Statement on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

9th August 2019

Language is not just the means of communication, but it also enable us to define our identity, express our history, culture and traditions, transfer our knowledge, defend our rights and dignity and participate in every aspects of human life. It has been articulated that a person’s right to choose a language of preference is essential for freedom of thought, expression, access to education and information, employment, building peaceful and inclusive societies, and other values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Language empowers communities in building their futures and in in articulating the best approach and strategies for peaceful and sustainable development.

Researches on languages suggest that out of the estimate of about 7000 languages in the world, around 2000 languages are spoken by Indigenous Peoples in Asia who represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity. Despite its immense value, half of the world’s languages are estimated to be wiped out by the end of the century, as smaller communities are being assimilated into dominant national and global cultures. UNESCO study suggests that 600 languages have disappeared in the last century and it continues at the rate of one language every two weeks. Of the 3,054 endangered languages documented by Endangered Language Project website, nearly half are in Asia. A great majority of those languages, spoken mainly by Indigenous Peoples, will continue to disappear at an alarming rate, as we are confronted with assimilation, enforced relocation, educational disadvantage, poverty, illiteracy, migration and other forms of discrimination and human rights violations.

Article 13 and 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) upholds that indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit their languages to future generations, and have the right to all levels and forms of education in their own culture and languages. The UNDRIP further calls for States to take the necessary measures to ensure those rights.

This year’s theme ‘Indigenous Languages’ focus on the situation of Indigenous Languages around the world within the framework of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, 2019 which aims to “draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages and to take further urgent steps at the national and international levels.”

On this day, AIPP reaffirms its commitment and stand by the UN General Assembly resolution on the recommendation Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to mainstream the promotion and protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples in their developmental policies and programmes at all levels. The resolution also emphasize on international cooperation and support national and regional efforts to strengthen the distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions of indigenous peoples, encouraging Member States to give due consideration to all the rights of indigenous peoples in fulfilling the commitments undertaken in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the elaboration of national programmes.

Today, we stand by the Indigenous Peoples all over their world, in preserving, revitalizing and promoting their languages, which essentially forms their worldview, identity, histories, art, oral traditions, literatures etc.

We reject the on-going process of assimilation, forced relocation, poverty, forced migration, discrimination and Human Rights Violation of the Indigenous peoples, processes that endanger our lives and languages.

We urge everyone to celebrate the glorious diversity of languages, systems of knowledge and culture accumulated by languages over thousands of years, and the rich diversity they add to our world and the ecological, economic and sociocultural contribution they make.

AIPP wishes you a highly spirited International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples!

Gam A. Shimray
Secretary General
Asia indigenous Peoples Pact

Click here to download full statement. 

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