Indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname still open to dialogue
By the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (VIDS)
A conference organised by the Government of Suriname on 21 and 22 October 2011, which was meant to clarify positions and proposals on land rights and build mutual understanding between the Government and indigenous and tribal (maroon) peoples, ended in a very abrupt manner. The Government even called it “a disaster” on 23 October 2011. Surprised by the massive solidarity and collaboration between the indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname, and in a move that showed great disrespect to traditional leaders who had traveled long distances to attend the conference, the President of Suriname decided to close the conference early following the indigenous and tribal peoples’ presentation of their joint position on land and resource rights. With this, all subsequent dialogue between the indigenous and tribal peoples and the government has ceased.
In 2010, the Teribe indigenous people of Costa Rica decided to speak out in response to what they consider gross human rights violations to their people in relation to the proposed Diquís Dam in the country’s South Pacific region. This project will lead to the partial flooding of two indigenous territories and other grave impacts on 5 indigenous territories. In defence of their rights, the Teribe filed their first claim to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in mid 2010 and to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These actions have resulted in progress both nationally and internationally.