association (AUA), which has established a "dialogue group" to discuss how indigenous land owners might benefit from uranium mining.

The chief executive of Native Title Services Corp said the ALP, at its 2007 conference, scrapped its policy opposing the establishment of new uranium mines.

"And so that is an opportunity for development of the industry here for larger mining activity to happen," he said.

"We know that most of these mines are going to be on indigenous land and we need to ensure that indigenous people receive the benefits that they so rightly deserve in the social and economic area."

He denied his role as an indigenous representative in the dialogue group had been compromised by his acceptance of an AUA board position.

"I'm there for the indigenous people, to put their viewpoints forward," he said.

AUA executive director Michael Angwin refused to say what deals might be done with native title holders to secure future mining sites.

"It's just a bit too early for that. We're only just about to have our first meeting," he told a news conference in Adelaide today.

He denied the group was borne out of any frustrations in gaining access to future mine sites or locations suitable for low-level nuclear waste. Read more about AUA and Aboriginals here....

Nepal: Forms And Origins Of Discrimination

There are several historical markers of domination and discrimination against indigenous peoples and other minorities in Nepal. These are as follows:

The main historical marker of Hindu domination begins with caste restructuring by King Jayasthiti Malla in the Kathmandu Valley in the fourteenth century. The King invited five Brahmin priests from India to Kathmandu. Based on their advice, the King restructured the Newars, the indigenous peoples of the Kathmandu Valley, into 64 castes based on occupational division of labor. These caste divisions were neither based on hierarchic Hindu varna model, that is, Brahmin at the top followed by Kshyatriya, Vaisya and Sudra at the bottom, nor on inscription. It indeed paved a way for intensification of the processes of Hinduization or Sanskritization of indigenous peoples of Nepal (Jijima 1963).

The second historical marker of Hindu Bahun-Chhetri domination is the conspiratorial attack against the Magar King of Lig-Lig Kott by King Drabya Shah, who later won a war against the Khadka King of Gorkha in 1559A.D.. This was the beginning of the downfall of independence of indigenous peoples in Nepal. Read more about discrimination in Nepal here....

Taiwan: Indigenous Population Up 2.05%

The number of aboriginal people in Taiwan totaled 494,107 as of the end of last year. That's up 2.05 percent from the previous year.

According to statistics released by the interior ministry on Friday, the increase was about six times that of the rate of growth of Taiwan's overall population.

Taiwan's indigenous people were also younger on average than other ethnic groups, averaging 31.93 years of age as of the end of last year. That's 5.23 years younger than the country's population averaged as a whole

Of the 14 tribes in Taiwan, the Amis were the most populous with 177,909 people, followed by the Paiwan and the Atayal tribes. The three tribes accounted for nearly 70 percent of the total aboriginal population. Read more about Taiwan's indigenous population here....

Russia: Putin Petitioned To Kill Plans For Siberian Hydropower Station

A petition against the construction of a giant hydroelectric power station in Siberia that critics say would threaten the indigenous population and an entire larch forest ecosystem was handed to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week.

Signed by more than 8,000 people, the petition was organized and presented to Putin by WWF-Russia, Greenpeace-Russia, and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North as well as other nongovernmental organizations.

The construction project, in the Evenk municipal district, could drive as many as 2,000 Evenki out of their homes and reindeer pasture lands and, according to the evaluation data, one million hectares of unique larch forest would be flooded.

To generate power, a dam would be constructed on the Lower Tunguska River. The environmental and indigenous groups warn that one of the three radioactive underground nuclear explosion areas in the Tunguska flood plain would be flooded as a result of the construction.

Russian engineers say the Evenk hydroelectric power station would be the largest in Russia, and with the project capacity of 20,000 megawatts, one of the largest in the world. The construction is expected to take 18 years to complete. Read more about the Siberian power station here....

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

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