Indigenous peoples aspirations towards ASEAN

Kuala Lumpur [24 January 2015]. Representatives from indigenous peoples in the ASEAN brought forth their voices to the 3rd Regional Civil Society Consultation on the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum [ACSC/APF] held on January 23-24, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Joining about 50 civil society representatives from the 10 national coordinating committees and representatives of various constituencies. Indigenous peoples were represented by the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact and the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia [JOAS].

“The ASEAN is really moving on too fast and impacting so much on indigenous peoples especially as it gears up to achieve the ASEAN Economic Community. The energy plan under the ASEAN Economic Blueprint includes the various mega-dams in Sarawak, the plantations in Sabah and here in Peninsular Malaysia located mostly in indigenous territories. These are advancing without the free prior and informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples,” claimed Jannie Lasimbang, Secretariat Director of JOAS.

All the ASEAN member-states have voted favourably for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP]. They made further commitment to implement this Declaration during the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the 69th Session of the General Assembly, otherwise known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Thus, the call of Indigenous Peoples to ASEAN member-states and the ASEAN bodies, like the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights [AICHR], is for the lawful recognition of indigenous peoples as citizens with collective rights. This includes the right to free prior and informed consent and rights to lands, territories and resources, consistent with the UNDRIP, the Outcome Document of the WCIP and other international instruments.

“I am sad that for the last nine years, civil society, including indigenous peoples, had engaged the ASEAN for the better promotion and protection of all human rights, but it seems there had been no progress. To us Orang Asli, there has been no improvement in our situation,” reflected Yusri Bin Ahon, Vice-President of JOAS. He further explained that, “currently, our Orang Asli relatives particularly in Kelantan are suffering from severe floods, exacerbated by slow relief and rehabilitation. It is the first time that this very destructive flood happened in Kelantan.” Over the last couple of years, government oil palm projects have extensively cleared forests mostly in Orang Asli territories that now cannot absorb extended monsoon rains.

In preparation for the ACSC/APF 2015 on April 22-26, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, indigenous peoples will socialize the Outcome Document of the UNDRIP and launch the studies on the ASEAN and indigenous peoples.

“ASEAN member-states must give meaning to their commitment to the UNDRIP because there is no meaning of this Declaration if they do not implement it at their own level. I call on indigenous peoples from the other ASEAN member-countries to engage their governments to make our rights in the UNDRIP a reality and achieve a meaningful change for all of us,” advised Yusri.

AIPP Human Rights Campaign and Policy Advocacy Programme
Check the indigenous peoples recommendations in the ACSC/APF CSO Statement

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