Posts Tagged ‘UN’

Secretary-General of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI) charged for embezzlement of money

Sunday, November 4th, 2012


Since 2012, German state prosecutors are investigating the Secretary-General of two organizations, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI), for embezzlement of money.

The organization’s former board of directors had uncovered evidence of financial irregularities, which had prompted the boards chair and vice chair to file charges against the STP-STPI Secretary-General.

State prosecutor Frank-Michael Laue declared that the accused is alleged that he enriched himself at the expense of the organization’s assets, of having given money to individuals,  and to have harmed the organization.

HIMBA+ZEMBA updates about UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya visit in Namibia -26 September 2012

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

Traditional Himba leader Chief Kapika signing the Himba invitation to James Anaya (Photo © Rebecca Sommer, 2012)

Traditional Himba leader Chief Kapika signing the Himba invitation to James Anaya (Photo © Rebecca Sommer, 2012)

The traditional Himba and Zemba leaders of Namibia informed that the meeting with James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, that took place in Opuwo, Namibia, on the 26 Sept 2012, went well and as they had envisioned and hoped for. The room was packed with Himba and Zemba, patiently waiting for him to arrive.

At the beginning of this year, Himba leaders wrote an invitation letter to  James Anaya, requesting him to come for a country visit in order to investigate the human rights violations against the semi-nomadic Himba and Zemba. In three historic Declarations, signed by the traditional chiefs of  the Ovazemba (Zemba) and Ovahimba (Himba),  a number of serious issues where raised.

They claim that the problem is that Namibia is ruled by Ovambo,  the majority tribe of Namibia, and the Himba and Zemba, a minority in the country. They explain in their Declarations why they feel that they,  a distinct people, are not only marginalized by the ruling party SWAPO, but that their way of life and culture is threatened. That their own indigenous governance system is not respected and actually disabled by the Government of Namibia – that doesn’t recognize the legitimate traditional Himba and Zemba chiefs. The Declarations cover complaints about the culturally non-appropiate educational system (they don’t want to be pressed into an old style british kind of school system, that denies their children to remain in their traditional cloths and indigenous tribal identity), the lack of Free, Prior, Informed Consent, the loss of grazing land through laws that allow privatization and fencing of communal lands so important for the roaming semi-nomadic cattle, sheep and goat herders, the lack of land rights and their refusal to accept the planned dam in Orokawe, among many other issues that few tourists that are visiting Namibia are aware about.

“After the Special Rapporteur introduced himself, Himba was given the time to read the DECLARATION BY THE TRADITIONAL LEADERS OF KAOKOLAND IN NAMIBIA, afterwards Ovazemba read their DECLARATION BY THE ZEMBA PEOPLE OF NAMIBIA, and at last the regional Epupa DECLARATION OF THE MOST AFFECTED OVAHIMBA, OVATWA, OVATJIMBA AND OVAZEMBA AGAINST THE OROKAWE DAM IN THE BAYNES MOUNTAIN was read as well.

“No one was against those three Declarations in the packed room, because all the participants were those who are part and parcel of the Declarations. Himba and Zemba are united in our demand and struggle for our human rights.

 Muhapika Munjombara signing the Epupa Declaration against the Orokawe dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Muhapika Munjombara signing the Epupa Declaration against the Orokawe dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

In a final ceremonial gesture, the only female traditional Himba chief, a position that she inherited from her father and former chief, handed the Declaration of the Himba Leaders of Kaokoland to Anaya, a Zemba Woman was handing over the Ovazemba Declaration and Mutjituika Mutambo from Omuhonga was handing over the Epupa Declaration.” ” said Daniel Muharukua, a well known Himba human rights advocate.

“This was very wonderful, the way we wanted it to be. I think this was tauching the heart of the Special Rapporteur. The discussion was just around the Declarations, because the Special Rapporteur wanted to know how those points in our Declarations affected us, people were giving the reasons why we are negatively affected. When the people were handing over the Declarations, the whole crowd was standing and clabing hands.

Ovahimba Elder (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Ovahimba Elder (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

I think he realized that our Declaration came really from our hearts.

When the Special Reportuer said his concluding words, he thanked the Himba and Zemba people, acknowledged that we came in such large numbers from far away, and that he was pleased to see that we are active to fight for our rights. The last words he said was that we touched his heart, and that when he will be writing his report, we will be reflected in his eyes. He promised to write the report and spreading our situation to the international community.” Muharukua added.

Sadly, the Himba and Zemba won’t be able to attend and participate at the press conference that will take place in Namibia’s capital Windhoeck. I bet, who will attend the press conference are those NGO’s that claim to represent Himba and Zemba.

“We will not able to attend, because the time was too short to arrange this journey, there is no money to take people there for the transport, food and accommodation. I am sorry for that. You know how the indigenous peoples Ovahimba and Ovazemba are living.” Muharukua ended with these words his report to Earth Peoples.

Himba women (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Himba women (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

You can read more articles about Himba and Zemba on Earth Peoples blog.
EARTH PEOPLES note: read James Anaya’s statement

IRONY OVERLOAD: Rebuked by OAS for Not Providing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to Indigenous Peoples, Brazilian Diplomat to Speak at UN Briefing on Indigenous Rights and their Need for FPIC

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

New York, NY (28 April 2011) – The United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) has invited the Mission of Brazil to the UN, to make opening remarks at a briefing for non-governmental organizations on indigenous rights and the need for free, prior and informed consent in mining and development projects. The briefing is in advance of next week’s session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Just three days ago,  Brazil responded officially, albeit not publicly, to the Precautionary Measure issued on 1 April by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) — on behalf of a dozen indigenous communities of the Xingu River basin. Precautionary Measures are undertaken by the Commission only in serious or urgent situations, to “prevent irreparable harm to persons,” among other reasons. In this instance, the IACHR has called on Brazil to halt the licensing of the megadam Belo Monte project until it has fulfilled its international obligation to engage in free, prior and informed consent and has taken certain specified protective measures.

Specifically, the Precautionary Measure (MC 382-10) requests Brazil to

· perform consultations that are “free, prior, informed, in good faith, and culturally appropriate, with the goal of reaching an agreement…”,

· provide affected indigenous groups with the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment in an appropriate, accessible language,

· adopt “vigorous and comprehensive measures” to protect the lives and personal integrity of the members of the indigenous groups recently observed in voluntary isolation in the Xingu River basin (these groups were observed for the first time only in 2010), and

· adopt measures, also “vigorous and comprehensive,” to prevent the spread of diseases and epidemics which would likely be caused by a massive influx of new population into the area.

The last item is one of particular interest to the indigenous communities and is indeed an urgent request made by them, in addition to measures to protect their territories physically from such an influx of people looking for food, water, wood and places to live.

Despite statements to the contrary by Brazil, and according to both agencies of the Brazilian government the above conditions have not been met.

· All the indigenous peoples that will be affected by the project have not been consulted with. In fact, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has expressed his concern more than once, and specifically noted that the consultation process was carried out in a way such that the indigenous peoples themselves were not able to participate; on the contrary, the consultations took place in urban areas inhabited by people that will not be affected by the project.

· The Social and Environmental Impact Assessment has not been made available in appropriate and accessible languages to all the various groups of indigenous peoples who will be affected.

· Concerning the recently observed indigenous groups still living in voluntary isolation a mere 70 kilometres from the proposed dam site — by far the most vulnerable group — their territory has not even been determined, much less demarcated, and thus none of the appropriate and necessary measures for their physical protection, and to ensure their continued survival, have been taken.

· No attempts have been made to provide the physical protection that might prevent the spread of diseases or epidemics brought in by an influx of population., nor have steps been taken to provide specific measures requested by indigenous groups -such as the posting of guards to protect their territories from the invariable and unwanted influx of newcomers to the area looking for wood, food, water and places to live.

In spite of all the concerns stated by so many actors, including various authorities and experts, the Brazilian Government, in its initial response on 4 April, “noted with astonishment” the measures that the IACHR requested to ‘safeguard the lives and personal integrity of members of indigenous peoples’ supposedly [emphasis added] threatened by the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant.” The response by the Ministry of External Relations recognizes the need for technical, economic and environmental feasibility studies and for consultations with the affected indigenous communities, and names Brazil’s environmental agency (IBAMA) and its National Indian Agency (FUNAI) as responsible for carrying out these studies and consultations.

At various points in the long history of the Belo Monte Dam project, both IBAMA and FUNAI officials have expressed reservations and have listed numerous conditions that they say must be met before the Belo Monte project could go forward, but which to date have not actually been met, despite the Brazilian Government’s protestations to the contrary. In spite, or perhaps because, of the official approval of the Brazilian Government of the project, at least three officials have resigned, supposedly due to high level political pressure to approve Belo Monte. Two senior IBAMA officials, Leozildo Tabajara da Silva Benjamin and Sebastião Custódio Pires, resigned in 2009, and IBAMA President Abelardo Azevedo resigned in January 2011. Roberto Mesias, a previous president of IBAMA, also stepped down, but pointed to pressure from both sides of the issue — the Government and environmental organizations – as his reason.

The project has been stopped and started more than once. The gravest deficiency noted by many observers is indeed the lack of participation in real consultations based on free, prior and informed consent.

Thus, it is more than a little ironic that Brazil is providing opening remarks at a briefing on the need for free, prior and informed consent and indigenous peoples rights.

VIDEO: Indigenous Peoples 2nd May REVOLT at the UN PFII (CDM/REDD)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Click here to watch the VIDEO

© SommerFilms, by Rebecca Sommer for EARTH PEOPLES


Indigenous Peoples representatives and organizations held a protest at the May 2 2008 conclusion of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York.

They were angered by the final report of the Permanent Forum, paragraph 5 and 37, that endorsed in their view CDM and REDD. (After release of this video, the UNPFII Report, even so it was adopted, was later during the year – months after the PFII session- changed. The paragraphs that indigenous peoples had protested against were moved in the Report that was made public.)