Asia’s Indigenous Peoples strengthen engagements with the United Nations and solidarity with the Ayta people of central Philippines

Tarlac, Philippines—Forty-sevenindigenous peoples representatives and experts from 12 different countries in Asia converged in the Philippines for the annual Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples from March 12-14, 2014, inTarlac City, TarlacProvince in Central Luzon, Philippines.

According to Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng mga KatutubongMamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and host of the international activity, “The continuing violations of our collective rights through development aggression, land grabbing, militarization, among others, are common issues to indigenous peoples across Asia. Indigenous peoples delegates would carry these issues to the UN and urge states to undertake concrete and immediate actions to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 

Tarlac, Philippines—Forty-sevenindigenous peoples representatives and experts from 12 different countries in Asia converged in the Philippines for the annual Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples from March 12-14, 2014, inTarlac City, TarlacProvince in Central Luzon, Philippines.

According to Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng mga KatutubongMamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and host of the international activity, “The continuing violations of our collective rights through development aggression, land grabbing, militarization, among others, are common issues to indigenous peoples across Asia. Indigenous peoples delegates would carry these issues to the UN and urge states to undertake concrete and immediate actions to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Ready and prepared

The participants to this meeting have agreed on the urgent and priority issues and recommendations to be presented tothe UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), and the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. Further, key strategies and recommendations were also agreed upon as conditions for the continuing engagement of Asia indigenous peoples to the processes and the conduct of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) scheduled in September this year.Other related events were also planned such as panel presentations, photo-exhibit, Asia receptions, meetings and dialogues in order to optimize the participation of indigenous peoples across the globe, state, UN agencies and support groups to UN meetings. While there was a strong commitment made by indigenous peoples in Asia to be more organized and prepared in its engagements with the UN, concerns were   raised on the very limited number of indigenous representatives from Asia this year, which have financial support for travel and related expenses to participate in UN meetings.

Lahar and warm solidarity

The participants of the meeting braved the summer heat and lahar to visit the Aytavillage of Tarucan with 150 families, who returned to the Mt. Pinatubo range after evacuating in 1991 due to the Mt Pinatubo eruption. Their village is located within the Camp O’Donell military reservation which had been used as a shooting range and practice bombing runs of the US military forces when Clark Air Base was under US military hands. Today, this area is still being used for militaryexercises by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and hosts joint military exercises with US troops.

A solidarity program was held underneath a mango tree in the village as the Ayta welcomed the guests with a dance around a small bonfire.In the welcome remarks of one of the village leaders, he stated that “The military operations near the village exposes our people to physical danger and human rights violations.”

The Ayta leaders also said that the military exercises in the areas must stop, as the presence of US troops in the Philippines tramples on our sovereignty and endangers the lives of the people.

Ms. Joan Carling, Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and an expert member of the UNPFII introduced the participants from different countries and expressed the gratitude and strong solidarity of the group. Carling said, “The marginalized condition and struggles of the Ayta people to secure their ancestral domain and protect their wellbeing is also the common condition and struggle of millions of indigenous peoples in Asia.”

Solidarity dances, songs, and messages were shared among the indigenous peoples.

ChutimaMorlaeku, an indigenous leader from Thailand,was tearful as she gave a solidarity message during the program. “The situation of the people here in thisAyta village reminds me of my childhood,” said Morlaeku. “Our situations are very similar.” The indigenous participants expressed their alarm over the military exercises held Crow Valley shooting range just beside the community. The lahar-laden river bed are being used for the military exercises, including the Balikatan exercises of joint US and Philippine troops.

The visit to the Ayta village prompted participants to accelerate their solidarity and cooperation efforts in pushing for the recognition of the rights if indigenous peoples and the advancing the security and appropriate development of indigenous peoples across Asia and beyond.

Participants to the meeting were 47 indigenous representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan/China, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was also attended by non-government support organizations, and Asia indigenous experts of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

The Asia Preparatory Meeting is an annual event organizedbythe Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a regional organization of indigenous peoples movements in Asia. KAMP and the Central Luzon Ayta Association (CLAA) of the Philippines are the hosts of this year’s event.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*