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Philippines: Human rights issue, ‘no-show’ in SONA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Minority block members and part of the progressive Makabayan coalition, Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, said President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address failed to tackle human rights, an issue that affects farmers and indigenous people in the region. Ilagan, who represents Gabriela Women Partylist, said she was aghast that there was no mention of justice in Pres. Aquino’s SONA for the killing of indigenous peoples and their defenders. “Worse, three years of the Aquino administration has seen the deaths of more than 30 indigenous leaders opposing multinational mining operations,” she said.

India: Kerala minister’s remark on tribal women kicks up row

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as death of a large number of tribal children due to “malnutrition” in Kerala continues to be hotly debated, Culture Minister KC Joseph on Monday courted controversy stating that consumption of arrack by expectant tribal mothers was a major cause of death of infants in Attappadi adivasi belt. Seizing on the Congress minister’s statement on the sidelines of a function at Kannur, CPI-M veteran and Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan charged that Mr Joseph was heaping insult on tribal women instead of providing necessary support to the affected people.

Malaysia: Weak laws governing Malaysia’s indigenous people complicate conservation efforts

Orang Asli children playing in RPS Banun, a government resettlement scheme in the Belum-Temengor forest complex. Photo by: Sheema Abdul Aziz.

The balance between biodiversity conservation, land acquisition, natural resource utilization and indigenous peoples is often wrought with conflict. Legislation governing the use of natural resources should ideally protect biodiversity and address the needs of indigenous peoples, but in many places, falls short of these ambitions. In a recent study published in Biodiversity Conservation, researchers examined the weaknesses in select natural resource laws that affect the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, and compared these laws with data on a specific group of indigenous people’s use of natural resources, collected through questionnaires. In addition to suggesting potential solutions to address legislative weaknesses, ...

In Asia Pacific, media reinforce marginalization, discrimination vs indigenous peoples

BANGKOK – “This Polahi Tribe in Gorontalo, Half Human Half Animal.” Such is the headline of a May 6 article by Indonesian online publication Kompas.com. The online media outfit is owned by Indonesia media giant company, Kompas Gramedia Group. Indigenous people’s group in Indonesia Aaliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (Aman) sent a letter of protest. The media company later on apologized to Aman but not to the Polahi tribe.

Indonesia: Local tribes want to be involved in Freeport contract renegotiations

The Custom Institute of Amungme Tribe (Lemasa) in Papua has called on the central government to involve customary communities in the renegotiation process for the  PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) contract extension. “After tens of years of  Freeport mining our natural resources, there is no single point in the current contract that manages the basic rights of the indigenous people, especially the  Amungme and Kamoro tribes,” Lemasa director executive Anton Alomang said, as reported by Antara news agency on Thursday.

Malaysia: Group wants explanation on Orang Asli Bill

PETALING JAYA: A leading Orang Asli organisation has demanded that the government provide it with a written explanation of the amendments it plans to make to the Aboriginal People’s Act of 1954. “We want a written explanation of the proposals to amend the Act that would be tabled in Parliament soon even though the Orang Asal Land National Inquiry Report by Suhakam has not been released, published and distributed,” Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) said in a letter to Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal and Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) chief Sani Mistam.

Nepali Indigenous Groups File Complaint against World Bank Power Line Project

Kathmandu, Nepal, July 10, 2013 – Today, communities in Nepal filed a complaint with the World Bank, demanding accountability for a Bank-funded high-voltage transmission line slated to affect over 100,000 poor and marginalized indigenous villagers. The transmission line will clear a wide swathe of populated land, displacing already poverty stricken communities, and disrupting religious, historical, and cultural sites. Armed police have used violence against peaceful community protesters. Communities demand the World Bank include them in the design and implementation of the project, and reroute the transmission line to cause less impact. “Our heritage and livelihoods are tied to this land,” ...

India: ‘State scores poorly in tribal education’

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is still lagging far behind when it comes to tribal education, reveal statistics. The literacy rate among tribals in the state is only 37% against the general literacy rate of 63%. Moreover, the dropout rate at Class V is almost 50%, while only 2-4% of tribal students pursue higher and technical education. The pitiable scenario can improve if a mother tongue-based early childhood care and education policy is implemented for tribals in the state, argued experts.

North East India: Public consultation on Tipaimukh dam held

Imphal, July 09 2013: Affirming that forest, land, rivers and other natural resources of Manipur are crucial for the sustenance of endemic flora and fauna and the survival of several indigenous communities, the participants of the one day public consultation on “Tipaimukh dam and Forest Clearance” held today at Manipur Press Club resolved that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of India should desist from granting Environment Clearance for the proposed Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project as this would amount to clear cut violation of the rights of indigenous peoples in Manipur. The ...

India: Court concerned over plight of tribal undertrials

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has termed as “serious” the plight of tribal undertrials, lodged in various central jails in eight Naxal-affected states, but sought factual details for passing any judicial order. “These are very serious matters. You (PIL petitioner) are only relying on the media report. The data can be collected. You complete facts. We cannot pass order on generalised data. “If you want this court to entertain this petition, at least file certain facts so that we can act,” the bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said and asked the petitioner to file an additional affidavit giving ...