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.
PRESS INFORMATION - EMBARGOED for 04:00 GMT Wednesday, 30 November 2011
A new report published today by Peruvian indigenous organisations, AIDESEP, FENAMAD and CARE, and international human rights organisation the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), reveals the impact that REDD projects and programmes are already having on the lives of indigenous peoples. The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between theory and practice - Indigenous Amazonian Peoples’ analyses and alternatives finds that REDD pilot projects run by some NGOs and companies are already undermining the rights of indigenous peoples, and are leading to carbon piracy and conflicts over land and resources. Persistent advocacy efforts by indigenous peoples’ organisations to secure respect for the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples have resulted in some government commitments to modify national REDD programmes financed by the World Bank. Nevertheless, solid guarantees for respect of these rights are yet to materialise.
Roberto Espinoza Llanos, coordinator of AIDESEP’s Climate Change Programme and one of the lead authors of the report, explains, “The commitments made by the previous government in 2011 were not made lightly, they were assumed by the State and approved in a global meeting of the World Bank’s FCPF [Forest Carbon Partnership Facility]. We hope that the present government and international entities like the World Bank will deliver on their promises to respect land and territorial rights. Continual monitoring will be necessary to make sure they keep their word.”
Summary of agreements reached between AIDESEP and MINAM (Ministry of Environment) regarding modifications to the Peru RPP, March 2011. Read them here in Spanish.
Statement by the Toshaos, Councillors and Community members of the Upper Mazaruni
Warwata, Upper Mazaruni
Indigenous Peoples of the Venezuelan Amazon again call on the Government of Hugo Chavez to fulfil its constitutonal obligation to recognise indigenous peoples' rights to their territories (referred to as 'habitat' in Venezuelan law). Only 73 villages out of over 3,000 have had their lands recognised since the law for demarcations was passed in the late 1990s leaving most indigenous peoples in Venezuela in insecurity.
In Africa, Asia and Latin America alike, forest peoples are speaking out against the continuing violations of their rights imposed by development and conservation plans that ignore their interests and deny them a voice. They go beyond resistance, insisting on their own ways of managing their lives, lands and forests.
Indigenous leaders gathered in Manaus in mid-August for a conference organized by COICA (Confederation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations of the Amazon Basin) to discuss traditional knowledge, forests and climate change, as well as the Rio+20 conference. Their final statement called for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their territories, respect for the principle of the ‘full life’ (‘vida plena’) and support for Indigenous approaches to climate mitigation in forests, (referred to in the statement as “Indigenous REDD+”). Communities were also advised to be alert to the bad practices of “carbon cowboys” and avoid entering into any contracts until international obligations on rights are fully implemented.
Nahua testimony reveals the expansion plans of the Camisea Project within a Reserve for isolated indigenous peoples and the efforts of the consortium to distort the facts. See video link of testimony and full transcript of testimony.
In April 2011 a group of Nahua hunters, indigenous inhabitants of the ‘Kugapakori, Nahua and Nanti reserve for peoples in isolation and initial contact’ in South East Peru were surprised to bump into a team of investigators conducting environmental surveys in the headwaters of the remote river Serjali. The researchers were working for Environmental Resources Management (ERM), an environmental consultancy that had been hired by the Camisea gas consortium, a mega natural gas project with operations in the neighbouring river basin.
The Nahua were outraged they were being treated with such disregard and forced ERM to leave. Pluspetrol, the Argentine energy company and consortium leader, managed to smooth over a potential conflict; persuading the Nahua that they didn’t need to worry about potential contamination as these investigations weren’t connected to the search for oil and gas but were simply efforts to monitor the local wildlife.
The planned expansion of the Camisea gas project within both Nahua territory and the Nahua/Kugapakori Reserve in South East Peru raises a series of legal, moral and social questions that address the complexities of a major gas project operating in the territories of isolated indigenous peoples.