Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues Every Week - News

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of February 24 - March 4, 2014: Canada, Bangladesh, Panama, Ukraine, Kenya

Canada: Specific Claims Tribunal Rules In Favour Of Band In Village Lands Claim

On Friday, February 28th the Specific Claims Tribunal released its decision finding that the Williams Lake Band was wrongfully dispossessed of its village lands in Williams Lake in the late 19th century. Judge Harry Slade held Canada accountable for the Crown’s failure to protect these village lands from non-Indian settlement. “We’re elated with the Tribunal’s decision,” said the Band’s Chief Ann Louie. “For over 150 years our Chiefs and Elders have been decrying the fact that we were pushed off our village lands. This decision clearly says our dispossession from our lands was wrong.”

The facts of the claim go back over 150 years, to colonial times. The Colony, under the leadership of Governor Douglas, had a long standing policy of protecting Indian villages for the benefit of Indian tribes. So, while the Colony was encouraging settlers to come to British Columbia and to take up lands, settlers were prohibited by law from taking up lands that were the sites of Indian villages or settlements.

In the mid-19th century, the Band had a village site in what is now known as Williams Lake. It was there that they had cabins, houses, a church, and gravesites. These were also the lands they used to sustain their way of life. Read more about the ruling in favor of the Williams Lake Band over land claims in British Columbia here....

Bangladesh: Human Rights Report 2013 On Indigenous Peoples In Bangladesh

On 25 February 2014 Kapaeeng Foundation published the Human Rights Report 2013 on Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh. Eminent educationist, former vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University and former advisor to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh Prof. Zillur Rahman Siddiqui unveiled the report. Presided over by advisor of Kapaeeng Foundation Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma, the report launching programme was addressed by general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, Programme Manager of Oxfam Mr. M B Akhter, Eiropean Union's Programme Manager (Governance and Human Rights) Mr. Fabrizio Senesi and teacher of Dhaka University Prof. Mesbah Kamal.

Bablu Chakma, project coordinator of Kapaeeng Foundation presented executive summary of the report while Saikat Biwas, Project Coordinator of Oxfam delivered welcome speech. The report launching proramme was held at 10:00 am to 01:00 pm at CIRDAP auditorium, Dhaka. Read more about the 2013 Human Rights Report on Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh here....

Panama: Groups Appeal To UN To Halt Imminent Forced Evictions Of Indigenous Ngöbe Community

Environmental and human rights organizations submitted an urgent appeal External link to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on behalf of members of the indigenous Ngöbe community – the community faces imminent forced eviction from their land for the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam project in western Panama. The eviction would force Ngöbe communities from their land, which provides their primary sources of food and water, means of subsistence, and culture.

The urgent appeal, submitted by the Ngöbe organization Movimiento 10 de Abril para la Defensa del Rio Tabasará (M10) and three international NGOs, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), and Earthjustice, asks the Special Rapporteurs to call upon the State of Panama to suspend the eviction process and dam construction until it complies with its obligations under international law. Given that the project is financed by the German and Dutch development banks (DEG and FMO, respectively) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the groups also urge the Special Rapporteurs to call on Germany, the Netherlands, and the member States of CABEI to suspend financing until each country has taken measures to remedy and prevent further violations of the Ngöbe’s human rights. Read more about the Ngobe and forced evictions over the Barro Blanco dam in Panama here....

Ukraine: Civil War In Ukraine And Crimea - What Does It Mean For Indigenous Peoples Of Ukraine?

The situation in Ukraine during the last several months has worsened seriously and has become more and more the subject of international concern and drawn the attention of the world media.

I have received many messages from my Indigenous brothers and sisters from different countries asking me about my personal situation and proposing their help. Do we need your help? Yes, certainly!

However in order to understand clearly what has to be done you should receive the most complete and comprehensive description of the situation, which is a complicated and internally contradictory one. I will try to do my best to explain the particular concern of indigenous peoples.

As you know from your own experiences, a lot of things are understood differently by non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. This is especially true for the current Ukraine/Crimea situation. Read more about the situation of indigenous peoples in the Ukraine here....

Kenya: The Ogiek Case - The First Case On Indigenous People's Rights To Be Considered By The African Court

On behalf of Ogiek Peoples' Development Programme (OPDP), Minority Rights Group International (MRG), and the Centre for Minority Rights (CEMIRIDE), it is my pleasure to inform you that our case against the Government of Kenya at the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights has been scheduled. The case will be heard in a public hearing on 13 and 14 March, 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania.
We have worked hard to get to this point. The case was lodged on behalf of the Ogiek people in 2009 before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights against the Government of Kenya. The case alleged violations of the Ogiek's rights to property, natural resources, development, religion, culture and non-discrimination under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

In 2012, the Commission referred the matter to the African Court on the grounds that it evinced serious and mass human rights violations. In an historic ruling in March 2013, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights issued a provisional measures order in favour of the Ogiek community – the first time that the Court has issued such an order in favour of an indigenous people. The Court ordered the government of Kenya to halt parcelling out land in the disputed forest area until the Court reaches a decision in the matter and to refrain from any act/thing that would/might irreparably prejudice the main application, until the Court gives its final decision in the case. This is indicative of how serious it considers the issues at stake. Read more about the Ogiek's case before the African Court here....

Last Weeks Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues can be found here (Editors note - we did not publish Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues between December 2013 and February 2014)

Tags: Canada  Bangladesh  Panama  Ukraine  Kenya  

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