Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues Every Week - News

Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues For The Week Of May 26 - June 1, 2011: Chile, Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, Guatemala


Chile: Categorical Rejection By Mapuche Health Network Concerning Convention UPOV 91 Or "Monsanto Law"


Organizations and Mapuche authorities; Logko, Machi, Genpin and Werken grouped in the national network of Mapuche Health, met today, may 25 at the city of Temuko; declare its total rejection of the recent adoption of the Chilean Senate to give the green light to the International Convention for the protection of new varieties of plants (UPOV 91). This Convention seriously attacks our rights and ancestral heritage, particularly on our cultural system of health, as well as also our food sovereignty, which has traditionally been the basis of our comprehensive health, holistic and territorial.


This Convention seriously is against our Mapuche health agents, our practice of healing, our sacred spaces, our lawen (medicine), making a "legal theft" to usurp the genetic patrimony that our people has been developed for millennia.


This agreement prevents our communities from saving seeds and develop Xafkintun (Exchange) of species which for centuries we have developed free and collectively as part of our culture, fact that has even been recognized by FAO, as part of a cultural practice. Read more about the Mapuche and their rejection of Chile's "Monsanto Law" here....


Canada: Victory For The Wet'suwet'en


The BC Supreme Court has granted an injunction which restrains Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (“Canfor”) from engaging in timber harvesting activities within a culturally vital portion of Ilk K’il Bin Territory known as Redtop. Through Kelah, the Wet’suwet’en Chief responsible for the Territory, the Wet’suwet’en have continuously – with considerable struggle and sacrifice - occupied, used and relied on Ilk K’il Bin since well before first European contact down to the present day. Justice Dillon found that “the relationship to particular lands … defines the social structure of Wet’suwet’en society, that places the land as the foundation of cultural identity, and that determines the structure of governance.”


Kelah and the House Group of Ginehklaiyex have taken steps to protect culturally significant ecosystems for over a hundred years. The BC Supreme Court has acknowledged our Hereditary Leader’s authority and responsibilities over their territory. Kelah and other Wet’suwet’en chiefs fought for this recognition in the Delgamuukw\Gisday wa case and now have that recognition. This ruling is a victory as in the past it has seemed that corporate interests have trumped Aboriginal rights. Read more about the Wet'suwet'en victory against Canfor here....


Rwanda: Rwanda Admits Force Used In Anti-Thatch Campaign


The official in charge of Rwanda’s controversial policy to eradicate all thatched roofs in the country by the end of this month has admitted that ‘sometimes we apply some force’.


The admission came after hundreds of Twitter users responded to Survival International's condemnation of the destruction of Batwa Pygmy houses, which has left many of Rwanda’s most marginalized people without shelter.


The government, which is also active on Twitter, has tweeted that the anti-thatch programme ‘is about decent housing for all, no one is left homeless.’


The official overseeing the anti-thatch programme, Augustin Kampayana, told journalists, ‘for anyone to still be in nyakatsi [thatched houses] up to now only means that it is in their general attitudes to prefer to live in grass thatched houses. Some of them just do not want to change, but we cannot let these drag everyone else back.’ Read more about Rwanda and its anti-thatch campaign here....


Taiwan: Taiwan Government Must Prevent Violations Of Free And Prior Informed Consent Against Indigenous Peoples


Several organizations representing Atayal and Pingpu Aborigines in Taiwan and Indigenous peoples in the Solomon Islands, call on the government of Taiwan to prevent violations of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) against Indigenous peoples in Taiwan and elsewhere.


According to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations: "Free, prior and informed consent recognizes Indigenous peoples' inherent and prior rights to their lands and resources and respects their legitimate authority to require that third parties enter into an equal and respectful relationship with them, based on the principle of informed consent." The principle and right of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is important in various articles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and is central to the ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of 1989. In Taiwan, the conflicts between biotechnology-based development and the practice of FPIC are growing in intensity and scale. Read more about Taiwan and violations of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent here....


Guatemala: Another Maya Qeqchi (Oscar Reyes) Farmer Killed In Guatemala By Biofuel Interests


Please act on behalf of the Maya Qeqchi communities of Panzos (department of Alta Verapaz, eastern Guatemala) and call the US State Department to demand that the US stop backing biofuel expansion in Central America and revoke visas for businessmen implicated in violence.


Indigenous communities suffer extreme repression by the Chabil Utzaj sugar cane company, which is currently taking control of vast extensions of land for expanding ethanol production. A boom in the international market for sugar cane has been created by policies promoted by the US and Canadian governments.


This area borders El Estor, where Mayan Qeqchi communities are defending themselves and their lands from the Fenix nickel mine, owned by HudBay Minerals that has, over the past five years, also generated extreme violence. Read more about the murder of another Maya Qeqchi in Guatemala here....


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

Tags: Chile  Canada  Rwanda  Taiwan  Guatemala  

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