Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of April 29 - May 5, 2009
Australia: Fears Indigenous 'Marginalised' By Climate Change
Climate change could further marginalise indigenous people and force them off their land, a leading Aboriginal advocate says.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said indigenous people might have to relocate if rising sea levels and temperatures destroy their traditional lands.
Mr Calma was speaking at the launch of the Social Justice and Native Title Reports 2008 in Sydney today.
The Native Title Report calls for the Federal Government to consider the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples' human rights when developing responses.
"According to all the experts, Australians will be hard hit by climate change and no more so than indigenous peoples,'' Mr Calma said.
"Indigenous peoples are at risk of further economic marginalisation as well as perpetual dislocation from, and exploitation of their traditional lands, waters and natural resources. Read more on climate change here....
Asia: Asia-Pacific NGOs Sue ADB Through People's "Tribunal"
Asia-Pacific NGOs are holding a two-day mock tribunal, with expert witnesses on debt, water, agriculture, gender, indigenous people and the environment to reveal the Asian Development Bank's "sins" through its loan program.
Organizers said the main idea of the tribunal - organized outside the venue of the ADB's annual meeting - is to prove through testimony and documentary evidence that the ADB's projects and values are directly affecting people's lives and violating their rights.
The mock tribunal began Saturday, with Indonesian urban poor activist Wardah Hafidz as the judge.
The trial heard expert witnesses from countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal.
They stood under oath to share their testimony about ADB projects in their respective countries.
Sonny Africa, head researcher at IBON Foundation in the Philippines, said in his testimony that the ADB, initially set up in 1966 to help lift underdeveloped countries out of poverty, had shown a significant contradiction in terms of reality.
"The ADB has been proved to be a bank for profit and development. The ADB does not implement their vision of helping underdeveloped countries, it is promoting private profit, domestic capitalists and big foreign capitalists," he said.
He added that IBON has been monitoring ADB activities for the last 30 years. Read more on the ADB and indigenous peoples here....
Peru: Amazonian Indigenous People Rise Up
“Since April 9, an uprising has been occurring in the Peruvian countryside involving the Amazonian indigenous peoples from 1350 communities and a diversity of ethnicities”, said legendary peasant leader, Hugo Blanco in an important message. A translation of Blanco’s appeal for solidarity with this so-far mostly unreported struggle is printed below.
Blanco is no stranger to mass struggle in Peru. He was a central leader of the Quechua peasant uprisings in the 1960s. For this, he was sentenced to 25 years jail.
In 1975, he was freed and expelled to Sweden. He returned in 1978 and was elected to the Senate. In the early 1990s, he was again forced into exile. He has since returned and heads the Peasant Confederation of Peru.
The current struggle is led by the Interethnic Association of Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), which unites 1385 indigenous communities.
Blanco said the uprising consisted “of taking over installations of depredator companies, blocking roads, taking over airports, interrupting water transport”. Read more about the indigenous peoples struggle in Peru here....
Nicaragua: Mosquito Coast Bites Nicaragua's Ortega
A separatist attempt to form a breakaway nation of indigenous people on Nicaragua's jungle shores has the legendary Mosquito Coast buzzing once again — and posing a dilemma for leftist President Daniel Ortega. Frustrated by broken promises of autonomy and generations of exploitation by outsiders, traditional leaders on the rural Atlantic coast are calling for a clean break from Nicaragua and the creation of the Communitarian Nation of the Moskitia (named after the region's indigenous people). On April 19, the indigenous council of elders officially declared the secession of the Atlantic coast from the rest of Nicaragua, warning that if push comes to shove, their independence claims will be backed by a new Indigenous Army of the Moskitia.
"We are not puppets. We are men. And now we have the weight of a nation on our shoulders," said separatist leader Rev. Hector Williams, known as the Wihta Tara, or Great Judge of the Nation of Moskitia. The separatist leaders this week declared a state of emergency to protect their lands from the "colonialist" outsiders and sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking for support and protection.
The separatists claim to be thousands strong with a standing army of 400 soldiers, mostly aging ex-combatants from the YATAMA uprising against the Sandinista government in the 1980s. Today, the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN and RAAS) remain geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of Nicaragua. The northern Atlantic-coastal region is mostly inhabited by Miskito and Mayangna indigenous populations, while its southern neighbor is home to most of the country's black Creole population. Although both groups have suffered historic discrimination, it is the indigenous population in the north that's leading the charge on independence — a call that hasn't yet found much resonance in the RAAS. The self-proclaimed Communitarian Nation of the Moskitia says all land titles, concessions and contracts issued by the Nicaraguan government are now invalid, and that taxes must now be paid to the new self-proclaimed indigenous authorities. A new flag, national anthem and currency are in the works as the aspiring country appeals for official recognition. Read more on Nicaragua here....
Australia: Native Title Report 2008
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2009) Native title report 2008.
Sydney: Australian Human Rights Commission
This report, released annually by the Australian Human Rights Commission (previously the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, HREOC) through the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, reports on the operation of the Native Title Act 1993 and its effect on ‘the exercise and enjoyment of human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.
The progress the government has made during the 2007-2008 reporting period in achieving rights and equality for Indigenous peoples is examined, together with how the government can complement its symbolic Apology with practical, beneficial changes to the native title system. Three important native title cases which before the courts during the 2007- 2008 reporting period are discussed.
This year’s native title report also includes the topical issues of climate change and water and includes two case studies to illustrate the potential impacts of climate change on the human rights of Torres Strait Islander people and the Indigenous people of the Murray-Darling Basin. A number of recommendations are included in the report, aimed at heightening the participation and engagement of Indigenous peoples in addressing these issues. Read more on Australia's Native Title report here....
Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues for the Week of April 29 - May 5, 2009
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