Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Statements and Interventions in the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Agenda Item-4: 15th Session of UNPFII: Future Work of Permanent Forum, including
issues considered by the Economic and Social Council and Emerging issues,

18th May, 2016,
United Nation Head Quarter, New York

Thank you Mr. Chair.
I am Pratima Gurung speaking on behalf of Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, Disability Caucus and Nepal Indigenous Disabled Association  (NIDA) and National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN).

I am voice of 54 million Indigenous Peoples with Disabilities (IPWDS) all around the globe to recognize of our rights with full and effective, meaningful participation in all matters relating with us.

Mr. Chair, I would like to draw your attention of IPWDS as urgent issues from two aspects; First the prevalence of disability is higher among indigenous peoples and its increasing in number due to many reasons like poverty, increased exposure to environment impacts like climate change, large number of projects, victim and violence in public and private sphere, migration issues, foreign employment including mental and health issue, disaster and others. So indigenous people with disabilities is an emerging issue. Second we are most of the time forgotten, left out, unheard and excluded among indigenous and disabled framework. Hence, our concern is participation, consultation, and engagement of people with disabilities and inclusion at all levels, that make a sense to protect and promote our rights at all levels like our others brothers and sisters.

The two international instruments The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in its preamble and The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in article 21 and 22 including the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document in paragraph 9,10 and 18 clearly reflect the attention that Indigenous Peoples with Disabilities (IPWDS) need to be paid how ever those documents are still on progress to practice. And IPWDs have been facing gross human rights violation, discrimination at both public and private sphere, exclusion at all levels by not acknowledging the multiple identities and intersectional discrimination they face in their day to day lives. In addition, Indigenous women with disabilities are more at risk being raped, abused and assaulted by their relatives and co-workers, and are forced to sterilization. Their rights to marriage, reproductive health and to live a dignified life within a society is most of the times questioned and are treated as mere human being and are the most vulnerable group in the society we live.

With these vulnerable situation and alarming condition that IPWDS have been facing we would like to recommend the 15thsession of UNPFII to:

1) Integrate the theme of indigenous peoples with disabilities in the UNFPII upcoming agenda as an emerging issue.

2) Include the IPWDs in priority in SDG 2030 agenda respecting no one left behind and nothing about us without us in all framework.

3) Urge the UNPFII, UN, UN agencies and member states for full and effective participation of indigenous peoples with disabilities in high level political forum and in Indigenous Peoples Major groups.

4) Prepare a intensive report/study by the UNPFII on the situation of indigenous peoples with disabilities, their gross human right violation cases, disaggregated data, and related with economic, social status and other challenges faced by them in regard to the study in the 12th session.

5) Conduct activities by the UNPFII, UN and UN agencies to frame policies/ provisions from indigenous peoples perspective to mainstream disability as one of the core values from human right approach.

Thank you Mr. Chair

Pratima Gurung, NIDA

Agenda Item 10 : Future Work of the Permanent Forum

Delivered by : Eleanor P. Dictaan – Bang-oa

Tebtebba and the Asia Indigenous Women’s Network

Today, we see the destruction of mother earth because of the continuing aggression of consumerism and cash economy within and outside   our communities. Most of us are resisting because we still hold on to our notion  of stewardship.  And this has cost us lives as it will cost us the lives of our children if we do not do something about it.  Enough of these human rights violations!

In the light of the full and effective implementation of the UNDRIP and state commitments to the SDGs, Paris Agreement, the CBD, the UN Agencies’ System- Wide Action Plan resulting from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples of 2014, and human rights, in general, we recommend the following for consideration under “Future Work”  :

  1. The SDGs  or Agenda 2030 and the System-Wide Action Plan  be part of the outstanding issues under the “Follow-Up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” theme;
  2. Particularly under the SWAP, that there be a special session  assessing the implementation of the UNDRIP marking its 10 years of adoption;

Mr. Chairman, members of the UNPF, member states and concerned agencies of the UN, conflict is not just about  arms nor is peace  its absence. The culture of impunity grossly  attacking indigenous peoples rights has to stop.  The manipulation of indigenous peoples rights to free prior and informed consent and self-determination  by state and business interest has to stop! Sustainable development can only be pursued in an atmosphere of peace where the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples and their communities are secured. And peace comes with healing; healing with justice.

Given the magnitude of human rights issues with high probability of being  galvanized in the race to Agenda 2030, we  recommend that a full day session be allotted for  the UNSRIP to facilitate a dialogue with indigenous peoples and states under the Human Rights agenda item.

Further, we would like to recommend that the theme for the 16th Session of the UNPFII next year be  on “Protection of indigenous peoples’ rights defenders and access to justice”. We support earlier recommendations to invite other specific human rights mandate holders, in this regard.

Statement of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) on Follow up on the recommendations of the Permanent Forum: Agenda Item 3 (d) Follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Presented by: Sochea Pheap, Executive Council Member

Mr. Chairperson,

In relation to the follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, we would like to focus on the OP 31 of the WCIP Outcome Document regarding the development of the UN System Wide Action Plan (SWAP).

The System-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been adopted on February 2016.

It contains A Guiding Framework as well as elements of the Action Plan.

On the Action Plan to raise awareness on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we strongly recommend UN agencies, funds and programmes to develop culturally-sensitive and appropriate information and educational materials, in collaboration with indigenous institutions and organizations, and to provide the needed resources for translation, production and dissemination to ensure that these materials are effective and will reach indigenous peoples communities.

On the goal to  “Support the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly at the country level”, we strongly recommend UN agencies, funds and programs to support the development and implementation of national action plans, comprising legislative and administrative measures for the implementation of the UNDRIP.  Operationally, this shall include support for the establishment of consultative mechanisms with states and indigenous peoples at the national level.  The formulation and review of policies shall prioritize the recognition of the lands and resources of indigenous peoples, and the requirement for Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples on matters that affect them. Further, the sustained support for capacity building of indigenous peoples to facilitate the effective engagement with states and other actors in in the promotion and protection of their rights shall be given priority.

In relation to the Support to the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights in the implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we strongly recommend the UN agencies, funds and programmes to support the participation of indigenous peoples in the development of national action plans, as well as monitoring and reporting at all levels. Further, UN agencies, funds and programmes shall ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights and development are properly incorporated in their plans, programmes and reporting on their particular contributions to the 2030 Agenda.  In this context, collaboration and partnerships with indigenous peoples is vital including in supporting initiatives of indigenous peoples for their self-determined development.

Finally, we recommend that UN agencies, funds and programmes shall report regularly to the UN Permanent Forum on the implementation of the SWAP, including on their actions in response to our recommendations in this statement. We urge UN agencies, funds and programmes to step up their efforts in contributing to the realization of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples not only in words but in action.

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

Agenda Item-4:  Implementation of the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By Eleanor P. Dictaan – Bangoa Tebtebba/AIWN

14 years of UNSC1325, 37 years of CEDAW and  9 years of UNDRIP, gender and  violence against indigenous women’s rights is intensifying as talks of achieving sustainable development and not leaving anyone behind are ongoing. Indeed we are not being left behind because we are being smothered, ahead, as women, communities and peoples, when we stand to fight  for the protection  and nurture of our  lands for the future generation.

We note with concern the ongoing national  poverty reduction program affecting indigenous peoples, particularly women in the Philippines which is framed under the Conditional Cash Transfer supported by the World Bank. We  do not question the reported benefits beneficiaries are receiving from the program. However, indigenous women, in different consultations,  have consistently raised concern on the modalities and processes of the program which have negatively impacted on their communities :

  1. The dole-out, individual family approach has and is undermining community solidarity and self-help values and practice which has effectively sustained community resilience;
  2. It has a top-down mechanism without benefit of community consultations, therefore, generally insensitive to the local  indigenous context and situations including gender and women’s concerns. To reach the development goal on maternal and infant mortality, for example, pregnant women are required to access “skilled and facility-based”  In the process, indigenous  birth attendants are being disenfranchised and even prohibited by local legislations to attend to maternal and infant care.  This is  a threat to the fundamental freedom to informed choice and indigenous peoples’ right to practice and develop knowledge and culture.

These are just two issues  on the program which is sowing conflict  and division in indigenous communities. It may not sound urgent but its longterm effect can be devastating to the well-being of indigenous communities.

On this regard, Mr. Chairman,  we recommend that the Forum conduct a comprehensive study on the Conditional Cash Transfer Program that is being implemented globally being a response to the then MDGs.  Specifically, the study should  look into its impacts on indigenous peoples’ social, cultural, spiritual, political  and economic wellbeing, including documenting good practices, if there are. It should  look into  modalities and approaches sensitive and relevant to indigenous peoples and women  and that  genuinely addresses sustainable development from the perspective of indigenous peoples.

Mr. Chairman, in behalf of the Asia Indigenous Women’s Network, we would also like to inform the Forum that it has  concluded an  initial documentation of cases of violence experienced by indigenous women in Nepal and the Philippines. This is part of the processes undertaken under the project entitled “Indigenous  Women’s Global  School: Capacity Building and Empowerment in Asia” funded by the United Nations Fund for Gender Equality ( UNFGE). This was implemented by AIWN partners Innabuyog-Gabriela, Silingang Dapit sa Sidlakang Mindanao, Teduray Women’s Group and the Kalumaran-Bai in the Philippines and the National Indigenous Women’s Federation, the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities and the NEFIN- Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Program in Nepal.

The documentation exercises resulted to 385 cases of violence on gender and  human rights of indigenous women from domestic violence to gender violence in armed conflict. Among our own communities, domestic violence prevails among other gender and human rights violations that indigenous women face daily.

In Nepal, the basic lack of appropriate information on women’s rights and the overlapping issues of vulnerability among indigenous women particularly due to discrimination based on their indigenous identities which is further complicated by their situations of poverty. In the Philippines, this is exacerbated by the aggressive development interventions either by the state, corporate interests or both resulting to a systematic human rights violations already highlighted in earlier interventions in this forum.

Violence  penetrates to the core of individual and community psyche. It could mame the physical but  more critically,   is its ability to annihilate the spirit.

Mr. Chairman,  we reiterate earlier recommendations on strengthening the indigenous women’s organizations and their agencies to advance their status while increasing their visibility. We also reiterate our  call on   states to  stop all development initiatives/interventions in indigenous territories unless and until conflicts are  addressed with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, women and other  rights  holders.

Mr. Chairman, it is only under conditions of just peace that development can be pursued and sustained. We hope to see these operationalized in the processes towards the SDGs.

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By  Pallab Chakma (pallab.rangei@gmail.com) Kapaeeng Foundation

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished delegates, indigenous sisters and brothers,

Congratulations to Mr. Alvaro Pop for his appointment as Chairperson.

Bangladesh is the home of more than 54 indigenous peoples, comprising about two percent of the national population, including in the partially autonomous Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region and in the plains. However, Indigenous communities form the most disadvantaged, neglected and vulnerable groups in the country.

Though Bangladesh is a party to several international human rights treaties, including CEDAW, CERD, ICC Rome Statute, ILO Convention 107 and the two international human rights covenants, ICCPR and ICESCR, indigenous peoples in the country routinely face different forms of discrimination and human rights violations perpetrated by different State agencies, corporations, Bengali settlers and other influential non-indigenous actors.

Most of the human rights violations concerning indigenous peoples are closely interlinked with ownership, occupation and access to land, including those used in accordance with customary law. This is so, both in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and in the plains.

Thousands of acres of lands are being acquisitioned or forcibly taken by State and non-indigenous individuals and companies in the name of reserved forests, for rubber plantations and other commercial purposes, setting up of Border Guard and military camps and luxurious tourist complexes owned by outsiders. These are located either on titled lands of indigenous individuals or on customarily held lands of indigenous peoples. Such projects have been undertaken without any consultations with, or the consent of, the CHT Regional Council, the Hill District Councils, indigenous communities and concerned land owners, as required by statutory and customary law, including those affirmed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900 and the Acts on the Regional and District Councils, which are compatible with the provisions of ILO Convention No. 107.

Non-functionality of the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission, even after 18 years of the Accord, is the main reason of land related problem in CHT. Although the Government repeatedly assured this Forum, including at its 13th Session, to take all possible steps to make the Land Commission effective, it is still to deliver its potentials.

At the 14th Session of this Forum, Bangladesh Government said, “Recent dialogues between the Government and the CHT Regional Council have created a positive momentum towards further amending the concerned law. We have been able to narrow down the differences on some of the amendment proposals, and remain hopeful about the draft Bill-being placed—before the Parliament very soon.” However, these promises remain in words only. A study on the CHT Land Commission was submitted to this Forum at its 13th session, by Vice Chairperson of this Forum, Raja Devasish Roy (E/C.19/2014/4), which discusses the detailed possibilities and challenges of the CHT Commission.

I urge Bangladesh Government to make the CHT Land Commission functional without further delay.

I also urge the Forum and member states of the UN to encourage the Government of Bangladesh to implement the recommendations made by this Forum at its 10th Session, on the implementation of the CHT Accord, following a study on the CHT Accord by PF Member Mr. Lars-Anders Baer (E/C.19/2011/6)

Thank you, Mr. Chair!

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By: Sarah Dekdeken, CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (Philippines)

Thank you Mister Chair for this opportunity to speak. Warm greetings everyone!

I represent the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines, which has consistently participated in the Permanent Forum since its First Session in 2002, recognizing the important role of the Forum in advancing indigenous peoples’ rights. The Forum has allowed us to raise the issues and concerns of the Igorots and other indigenous peoples of the Philippines. We have forwarded numerous recommendations to the Permanent Forum, in line with our struggle to defend our rights to land and resources that are being robbed by the State and foreign corporations.

However, we are deeply alarmed that after 14 sessions of the Permanent Forum, and nine years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the plight of indigenous peoples in the Philippines has turned from bad to worse. The Philippine government enacted the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and established the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) supposedly to promote the rights and welfare of Philippine indigenous peoples. But these have been proven inutile in protecting our rights. In fact, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has served as an instrument in violating IP rights. And the UNDRIP and previous recommendations of the Permanent Forum have not been implemented at all.

Instead, the Philippine government continues its reign of terror, committing crimes against indigenous peoples, and outrightly violating our collective rights to our ancestral lands and plunder of our resources through destructive mining and energy projects. Its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan has resulted in the militarization of our communities, extrajudicial killings, development aggression and other human rights violations committed with impunity against indigenous peoples. Under President Benigno Aquino’s administration, at least one indigenous person is killed every month, with a total of more than 90 victims from July 2010 to April 2016.

To cite a few recent cases:

  • In April 2016, the Vice Chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Mr. Xavier Akien, experienced death threats through surveillance by armed men, which, in our experience, often leads to extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance.
  • On April 1, 2016, in Kidapawan, Southern Philippines, the government brutally responded to the demand for food aid by more than five thousand farmers and Lumad indigenous peoples with guns and bullets, leaving 2 farmers dead, more than 70 people wounded, and hundreds arrested. Indigenous peoples bear the brunt of climate change, while suffering the negative impacts of corporate mining, extractive industries and government neglect of basic social services. In the past few months, El Nino has left hundreds of farmers’ families hungry, yet the Philippine government heartlessly denied them the basic human right to food.
  • In 2015, around five thousand Lumad indigenous people in Mindanao fled their homes due to military operations, harassment and forced recruitment by paramilitary groups.
  • Indigenous schools run by non-government organizations continue to be attacked by State military forces and paramilitary groups, thereby depriving indigenous children and youth of the right to education.

These are just a few of the ethnocidal acts committed against indigenous peoples, which reflect the worsening situation similarly experienced by indigenous peoples around the world. We thus urge the Permanent Forum to take immediate and decisive steps to end the extrajudicial killing and indigenous peoples’ rights violations, and the State-driven misery faced by indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

We recommend:

  • That the Permanent Forum establish mechanisms to monitor and ensure the implementation of UNDRIP, and its recommendations at the country level.
  • That the Philippine Government take steps to respect and protect indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, resources, social and economic development, cultural integrity, education and health.
  • That oppressive laws, policies and programs that displace our communities, plunder our resources, destroy our environment, hinder our development, and violate our national sovereignty be repealed/scrapped, such as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, Oplan Bayanihan, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, among others.
  • That the Philippine Government be urged to comply with its obligations under International Humanitarian Law, the UNDRIP, and other international human rights instruments to which the Philippine government is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention.

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Statement of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) on Human Rights and Environment Presented by Mr. Sochea Pheap, Executive Council Member

Mr. Chairman,

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has four (4) recommendations to the UNPFII with regard to the effective implementation of human rights of indigenous peoples in relation to the environment, focusing on conservation issues.

  1. That the Permanent Forum requests Member States to take concrete measures in line with the UNDRIP to recognize, protect and promote the historical role and contributions of indigenous peoples in protecting and conserving the environment as integral to their rights to lands, territories and resources;
  2. That the Permanent Forum urges Member States to develop and/or revise and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, their environment-related legislations, policies and programs, including their action plans aimed to tackle climate change and achieving the Development Agenda 2030 to ensure the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources; and adopt specific indicators to track progress on this action
  3. That the Permanent Forum requests Member States to review and revise discriminatory laws, policies and programmes on traditional and sustainable occupations and livelihoods of indigenous peoples relating to resource-management and conservation.
  4. That the Permanent Forum requests UN agencies, funds and programmes to develop targeted and specific programmes in partnership with indigenous peoples in supporting their sustainable conservation and resource management practices.

The abovementioned recommendations are given based on our experiences and the environmental issues we have been facing as indigenous peoples. Let me now highlight three critical areas that are seriously impacting the rights of more than 270 million indigenous peoples in Asia:

  1. One is the narrow approach to environmental conservation and protection without any interaction or intervention of human beings. Such approach is an outright denial and disregard of the historical role and contribution of indigenous peoples’ sustainable practices in protecting and conserving the environment. It has further led to the criminalization of indigenous peoples’ traditional occupations and practices such as hunting, gathering, and fishing. Worse, it has resulted in forced evictions of innumerable indigenous communities from their lands. This is evident in a number of countries in Asia where there are laws and policies prohibiting the livelihood practices of indigenous peoples in the name of “conservation”.
  1. The second is the conversion of indigenous peoples’ lands and exploitation of their resources resulting in serious environmental problems and grave violation of indigenous peoples’ rights. Indigenous Magars, who for generations have lived around Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in western Nepal, have been in conflict with the government army deployed three years ago to protect the Reserve from illegal poaching and land encroachment. Without consultation with and consent of the indigenous Magars as required under the UNDRIP and the ILO Convention 169 that Nepal is a State party to, the army deployment has deprived them of their rights to their lands, territories and resources.[i]

When indigenous peoples defend their lands, territories and resources through legitimate protest actions, many of them are often harassed, intimidated, arrested, jailed, tortured, disappeared, and even killed. According to Global Witness, at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014 – almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period. A shocking 40% of victims were indigenous, with most people dying amid disputes over hydropower, mining and agri-business.[ii]

  1. Finally, though indigenous peoples significantly contribute to sustainable environmental protection, their rights are not recognized and respected in environment-related legislations, policies and programs. At the same time, measures aimed at mitigating climate change, such as biofuel, dams and other renewable energy projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), have had severe adverse impacts on indigenous peoples. Purported solutions that States or business enterprises offer in response to climate change are turning out to be false solutions that harm the environment and violate indigenous peoples’ rights.[iii]

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, for example, includes construction of so-called clean energy such as large hydro dams in Northeast India where indigenous peoples are the majority population. Various companies have already cleared several dams in Northeast India to receive carbon credits and twenty more large dams are planned in several states. Indigenous peoples in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Cambodia are continuously opposing such large dams that are imposed on them which have been found to contribute to climate change instead of mitigating it. Even international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have a proactive role in promoting market-based solutions to climate change.

We reiterate that as indigenous peoples, we cannot be regarded as separate from our lands, territories and resources that form our “environment.” Whatever happens to our environment affects our wellbeing in the social, cultural, economic and political dimensions. We are facing extinction. Our environment is being massively and wantonly destroyed. We therefore call for the protection of our collective rights to our land and our environment as a whole, to ensure effectiveness in combating climate change, the achievement of the SDGs and most importantly, to ensure our very survival on this planet. Thank you very much!

[i] http://www.indigenousvoice.com/en/local-indigenous-peoples-protest-army-mobilization-in-dhorpatan-hunting-reserve.html#sthash.R2MVC5jV.dpuf

[ii]https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/environmental-activists/how-many-more/

[iii] Ibid

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