Archive for the ‘Free Prior Informed Consent FPIC / Consentimiento Previo Libre e Informado’ Category

Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith

Monday, January 1st, 2018
, 17 November 2017

In a wooden hut on stilts, a group of children dressed in white sit on the floor. They sing “I will protect Islam till I die” and shout “There is no god but Allah”, in unison.

Three months ago, the 58 families that make up the Celitai tribe of Orang Rimba converted to Islam. They were picked up and bussed into Jambi, the nearest city, and given clothes and prayer mats.

The Islamic Defenders Front – a vigilante group whose leader is facing charges of inciting religious violence – helped facilitate the conversion.

Ustad Reyhan, from the Islamic missionary group Hidayatullah, has stayed to make sure the new faith is practised.

“For now we are focusing on the children. It’s easier to convert them – their mind isn’t filled with other things. With the older ones it’s harder,” he says.

“Before Islam they just believed in spirits, gods and goddesses, not the supreme god Allah.

“When someone died, they didn’t even bury the dead, they just would leave the body in the forest. Now their life has meaning and direction.

“[Before] they lived in the forest. They just lived for each day, each moment. When they died, they died. But now they have a religion, they know there is an afterlife.”

‘No choice’

But village leader Muhammad Yusuf – Yuguk, to use his Orang Rimba name – was thinking about surviving in this life when he converted.

“It was a very heavy and difficult decision, but we feel like we have no choice, if we want to move forward,” he says quietly.

“So that our children can have the same opportunities as the outsiders, the people of the light, we had no other choice. We had to all convert to Islam.”

Outsiders are the “people of the light”, because they live in open areas and are often in the sun, unlike the people of the jungle.

The surrounding majority Muslim population calls the Orang Rimba “Kubu”.

“It means that they are very dirty, they are garbage, you can’t even look because it is so disgusting,” explains anthropologist Butet Manurung, who has lived with the Orang Rimba for many years.

“It also means primitive, stupid, bad smelling – basically pre-human. People say their evolution is not complete.”

It’s thought there are about 3,000 Orang Rimba living in central Sumatra. “If you came before, you would have seen our forest. It was pristine, with huge trees,” says Yusuf.

Now there are seemly endless ghostly white burnt-out sticks in one direction, and palm oil trees in neat rows in the other.

The absence of any natural sounds is eerie.

“It’s all gone. It happened just in the last few years. The palm plantations came in, and then the forest started to burn,” adds Yusuf, referring to 2015’s devastating fires, which burnt more than 21,000 sq km of forest and peat land.

Every year, landowners start fires to clear land with devastating effects, but those fires were catastrophic because of a longer dry season.

Half a million people were affected by the toxic haze from the fires and dozens died from breathing problems.

“I was terrified. We were so scared of the flames and smoke all around us,” Yusuf tells me.

His tribe ran to the nearest village to escape and this was where the conversion process started.

Endangered population

“After a while, we wanted to send our children to school, but the teacher wanted to see their birth certificates, and for that you have to have a state religion that the government recognises.

“So we had a tribal meeting, and discussed what religion we would choose, and decided to choose Islam,” says Yusuf.

Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country – officially recognises six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Indigenous rights bodies are fighting to get recognition for the hundreds of other faiths practised across Indonesia.

The country’s constitutional court recently ruled in their favour, finding that it was against the constitution to force people to state a religion.

Rukka Sombolinggi, head of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, has been a key figure in this fight.

“We have been around before the new religions arrived, but now it’s like they rule us, and want to clean us from this country. We have to fight back,” she says.

She says the Orang Rimba are one of the most endangered indigenous tribes in Indonesia.

“They reached the point of complete hopelessness and saw that embracing one of the official religions would probably help them come out of this very bad situation. It is a matter of survival.”

‘No space to live’

I experienced a sense of the discrimination towards Orang Rimba, when I met a remote tribe still practising this nomadic, polytheistic way of life.

We were eating with them in the jungle when a police officer and local government officials arrived and asked what we were doing and if we had permits.

Our Orang Rimba guide Miyak was visibly upset, and asked why such documents would be necessary on his own land.

“We have no space to live. We are always told we are nomadic people with no religion, no culture,” he told me.

“Our religion is not respected. The government is always insisting that we convert and live in houses in one place. We can’t do that. Our way of life is not like that.”

“Why you are making our lives so difficult?” he asked the officials.

The officer, Budi Jayapura, took me aside to check my documents and said: “We need to watch over them.

“They don’t understand the concept of stealing. They say the fruit grew by itself on the tree so it can be taken, but it was planted by someone. Maybe in their belief system it is OK, but not in our society.”

The pig problem

The fact that they hunt and eat wild pigs also creates social tensions, he added.

“This is a Muslim community. If they see the pig’s blood and the leftover bits, they are disturbed,” the officer explained.

What is taboo, or haram, for the Orang Rimba directly contrasts with what Muslims eat, explains Mr Manurung.

“Orang Rimba will not eat domesticated animals such as chickens, cows or sheep. They think it’s a form of betrayal. You feed the animal, and when it gets fat you eat it. The fair thing to do is to fight. Whoever wins can eat the loser.”

This clash of cultures began in the 1980s, when then-President Suharto gave land and incentives to migrants from overcrowded Java to move and open up the jungles of Sumatra.

Since then, vast areas of forests, traditionally home to the Orang Rimba, have been handed out to palm oil, rubber and pulp and paper companies without compensation to the indigenous tribes.

Zulkarnai, a Ministry of Forestry official, who helped facilitate the mass conversion of the Celitai tribe, admits that as a child, he thought the Orang Rimba weren’t human.

“One day a ‘Kubu’ child stole fruit from one of my neighbours, and he shot him. We went over to the body, and I realised it wasn’t a kind of animal, it was a human, just like us.

“I realised that we have to help them. I feel sorry for them. They will starve if they don’t change.”

In the last decades, millions of hectares of rainforest have been cleared in Indonesia, in what some studies call the world’s fastest rate of deforestation.

Polluted land

New palm oil plantations have been increasing at a rate of between 300,000 and 500,000 hectares per year for the past 10 years.

In the last 30-odd years, more than half of Sumatra’s forests have disappeared, replaced by monoculture palm oil plantations.

Sigungang’s family lives on a palm oil plantation. He tries to hunt wild pigs when they come.

“But if we can’t find anything, we are forced to eat palm oil fruit. It makes your head spin,” he says.The streams in the plantation are polluted with pesticide and his family is getting stomach problems drinking from it.

“There is no forest for them to hunt in, the water they fished in and drank from is polluted, and so is the air,” says social affairs minister Khofifah Parawansa, matter-of-factly. “So we are giving them houses, villages to live in.”

The government – working with plantation companies – has built a number of housing estates for the Orang Rimba.

Last year, President Joko Widodo announced more new housing and some land for them, following a meeting with tribal leaders – the first organised by an Indonesian head of state.

Minister Khofifah says faith is part of this process.

“On the identity card, they have to state what religion they have. There are those that have become Muslims, some who have become Christians. So now they are getting to know God.”

But many of the housing estates have failed and are effectively ghost towns.

Without work or a way to feed their family, many Orang Rimba who lived in them briefly went back to the traces of jungle that are left.

“What we want is for them to stop taking away our forest. We don’t want houses like the outsiders,” says Ngantap, one of the elders of an Orang Rimba tribe.

“I am at peace and happy in the forest, I am a person of the jungle.”

Ngantap wears the traditional loincloth of the Rimba people, with a bag of cigarettes hanging from the side.

Unmarried women traditionally wear simple sarongs covering the breasts. Once married, the sarong is tied around the waist leaving breasts open for feeding babies. Many now wear clothes from the outside.

But Ngantap insists they are holding on to their faith.

“It’s wrong to say we don’t have a faith. Religion is a personal right of every person. It’s very wrong to discredit someone’s faith.

“If our belief system is lost, and the gods and goddess have no forest home, disaster will reign.”

Ngantap’s wife Ngerung tell me they are connected to the trees from birth.

“After a baby is born, three trees must be planted, one for the placenta, one for the baby, one for the name. They can never be cut down or hurt. When we walk through our forest we remind people of this.”Mr Manurung explains: “Orang Rimba worship many gods, the tiger [being] one of the most powerful.

“They have a god of bees, a god of hornbill birds, gods and goddesses of many trees. They also worship a god of water springs. They will never go to the toilet or put soap in the river, so you can drink it directly.”


Miyak, my guide, converted to Islam so he can travel and fight to try and protect his family’s forest.

They are trying to register the forest as their ancestral land, following a landmark 2013 court ruling which said indigenous people have rights over forests they have lived in for centuries.

He can take part in meetings but not in religious ceremonies or rituals. As he now uses soap to wash himself and eats chicken and cows, he can’t enter his family home.

“When I got educated in the outsiders’ ways, there were many things that I had to sacrifice.

“But I accept that, because I am a messenger and bridge for many people here with the outside world and the government, about our forest and rights.”

He still fears the gods and goddesses of the old religion.

“It’s the sacred people – our women shamans – [that] I fear. They can communicate and see the gods and goddesses.

“The shaman can become a tiger, can become an elephant if the gods are very angry, and attack people. I am scared of that. I worry about breaking the rules.”

But Miyak’s greatest fear is that is his people’s way of life will disappear forever.



Indonesian tribe converts to Islam

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Nomadic ‘Jungle people’ become Muslim so they can receive government financial support after their homes were destroyed

Around 200 members of the Orang Rimba tribe in the Batang Hari district of Jambi have converted to Islam. One convert from the tribe, Yusuf Muhammad, said: ‘Thank God, the government now pays attention to us’. But indigenous rights group said they have no choice but to convert as rainforest hunting lands are developed

Pictured: Members of the tribe dressed in loincloths. Not all of the members of the tribe have taken to the new faith, with some clinging on and searching desperately for food in the land once dominated by Sumatran rainforest.

Hundreds of members of a nomadic Indonesian tribe have converted to Islam as their rainforest hunting grounds are devastated by palm oil plantations and coal mines.

The new Muslims changed their religion to capture the attention of the government, which they say ignores their needs.

The Orang Rimba – ‘jungle people – are also hoping to be handed ID cards by officials, which will then entitle them to benefits such as healthcare and education.

Some tribesfolk, however, have remained faithful to old ways and continue to desperately hunt for prey in an area that was once lush Sumatran rainforest.


‘Thank God, the government now pays attention to us; before our conversion they didn’t care,’ says Yusuf Muhammad, a convert.

Pictured left: A young girl from the tribe who has not converted to Islam. Right: Another girl of a similar age wearing a hijab after becoming a Muslim. An elder in the tribe said the government might now begin listening to their problems after their conversion

Yusuf’s group converted to Islam, the predominant faith in Indonesia, and gave up their nomadic ways in January in a bid to improve livelihoods that have been devastated by the expansion of palm oil plantations and coal mines into their forest homelands.


Authorities insist the move is positive but critics say it amounts to a last throw of the dice for indigenous groups driven to desperation by the government’s failure to properly defend their rights against rapid commercial expansion.

Indonesia is home to an estimated 70 million tribespeople, more than a quarter of the total 255-million population, from the heavily tattooed Dayaks of Borneo island to the Mentawai who are famed for sharpening their teeth as they believe it makes them more beautiful.

But as a nomadic group, the Orang Rimba are a rarity.

The 200 who recently converted in the Batang Hari district of Jambi province – a handful of the approximately 3,500 Orang Rimba – decided to turn to the Muslim faith after being approached by an Islamic NGO, and the social welfare ministry has helped with the process.

Community leader Yusuf conceded the reason they were converting was because food was increasingly hard to find and they were constantly locked in disputes with companies on whose lands they hunt, rather than due to any deeply held beliefs.

The tribesman also said that he and his family – he has 10 children – wanted to get national identity cards, which would allow them access to public services including education and healthcare. Converting to Islam and settling in one location means they can get the cards.

But the decision has meant big changes.

The converts now live in basic wooden huts on stilts and no longer move to a new location every few weeks. They are fully-clothed in items donated by the government and NGOs, having abandoned the simple loincloths and sarongs they wore in the past.

‘It’s nicer living in a village like this, our lives are better,’ said Yusuf, whose old Orang Rimba name was Nguyup.

They have not completely abandoned their animistic traditions however – the tribe believes spirits inhabit the trees and their wavy-bladed daggers – and view Islam as a religion that overlays their own ancient beliefs.

Not all of the Orang Rimba are keen to convert however.

Just a couple of hours drive away, a group of about 300 Orang Rimba live under blue, plastic tarpaulins propped up on sticks and subsist by hunting the few animals they can find amid the palm oil trees.

They move on average three times a month in the hunt for new prey, and every time a member of the group passes away, as required under tribal customs.

Their existence is tough, and they appear skinny and malnourished – but remain steadfastly against conversion.

‘According to our tradition, conversion is not allowed,’ leader of the group Mail, who goes by one name, told AFP.

It is also in part due to superstitious beliefs. ‘We’re afraid if we break our oath, we will be captured by tigers,’ Mail added.

Conversion of tribespeople to Islam is not uncommon in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and the government insisted the change would be positive for the Orang Rimba.

Hasbullah Al Banjary, director of indigenous communities at the social affairs ministry, said it was now easier for authorities to provide for the tribespeople as they were not moving around. He said their traditions would not be eroded.

‘It´s a creative culture which has local wisdom we need to preserve,’ he said.

But indigenous rights defenders insist some tribespeople feel they have no option but to convert.

‘I view this as a result of the state failing to protect them,’ Rukka Sombolinggi, secretary general of leading Indonesia indigenous rights group AMAN, told AFP.

‘They turn to clerics or the church in some areas, because they offer protection.’

In recent decades, Indonesia has lost huge areas of rainforest – the habitat for many indigenous groups – to make way for plantations for palm oil, pulpwood and rubber, as well as coal mines.

Critics say local governments have prioritised making bumper profits by issuing permits for companies to set up operations rather than protecting tribes, who typically have no formal title to areas where they live.

Yusuf said he feels a sense of ‘tranquility’ after converting – but admitted it had not been a quick fix and his group were yet to receive the coveted identity documents.

‘It’s now up to the government – if they care about us they will work on our ID cards,’ he said

Original Article at Afp, click : HERE

Brazil’s Temer threatens constitutional indigenous land rights

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres on 1 August 2017

– President Temer, influenced by the rural lobby in congress whose
votes he needs to not be tried by the Supreme Court on corruption charges, has okayed new criteria meant to delegitimize indigenous land boundary claims, legal experts say.

– One rule rejects any indigenous demarcation of land where Indians were not physically present on a traditional territory in 1988, which would disqualify many legitimate claims.

– Another allows government to undertake “strategic” public works, such as dams and roads, without indigenous consent, violating the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil.

– The administration also introduced a bill likely to be passed by congress that reclassifies 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles) of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon, gutting protections, allowing economic activities — logging, ranching, farming and mining — and legitimizing land grabs there.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians live on indigenous lands in Brazil, but much of that land has never been officially demarcated due to decades of government delay. Now, President Temer’s political maneuvering threatens to shut down the demarcation process in favor of land thieves, ranchers, soy growers, mining concerns, and construction companies with much to profit from Amazon dam and road government contracts.

A storm of protest greeted the 19 July announcement that Brazilian President Michel Temer has approved a recommendation made by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), that federal government bodies should adopt new criteria for setting the boundaries of indigenous land.

Respected lawyer Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, who headed the University of São Paulo’s legal faculty for many years, said that the recommendation was a “legal farce,” with the objective of “extorting from the indigenous communities their right to the land they have traditionally occupied.”

But the bancada ruralista rural caucus in Congress is triumphant. Federal deputy Luiz Carlos Heinze, a leading member of the caucus, celebrated the AGU recommendation, saying in a video circulated on social media that it will lead to a reassessment of more than 700 cases, resulting ultimately in the dismissal of 90 percent of ongoing indigenous territory land claims.

The Civil Office of the Presidency has already returned to the justice ministry 19 indigenous territories, covering 792,370 hectares (3,059 square miles), which were close to completion, saying that the recognition of these reserves is to be reviewed. With the process for recognizing many of the other new territories at an early stage, it is impossible to calculate precisely how much land is involved.

However, if created, the new reserves would undoubtedly add millions of hectares to the 177 million hectares (683,400 square miles), 13.8 percent of the Brazilian territory, that is in indigenous hands. By far the largest share — 98 percent of all indigenous territory — is located in the Amazon, where the reserves prove an effective bulwark against deforestation. The long process of recognizing indigenous ownership is not complete in all these territories, so some of these lands could become vulnerable to reclassification.

The “Marco temporal” debate

The most controversial aspect of the AGU’s recommendation is the introduction of the so-called “marco temporal” an arbitrary cut-off date for land claims.

Under the new measure, Indian groups will only have the legal right to claim traditionally held territory that they were physically occupying as of 5 October 1988, the day the most recent federal Constitution was approved — a date, historians point out, by which many Indian groups had already been forced from their lands.

The concept of “marco temporal” was first adopted by the Supreme Federal Court (STF), when it settled a long, contentious dispute over boundaries for the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous reserve in Roraima in 2009.

The Dilma Rousseff government, with its strong anti-indigenous bent, was keen to make this cut-off point vinculante, a norm to be universally followed for establishing other indigenous territories in the future, and the AGU issued Portaria 303/2012, an order to that effect. However, STF minister Ricardo Lewandowski, in a 2013 ruling, made it clear that the 19 conditions for such settlements — including the “marco temporal” — could not legally be applied to the demarcation of all indigenous lands. This decision, combined with strong indigenous pressure, led to Portaria 303’s eventual revocation.

The rural elite, however, never accepted the high court’s finding. It wanted the criteria, especially that referring to the “marco temporal,” along with another that forbids the enlargement of indigenous territory already marked out, to become vinculante, the norm and extended to all future cases.

Importantly, the AGU’s July recommendation also makes it possible to undertake “strategic” public works, such as hydroelectric dams and roads, without Indian consent. This seems to be a direct breach of the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil, in which nations commit to full consultation with indigenous people whenever a public work will affect their land or way of life.

Outcry against demarcation rule changes
Protests against the AGU’s recommendation, particularly the 1988 cut-off date, have been vociferous, despite the huge amount of civil strife already unfolding in Brazil — with landless peasants occupying elite estates, including one owned by the family of agriculture minister Blairo Maggi, and with President Temer’s legitimacy threatened by serious corruption charges.

Journalist Rubens Valente, who has just published a book about Brazilian atrocities committed against Indians during the military dictatorship, called Temer’s July decision “a 50-year setback. It’s as if the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention didn’t exist.”

Well-known forestry consultant Tasso Azevedo, former director of Brazil’s National Forest program under the Lula government, fumed: “Imagine a Polish law that said that the claimant — for example, a Jewish family persecuted during the Second World War — could only get their property back if they were living in the house when it was expropriated? It would be seen as absurd.” He went on: “The AGU recommendation shreds indigenous rights. You want a road? No need to ask. Just go ahead and do it.”

Others point to the tragic predicament of Guarani Indian groups in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. These indigenous people were forcibly evicted from their territories after the state government sold their land to farmers. For years they’ve struggled to regain their territories and many still squat at roadsides, barred by fences from moving back onto their land. But because they were evicted before 1988, the AGU recommendation would negate all claims.

Crizantho Alves Fialho Neto, from FUNAI, Brazil’s federal indigenous agency, says that the ruling ignores the legal standing of indigenous territory: “Indigenous possession of land is different from a landowner’s ownership of land. It is not possession as defined in civil law. It is possession as defined in the constitution.” In theory at least, this means that indigenous rights are “inviolable, exclusive and perpetual.”

Lawyer José Afonso da Silva, a specialist in constitutional law, also questions the validity of the 1988 cut-off date: “the beginning of the legal recognition of indigenous rights was in June 1611 with the Royal Charter (Carta Régia) promulgated by the Portuguese king Philip lll … All other constitutions continued along these lines. The 1988 Constitution just carried on this tradition.” Based on these legal precedents, he says, there is no reason to give that date a special status — unless, critics say, the government’s plan is to deprive indigenous people of their demarcation rights in order to legitimize land thefts that occurred before that date.

Many other legal experts have protested. Érika Yamada, an independent United Nations indigenous expert, says that the recommendation “exceeds all limits of administrative law, because the president is signing a recommendation that is an attempt to legislate, to alter the 1988 Constitution.” She argues that the new measure is unconstitutional and may well lead to challenges in the ILO, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

Indigenous organizations have already called for a legal counteroffensive. The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) will be challenging in the courts the legality of actions that replicate the “unconstitutional” conditions established in the Raposa/Serra do Sol case.

These legal challenges may well succeed, but that will take time. Meanwhile, serious damage could be done to indigenous groups. Temer has already said that he expects FUNAI and other government bodies to start implementing the AGU guidance.

The risk of escalating violence
There is another concern: Valente believes that the new criteria could catalyse unrest in the countryside, which is already at record levels: “The Indians want to regain their old lands and they are increasingly well organized.… The AGU recommendation may well provoke violence, as it is telling these groups that the doors are closing for them to get what they want through the justice system or from the executive.” The recommendation could also embolden land grabbers eager to exploit indigenous demarcation disputes, experts say.

Azevedo has no doubt why the president approved the AGU recommendations: “Temer endorsed the ruling for the worst possible motive: to buy political support in Congress so that he won’t be tried for corruption by the Federal Supreme Court.”

Indeed, the rural caucus has made no secret of the role it played in Temer’s rise, and that it could play in his fall. In the already mentioned video, Luiz Carlos Heinze revealed that the AGU recommendation was agreed to in an April meeting between then Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio (a leading member of the rural caucus), Presidential Head of Staff Eliseu Padilha, and Federal Attorney General Grace Maria Fernandes Mendonça. The three made a pact, he claims, that represents “a great advance for all Brazilian [agribusiness] producers who have been feeling frustrated and anxious because of the pressure they have been receiving from FUNAI” to vacate lands they’ve claimed for years.

Experts see the AGU recommendation as just one bargaining chip being used by Temer, an experienced Congressional operator, to make sure he gains sufficient votes in the Lower House to prevent a two-thirds majority from voting that he should be tried by the Supreme Court for the corruption accusation made against him by the Attorney General. That crucial vote is scheduled for this Wednesday. The latest opinion polls show that 81 percent of Brazilians want Temer tried for corruption.

Temer’s environmental concessions
Environmental protection also appears to be an expendable pawn in Temer’s congressional game.

In recent weeks, the president allowed his environmental minister, José Sarney Filho, to introduce a bill to reclassify a large portion of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon allowing economic activities within it — including logging, ranching, farming and mining — a dismemberment for which the rural elite has long lobbied, and that would legitimize land grabs underway there for years.

Munduruku (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The Munduruku have battled for years with the Brazilian government to get their lands formally demarcated, as have many other indigenous groups. Temer’s actions are likely to make that fight more contentious, with an escalation of violence, as the ruralistas are emboldened to oppose indigenous territory claims. Photo by Rebecca Sommer

Previously, Temer planned to achieve this goal via a provisional measure (MP 756), which he himself proposed, but which in the end, he was forced to veto in the face of intense national and international pressure.

Groups at home and abroad are now campaigning hard to stop the newest Jamanxim dismemberment bill, which would reclassify an even larger part of the forest than the original provisional measure­­ –– 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles). But this time the counterattack may not be as effective, because bills of this kind only require congressional approval and are not subject to a presidential veto.

The runaway power of the rural caucus in congress and within the Temer administration, and the ruralistas growing confidence that they will not be held accountable, is now having serious consequences for the environment, Indians, quilombolas (those living in communities set up by runaway slaves), peasant farmers and other rural inhabitants.

According to Global Witness, more rural and environmental activists have been killed in Brazil than in any other country in the world over the past five years. Moreover, nine out of ten murders occurred in Legal Amazonia, with most in Rondônia and eastern Pará state. There were 47 total homicides in the Amazon in 2016, with 33 in the first five months of this year, putting 2017 on track to be the bloodiest year in recent Amazon history.

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Banner image by Agência Brasil and used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License.

150 Jahre Kanada – Kein Grund zum Feiern!

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas Menschenrechtsarbeit für Indigene Nordamerikas


150 Jahre Kanada – Kein Grund zum Feiern!

Kanada feiert am 1. Juli seinen Nationalfeiertag und zugleich das 150-jährige Gründungsjubiläum des Staates. Doch die Ureinwohner, auf deren Kosten und Leben diese Feier geht, haben keinen Grund sich zu freuen. Sie werden bis heute diskriminiert, marginalisiert und ihrer Rechte beraubt.
Als Justin Trudeau 2015 das Amt des Premierministers übernahm, verkündete er, seine Regierung werde die Beziehungen zu den indigenen Völkern Kanadas auf eine neue Basis stellen – in Übereinstimmung mit den Prinzipien der UN-Deklaration der Rechte der Indigenen Völker, welche 2017 ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen feiert.
Trudeau hat sein Versprechen nicht eingelöst. Die indigenen Völker Kanadas leiden unter Armut, Arbeitslosigkeit, dem Trauma der Internatsschulen, Zwangsadoptionen, den tausendfachen Morden an indigenen Frauen und Selbstmorden von Jugendlichen – Auswirkungen des rassistischen und kolonialen Systems einer Gesetzgebung, des Indian Act,die ihnen die grundlegenden Rechte der auch von Kanada unterzeichneten UN-Deklaration
verweigert. Art. 3 der UN-Deklaration besagt: „Indigene Völker haben das Recht auf Selbstbestimmung. Aufgrund dieses Rechts bestimmen sie frei ihren politischen Status und verfolgen frei ihre ökonomische, soziale und kulturelle Entwicklung.“1,4 Millionen Indigene leben in Kanada, d.h. 3,8% der 36,5 Millionen kanadischen Bürger sind indigener Herkunft, doch ihnen sind nur 0,2% des Landes geblieben – immerhin des zweitgrößten Landes der Erde. Auf dieser Basis ist keine eigenständige wirtschaftliche Entwicklung möglich, die zudem durch die rücksichtslose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen –
Kahlschlag, Uranabbau, Teersandgewinnung etc. – durch Regierung und Konzerne verhindert wird. Die Ausbeutung und Zerstörung der Lebensgrundlagen, u.a. durch Pipelines samt einhergehenden Unfällen, aber auch durch die Verseuchung der Gewässer durch Rückstände aus Fischfarmen, Papiermühlen oder Bergbau, steht in eklatantem Widerspruch zur UNDeklaration, die den indigenen Völkern das Recht auf Mitsprache einräumt, auf einen „free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)“ hinsichtlich aller sie betreffenden Entwicklungen. Kanada missachtet sogar Entscheidungen des Obersten Kanadischen Gerichtshofs, der die
(Land-)Rechte der Indigenen wiederholt bestätigt hat. Kanadas Reichtum basiert auf der kolonialen Ausbeutung indigenen Landes und der
Missachtung von Versprechen und völkerrechtlichen Verträgen mit indigenen Völkern. Die Fassade einer weltoffenen und toleranten Gesellschaft bröckelt sofort, wenn es um die Rechte und die Lebensbedingungen der indigenen Völker geht. Kanada präsentiert sich gerne als der
bessere Teil Amerikas, doch bei genauer Betrachtung sind die Verhältnisse viel schlimmer als im Trump-Land: Die kanadischen Indigenen können nicht einmal darüber selbst bestimmen, ob sie als Indigene gelten. Dieser Status ist jedoch nicht nur zwecks ihrer Identität entscheidend, sondern umfasst auch spezielle Rechtsansprüche.
Die Regierung hat Versöhnung und eine neue Politik versprochen, doch eingelöst hat sie nichts davon. So hat Trudeau 2015 eine nationale Untersuchungskommission angekündigt, um die Ursachen der Morde an Tausenden indigenen Frauen zu erforschen, doch bislang erst
eine Anhörung im Mai 2017 abgehalten. Der wachsende Widerstand der indigenen Völker gegen Rassismus und Kolonialismus im 21.
Jahrhundert wurde im Mai 2017 von Amnesty International mit dem „Ambassador of Conscience Award“ ausgezeichnet – eine Anerkennung, die von der Weltgemeinschaft geteilt werden sollte.
150 Jahre nach Gründung des Landes muss Kanada endlich anfangen, den Verspechen Taten folgen zu lassen und genannte UN-Deklaration in allen Bereichen umsetzen.
Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas:

Statement from the family of Arthur Manuel on his passing

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Arthur_ManuelOn Wednesday January 11, 2017 at 11:00 PM, Arthur Manuel, our beloved father, grandfather, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, and teacher passed away. Arthur was one of our most determined and outspoken Secwepemc leaders and activists—a pillar in the resistance, known globally for his tireless advocacy for Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination. He passed on into the spirit world surrounded by many generations of his loving family.

Arthur was the son of Marceline Paul of the Ktuanaxa Nation and George Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation. George was a political leader and visionary who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.

Arthur was born into the struggle and groomed to be a leader and defender of Indigenous rights and title. Coming up as a young leader in the 1970s, he served as president of the National Native Youth Association, leading the occupation of Indian Affairs. He attended Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) and Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto, Ontario).

He returned to his community and was elected Chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee. He was a long-time co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and former co-chair of the Global caucus. He was active in the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More movement and as a board member of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. He was one of the main strategic thinkers of the decolonization movement in Canada. As the spokesman for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, he convinced the World Trade Organization to recognize that Indigenous peoples are subsidizing the BC lumber industry through the non-recognition of Aboriginal title. He was co-author, along with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, of the award-winning Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, with a foreword by his friend and fellow activist Naomi Klein.

He worked selflessly in defence of Indigenous territorial authority and he fiercely opposed any termination of Indigenous land rights. He rejected provincial and federal authority over unceded Indigenous land, and challenged the extinguishment of Indigenous title through the BC treaty process. He fought climate change, battling the imminent threat of pipelines across Secwepemc territory.

He was a world traveller who connected Indigenous nations across the globe to unite in a common vision and defend their rights. He was gifted a button blanket by the Nuxalk nation and has received countless honours for his work around the world.

Arthur was also a teacher and a mentor to many. He was a source of knowledge for youth and young leaders. Through his fierce love for his people, he shone a light on the path to justice for a new generation of activists.

He’s a residential school survivor, having attended the Kamloops (Kamloops BC), St Eugene’s (Cranbrook BC) and St. Mary’s (Mission BC) residential schools.

Arthur is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, by his sisters Emaline, Martha, Doreen, and Ida, his brothers George, Richard, and Ara, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis and Snutetkwe. He is predeceased by his parents, sister Vera, brother Bobby, beloved son Neskie and his grandchildren Napika Amak and Megenetkwe.

In his most recent article on Canada’s 150th celebration, published only a week before his death, Arthur insisted again that Canada was built entirely on the theft of Indigenous lands.

“Our Indian reserves are only .02% of Canada’s land and yet Indigenous peoples are expected to survive on them. This has led to the systematic impoverishment of Indigenous people and the crippling oppression that indigenous peoples suffer under the current colonial system.

The .02 land based is used to keep us too poor and too weak to fight back. It is used to bribe and co-opt the Indigenous leadership into becoming neocolonial partners to treat the symptom of poverty on Indian reserves without addressing the root cause of the problem, which is the dispossession of all of the Indigenous territory by Canada and the provinces.” – First Nations Strategic Bulletin, August-December 2016 Issue

Wake: Friday, January 13th 5:00 PM and Saturday, January 14th, Adams Lake Indian Band Gymnasium, 6349 Chief Jules Drive, Chase, BC

Funeral Services: Sunday, January 15th 10:00 AM, Adams Lake Indian Band Gymnasium

Media contact: Russell Diabo at 613-296-0110 or
Donations to support Arthur’s service can be sent to
Condolences to the family and photos of Arthur can be sent to

Earth Peoples co-founder Arthur Manuel passed away, 66-years-old.

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dear Earth Peoples.
Arthur Manuel was always working hard.
Tiokasin Ghosthorse brought me to collaborate with Rebecca Sommer, one of my best friends… and this is where I met Arthur. I was very glad to from the start. I was in line with him in the cafeteria at the UN during the indigenous peoples caucus for the Earth Peoples partners event. I got some coffee and was going to sit down at the table he was at. Arthur said with warning…you might not want to sit there. I said oh is this seat taken? He said no its just that you might not want to be associated with me. A lot of people do not like me.
I looked around over my shoulders and said.. jokingly I said….want me to beat them up for you? He laughed a lot. That was the comical and genuine relationship that I had with him from the start. He is someone I am honored to say has changed my life and i can call him my favorite person and a best friend. I am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to know Arthur.
Arthur was my Earth Peoples brother, a child of our mother Earth and I loved him very much. I always looked up to him for saving the world. I remember saying to Arthur that I hope that I can somehow make a difference in the world like he does. I would like to make my life meaningful. He said Elaine, You don’t want to do what i do. He said… I am not complaining but Elaine, you have the creative arts and you can work in that medium and be effective. As you do…. and it seems more fun. That meant a lot to me. I appreciate that with all of my heart. I hope that i can send that message through my art so that I can make him proud and maybe send some laughs too.
He lives forever in our hearts. He lived. I only hope that I can too live a life that makes the ancestors proud  as was well.

Book Arhur ManualHis last writing to me was when he signed his book
Unsettling Canada
for me with the words “May the world be good to you my friend.

He will be greatly missed!!!


Racism in the Arab world

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Racism in the Arab world covers an array of forms of intolerance against non-Arab groups, minorities in Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

The previously forbidden topics of race and racism in the Arab world have been explored more since the rise of foreign, private and independent media. In one example, Al-Jazeera’s critical coverage of the Darfur crisis led to the arrest and conviction of its Khartoum bureau chief.
Read more . . .


Thursday, March 19th, 2015

“Del 9 al 11 de abril las organizaciones indigenas realizaran una cumbre indigena paralela a la de los Estados. Adjunto borrador de la declaracion para sus contribuciones” Hector Huertas, coordinador de redacción de la declaracion




Nosotros, los representantes de los Pueblos y Naciones indígenas de Abya Yala de las regiones de Sudamérica, Centroamérica, Norteamérica y el Caribe, en el ejercicio del derecho a la libre determinación y en defensa de la Madre Tierra, hacemos de conocimiento de los Estados nuestra posición frente a la VII cumbre de Jefes de Estados y Gobierno de las Américas a celebrarse en Panamá del 9 al 10 de abril de 2015.





Que nosotros los Pueblos y Naciones indígenas originarias de Abya Yala, teniendo como base la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas (2007), La resolución 1514 (XV) de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas el 14 de diciembre de 1960 (Numeral 1 de la Declaración sobre la Concesión de la Independencia a los Países y Pueblos Coloniales); el convenio 169 de la OIT (1989); La Declaración de Viena 2003, la Convención sobre la Eliminación de todas las formas de Discriminación Racial y el Documento final de la reunión plenaria de alto nivel de la Asamblea General de la ONU, Conferencia Mundial sobre los Pueblos Indígenas y otros instrumentos Internacionales relacionados a pueblos indígenas y el ambiente.


Que a través de estos instrumentos internacionales, los Estados de las Américas, se han obligado adoptar decisiones de carácter legislativo, administrativo y judicial, para la erradicación de la desigualdad, no discriminación, y la exclusión histórica de los Pueblos Indígenas reconociendo la dignidad inherente y nuestra contribución desarrollo, en especial de la mujer indígena.

Que en las Seis Cumbres de las Américas y sus sesiones extraordinarias los jefes de Estado y de los gobiernos de la región han aprobado compromisos a través de la adopción de declaraciones y planes de acciones, para igualmente erradicar la exclusión, desigualdad, el respeto a los derechos humanos, la consolidación de la democracia, libre comercio, la adopción de la carta democrática, empleo, prosperidad humana, seguridad energética, sostenibilidad ambiental, integración de las Américas, pobreza, desigualdad y seguridad ciudadana que alcanza la situación de los Pueblos Indígenas.

Que a pesar de la existencia de todos los instrumentos y legislaciones internacionales existentes prevalece y recrudece la pobreza, marginación y exclusión de los Pueblos Indígenas en las Américas.

Los Pueblos y Naciones Indígenas llamamos, la atención a los Estados a establecer compromisos serios de corto plazo a fin de cumplir con el mandato internacional por lo que proponen las siguientes Acciones y Compromisos ante los Jefes de Estados y de gobiernos:

Que en las actuales negociaciones de la Declaración Americana sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas existe un marcado desinterés de parte de los Estados de no contribuir con el fondo de contribuciones voluntarias para apoyar la participación plena y efectiva de los representantes indígenas de las Américas, y los obstáculos a no querer aprobar una declaración fuerte por arriba de los estándares de la declaración de la ONU.


1.     Que los Jefes de Estado y Ministros de Estados se comprometan a financiar el fondo de contribuciones voluntarias para permitir la participación indígenas en el Grupo de Trabajo que prepara la Declaración Americana sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y su compromiso a adoptar una declaración fuerte y no por debajo de los estándares de la DNUDPI.

2.     Los pueblos y naciones indígenas pedimos a todos los Estados, se hagan las reformas constitucionales para desmantelar la doctrina del Res Nullius del sistema jurídico, la propiedad del Estado sobre los recursos del suelo y subsuelo en detrimento de los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, implementar con carácter de prioridad los derechos establecidos en la declaración de los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas adoptado por la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.   Solicitamos se establezca un comité de expertos independientes designados por la Asamblea General cuyo mandato es la verificación de la implementación de la Declaración sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de la ONU.

3.     Se impulse el derecho a la libre determinación de los Pueblos Indígenas, en ese sentido se desarrollen los regímenes autónomos necesarios que le permitan a los Pueblos Indígenas, ser los sujetos del desarrollo, la democracia y la gobernanza sobre sus tierras, territorios y recursos naturales.

4.     Se implemente, el Buen Vivir como derecho humano y principio rector de las políticas públicas de los Estados en los proyectos y planes de desarrollo económico y social que impulsen.

5.     Se implemente los derechos colectivos sobre las tierras, territorios y recursos de los Pueblos Indígenas, el carácter colectivo, inalienable e inadjudicable de los mismos a fin de garantizar la pervivencia de los Pueblos Indígenas en los Estados y en particular a los Pueblos Indígenas no contactados.

6.     Que el derecho al consentimiento previo libre e informado sea desarrollado en la mayoría de los Estados no como un mero trámite para obligar a los Pueblos Indígenas a dar su consentimiento, si no para garantizar el respeto a nuestros derechos humanos, desarrollando los mandatos de la declaración de la ONU en esta materia.

7.     Los Estados deben insertar en todos sus procesos educativos el aporte de los Pueblos Indígenas en la historia, ciencias, artes, filosofía e identidad de Abya Yala e impulsando la educación intercultural en todos los niveles a fin de reflejar la identidad cultural de las naciones, garantizando su participación activa en el proceso, acorde a su cultura, tradiciones e identidad, mediante acciones afirmativas. La Comisión Interamericana de Educación observar el cumplimiento de este mandato hasta que se elimine el racismo, en los textos escolares y en los sistemas de educación. La educación intercultural será una prioridad de los programas de educación.

  1. Los Estados deben en sus programas de salud insertar la visión colectiva holística de la salud indígena, evitar proyectos que comprometan la salud colectiva de los indígenas, reconociendo su medicina tradicional y protegiendo sus recursos y conocimientos de la piratería. Los programas de salud de carácter universal deben insertar la visión holística tanto como colectiva como individual de los Pueblos Indígenas de modo que no se pueden aprobar proyectos de desarrollo en territorios indígenas que afectan la salud indígena de modo que se genere equidad. Por otro lado, en ejercicio a la libre determinación los sistemas de salud tradicional de los Pueblos Indígenas deben formar parte de la estrategia de desarrollo.


  1. Se debe adoptar en corto plazo el desarrollo energético propio de los Pueblos Indígenas a través del financiamiento de estas iniciativas a fin de que la energía alternativa llegue a nuestras comunidades. Las instituciones financieras deben condicionar el financiamiento de proyectos energéticos al respeto de los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y la participación de los beneficios se deben adecuar antes los marcos legales de carácter nacional y regional.


  1. Reconociendo las graves consecuencias del cambio climático y que dicho fenómeno es producto de la utilización indiscriminada de los recursos de la madre tierra por los países industrializados los Estados deben exigir a los países responsables a reducir sus emisiones y no pretender usar los recursos de los Pueblos Indígenas como excusas para no cumplir con sus obligaciones internacionales. Rechazamos, los proyectos que tiene como justificación atacar el cambio climático que afectan las tierras, territorios y recursos de los Pueblos Indígenas.




  1. Solicitar a la reunión de Ministros y Altas Autoridades de Desarrollo Sostenible de la OEA que exija el cumplimiento e implementación de la DNUDPI a los Estados miembros de la Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (COP 20) en todas las medidas que afecten a los Pueblos Indígenas.


  1. Que los Estados se obligan a financiar las medidas de adaptación al cambio climático para los sectores más vulnerables, en especial los Pueblos Indígenas y cuantificar los impactos económicos del cambio climático de manera desagregada sobre sectores clave para los países de la región, como las tierras y territorios indígenas, la agricultura, los recursos hídricos, los asentamientos humanos, las zonas costeras, la biodiversidad, la salud entre otros. En este contexto, prestar especial atención a las políticas y acciones relacionadas con la mitigación y la adaptación del cambio climático presentadas o realizadas por los Pueblos Indígenas.


  1. Apoyar los procesos de planificación, ordenamiento territorial y titulación de los territorios indígenas que se realizan a nivel nacional y sub nacional incorporen de manera prioritaria la prevención y mitigación de riesgos ambientales. Asimismo, a través de inversiones y políticas promover un desarrollo sostenible. Encomendar a las instituciones financieras y a la OEA que apoyen este esfuerzo.


  1. En el marco de la declaración de la naciones unidas sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y el Convenio sobre los derechos de los trabajadores migrantes y sus familias aprobado por la Asamblea General en su resolución 45/158, de 18 de diciembre de 1990, y entró en vigor el 1º de julio de 2003, se debe tomar en consideración la situación de los indígenas migrantes. El Grupo de Trabajo migrantes en Conjunto de las Cumbres (GTCC), particularmente a los representantes de los Pueblos Indígenas e Instituciones Financieras, que continúen apoyando los esfuerzos de los países para crear las condiciones económicas y sociales para generar más y mejores oportunidades que permitan el desarrollo y el arraigo de la población en sus países. En particular, los desarrollar programas en las regiones de fronteras a fin de regularizar la situación de indígenas migrantes y transfronterizos y el desarrollo de las capacidades propias del territorio de modo que puedan satisfacer sus derechos humanos.


  1. Reconociendo que el desarrollo integral y equitativo contribuye a crear condiciones de seguridad y que a su vez mejores condiciones de seguridad propician mayor prosperidad, solicitamos las siguientes acciones:
  • Se deben reconocer los mecanismos propios de seguridad de los Pueblos Indígenas
  • Se debe prohibir la militarización de los territorios indígenas
  • Se debe apoyar a los Pueblos Indígenas en la lucha contra el tráfico de drogas.


  1. Desarrollar esfuerzos especiales dirigidos a reducir la violencia en contra de la mujer, particularmente a través de implementación de políticas públicas eficaces, de capacitación de funcionarios y la recolección de datos e información estadística, particularmente en el marco de la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia Contra la Mujer (Convención de Belem do Para). Encomendamos a la OEA, a través de la Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres que continúe sus esfuerzos en este ámbito, especialmente a través del fortalecimiento del mecanismo de seguimiento de la Convención.


  1. Crear, sin restricciones ni limitaciones de participación, el Foro Interamericano de los Pueblos Indígenas, de tal forma que haya un proceso continuo de participación y consulta con los representantes de los Pueblos Indígenas y no solamente en la época previa a la celebración de una Cumbre de las Américas. Encomendamos a la OEA que establezca y gestione el Foro.


  1. Implementar la participación plena y efectiva de los Pueblos Indígenas, particularmente a través del uso de la tecnología y soluciones digitales. En función de ello, promover el gobierno abierto y el derecho a la información como herramientas claves para lograr mayor transparencia e inclusión.


  1. Fortalecer el Estado de Derecho Democrático, la separación e independencia entre los Poderes del Estado, la libre determinación y autonomías de los Pueblos Indígenas, el respeto a los derechos humanos, la transparencia, integridad y eficiencia de la gestión pública, así como la creación de condiciones que hagan posible la implementación de la declaración de la ONU en la participación plena y efectiva en todo el ciclo de las políticas públicas, principalmente mediante la democratización del acceso a las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación. Encomendamos a la OEA que le dé seguimiento a este tema.


  1. Promover el derecho a la participación plena y efectiva de los Pueblos Indígenas de acuerdo a sus formas de representación en las contiendas electorales.  Financiar las autonomías indígenas como una forma de fortalecer la democracia.


  1. La situación de las mujeres indígenas y los niños indígenas es alarmante en las Américas, se propone realizar acciones urgentes con la participación de los pueblos indígenas para promover el respeto de los derechos de las mujeres, jóvenes y niños, niñas indigenas.


  1. Promover y visibilizar la participación de las mujeres indígenas en la agenda política nacional de género, en los programas de salud y educación como protagonistas generadoras de cultura.   Promover acciones educativas concretas dirigidas insertar a la mujer indígena en el ámbito laboral acorde con su realidad sociocultural.


  1. Fortalecer los programas nacionales en donde los haya y donde no crearlas para atender la seguridad alimentaria, y la atención primaria de los niños y juventud indígena en su integridad física, como psicológica. Promover el empleo de la juventud indígena.


  1. Los Pueblos Indígenas son los más marginados en el derecho de acceso a la información y comunicación, muchos proyectos de desarrollos o decisiones administrativas se toman sin la debida información a las comunidades indígenas, la participación es uno de los pilares para la democracia , no se puede participar si no se sabe o estaba debidamente informado: Proponemos


  • El desarrollo urgente de programas de acceso a la información y comunicación en el idioma de los Estados y los idiomas indígenas


  • Se debe fortalecer en los programas de desarrollo de redes comunitarias en lengua indígena que permitan el acceso a la información


  • Se deben desarrollar programas que permitan a los Pueblos indígenas a tener acceso a tecnología de la información.


Dado el 10 y 11 de abril de 2015, en la ciudad de Panamá.


Indigenous Peoples Statement to UNPFII Expert Group Meeting: Dialogue on an optional protocol

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

“We cannot allow procedures that will allow for states to move disputes regarding our rights to our lands, territories and resources from international processes to domestic judicial and political forums.” *Tonya Gonella Frischner, Onondaga Nation*

Statement to the UNPFII Expert Group Meeting:
Dialogue on an optional protocol to the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
28-29 January 2015, UN Headquarters
Presented by the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA)

*Current and Historical Context*

1. We recall that Indigenous Nations and Peoples came to the United Nations in 1977, in part to have our nation-to-nation treaties upheld by UN bodies. We note that some of those courageous leaders are still with us today and still fully engaged in the fight to have our treaties upheld. At the time, Indigenous Nations and Peoples felt that this international forum would be one place to ensure enforcement of treaties between our Indigenous Nations and other governments such as the United States and Canada.

2. We further recall the statement of Ms. Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking at the time in her official position, on the central importance of treaties on August 7, 2013: “Even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs
of indigenous peoples, determining the relationship they have with the State.” The statement marked the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, 2013.1

3. With that current and historical context, we take note of the “Study on an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples focusing on a voluntary mechanism” (E/C.19/2014/7)2 which was prepared by Permanent Forum members Professor Dalee S. Dorough and Professor Megan Davis for the Thirteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) with the Special
Theme: “Principles of Good Governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, articles 3 to 6 and 46,” held May 12-23, 2014 at UN Headquarters.

4. The Haudenosaunee intervention on ‘Principles of Good
Governance,’ delivered by Chief Oren Lyons (Onondaga Nation), under Agenda Item 3 at the Thirteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) delivered on May 14, 2014 in paragraph 21, expressed the concern that a proposed optional protocol “*may allow procedures for states to move disputes regarding lands, territories and resources from
international processes to domestic judicial and political forums*.

5. We take note that the upcoming Fourteenth Session of the UNPFII to take place April 20- May 1, 2015 at UN Headquarters lists as its proposed Agenda Item 5: Half-day discussion on the expert group meeting on the theme “Dialogue on an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People”. We encourage this to be an
open dialogue on the various proposals and drawbacks for an optional protocol, considering these proposals from all angles, and including the “full, equal, and effective participation” of Indigenous Peoples.

*Full, Equal, and Effective Participation*

6. A separate but related issue under consideration at this Expert Group Meeting is the proposal to revise EMRIP’s mandate, which emerged from the negotiations of the HLPM/WCIP Outcome Document. Paragraph 28 of the Outcome Document of the HLPM/WCIP states: “We invite the Human Rights Council, taking into account the views of indigenous peoples, to review the
mandates of its existing mechanisms, in particular the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, during the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, with a view to modifying and improving the Expert Mechanism so that it can more effectively promote respect and the enforcement of the Declaration, including by better assisting Member States
to monitor, evaluate and improve the achievement of the ends of the Declaration.”

7. We note the HLPM/WCIP process arose between the annual sessions of the UNPFII. As a result, the proposed revision of EMRIP has not had the benefit of the full, equal, and effective participation by Indigenous Peoples. We are concerned that an essential Indigenous mechanism within the
UN system is being revised without the full participation of Indigenous Peoples. *We are concerned that a lack of full, equal, and effective participation is the new norm within the UN system*.

8. This lack of full, equal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples contradicts the Modalities Resolution of the HLPM/WCIP and UNDRIP Articles 3, 18, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38 42 43 and 46. The full, equal, and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples is a clearly established requirement.

*Areas of Concern*

9. We acknowledge and appreciate all the papers submitted to this Expert Group Meeting by each expert and we have carefully reviewed each paper. We share the view as was laid out in the initial “Study on an optional protocol” and in some of the subsequent expert papers submitted for this Expert Group Meeting, that an implementation gap exists for the
UNDRIP. We also share the view that there is a lack of adequate knowledge and understanding of the UNDRIP. Part of AILA’s work since the adoption of the UNDRIP in 2007 has been to continually educate on its content and advocate for its implementation on local, continental and global levels.

10. We continue to be concerned about the desire for UN Member States to ‘domesticate’ our rights, rather than maintain relations with Indigenous Nations and Peoples in the international arena, on a nation-to-nation basis, which was the original purpose of Indigenous Nations and Peoples in coming to the UN. It should be duly noted that international law supersedes domestic law. We are concerned about moving disputes regarding our rights to our lands, territories and resources to an optional protocol, which would rely on governments to do the right thing and ratify this optional protocol.

11. We find a few proposals, presented in the expert paper submitted by Professor Mattias Åhrén to the Expert Group Meeting, relating to a possible new role for EMRIP to be particularly troubling.

12. The suggestion that only Indigenous Peoples recognized by states would be eligible to submit complaints to a new optional protocol body, is
in direct violation of the UNDRIP, our right to full, effective and equal
participation, and violates the right to self-determination. This is non-negotiable. We have been fighting against the perception that states
decide who is or is not Indigenous for hundreds of years.

13. A six month time limitation to raise human rights issues in international fora after exhausting domestic options is damaging and overly burdensome for our Peoples. We are unclear who determines what rights could be deemed principally important.

14. As we all know, UNDRIP was the result of an over twenty year negotiation process and sets the minimum standards for the “survival,dignity and well-being” of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Article 43 of the UNDRIP states: “The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples of
the world.” It has been established that the UNDRIP, along with the UN Charter, the human rights covenants and other applicable international human rights laws must be the basis for discussing the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP has a strong norm setting role in international law, and member states cannot pick and choose when and which Articles they comply with of UNDRIP. Additionally, for Indigenous Nations
and Peoples, our treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements are the basis for the protection of our lands, territories and resources.

15. This proposed new role for EMRIP could lead to a claim of a ‘duplication of work within the UN system.’ We were happy to see that the original “Study on an optional protocol” stressed that “a voluntary mechanism cannot serve as a way for States to avoid being monitored by existing international or regional human rights bodies and mechanisms” (paragraph 40).

16. The work of the UNPFII is of paramount importance within the UN system. The American Indian Law Alliance, and the Nations and communities we serve, have always supported and continue to support the work of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Our Founder and President, Tonya
Gonnella Frichner, Esq. (Onondaga Nation), served as the North American Regional Representative to the UNPFII for a three year term from 2008-2011, brought forward by Indigenous Peoples. As a result of that role, she has direct experience and participated first-hand in the indispensable work of the Forum.

17. Indigenous Peoples have a voice and we must be recognized as our own experts in any forum concerning us.


1. We cannot allow procedures that will allow for states to move disputes regarding our rights to our lands, territories and resources from international processes to domestic judicial and political forums.

2. In line with established international law, the UNDRIP, the UN Charter, and all other applicable international law must be the framework for the realization of the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, including Article 37 of the UNDRIP:

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition,
observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

*3. All deliberations* concerning a proposed optional protocol for the UNDRIP, including any proposed overhaul of the mandate of EMRIP *must include the full, effective, equal participation of all Indigenous Peoples in line with the UNDRIP*.

4. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is an integral, international human rights instrument that recognizes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of self-determination, must be continually implemented on all levels. Further education on the content of UNDRIP is needed for
Indigenous Nations and Peoples, UN member states, UN agencies, civil society, governments at all levels and society at large. Adequate financial resources must be made available to further these goals.

Docip VIDEO: Bridge to the Future / Un Puente al Futuro / Un pont vers l’avenir / МОСТ В БУДУЩЕЕ

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Published on youtube May 6, 2014 by DOCIP
VIDEO: Bridge to the Future / Un Puente al Futuro / Un pont vers l’avenir / МОСТ В БУДУЩЕЕ

Indigenous Youth document the achievements of the First Indigenous Peoples’ delegates at the United Nations / La juventud indígena documenta los logros de los primeros delegados de los Pueblos Indígenas en las Naciones Unidas / La jeunesse autochtone documente les succès des premiers délégués des peuples autochtones à l’ONU / Молодежь из числа коренного населения запечатляет достижения первых делегатов от коренных народов в Организации Объединенных Наций