Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feburary 18-24, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of February 18-24, 2009

Chile: Government Unleashes Anti-Terror Law on Mapuche Activist

"They burst in aiming machine guns at us. They found him in the hallway, they grabbed him by the hair, they threw him on the floor and they beat him up," Ida Huenulef told IPS, describing the arrest of her son Miguel, the first indigenous Mapuche activist to be charged under the Anti-Terrorist Law by the government of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Members of his family said that 11 members of the special forces and "carabineros" (national police) raided their home in the district of Lo Prado in the west of Santiago, without showing any identification or producing a search warrant.

Miguel Tapia Huenulef was arrested in front of his entire family, who were held at gunpoint and intimidated during the violent operation in the middle of the night of Feb. 11.

"I went to get my daughter and they pointed a machinegun at her head, and when she picked up her little daughter, another carabinero came and pointed his weapon at her little head," said Ida Huenulef, describing how the police treated her 20-day-old baby granddaughter.

Miguel Tapia Huenulef, 45, was arrested as a suspect in an arson attempt perpetrated in January on an estate called San Leandro near the town of Lautaro, in the region of Araucanía, over 600 kilometres south of Santiago. Read more about Chile's actions against the Mapuche here....

Kenya: Changing Lifestyles Put Indigenous Communities At Risk

One of East Africa's last remaining hunter-gatherer communities, the Ogiek people, has largely remained separate from the rest of society, but NGOs warn that their ignorance and isolation from HIV/AIDS prevention efforts could heighten their vulnerability to the virus.

According to the Centre for Minority Rights and Development (CEMIRIDE), an NGO promoting the rights of indigenous peoples in Kenya, total ignorance of HIV among the Ogiek is not uncommon.

"There are no HIV campaigns at all directed at the Ogiek ... the government do not even have statistics about the prevalence amongst them," said Pattita Tiongoi, a programme officer with CEMIRIDE.

"The disease is penetrating through the Ogiek because of displacement, which has seen them mingle with their infected cosmopolitan neighbours like the Maasai and the Kalenjin."

Napuoyo Moibei*, who thinks she is about 35 years old, was evicted from the Mau forest in Kenya's Rift Valley Province several years ago and took up employment on a nearby wheat farm to make ends meet. Read more about Ogiek peoples changes here....

Taiwan: Plains Aborigines Seeking Renewed Indigenous Status

Name and status restoration activists of the Pingpu (平埔) — also known as plains Aborigines — yesterday visited the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) and urged it to give them a hand in their campaign.

The council, however, did not give a positive response.

“We, members of the Pingpu tribes, would like to invite [CIP] Minister Chang Jen-hsiang [章仁香] to attend the public hearing on restoration of Pingpu tribal names and Aboriginal status,” Siraya Culture Association chairwoman Wan Shu-chuan (萬淑娟) said as she handed the invitation to CIP Planning Department Director Wang Chiu-i (汪秋一), who accepted it on Chang’s behalf.

The Siraya are a Pingpu tribe that live in parts of Tainan and Chiayi counties.

Pingpu refers to assimilated Aborigine tribes that dwell on the plans, who once lived throughout the flat areas of the country from Keelung all the way to Pingtung before Han migrants from China and colonial powers arrived in Taiwan.

It’s not easy to find Pingpu today, since most have been culturally assimilated into Han society through intermarriage or were forced to change their identities. Read more about Pingu indigenous recognition here....

Philippines: "Largest Royalty Payment" To Lumads Divides Mamanwas

The estimated 400 families of Mamanwas in five towns in Surigao del Norte ought to be celebrating: they now have P51.5 million, the “largest royalty payment” made by a mining firm to a Philippine tribe, in their bank account. And there will be more payments, for 2008 and every year thereafter, not only from the Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) but the two other mining firms operating in their ancestral domain.

But no one is celebrating. Instead, there is “kagubot” (trouble).

Datu Emiliano Gedi, the head claimant of the Mamanwas’ ancestral domain over five towns in Surigao del Norte and chair of the Provincial Consultative Body of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribong Mamanwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampantrimtu), told MindaNews in a telephone interview that he hopes they can convene a general assembly to settle the issue among themselves.

The amount , representing 1% of the reported gross production of TMC from July 2006 to December 2007, was deposited to the account of Ampantrimtu in the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Surigao City on February 19.

The amount does not include as yet the 2008 royalty. Read more about the Mamanwas' royalty payment here....

Colombia: Why They Kill The Awa

We write these lines overcome by tremendous pain and sadness. We write from the shared rage we feel towards this criminal act, apparently committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cauca, FARC, whom we condemn for these irreversible horrors and the shedding of innocent blood.

As we write, the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, is arriving in the Department of Nariño to conduct the military operations that constitute the government’s response to the massacres and terror these indigenous communities are now facing. Referring to the difficulty the government authorities are having in obtaining the cooperation of the indigenous peoples, Minister Santos stated to the media: “We hope we can convince [the Awá] that the best position, the best attitude they can have is to collaborate with the authorities, with the Armed Forces.”

“Kick them while they’re down” is the phrase that best describes the government’s reaction to these terrible circumstances, basing its response on the supposition that, according to the information available, the FARC committed the massacre. The result is that the atrocity—this massacre, the ongoing massive displacement, and disappearances, all faced by the indigenous communities caught in the middle of this terror—is blamed on the victims. It is their fault, implies the Minister, because they refused to collaborate with the Armed Forces. He tries to convince us that, if the Armed Forces had been in the territory, the violence would not have happened. As a consequence, the complete militarization of the territory is underway with the pretext of protecting the Awá, who in turn run to the forests while some of their leaders, seeing no other option, call for the help of the Armed Forces. The Colombian corporate media, the government coalition and their spokespeople all echo these calls, and Colombians -terrified by the horror of this ongoing genocide, in turn call for the same. Read more about the Awa struggle in Colombia here....

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

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