The 2nd of May Revolt at the UN Forum on Indigenous Peoples

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The United Nations censors indigenous people at a forum for indigenous people…

From Intercontinental Cry, an excellent blog edited by Winnipeg-based John Schertow (Ahni) that reports on the struggles of the world’s land-based Indigenous Peoples.

Rebecca Sommer is in the midst of producing a video documentary about “the 2nd OF MAY REVOLT” at the recent session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York. It’s on youtube right now if you’re interested (see below for the links).

Indigenous Peoples representatives and organizations held a protest during the final day of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) two weeks ago. The delegates were angered over the Permanent Forum’s decision to endorse the World Bank’s REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries) initiative, and various other “carbon market solutions” to climate change.

Numerous comments were made throughout the forum which expressed deep concerns about these initiatives. As noted in a petition (pdf) authored by the Indigenous delegates leading up to the protest, REDD threatens to

[…] increase the violation of our rights to our lands, territories and resources; cause forced evictions; prevent access and threaten indigenous agriculture practices; destroy biodiversity, cultural diversity, traditional livelihoods and knowledge systems; and cause social conflicts. Under REDD, States and carbon traders will take more control over our forests.

The final report also claims that “clean development mechanisms” are good examples of partnership with indigenous peoples, which “respond to the needs of indigenous peoples and include them as partners in designing and implementing programmes that are responsive to local problems and to the goals and visions of indigenous women and men.”

“However, there are grave problems with each of these projects including violations of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” explains this communique from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

For example, the Jeripachi wind power project in Colombia did not get the free, prior, and informed consent of the Wayuu people to build this wind farm in a sacred territory of the Wayuu People. Indigenous Peoples’ organizations contend the assassination of over 200 Wayuu People prior to the implementation of the project was to clear the area for this and other projects. Additionally, most of the energy generated from the wind farm is used to power the Cerrajon mine, the biggest open air coal mine in the world, which itself is known for numerous human rights violations and environmental damages. Representatives of the Wayuu people who attended the Permanent Forum didn’t even know the project was being promoted as a good example.

Well, on May 2nd, after being ignored ignored throughout the entire session, the Indigenous representatives stood up and demanded the right to speak…. And then UN security was called in to remove them!

Everyone left peacefully, and a short while later the Forum clued in on what it had done (censored indigenous people at a forum for indigenous people) and told the delegates they could go ahead and speak. However, it must be stated that this now makes it three times the UN has acted to suppress indigenous voices since the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People was passed in September, 2007.

The first time, of course, was at the UN Climate Change Negotiations in Bali. And the second time, during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in February, 2008.

At least the Indigenous delegates were allowed to speak this time. Of course, no amount of words are going to matter when the people who need to hear them have already chosen their course – a fact the UN Permanent Forum ended up reaffirming beyond all doubt. They kept the offensive statements in their report, word for word.