Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues Every Week - News

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of April 20 - 26, 2011: India, Chile, Australia, Cameroon, Malaysia


India: Overruling Of Forest Rights Act Continues: Van Gujjars Still Waiting For Seasonal Grazing Permit In Uttarakhand Himalaya, India


The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, has not given any 'justice' to the landless and semi-nomadic Van Gujjar pastoral community in the Uttarakhand Himalaya of northern India. Their problem of not being allowed to move to their traditional summer pastures continues as last years as the Uttarakhand Forest Department has not issued the grazing permits this year till now. Every year Van Gujjars start their upward migration for high altitude pastures in middle of April and reach to the sub-alpine forests in end of May. But large number of migratory families from Shivalik foothill forests are forced to stop due to lack of permit and are camping near Asan Barrage (about 40 km west to Dehradun) for about a week under hot sun (day temperature is around 36-38°C at this time). Forest dwelling Van Gujjars and their buffaloes are adapted to cold climate. In winter they live in the foothill forests and during summer they move up to sub-alpine forests; seasonal temperature at both places hardly rises beyond 20°C. Children and old family members are facing health problem due to hot weather. The buffaloes are without fodder and dying. Van Gujjars are worried but still hopeful and waiting for official permit for which they applied to the Forests Department of Uttarakhand, almost a month ago. Without the permit they can not move through the long migratory route.


The problem of renewing grazing permits for summer pastures started after division of Uttar Pradesh state which created new Uttarakhand state in the year 2000. It divided the winter and summer grazing zones of Van Gujjars between two different administrative states. The Shivalik forests, used by more than 1000 families as winter grazing zone remained in Uttar Pradesh while the migratory routes and vital summer pastures came under the control of Uttarakhand. But due to lack of grazing policy for migratory pastoralists and political willingness, no administration took account of these communities who must have to continue their traditional migration between summer and winter pastures for the sustainability of their livelihood and ecological benefit. Van Gujjars who visit winter forests in Uttar Pradesh were not given domicile identity in newly formed Uttarakhand and treated as outsiders in the state. The Forest Department has been arguing that families who do not have domicile identity in Uttarakhand have no legal rights in the forests here and they would be treated as encroachers in the state forests. However, after long requests, protests and interventions of local NGOs like Society for Promotion of Himalayan Indigenous Activities (SoPHIA), Van Gujjars were allowed temporary access to the summer pastures every year since the division. This kind of activities by the Uttarakhand administration is overruling the Forest Rights Act. It is explicitly specified in the Act that rights are valid over “seasonal use of landscape in the case of pastoral communities”. According to this clause, Van Gujjars have legal claims over their seasonal grazing lands both at summer (in Uttarakhand) and winter (in Uttar Pradesh) grazing zones. They have been paying seasonal grazing tax to the Forest Department at both places. Governments should remove the administrative hindrance among neighboring states for the sake of migratory pastoralists and give them their legal rights on their traditional seasonal pastures. Read more about the Van Gujjar people in Uttarakhand and struggle over permits here....


Chile: Indigenous Communities Of Chiloe Island Make Demands To The Chilean State For Injuries To Ancestral Land


During the past week Wiliche communities in the territory of Ancud on the island of Chiloé in the tenth region of southern Chile, made public presentations to state authorities to respect the territorial rights, because in this area inhabited by indigenous communities would be installed a wind farm bycompany EcoPower with Chilean and Swedish investors.


Indigenous communities denounce this serious abuse of which are being want to install a project of this magnitude, although they were not consulted by state agencies in an environmental impact study, on the other side is violating regulations existing laws that promote development and safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples in Chile and the International Convention ILO 169, indigenous law 19.253 among other legal requirements. That state institutions so far are missing, as if this were not enough aware of the existence of indigenous peoples in the area.


The wind farm would be located in an area of 1,400 hectares, where 56 turbines would be installed 128 meters above sea level in rural areas of Guapilacui and Mar Brava in the town of Ancud, northern Chiloé province. Project is in its second stage is to get all the legal permits to be approved the third phase would be construction. Read more about the indigenous communities of Chiloe Island and their demands to the Chilean state here....


Australia: Call For Dramatic Return To Proactive Political Action At Aboriginal Summit


The Aboriginal New Way Sovereignty Summit here over Easter was informed that given the state of Aboriginal Affairs in this country today it is now time to make a dramatic return to proactive political action.


Within the coming months legal submissions will be completed for two challenges. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be asked for an Advisory Opinion on the status of the Aboriginal Sovereignty.


The second legal challenge will be in the European Court of Human Rights where an application will be made for compensation and reparation from the British in respect to the colonisation, dispossession, usurpation of our natural wealth and resources.


The core of the latter legal application will focus on the absolute dispossession of Aboriginal lands that has caused us to become internally displaced Peoples and refugees.


The New Way Sovereignty Summit was also reminded of the ongoing effects of government policies that are causing mental harm to the group and conditions of life that are destroying our Aboriginal communities and individuals. Read more about the Aboroginal New Way Sovereignty Summit here....


Cameroon: New Study Shows REDD May Marginalize Indigenous Peoples And Local Communities In Cameroon


A new report by Forest Peoples Programme gives a critical and in-depth overview of the social aspects of projects intended to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Cameroon. REDD and Rights In Cameroon: A review of the treatment of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in policies and projects shows that Indigenous Peoples and local communities are unlikely to gain from REDD as it stands and they might even be harmed by it.


Even though Cameroon’s national “REDD readiness” process is only in its first stages, so-called “pilot” or sub-national REDD projects are proliferating all over the country, potentially affecting 30% of forested land. Many organisations are jumping into REDD projects without necessarily thinking about the people who live in, and have been caring for, these forests. Read more about the report on REDD and marginalization of indigenous peoples in Cameroon here....


Malaysia: Orang Asli Go To Court Over Ladang Rakyat


The Kota Bahru High Court will hear an application for judicial review by the Orang Asli of Pos Belatim in Gua Musang, Kelantan tomorrow, Wednesday 27 April, at 9am.


The Temiar-Orang Asli recently discovered that their traditional lands have been contracted out by the Kelantan State Government to be developed by a private company as an oil palm plantation on a 99-year lease.


Such a practice is already widespread in Kelantan as part of the state’s effort at land reform and agricultural development under the Ladang Rakyat concept. The majority of the Orang Asli in Kelantan however do not agree with this project as it means they will lose much of their land and even their identity as Orang Asli. Besides, all this was done without their agreement or consent. Read more about the Orang Asli and the court case over Ladang Rakyat in Malaysia here....


Last Weeks Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues can be found here.

Tags: India  Chile  Australia  Cameroon  Malaysia  

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