Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February 25-March 3, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of February 25 - March 3, 2009

Australia: Committee Told Indigenous Youth Prefer Detention To Home

The ACT Department of Community Services says many of the young Indigenous people in the new Bimberi Youth Justice Centre prefer to be in detention instead of at home.

Representatives from the Department have told an Assembly Committee that five of the 11 young people in the new centre identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Department chief executive Martin Hehir says some indigenous elders have told them that the offenders are happier in Bimberi.

"Many of the young people who end up in Bimberi have come from fairly chaotic circumstances, they probably wouldn't be used to being fed on a regular basis, they probably wouldn't be all that used to positive respectful relationships and that's what they get in Bimberi," he said.

"That applies quite broadly to many of the occupants, it's not just the indigenous people." Read more about ACT Department of Community Services statement here....

International: Rights-Based Approach For Indigenous Land

Land is important to indigenous people as it forms a part of their culture, tradition and religion, and land ownership has passed down through generations based on native customary practices.

This leads to the indigenous people striving to protect their ancestral land, which is vital for their livelihood and life in dignity.

Prof Bas De Gaay Fortman, the Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Education for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy, highlighted these points in his presentation entitled "Land and Indigenous Peoples: Pursuing a Rights-Based Strategy" on the second day of the ISB Borneo Global Issues Conference VII held at the International Convention Centre.

Prof Fortman said the meaning of rights is a provision of protection for the rights-holders in respect of their claims and hence, rights can be seen as protection of interests by law. Hence, he said human rights manifest legal protection of interest and is meant to protect fundamental human interests based on human dignity.

Prof Fortman, who is also a Dutch politician and scholar, said human rights are often violated especially the rights of the poor, including indigenous people.

This has led to the affirmation of a declaration on indigenous people's rights by the United Nations (UN), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said. Read more about the rights based land approach here....

Hawaii: Akaka: Bill May Have A Shot At Law

Nine years after it was first conceived, a bill giving self-determination to Native Hawaiians may finally have a shot at becoming law, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

But instead of bringing consensus, the passage of time seems to have only deepened divisions over whether the so-called Akaka Bill is the right thing for Hawaiians. Both sides say they want Native Hawaiians to govern themselves, but while supporters believe the Akaka Bill will give them the tools for self-determination, opponents call the measure a "fraud."

Akaka's Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 was introduced Feb. 4 in both chambers of the 111th Congress, said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, Akaka's press secretary. Senate Bill 381 was referred to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, while the accompanying H.R. 862 was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Akaka Bill would do a number of things, including provide a process for Native Hawaiians to attain self-determination and self-governance; enable Native Hawaiians to be recognized officially as the indigenous people of the Hawaiian archipelago; and affirm a trust relationship of Native Hawaiians and their eventual governing entity with the U.S. government. Read more about the Akaka Bill here....

Borneo: Royal Call To Preserve Indigenous Cultures

Being aware of various indigenous cultures which provide mankind with key links to the past having served as milestones in the development of civilisations over the ages is important, observed Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah in a Sabda on the occasion of the opening of the seventh International School Brunei (ISB) Borneo Global Issue Conference at the International Convention Centre (ICC) yesterday.

Her Royal Highness being the Royal Patron of the meeting said the conference theme 'Cultural Survival: Rights and Aspirations of Indigenous Peoples', is particularly significant in encouraging all of us to value other people, their cultures and their societies.

"I also feel that the theme captures the plight of many indigenous cultures who are at crossroads, where their elders are struggling to preserve their traditional ways of life, as they watch their younger generations discard much valued old ways to embrace a modern future," added HRH.

Meanwhile, Her Royal Highness also observed that, "The young citizens of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia should be particularly proud of cooperative initiatives taken by their governments, to realise a common conservation policy for Borneo's natural resources, especially its precious indigenous people, the 'Faces in the Heart of Borneo'".

HRH then highlighted that it was indeed crucial that we instil in our young people the importance of helping those who need our compassion and deserve our respect.

HRH said, "In the past conferences, I was impressed by the dynamic and proactive efforts of our youths in concerning themselves with some of the real issues facing world leaders today." Read more about the call to save indigenous cultures here....

Philippines: Lumads: Militarization Is Number One Problem

Twenty three years after the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship, leaders of regional organizations of indigenous peoples (IPs or Lumads) in Mindanao say militarization remains their number one problem. “Sa pagsumada namo.. sa kasinatian.. mas una ang militarisasyon,” (Summing up, based on our experience, militarization tops) the problems confronting the Lumads, Dulphing Ogan, secretary-general of a Mindanao-wide alliance of regional Lumad organizations told a press conference Friday, Day Two of the five-day 1st General Assembly of Kalumaran or Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao).

Kalumaran comprises Pasaka in Southern Mindanao, Kasalo in Western Mindanao, Kalumbay in Northern Mindanao, Kaluhhamin in Socsksargen and SGS in Western Mindanao and was organized in January 2006 during a conference on mining in Dipolog City.

Lorna Mora, Kaluhhamin Secretary-General; Kerlan Fanagel, Pasaka Secretary-General; Norma Capuyan, Kalumaran vice-chair; Jomorito Gumaynon, Kalumbay chair and Genasque Enriquez, representing the Caraga region, took turns in narrating their region’s experiences, each similar to the other: military operations allegedly preceding the entry of so-called “development projects” such as mining operations, expansion of plantation; and the military’s alleged recruitment of Lumads into the military and paramilitary. Read more about the indigenous Lumads struggles here....

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

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