Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 1-7, 2009: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of April 1-7, 2009

India: Charenamei Stressed On Indigenous Rights

The indigenous people of Manipur have every right to their land and must not be replaced by community or society, stated Mani Charenamei, sitting Member of Parliament (MP) and candidate of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) for the 15th Lok Sabha elections. He was addressing a campaign meeting of the party at the Chandel headquarters Monday afternoon.

With the election campaigns of various political parties in the state hitting its zenith with the elections of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency barely days away, the PDA Monday visited the hill district of Chandel in Manipur seeking the support of the people.

Addressing the gathering attended by hundreds comprising of village heads, civil society leaders and student leaders, the candidate, highlighting the problems of the indigenous people of the state asserted the people had every right to their land. He also called on the people to protect their land and not be replaced as the Red Indians were in America with no rights today.

The MP also emphasised on the “Right to Education” and added education was the “need of the hour”. Pointing out there is no ‘right to education’ as a Fundamental Rights, the PDA candidate asserted he would do all he can to make it a fundamental right stating education is a must in the peace and development of a society. He also cited the United College, Chandel (UCC) as a good example and initiatior of education. Read more about the rights of Manipur indigenous people here....

Malaysia: Sabah Folk Hope New PM Will See To Their Needs, Too

GLUED to their television sets, the people of Sabah witnessed Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hand a thick blue file to "newly-minted" Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the nation's seat of administration in Putrajaya, across the South China Sea.

Some saw it as a day that would go into the history books, others viewed it as a dawn of good things to come, and the not-so-optimistic were overheard saying they would wait until promises were translated into action before giving their score.

Sabah is still working at reducing poverty, bridging regional imbalances along the way; it is seeking concrete solutions to the long-standing illegal immigrant menace; and its people continue to hope for a larger slice of the economy and better positions in the public sector.

Former deputy chief minister Datuk Tham Nyip Shen said Sabah was one of the top states when it helped form Malaysia in 1963, but is now among those at the bottom.

"The new prime minister has to shoulder this. A few things have to happen for Sabah to move ahead. Business has to be more friendly and unfair pricing of essential commodities has to be addressed. Sabah must be given more opportunities.
"We have some good migration policies and yet we have a problem with illegal immigrants and stateless children. We need some real action. I hope some of the solutions offered in the past will be continued or renewed," Tham said. Read more about Sabah and indigenous people here....

Australia: Indigenous Groups Attack Cape Wild Rivers Ruling

Cape York Indigenous groups say the Queensland Government's decision to protect three areas under 'wild rivers' legislation will perpetuate the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage on the Cape.

The Government announced on Friday it would protect the Stewart, Lockhart and Archer River Basins in far north Queensland.

Gerhardt Pearson from the Cape York Development Corporation says the legislation covers 13 rivers and large sections of native title-held land, and will prevent vital development on the Cape.

He says the legislation will make it even harder for Indigenous groups to create industries and jobs.

"You cannot allow a situation where we are under-resourced as a group of people on Cape York, that we do not have the capacity to plan for the future, and that by having legislative regimes that in fact impact upon our livelihood, is denigrating, is in fact relegating us to stay at the bottom rung of society's ladder," he said. Read more about the Wild Rivers ruling here....

Peru: Oil Rush Accelerates, Government Weighs New Reserves For Uncontacted Tribes

The head of Peru's state oil company has announced that it will auction off up to twelve new "lots" for oil and gas exploration, according to reports. The announcement was made by Perupetro's chairman, Daniel Saba, who has previously said that companies can even explore in reserves inhabited by uncontacted indigenous tribes.

Almost 75% of the Peruvian Amazon has already been opened up for exploration, the most of any Amazonian country. Some of this area—where companies such as Perenco, Repsol-YPF, Petrolifera, Pluspetrol and Petrobras are working—is inhabited by isolated tribes. Saba had previously said that the existence of uncontacted tribes is an "absurd" idea, before later saying that Perupetro would try and contact them in order to "consult" them. This was vigorously denounced by Peru's indigenous peoples' organization, AIDESEP.

Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, said, "We strongly urge Mr. Saba and Perupetro not to include any uncontacted tribes' land in any of the new lots. Doing so breaks international law and violates the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, and it could have catastophic consequences for the Indians who live there." (Survival International, March 27)

Peru's indigenous affairs department (INDEPA) held a meeting March 31 in Iquitos to discuss the creation of five new reserves for uncontacted tribes in the remote rainforest. One of the proposed reserves is where the Anglo-French oil company Perenco is currently working. Perenco is believed to be sitting on the biggest oil discovery in Peru in 30 years and claims no uncontacted tribes live there. Read more about Peru's oil exploration here....

International: Experts Hail Australia’s Backing Of UN Declaration Of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Three United Nations experts today welcomed Australia’s endorsement of the United Nations landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them.

Australia, along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, originally voted against the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when it was adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007, a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. Read more about the Declaration here....

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

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