Posts Tagged ‘Indigenous People’

Brazilian Alessandra Korap Munduruku Wins 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

October 14, 2020

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has named Alessandra Korap Munduruku the winner of its 2020 Human Rights Award for her work defending the culture, livelihoods, and rights of Indigenous peoples in Brazil.

Indigenous peoples, including Alessandra’s Munduruku community, have faced tremendous challenges in Brazil in recent years—from gold miners and loggers illegally invading and exploiting Indigenous territories; to widespread fires in the Amazon; and an increased risk to the coronavirus; not to mention a combative president who’s proactively removed protections for Indigenous tribes and insulted them on numerous occasions.

As one of the key leaders and organizers of the Munduruku people, Alessandra has fought to stop construction projects and illegal mining that are infringing upon Munduruku territory, garnering international attention and support. She’s advocated for the demarcation of Indigenous lands and for Indigenous communities to be consulted on decisions that affect their territories. Alessandra has also played an important role in advancing the leadership of women in the Munduruku community and among other Indigenous tribes in Brazil through her involvement in the Wakoborûn Indigenous Women’s Association and the Pariri Indigenous Association. 

I’m humbled to be this year’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award winner,” said Alessandra Korap Munduruku. “To have the additional backing and support of Kerry Kennedy and her entire organization, especially during the pandemic, will make all the difference as we continue to fight for our rights, including the demarcation of our lands to ensure that Indigenous peoples have their autonomy, and for the fight of women who are also the strength of the resistance.

Throughout history, Indigenous peoples, including the Munduruku, have repeatedly been oppressed, silenced, and subjected to horrific human rights abuses,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Alessandra has heroically faced intimidation and violence for defending Indigenous rights across Brazil—including the ability to oppose projects and developments that affect her peoples and their livelihoods. She is a champion of women’s rights, Indigenous rights, and the foundational right of all human rights—civic space. Civic space protects the right to dissent, to advocate and to defend human rights, free of government reprisal. It is the keystone of a functioning democracy.”

Alessandra will be honored at a virtual ceremony on Thursday, October 22, at 6:00pm EDT. The event is free and open to the public. You can register here

Kerry Kennedy will present the award, followed by a keynote address from former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the countless threats and challenges Indigenous peoples face around the world. Andrew Revkin, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, will then moderate a discussion on the pathways forward for Indigenous peoples in Brazil with an esteemed panel of experts:

  • Juarez Saw Munduruku, Chief of the Sawré Muybu village in Brazil 
  • Maria Leusa Cosme Kaba, a Munduruku women’s leader
  • Francisco Calí Tzay, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Sebastião Salgado, Award-winning French-Brazilian documentary photographer 
  • Antonia Urrejola Noguera, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • Christian Poirier, Program Director at Amazon Watch 
  • For more on the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/69FD28C0-FE07-4D28-A5E2-2C8077584068

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/29/rfks-ripple-of-hope-award-2020-to-kaepernick-fauci-and-other-us-leaders/

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/10/12/2106955/0/en/Alessandra-Korap-Munduruku-Wins-2020-Robert-F-Kennedy-Human-Rights-Award-for-Her-Work-Protecting-Indigenous-Peoples-in-Brazil.html

Berta Cáceres death may lead to reconsidering financing of Agua Zarca dam

March 16, 2016

The killing of Honduran human rights defender Berta Cáceres [http://wp.me/pQKto-20p] has resonated widely in the media and may (finally) lead to some real action in the world where the dam is being financed. Peter Bosshard, Interim Executive Director, International Rivers, wrote under the heading “Agua Zarca: A Stain on the Dutch and Finnish Human Rights Record” (15 March 2016) that the Dutch government announced that it will send an ambassador to Honduras “to express concern over the killing of human rights activist Berta Cáceres” and presumably assess the state of the Agua Zarca Project. In response to International Rivers’ online action, FMO (the financial arm of development aid) said that it would decide about continued involvement in the dam project on the basis of this visit. Finn fund says that speculation about an exit from Agua Zarca is “at the moment premature,” but the financier would probably follow if FMO pulled out of the project. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Profile of Paul Mambrasar: defender of indigenous Papuans

December 28, 2015

OMCT, in its series “10 December – 10 Defenders”, carried the story of Paul Mambrasar from West Papua, the least populous province of Indonesia, where is torture used to crush and silence. Home to the world’s largest gold and third-largest copper mines, West Papua has abundant natural resources including timber and palm oil that make it a coveted region. This has generated continuing conflict and made it one of Asia’s sorest spots in terms of human rights violations. From the 1960s on, Indonesia has maintained heavy military presence, resorting to extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse to crack down on activists in an attempt to crush the Papuan independence movement, whether peaceful or violent, leaving locals deeply resentful and suspicious of the national Government.OMCT-LOGO

Indigenous Papuans marginalized in their homeland, suffer state violence and stigma, while their natural resources are exploited by others and compromise their ancestral way of living. The on-going conflict with separatists merely exacerbates discrimination against Papuans, who have been repressed by decades of institutional racism and Indonesian occupation. This is the vicious cycle of violence that Paul has to deal with in his daily fight for the respect of the human rights. “Torture worsens the distrust West Papuans have in the State which, by failing to uphold the rule of law, merely fuels more separatist sentiments,” sums up Paul, Secretary of the Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham), a non-governmental organization defending human rights in Wet Papua.

Paul’s challenging working environment is the result of decades of quasi-institutionalized abuses resulting in many layers of deep-felt and pervasive grievances of West Papuans against the Indonesian Government. He is, however, gradually managing to build networks in his country, also thanks to support from organizations such as OMCT, and gradually drawing attention to the regular violations committed.

Discrimination and marginalization of Papuan have therefore worsened the situation. Government policies have also contributed to the problem. The arrival of migrants, fostered by transmigration programmes, has upset the demographics and social and cultural heritage of the people of West Papua and exacerbated competition over land and resources. Compounded with the socially and environmentally destructive development projects pushed in the region by Indonesia, this has caused widespread social disruption and environmental damage, forcing Papuan tribal groups to relocate, according to researchers from Yale Law School cited by Elsham in a 2003 Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights session.

Unreported exactions keep occurring as foreign eyes and independent international observers are barred from West Papua. It is therefore only thanks to the work of local organizations and human rights defenders such as Paul, who runs Elsham’s office in West Papua and attends international advocacy meetings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva communicating regularly with donors, that the world can know what is happening there.

“Impunity has allowed the security force, the police and the army, free access to inflict fear and terror through torture and other physical abuses,” Paul explains his motivation. “In order for torture to end the Indonesia State must take a strong action to punish those involved in its practice.”

Despite these odds and the many challenges of his job including being under Indonesian intelligence surveillance as an “independence sympathizer”, Paul, 51, trusts that the human rights conditions in West Papua will improve.

[When the Dutch Government granted independence to Indonesia in 1949, Papua was not part of it. At the end of the Dutch colonial rule, Papua was first administered, and then absorbed, by Indonesia in 1969, following a sham “referendum” requested by the United Nations. This so‑called “Act of Free Choice” was in fact a vote by just over a thousand selected Papuans (out of a population of 800,000 at the time) who had been pressured to agree to integration within Indonesia. This vote has been the bone of contention between Papuans and the Republic of Indonesian. Papuans have ever since agitated for independence, and have been conducting a still ongoing, low-level guerrilla warfare against Indonesian forces, in turn engaged in bloody repression and unpunished human rights violations. Papuans – who are Melanesian and whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago – do not identify culturally with the Asians. They see their Papuan identity and indigenous culture based on customary subsistence-based agriculture threatened by the arrival of migrants who, in turn, see the traditional Papuan way of life as backward.]

In this context see also the CNN report on the closure of NGO offices: http://freewestpapua.org/2015/12/13/indonesian-government-forces-all-ngos-to-leave-west-papua/

— by Lori Brumat in Geneva

Source: Indonesia: Meet Paul: Restoring the human rights of indigenous Papuans amid on-going conflict / December 10, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

Solomon Islands: selection of human rights defender for training in Geneva makes news

February 15, 2015

When a human rights defender from a small nation, such as the Solomon islands, is selected for fellowship programme with the United Nations, it makes a story. Teddy Kafo writes in the Solomon Star of 14 February how Watson Puiahi of the local NGO “I Lukim Sustainability Solomon Islands (ISSI)” was chosen to participate in the ‘2015 Indigenous fellowship Program’ of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Read the rest of this entry »

Human rights lawyers and indigenous people in the Philippines endangered

January 24, 2015

Human rights lawyers and their clients stage a picket at the Supreme Court to mark the ‘Day of the Endangered Lawyer’ (photo courtesy of NUPL)

Human rights lawyers in the Philippines on Friday 23 January 2015 protested publicly against the growing death toll within their ranks as they marked the “Day of the Endangered Lawyer” by trooping to the Supreme Court. The protest spearheaded by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers [NUPL] and joined by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines was joined by lawyers’ and support groups that staged pickets or held dialogues at Philippine embassies and consulates in 23 cities in 11 European countries.

Figures show that, since attacks on legal professionals began being recorded in 1977, “100 lawyers have been attacked (57 since 2001) while 50 lawyers have been killed (41 since 2001).” “Nineteen judges have been murdered, 18 since 2001”

Government must simply do its job: protect its citizens, categorically condemn these attacks on lawyers as human rights defenders; seriously and credibly investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators; and uphold human rights because the attacks on lawyers is not only an attack on the individual lawyer, it is an attack on the legal profession, and most fundamentally — in the context of the targeted assaults on human rights and public interest lawyers — an attack itself on the rights and interests of the mostly poor and oppressed in our country” 

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/103685/a-deadly-profession–human-rights-lawyers-count-the-costs-on-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer

A petition <http://www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl/wp-content/uploads/Petition-Day-of-Endangerd-Lawyer-2015.pdf> signed by lawyers organizations from Asia, Canada Europe and the United States  calls on the Aquino government  to prevent extrajudicial killings and all forms of harassment of lawyers and to end impunity by prosecuting perpetrators of rights violations. The petition also calls on the Aquino government  to protect the safety of lawyers as provided for in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1990.  Underlying causes for extrajudicial killings. The practice of labeling (classifying victims as ‘enemies of the state’), the involvement of the military in politics, the proliferation of private armies and vigilante groups and the culture of impunity have been identified by national and international fact-finding bodies as the main root causes for the alarming rate of extrajudicial killings, including the extrajudicial killings of lawyers, in the Philippines.

Away from the capital human rights violations against indigenous people and their human rights defenders also continue as demonstrated in 2 film documentaries:

Gikan sa Ngitngit nga Kinailadman” (From the Dark Depths) records grave rights violations using interviews and recollections of the survivors and witnesses. The cases featured in the film remains unresolved; the perpetrators waiting for the next human rights defender to hunt. The film shows the atrocities of the military and paramilitary troops, including the armed agents of the agro-industrial corporations in the hinterlands of Mindanao.

-The first case presented in the film is the assassination of Gilbert Paborada—a Higaonon farmer in Bagocboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental. Daisy Paborada, the wife of Gilbert, and Joseph Paborada, his brother, reiterates how the struggle of their community against the entry of palm oil plantations of A Brown Company led to Gilbert’s death.

-The film also shows interviews about the harassment of the Lumad community in Opol as they suffer from the goons of A Brown Company. The harassments and intimidation breed the culture of fear and terror among the people who opt to protect their ancestral domain vis-à-vis the environment over money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO taken during the shooting of “Gikan sa Ngitngit nga Kinailadman” in the mountains of Pantaron in Bukidnon. (RMP-NMR)

Dalena is also the director of Alingawngaw ng mga Punglo (Echo of Bullets) that exposed the criminal acts of the military under the infamous General Jovito Palparan, also known as ‘The Butcher.’ Palparan now is in jail, facing allegations of murder against human rights defenders.

Sr. Maria Famita Somogod, regional coordinator of Rmp-Nmr, said the film highlights political repression. The spate of human rights violations featured in the film is the reaction of the government to quell the legitimate dissent of the lumads against the entry of agro-industrial corporations in their ancestral domain. Somogod said the dissent of the lumads and farmers is legitimate. Their demands are to protect their ancestral domain against the encroachment of foreign corporations in the hinterlands. “Instead of seeds, bullets. Instead of food, bombs. Instead of peace, forcible evacuation. Instead of life, death,” Somogod said, adding this is what the ordinary lumads and farmers get for protecting the land of promise.

In the words of the author Anjo Bacarisas, in Sunstar of 25 January: at the end of the film one asks: How should we stop this appalling cruelty against the lumads and farmers?

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/feature/2015/01/25/underbelly-land-promise-388461

Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg a “touching” experience

November 14, 2014

November 11, 2014 - 141111  -  Canadian Journeys gallery opened at the Canadian Museum For Human Rights Tuesday, November 11, 2014. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press of 13 November 13, 2014 asks and answers the question: “Was nearly seven weeks worth the wait?” as the $351-million national museum has now pulled back the curtains on all 11 of its exhibits. Spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry would like to request just one thing — come for a visit first. “Before we were open, there were different ideas out there about our content — some were accurate, and some weren’t. Some were misconceptions that evolved into bigger misconceptions. Now, the content is there for full exploration by all the visiting public. People can come and see it and judge it on its actual merits,” she said.

The touchscreens in all of the galleries are fully operational and allow users to get a quick snapshot of whatever topic they’re researching or drill down further to get a full in-depth story.

The emphasis seems (understandably?) to be very  much on the Canadian scene (Galleries such as Canadian Journeys, Protecting Rights in Canada). There is one gallery devoted to the Holocaust.

Both the Turning Points for Humanity and Breaking the Silence galleries are full of innovative technology that helps get stories across. In the former, for example, a screen is activated when a visitor stands on a certain part of the floor. A story is told when a visitor points to it on a screen. In the latter, a study table of 19 human rights stories enables visitors to touch parts of a map or run their finger along a timeline.

The Actions Count is a feel-good gallery that recounts children and youth-led initiatives to combat issues such as bullying. The Rights Today gallery shares stories of human rights defenders such as Buffy Sainte-Marie (whose Academy Award is in a display case).

[Finally, the travelling exhibition, which should be active for about a year, is focused on peace and Canadians’ historic role in promoting peace around the world through organization, negotiation or intervention.]

 

home page of the museum: https://humanrights.ca/home

via: Museum a touching experience – Winnipeg Free Press.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/canadian-human-rights-museum-in-winnipeg-opens-after-14-years/

Yolanda Oquelí – Guatemalan Human Rights Defender in video testimony

February 24, 2014

This video with testimony by Yolanda Oquelí, human rights defender from Guatemala, was posted last year by AI Canada and recently re-issued in French by AI France.

Since March 2013, activists and members of the local community have held an ongoing protest against the mine development by Radius Gold, a company based in Vancouver, Canada, and its wholly owned Guatemalan subsidiary, Exploración Mineras de Guatemala (EXMIGUA).  Some community members claim that they were not consulted about the opening of the mine and fear it will pollute their water supply and damage land in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc municipalities. On the evening of 13 June events took a sinister turn. Outspoken anti-mining activist Yolanda Oquelí was driving home from taking part in this ongoing protest when two gunmen on a motorbike cut across in front of her car and fired four shots. Yolanda was hit and a bullet lodged close to her liver. She recovered, continues to be subject to threats.
In February 2011, protesters in north-western Guatemala’s San Marcos region were attacked after speaking out against the local Marlin Mine, owned by Canadian company Goldcorp Inc. Community activist Aniceto López, was taken to the local mayor’s office, where officials allegedly beat him and threatened to kill him if he failed to stop speaking out against the mine.

[In July 2010, another grassroots activist in San Marcos, Deodora Hernández, was shot at close range in her own home by two unknown men. She had spoken out to defend her community’s right to water amidst fears that mining had polluted the local water supply]

When James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples visited Guatemala in June 2010, he received allegations that the Guatemalan government had repeatedly granted licences for the exploration of natural resources in indigenous territories without consulting with local indigenous peoples – or receiving their free, prior and informed consent.

Human rights defender and indigenous leader Justo Sorto killed in Honduras

January 24, 2014

On 21 January 2014, the indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender, Mr Justo Sorto, was found dead in Jesús de Otoro, Western Honduras. Justo Sorto was an active member for twenty years of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations). The human rights defender was killed by several gunshots from a high-calibre weapon. [ COPINH is an organisation that works for the defence of the land and the environment, and for improving the living conditions of communities and indigenous peoples in Honduras.] The indigenous Lenca community works for the defence of its forests and against the execution of mining projects in the region.  Read the rest of this entry »

New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders

November 23, 2013

A report issued on 18 November 18, 2013 by the American Bar Association, Georgetown Human Rights Institute, and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, entitled “Tilted Scales: Social Conflict and Criminal Justice in Guatemala” describes how human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and indigenous community groups in Guatemala operate in a dangerous environment where they live under constant threat.  “The Guatemalan judicial system is being utilized to harass and intimidate human rights defenders, especially in the context of disputes between businesses and indigenous communities over property rights and land use” said Santiago A. Canton, Director of Partners for Human Rights at the RFK Center. “Human rights defenders and indigenous leaders are targeted with threats and violence, and find themselves faced with false criminal charges, while their perpetrators go unpunished.

Attorneys and civil society leaders reported that disputes between indigenous communities and extractive companies resulted from the governments failure to hold culturally appropriate, prior consultations in good faith as required under international law. The report also questions the compliance of multilateral banks and multinational corporations with international standards.  RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy added that “Many defenders report that ex-military officers who committed abuses during the internal armed conflict are now intimidating locals and committing crimes with impunity in the communities where they work.” The authors explain that defenders must contend with widely published derogatory and inflammatory statements against them, in addition to the possibility of being physically attacked or falsely accused of a crime. “Peaceful human rights activists have been labeled as terrorists by prominent commentators, including leaders affiliated with business interests” said Katharine Valencia co-author of the report. The report emphasizes the Guatemalan governments obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights to protect the physical integrity of citizens; guarantee the independence of judicial authorities; thoroughly and impartially investigate allegations of criminal activity; and protect against arbitrary detention and prolonged, unjustified pretrial detention. The report also stresses that prior to the development of projects in indigenous territories, the state must engage in good-faith, culturally appropriate, and fully informed consultations with affected communities. Finally, the report calls upon extractive industries and financial institutions to justly compensate communities that have been displaced or otherwise adversely impacted by business activity, and urges compliance with reparations agreements related to the internal armed conflict.

via New Report: Guatemala Must Immediately Protect Human Rights Defenders – The Paramus Post – Greater Paramus News and Lifestyle Webzine.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights publishes series of handy one-pagers

November 7, 2013

Today the OHCHR announces a series of one-pagers (two-sided!) that provide concise and practical information on complex human rights issues:

Core human rights in the two Covenants

Death penalty

Free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples

Gender-related killings of women and girls

Maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights

National action plans against racial discrimination

Participation of minorities in policing

Trafficking in persons

Transitional justice

Xenophobia.