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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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June 9 - 17, 2013: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues - Brazil, Ecuador, Namibia, India, West Papua
Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of June 9 - 17: Brazil, Ecuador, Namibia, India, West Papua
Brazil: Guarani Man Killed In Ambush By Gunmen
A Guarani Indian man was killed yesterday in southern Brazil, reportedly by gunmen working for the cattle ranchers who have occupied his community’s land.
According to the leader of Paraguassú community, Celso Rodrigues, 42, ‘was ambushed by two gunmen whilst he was walking near a stream. His father is very sad and angry, as am I… it is very sad to see our relatives die’. Last August, the Guarani of Paraguassú reoccupied part of their ancestral land, known as Arroio Korá. They have since suffered numerous episodes of violence and intimidation.
A Guarani man at Arroio Korá told Survival International, ‘Our families were forced off this land. We’ve decided to return; our food is our land. I have had to run from bullets several times. It really hurts that the ranchers continue to threaten us, but we have decided to stay here. The rancher would have to kill us all to make us leave’.
This latest incident illustrates the extreme tension and violence Indians in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul are enduring as a result of the government’s failure to map out their ancestral lands, in violation of the law. Read more about the killing of a Guarani man by police in Mato Grosso do Sul here....
Ecuador: Isolated Amazon Indians Under Pressure In Ecuador
Reports of another massacre in an isolated indigenous community in Ecuador’s Amazon region cast doubt on the state’s compliance with precautionary measures imposed in favour of uncontacted peoples in 2006 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
According to reports that are being investigated, some 30 Taromenane Indians were killed by members of the rival Huaorani indigenous community, seven years after the Inter-American Commission (IACHR) called for protection for native peoples in voluntary isolation.
The government claims it is doing everything possible, but civil society organisations dispute that.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the alleged Mar. 29 massacre, first heard of in early May, but the inquiry is still in its preliminary stages.
Cawetipe Yeti, the president of the Huaorani Federation of Ecuador, said 30 Taromenane Indians had been killed, including children, in revenge for an earlier incident in which an elderly couple of his ethnic group had been murdered near the Tiguacuno river in Yasuní National Park. Earlier, a member of the Huaorani who claimed to have led the attack reported a lower number of fatalities. Read more about indigenous people in isolation in Ecuador and ongoing pressures here....
Namibia: Namibia Police To End Invasions Of San Land In Western Tsumkwe Region
Sometimes it pays for communities to cry out in desperation. It has certainly paid off for the !Kung in Namibia’s western Tsumkwe region, who issued a desperate plea last week for the authorities to tackle the illegal land invasions that were threatening their very future.
In an extremely swift response to media and Internet reports, the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Haitota Ndeitunga, issued a press statement ordering all illegal settlers and cattle herders to vacate Tsumkwe by July 6th – or be forcibly removed.
“Some people have already erected fences and drilled boreholes; others are herding animals towards Tsumkwe as we are speaking,” said Ndeitunga. “Some members were served with notices to vacate the area but that has fallen on deaf ears.”
It is a remarkable turn-around for the police, who have been accused – along with the wildlife authorities – of turning a blind eye to the land invasions, land thefts and erection of illegal fences by commercial cattle owners on !Kung land for years. Read more about the !Kung victory in Namibia concerning land rights here....
India: Police Forces Threaten Dongria Not To Oppose Mine
Reports from the Niyamgiri hills have confirmed that CRPF special forces have been targeting villages who are opposing Vedanta’s proposed mine, threatening them not to do so, and destroying grain stores and items of worship in their homesteads. A Dongria woman has been filmed reporting these abuses. Meanwhile in London, a group of UK members of parliament have expressed their concern over the Palli Sabha process, alerting UK authorities to monitor the behaviour of British mining company Vedanta Resources, who are attempting to mine the mountain with Odisha state support.
Interviews with Dongria Kond people taken yesterday evening confirm recent reports that Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been active in the Niyamgiri hills carrying out ‘combing operations’ and threatening villages. They have allegedly set up a base in a cotton market yard in Muniguda (a nearby town) and make frequent trips to the mountain, in particular to Jarpa, Khambeshi and Lacpadar villages(1). The reports, sent by local journalists, claim that CRPF forces have told the tribals not to oppose the mine, asked to see their leaders, spilled their food stores, and taken their traditional weapons and guns which are kept to protect them from elephants. Even NGOs and other service providers – who had gone to Niyamgiri to try to assist in the current gram sahba process which will decide the fate of the mountain vis a vis Vedanta’s proposed mine – are leaving the area afraid for their lives following the harassment, they state.
“Few days back we were gathering forest products near our village. At that time so many armed forces arrived and they pointed guns at us and surrounded us. They started asking “where is Lada (the tribal leader)? Where have you hidden the maoists ? Where have you hidden the weapons? Why are you opposing mining?” Some one from the behind yelled – ‘If you resist the mining you will be killed like dogs’.” Read more about the Dongria Kondh and police intimidation over mining here....
West Papua: West Papuans Reject Australian Foreign Minister's Claim That Their Independence Movement Is 'A Cruel Deceit' By 'Self-Indulgent People'
West Papuan Independence advocate, Ronny Kareni, who is based in Melbourne, rejects the Australian Foreign Minister’s comments in Senate Estimates last week, that the people who 'fly the Papuan flags' and who 'talk the language of independence' are part of a 'cruel deceit' by 'self-indulgent people' who are safe in their 'own democracy'.
“For the last 50 years, the struggle has been driven by the Papuans themselves putting their life on the frontline in West Papua and abroad, campaigning against the entrenched brutality by Indonesian security forces” says Ronny Kareni.
“We build solidarity with groups in Australia and abroad but this movement was initiated and is primarily driven by West Papuans in West Papua - who seek an end to the human rights abuses and recognition of their political rights to self-determination.”
West Papua was illegally occupied in December 1961 as part of the Indonesian military operation 'Trikora”, which aimed to seize the former Dutch colony 'Netherlands New Guinea'. West Papua's independence was denied by the UN. The UN subsequently granted Indonesia administration of the the region and Indonesia ultimately gained full control in 1969, after the referendum named 'Act of free choice'. Despite this being widely criticised as a sham vote that contravenes international law. “I was born into this conflict, I'm the 3rd generation to face this ongoing struggle for our rights for freedom.” says Kareni. Read more about West Papua's sovereignty movement and comments by Australian Foreign Minister here....