It was on the 10th of December 1948 that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and hence forth this day has been observed as Human Rights Day every year. Human Rights is an inalienable rights entitled to as a human being regardless of any social, political, gender, economic locations anyone may come from. That Human rights is for all and must be respected and indemnified at all cost every day.
This commitment adopted by the global community come through starkly painful history that we all know too well about. Since its adoption, the world have witness freedom for many countries from the bounds of colonialism, independence and autonomy have been achieved for many.
While the UDHR have unleashed freedom around the world, it remained incomplete with Indigenous Peoples rights not recognized. But with the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the international community, universal human rights have been made more complete by recognizing the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples and our communitarian way of life.
But basic human rights and freedom is yet to be achieved for many. In fact, the situation of human rights has been a serious concern. There is severe violations of civil and political rights by nation states today. Mobilizations and resistance to such attacks and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples are often met by political intimidation, threat to IP human rights defenders and violations of Indigenous Women’s rights. The members of the Indigenous movements and political parties in the region who raised their voices against land grabbing and atrocities often face extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest, detention, branding as terrorists, radicals and are often murdered with no justice served.
The human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Asia continues to be a serious concern because of the prevailing systematic and wide scale violations of their individual and collective rights bordering on impunity. Civic space has been severely curbed to promote false solutions and to deny justice across Asia.
We have seen situation getting worse during the pandemic where nation states have suspended safeguards and rights of Indigenous Peoples and others across Asia. The global pandemic has exposed the world of its incapacity of the existing system in responding to such emergencies. COVID-19 and the government responses have raised a range of constitutional questions all over the world. Many governments have also used Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to curtail legitimate constitutional rights to civic protest, restricting access to land and natural resource, a lack of political consideration and participation in decision-making, rendering the communities more vulnerable. All of these impacts disproportionately after Indigenous Women (IW), Persons with Disability (PwD), and the elderly and youth groups due to the intersectionality of their identities. Governments across the world including Asia are fast tracking repressive and authoritarian policies to ensure economic recovery, much less in securing the lives and livelihood of the people.
The 2020 theme calls for better recovery by standing up for human rights and to ensure that any recovery efforts be rooted in human rights addressing entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.
For Indigenous peoples this can be achieved through our right to self determination as clearly laid out in the UNDRIP and adopted by nation states in their commitment to ensure Indigenous Peoples determine their collective lives through their agency and knowledge and freedom that comes from the symbiotic relationship with their lands.
The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact stands with millions of people whose rights are denied, who are targeted, attacked, disappeared, red-tagged, criminalized, and murdered for defending their rights and the rights of the communities.
AIPP also recognize the resilience of our Indigenous Peoples who have been tirelessly asserting on the ground, risking their lives, so that the present generation and the generation that is to come do not lose sight of the inalienable rights of the Indigenous Peoples autonomy and self-determination. Where the agency of the Indigenous community, individuals, women, children, youth, persons with disability, gender non-conforming persons will not just be respected but upheld.
For this, we call on our lands that we stand on, our ancestors to grace us with strength, love and blessings to take our struggle forward.
Long live our struggle, long live our solidarity!
Gam A Shimray
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact