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Today, our world is experiencing a rapid decline in cultural diversity and the eradication of indigenous peoples and their lifeway. One in five people in the world speak the same language: Mandarin Chinese. Spoken by the largest single ethnic group in the world - the Han - whose 1.3 billion speakers represent 92 percent of the mainland Chinese population and 19 percent of the world's population, while 235 languages make up the other 8 percent of China's population. Likewise, in India - the world's second most populous country - there are 415 living, recognized indigenous languages, but the majority of people speak either Bengali or Hindi. Around the world linguists recognize some 6,000 to 7,000 spoken languages, of which 5,000 or so are spoken by indigenous peoples who represent an estimated 6 percent of the world's population.
Many of these indigenous people, their language, culture, and lifeways face a questionable future. The relatively rapid decline in language diversity parallels the decline in cultural diversity. These changes are due in part to the product of both historical relationships - imperialism, colonialism, global economic development, and militarism - as well as cultural beliefs that rationalize or justify actions that have served certain cultures at the cost of others. In many instances, this cost has been disproportionally sustained by indigenous peoples.
Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources is dedicated to providing information, news, articles, videos, and resources for those concerned about, and for, indigenous peoples around the world. We recognize that our actions effect indigenous peoples in all parts of the world - the consequences of water diversion and hydroelectric energy projects, militarization, global and national events, consolidation of natural resource access, and the like are all having an unprecedented impact on the world's indigenous peoples. But we can do something.
It is our belief that cross-cultural communication, cooperation, and understanding - as well as easily accessible information and resources - is one of the keys to helping indigenous peoples maintain their language, culture, and identity. We hope that you also share this belief. Diversity is one of the strongest components to a healthy world. Together we can help and make a difference - from large to small.
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November 18 - 24, 2013: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues - Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia
Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of November 18 - 24, 2013: Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia
Canada: Indigenous Land Rights In Canada - Landmark Case Points The Way To True Reconciliation
On November 7, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the crucial case of William v. British Columbia. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory. Canadian law recognizes that Indigenous peoples may hold ongoing title to their lands that predates colonization. Yet to date no Canadian court has ever affirmed such Indigenous title.
Amnesty International and Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) joined together, and along with First Nations and other interveners, called on the Supreme Court to reject government efforts to limit First Nations’ ownership and control of land. We urged the Court to seize this moment to give practical application to human rights standards affirmed in international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Background to the case
The Tsilhqot’in went to court more than 20 years ago to protect land that British Columbia targeted for intensive logging. After an extensive five-year trial, Justice David Vickers concluded that governments must respect the Tsilhqot’in people’s right to use its traditional territory for activities such as hunting, trapping and the capture of wild horses.
Importantly, Justice Vickers also concluded that the Tsilhqot’in had proven title to at least 200,000 hectares at the heart of their traditional territory - land that the province had claimed was Crown property. Read more about the landmark case over Tsilhoqt'in land rights in Canada here....
Brazil: Belo Sun Mining Project Suspended In Brazilian Amazon
Suspension of environmental licensing for controversial project reflects omission of impacts on indigenous peoples from faulty Environmental Impact Assessment
In response to a civil lawsuit filed on November 13th by the Federal Public Prosecutor's office in the state of Pará (MPF-PA), a federal judge has ordered the immediate suspension of environmental licensing for a massive gold mining project proposed by Canadian-based Belo Sun Mining along the Big Bend (Volta Grande) of the Xingu River until full analysis of effects on indigenous peoples has been carried out within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). MPF also calls for a process of free, prior and informed consultations and consent among local indigenous peoples regarding the project in accordance with ILO Convention 169 and the Brazilian Constitution. Judge Sergio Wolney stated in his decision that, "the licensing of the mining project without necessary and prior analysis of impacts on indigenous peoples – a fact confirmed by evidence presented in this case – constitutes a serious violation of environmental legislation and indigenous rights."
According to Wolney an "undeniable fact" is that the mining project, slated for installation in the immediate vicinity of the controversial Belo Monte dam complex, may lead to devastating and irreversible consequences – including synergistic impacts with Belo Monte – for the quality of life and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and their territories. Read more about the suspension of the Belo Sun mining project over indigenous rights here....
Venezuela: Demarcation Of Native Territories Essential For Venezuela’s Amazon Region
Indigenous people in southern Venezuela are demanding faster progress in the demarcation of their territory, greater attention from the state to their needs, and protection from incursions by gold panners and armed groups across the border from Colombia.
“All of the countries of the Amazon basin say they want to protect the environment, but they all have agreements with transnational corporations for the construction of roads or for mining and exploitation of forests,” Curripaco indigenous leader Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, from the south of Venezuela, told Tierramérica.*
“In Venezuela there are more than 50 laws and provisions that favour the rights of indigenous people, but it is hard to enforce them, and decisions about our affairs are principally consulted with indigenous leaders who hold positions in the government,” added Díaz Mirabal, coordinator of the Regional Organisation of Indigenous Peoples from Amazonas (ORPIA), which groups 17 of the 20 native groups from this southern state. Read more about the importance of demarcating indigenous lands in Venezuela here....
Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea Losing Independence - Investigation Blames The Modern Land Grab
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the latest known victim in a modern era of land grabs orchestrated by foreign corporations according to an investigative report and a film, On Our Land, released today by the Oakland Institute and the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG). In one of the swiftest and largest land grabs in recent history, close to a third of the country has now been appropriated by foreign companies. Thinly veiled illegal logging operations are destroying the world's third-largest rainforest and taking away land and heritage from the people of PNG.
On Our Land reveals how the current devastating land grab is happening with the de facto approval of PNG's government as well as the failure of the country's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, to act on a government-sponsored inquiry that revealed a shocking trend of corruption and mismanagement in recent land deals. The tabled report on Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), the scheme used to free up customary land for so-called productive use, showed that the program had, in the prime minister's own words, "failed miserably."
"After years of looking at large-scale land acquisitions in Africa, we thought we had heard about almost every scenario of deception and collusion. Papua New Guinea was an eye-opener," said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute and author of the report. "Despite its own findings, the government has taken no action to reverse any of the 70 land deals and return land titles to citizens. From faked signatures and coercion to sheer bullying of communities, unlawful deals that fail to meet minimal guidelines are moving forward." Read more about Papua New Guinea and how indigenous people are losing rights to land here....
Malaysia: Indigenous Communities In Sarawak Launch Campaign Against Land Grabbing
More than a hundred leaders of various indigenous groups in the State of Sarawak gathered in a public forum in Kuching City last November 15 to launch an online signature campaign against land grabbing by private and government corporations in their communities.
The forum was jointly organized by the local group Sarawak Dayak Iban Organization (SADIA), the Penang-based Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), and the Jakarta-based Aidenvironment. SADIA President Mr. Siti Munan led the launching of the online petition addressed to Prime Minister Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak; Hasmy Agam, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia; and Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak. "Sarawak's indigenous peoples are facing a number of land disputes with palm oil plantations and logging companies, with SADIA documenting at least 400 cases of violation of Native Customary Rights or NCR," Mr. Munan said.
In the petition, SADIA and the forum's participants outlined 10 demands from the Federal Government of Malaysia and the State Government of Sarawak, including among others, the respect for human rights and NCR of indigenous peoples (IPs) which are guaranteed under national and state laws as well as international agreements. Read more about the new campaign against land grabbing in Sarawak by indigenous groups here....