Planet Watch
Waj√£pi

Protect indigenous rights in biodiversity framework

Amnesty International cautioned¬†against potential threats to indigenous peoples’¬†rights in the monitoring process for progress towards the Global Biodiversity Framework. The organization emphasized the imperative for states to engage in consultations with indigenous communities and secure their “free, prior, and informed consent” in conservation projects, in line with the¬†Universal Declaration on¬†the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The statement warned against “fortress conservation” methods in which original inhabitants¬†are forcibly evicted from protected areas.¬†(Photo of¬†Waj√£pi indigenous people in Brazil via¬†Mongabay)

Planet Watch
Colón

Vatican rejects ‘Doctrine of Discovery’

Following a long campaign by indigenous peoples around the world, the Vatican announced a formal rejection of the 15th century “Doctrine of Discovery.” In a statement, the Church said it “repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent rights of indigenous peoples.” The Doctrine of Discovery arose from several papal bulls, key amongst them the Inter Caetera, issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. The document effectively granted Spain the right to claim newly “discovered” areas unoccupied by Christians. The Doctrine, which the Vatican now states was “manipulated for political purposes by colonial powers,” found its way into the common law of several nations. In the United States, the Doctrine was enshrined in the famous 1823 property rights case Johnson v. M‚ÄôIntosh. That opinion, written by Chief Justice John Marshall, subjugated indigenous land claims to those of the US government, allowing federal authorities to seize¬†large portions of indigenous land and sell it to white settlers. (Photo: statue of Christopher Columbus in Col√≥n, Panama. Via Wikimedia Commons)

East Asia
Paiwan

Taiwan expands rights for indigenous peoples

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples‚Äô Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation’s Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country’s place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities. (Photo: President Tsai on visit to harvest festival of the Paiwan and Rukai peoples, Sandimen township, Pingtung county, via Wikipedia)

Europe
tatars

Crimean Tatars take up arms for Ukraine

The Tatar people, whose homeland on the Crimean Peninsula was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, are now mobilizing across their diaspora to resist the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian heartland. The World Congress of Crimean Tatars released a statement calling the invasion “banditry,” and calling on Tatars everywhere to “fight against this immoral attack of Russia.” Crimean Tatars have also organized a volunteer battalion to resist the Russian invasion. In a video statement, battalion commander Isa Akayev¬†taunted that “there is enough land in Ukraine to bury all invaders‚ÄĒand don’t forget to put seeds in the pocket so sunflowers grow.” This is a reference to the viral video in which a Ukrainian woman confronted a Russian soldier, saying: “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.” (Image via Twitter)

Southern Cone
guarani

Paraguay violates indigenous rights: UN committee

Paraguay’s failure to prevent toxic contamination of indigenous peoples’ traditional lands by commercial farming violates their rights and sense of “home,” the UN Human Rights Committee found in a landmark ruling. The Committee, made up of independent experts from across the world, monitors countries’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights. The decision on Paraguay marks the first time it has affirmed that for indigenous peoples, “home” must be understood in the context of their special relationship with their territories, including livestock, crops and way of life. (Photo: WHO via UN News)

Oceania
rapanui

Inter-American panel to hear Rapa Nui land claim

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to hear a complaint against the state of Chile brought by the Rapa Nui indigenous people¬†of Easter Island, demanding recovery of their ancestral lands. The complaint accuses Chile of numerous violations of the American Convention on Human Rights, citing Article 4 on the right to life, Article 12 on freedom of conscience and religion, Article 21 on property rights, and Article 25 on judicial protection. More than 70% of traditional Rapa Nui lands are now classified as “state lands,” from which the island’s indigenous inhabitants are effectively excluded‚ÄĒcausing “irremediable damage” to their way of life and autonomy. The complaint charges that this constitutes a violation of the 1888 Acuerdo de Voluntades (Consent Agreement), under which the Rapa Nui accepted Chilean sovereignty. (Photo: DebatesIndigenas)

Europe
Crimea protest

Putin rejects Ukraine law on indigenous rights

A Law on Indigenous Peoples passed last month by Ukraine’s parliament is aimed at protecting the culture, language and autonomy of the Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea.¬†Putin in an interview after passage of the law asserted that the present leaders of Ukraine are clearly hostile to Russia. “Otherwise, how can you explain a law where Russians are a non-indigenous people? What will this lead to? Some people will simply leave.” He then compared these imagined “consequences” with the effects of a “weapon of mass destruction.” In another interview, he said that the bill “reminded” him of Nazi Germany, as it divides¬†people into “indigenous, first-class and second-class people and so forth.”¬†(Image:¬†One of the last demonstrations in Crimea in March 2014, before the Russian occupiers crushed almost all protest. Via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Planet Watch
First Nations

Canada law recognizing UNDRIP gets royal assent

A bill by the Canadian Parliament recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and establishing a framework for its implementation received Royal Assent. The legislation requires the government of Canada to take measures for bringing the country’s laws into alignment with the UNDRIP as well as preparing¬†an action plan for achieving its objectives.¬†But some advocates for Indigenous peoples’¬†rights are concerned that the new law may “Canadianize” the UNDRIP, since it is to be construed as upholding the rights of First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982‚ÄĒwhich has been subject to long-drawn legal battles over its interpretation. (Photo of anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia:¬†Rogue Collective¬†via Flickr)

The Amazon
Madre de Dios

Podcast: indigenous survival and the crisis in Peru

In Episode 73 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Thomas Moore, anthropologist, advocate for indigenous cultural survival, and author of the newly released book, Madre de Dios: Refugio de Pueblos Originarios. The remote rainforest region of Madre de Dios in Peru’s southern Amazon is a last refuge for isolated indigenous peoples, but is now massively threatened by mining, timber and other resource interests that operate in a semi-legal gray zone in a nexus with criminal networks. Peru has made some progress in complying with international norms on protection of isolated peoples, but these advances stand to be dramatically reversed if far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori comes to power in the pending run-off election. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Amarakaeri)

Central America
boswas

Nicaragua: armed colonists invade indigenous lands

In a video conference with representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, indigenous leaders from Nicaragua’s eastern rainforest protested an illegal “invasion” of their titled territories by armed campesino colonists, who seize lands, clear trees and terrorize their communities. The Miskito and Mayangna leaders said 13 indigenous residents were killed by settlers last year, with eight wounded and hundreds forcibly displaced. Lottie Cunningham of¬†the Center for Human Rights & Justice of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN) said some 30,000 hectares have been expropriated, and the colonists often work in league with timber and mining interests‚ÄĒillegal operations that nonetheless have total impunity in the lawless region. Among the impacted areas is the ostensibly protected Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. (Image:¬†CafeConVoz)

Oceania
Taranaki

New Zealand settles Maori land claim

New Zealand iwi (Maori kinship group) NgńĀti Maru signed a deed of settlement with the Crown, resolving its historical land claims under the 1840¬†Treaty of Waitangi. NgńĀti Maru is the last of eight iwi in Taranaki, a North Island region, to settle its claims under the treaty. The Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, announced in a statementthat the iwi, which comprises 2,800 registered members, will receive financial and cultural redress as part of the settlement,¬†including an apology from the Crown. The financial redress is valued at NZD$30 million (about USD$20 million). The agreement also includes the vesting of 16 culturally significant sites to NgńĀti Maru. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iraq
Yazidis

Yazidis call Middle East indigenous alliance

In a meeting hosted by the Yazidi autonomous territory of Ezidikhan in northern Iraq, representatives of tribal peoples and ethnic minorities from across the Middle East and North Africa agreed on a framework for a region-wide alliance of stateless nations struggling for self-determination and autonomy. The meeting at the Ezidikhan seat of Shingal was attended by representatives of the Mandaeans and Zoroastrians as well as Yazidis. Messages of support were also sent by the Shabaks of Iraq, Ahwazi Arabs of Iran, Berbers of Libya, and Palestinian Bedouins residing in the state of Israel. Delegates announced formation of a Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the Middle East open to all stateless peoples of the region. The Confederation pledges to seek greater recognition for stateless peoples of the Middle East at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and to seek redress for persecution, exclusion and genocide. (Photo of Yazidi delegates: Ezidikhan.net)