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August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples August 3rd, 2018
This day is celebrated around the world and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York each year, bringing together indigenous peoples’ organizations, UN agencies, Member States, civil society, academia and the general public. This year’s theme is “Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement.” The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
To learn more about this international observance visit the UN’s website.
Visit the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page to download the event program and key messages.
Fr Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, Moderates NGO Side Event at the 17th UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 3rd, 2018
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) held it’s seventeenth session from April 16 – 27. The theme for the 2018 forum was; “Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources.” According to the UNPFII, indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. Indigenous Peoples have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Several indigenous communities from around the globe were represented at the UNPFII. Many of them had opportunities to present statements on issues of concern to their different communities.
The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, in his opening remarks at the forum, painted the grim picture of the situation of the over 300 million Indigenous Peoples around the world. He noted that while Indigenous Peoples make up about 5 percent of the world’s population, they comprise 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. A situation he described as ‘shocking.’ Mr. Lajčák also highlighted some of the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples as violations of their human rights, marginalization, and violence they face for asserting their rights. Focusing on the theme of indigenous land, territories and resources, Mr. Lajčák pointed out that, “Indigenous Peoples are being dispossessed of the lands their ancestors called home,” often by big time and multi-national farmers and mining corporations.
In a recent report by Conselho Indigenista Missionaria (“Indigenous Missionary Council” – a subsidiary of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil), some of the challenges faced by a number of indigenous communities in Brazil (as well as indigenous communities around the world) include; high rate of of suicide, lack of health care, high child mortality, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of indigenous education and lack of general support from the State.
NGO Event at United Nations 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
As part of the Forum’s many side events, on April 18 Fr Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, moderated a session on “Spiritual Connection and Right Stewardship of Land, Territory, and Resources, including Water for Indigenous Peoples,” with panelists that included:
- Atilano Alberto Ceballos Loeza – Leader in sustainable agricultural practices and defender of land and territory in Yucatan
- Elvia de Jesús Arévalo Ordóñez – Member of the Council of Government of the Community CASCOMI (Amazon Community of Social Action Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador), integrated by native families and settlers of the parish Tundayme-Ecuador
- Augostina Mayán Apikai – Awajún indigenous woman leader born in Cordoncanqui is the president of the Development Organization of Border Communities of Cenepa – ODECOFROC. http://odecofroc-es.blogspot.com/p/nuestra-organizacion.html
- Leila Rocha – Guarani Ñandeva, member of the board of Aty Guasu Guarani and Kaiowá, Mato Grosso do Sul
- Sachem HawkStorm – Schaghticoke First Nations
The event was held at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City and organized by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; UN Mining Working Group; NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Congregation of the Mission; VIVAT International; Caritas International; Dominican Leadership Conference; Franciscans International; Red Eclesial Pan Amazónica (REPAM); Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI); Sunray Meditation Society
UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: https://bit.ly/2pvCccv
UN News on Indigenous Peoples’ land rights: https://bit.ly/2H4EU1M
Conselho Indigenista Missionaria report on violence against indigenous peoples in brazil in English, Espanol and Portugese: https://bit.ly/2F1w133
Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord Awaits Implementation After 17 Years December 2nd, 2014It is difficult to believe that the government of Bangladesh continues its intransigence around the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. It seems like only yesterday when I had the opportunity and privilege to vista in Chittagong and meet with the indigenous who have been the victims of this ignored and broken agreement. The international community must continue to shine a spotlight of transparency and justice on this negligent behavior by the government. – Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI ………………………..
Kapaeeng Foundation forwarded this statement of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission on the implementation of the CHT Accord (issued 2 December 2014)
CHTC concerns over the failure to fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord and calls for roadmap with clear milestones on full implementation
Dhaka: December 2, 2014. The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) has expressed concern over the Government’s lack of political will leading to the failure of full implementation of the CHT Accord 17 years after its signing. The CHTC has called upon the Government to urgently adopt and enforce a roadmap with clear milestones for implementation of the Accord ensuring full participation of all stakeholders.
The Awami League signed the Accord together with PCJSS on December 2, 1997 and the present Awami League government has repeatedly pledged to implement the Accord, both nationally through each of its election manifestos to date and internationally during the Universal Periodic Reviews in 2009 and 2013. Yet the state of peace and stability in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) has continued to deteriorate throughout the two terms the government has held office and there have been no efforts to strengthen local institutions and ensure end to land conflict which has led to the deterioration of the human rights situation in the area.
Amendment of the HDC Acts and failure to hold elections
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NGOs Raise Alarm About Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala October 15th, 2014
The Missionary Oblate JPIC Office has joined other international organizations in a letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples about construction of the Santa Rita Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala. The dam was registered as a project under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – established under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol – in June 2014. According to the letter, “Numerous violations against the indigenous Q’eqchi´ and Poqomchí communities have been reported prior to and since project approval, most recently in violent incidents from 14 to 16 August 2014 resulting in several injuries and deaths.”
The letter notes that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Rapporteur on indigenous peoples’ rights recognized “that the current licenses for mining and hydroelectric plants were granted without the State having implemented prior, free, and informed consultation with affected indigenous communities, as it is obligated to do under international treaties signed by Guatemala”.
Forum on Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh Highlights Outstanding Needs August 19th, 2014
On August 11, 2014, Kapaeeng Foundation of Bangladesh held a forum on the “Second International Decade and Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh” at the National Museum auditorium in Dhaka. The meeting was organized to celebrate International Indigenous Peoples Day 2014.
The Honorable Chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council and President of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larmawas presented as the guest of honor, while Mr. Rabindranath Soren, Chaiperson of Kapaeeng Foundation presided over the program.
Speakers and special guests included Mr. R A M Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury MP, Honorable Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs; Mr. Fazle Hossain Badsha, MP; Pir Fazlur Rahman Misbah, MP; Professor Dr. Sadeka Halim, Former Information Commissioner; Mr. Snehal V Soneji, Country Director, Oxfam; Mr. Gonzalo Serano De La Rosa, representative of the European Union; Mr. Mika Kanervavuori, representative of UN; Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum. Sanjeeb Drong is a close collaborator of the Oblates in Bangladesh.
Sanjeeb Drong said, the rights of indigenous people are human rights. If government does not fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples, we cannot say the human rights situation is developed in Bangladesh. So the government has to protect and promote the rights of IPs. He also said, “Land is the life of indigenous peoples. But day-by-day, indigenous peoples are losing their land. To protect the land of IPs, I demand to setup separate land commission for IPs.”
He also mentioned that, “We all are humans, and despite this we face discriminations and injustice.”
Dialogue on Life and Mining from Latin America December 10th, 2013
Religious and Lay representatives from Latin America, “moved by the critical situation of our peoples vis-à-vis the extractive industry”, met in Lima in November 2013. Concerned that mining is a source of “constant and serious conflict” in many countries of Latin and Central American countries, the attendees wanted to develop a vigorous and supportive set of local and international networks to help address the destructive impacts of mining. The Missionary Oblates were represented by Fr. Gilberto Pauwels OMI from Bolivia, and Fr. Seamus Finn OMI from the United States and through their participation in VIVAT, a coalition of religious congregations with ECOSOC status at the United Nations.
There are a number of outcomes from the gathering that included reaching out to a larger number of communities affected by mining, engaging with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican and convening a broader consultation on the challenges of extractives in the second half of 2014.
Extractives, mining oil and gas exploration, play an important role across the world while also imposing great intrusion and damage in local communities and on the environment where they operate. The search for a way forward that addresses the most serious of those negative impacts has been taken up by a number of different initiatives in the academic, business, stakeholder and shareholder and NGO sectors. Hopefully gatherings like the meeting in Lima can make a constructive contribution to that process.