English versionVersión en castellano Photo ArchiveLinksShop
For Some Bushmen, a Homeland Worth the Fight

22 November 2010

The Bushmen of Botswana’s central Kalahari are well known to the world, the subject of books, films and anthropological studies. They are frequently portrayed — or, as many say, romanticized — as classic hunter-gatherers, a living link to humankind’s collective beginnings. But for decades, they have been entrenched in a tug of war over their fate that has often gone unnoticed, a saga now replete with edicts and court cases, with alcohol abuse and sundered families, with an aboriginal people despairing about the uncertainty of their future.

Since the 1980s, Botswana, a landlocked nation of two million people, has both coaxed and hounded the Bushmen to leave the game reserve, intending to restrict the area to what its name implies, a wildlife refuge empty of human residents. Withholding water is one tactic, and in July a High Court ruled that the government had every right to deny use of that modern oasis, the borehole. An appeal was filed in September.

These days, only a few hundred Bushmen live within the reserve. Most of the Bushmen have moved to dreary resettlement areas on the outskirts, where they wait in line for water, wait on benches at the clinic, wait around for something to do, wait for the taverns to open so they can douse their troubles with sorghum beer. Once among the most self-sufficient people on earth, many of them now live on the dole, waiting for handouts.

Source: The NY Times, 4 November 2010

 Read the full article in the NY Times here

Protest against land acquisition for Ruma Cantonment and BDR Wing HQ in Ruma of CHT 

22 November 2010

On 8 November 2010, indigenous Jumma peoples in Ruma upazila under Bandarban Hill District organised demonstration and held meeting at Ruma Upazilla HQ protesting against acquisition of lands of the Jumma people recorded in their names as well as occupied by them so far for expansion of Ruma Cantonment of the Bangladesh Army and establishment of new wing headquarter of BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) in Ruma. The protest was organised by the local Jumma people under the banner of the People from All Levels in Ruma.

It is noted that the Army authority during the pre-CHT Accord period put a plan to acquire 9,560 acres of land for expansion of Ruma cantonment. Since mid 1980s the local Army authority time and again made attempts to have acquisition of the proposed area. Every time the local Jumma People particularly the Murung (Mro), who numbering to about 15,000 (Fifteen thousand) are to be uprooted even from their whole mouza (local traditional area unit) and would become completely landless and deprived from their livelihood, the occupation of plough land cultivation and shifting agriculture cultivation.

 Continue reading

 Read more on the Website of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (Chittagong Hill Tracts United Peoples' Party): pcjss-cht.org

General Assembly Will Hold ‘World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ in 2014,

18 November 2010

Concerned about the extreme social and economic disadvantages that indigenous peoples have faced, the Third Committee approved a draft resolution today that would have the General Assembly organize a high-level plenary meeting in 2014 — to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014 - to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Approved without a vote, the document would invite the President of the General Assembly to determine the modalities for the high-level meeting, including indigenous peoples’ participation at the Conference, through open-ended consultations with Member States, indigenous people’s representatives in the framework of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The Assembly would also expand the mandate of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, so that it could assist representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities to participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council and human rights treaty bodies. 
 Download a copy of the resolution A/C.3/65/L.22/Rev.1 as pdf here

UN expert praises Congo’s draft law on indigenous rights

15 November 2010
An independent United Nations human rights expert today welcomed a draft law in the Republic of Congo intended to recognize and protect the rights of marginalized indigenous communities in the central African country.

“I welcome the development of a bill for a law on indigenous peoples, and am pleased to have heard from Government and parliamentary officials that the bill will very likely be adopted into law during the current session of Parliament, before the end of the year,” said James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

  Read more (UN Human Rights News)

Canada endorses UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

15 November 2010
On November 12, the Canadian government has announced its endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was passed by the UN General Assembly in September 2007 after nearly 25 years of negotiations. This decision comes as a reversal of Canada's earlier opposition to the declaration, which it had pursued together with Australia, the USA and New Zealand, which all have since revised their attitude towards the DRIP.

 Official statement by the Government of Canada
Chair of UN forum welcomes Canada’s endorsement of indigenous rights treaty

Paraguay: Ayoreo protest English museum expedition to the Chaco

10 November 2010

Natural History Museum expedition to remote area threatens uncontacted indigenous groups

An expedition of more than 20 scientists from the Natural History Museum is due to leave London this month to conduct a large scale research study in a remote area of Paraguay, near the border with Bolivia, alongside local scientists and support staff, forming a total expedition team of over 60. But the presence of uncontacted indigenous people from the Ayoreo ethnic group in the area has led local indigenous leaders to demand in a letter to the Paraguayan President, Fernando Lugo, that this huge expedition be immediately cancelled.

The expedition, called “Paraguay 2010”, would take researchers from diverse fields into virgin areas of the Dry Chaco, the largest dry forest in South America, covering a vast area of North Western Paraguay, Eastern Bolivia and Northern Argentina, with the largest part of virgin forest around the border area between Paraguay and Bolivia, where the scientists will be visiting. They describe it as “one of the great under-explored areas on Earth”.

However, the museum has now been sent detailed evidence, compiled by Paraguayan indigenous rights NGO, Iniciativa Amotocodie, whose work involves monitoring the presence of the uncontacted groups around the Chaco, which shows that the area is in fact home to several indigenous groups, who live without contact with modern civilization, and who reject and avoid all external contact. The isolated Ayoreo whose territories lie in the Chaco, in Paraguay and Bolivia, are the only remaining uncontacted peoples in Latin America outside of the Amazon basin.  

 Read the complete press release by Iniciativa Amotocodie, who records 6-7 groups of isolated Ayoreo in Paraguay, 3 of which are cross-border groups, and at least one group in Bolivia. It is estimated that groups in Paraguay altogether contain up to 150 people.

 Read the letter of protest by Ayoreo leaders here

 IWGIA is publishing a series of books and reports on indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in South America. The report on the Ayoreo is available in both English and Spanish - see under background material - the rest are available in Spanish here

Background information

Click on the cover to read or buy the IWGIA report on the situation of the Ayoreo

Click on the cover to download the article about Paraguay from IWGIA's yearbook 2010 as a pdf

 Visit the web site of Inciativa Amotocodie (IA)
 Follow IA on facebook
 Sign the petition againts the expedition here

Note on the COP 10 of the Convention of Biological Diversity

9 november 2010

By Patricia Borraz, Almáciga

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place in Nagoya (Japan) from 18 to 29 October 2010. This note provides a number of links that will enable you to access relevant information on the process and outcome of the COP in relation to indigenous peoples.
The COP had a number of important issues on the agenda. Firstly, it had to establish a new Strategic Plan and Targets in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The previous target, which anticipated reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, has not been reached. The discussions on the new Plan were long-drawn-out and heated, with many countries against setting targets that were too ambitious or that had fixed dates or percentages, in order to avoid any further failure from being noted, while civil society and some Parties were proposing more ambitious plans and the need to mobilise financial resources to help developing countries fulfil them. 
 Continue reading 


Colombian indigenous still in danger of extinction

1 November 2010
Advocates warn that many indigenous peoples in Colombia still face the danger of extinction due to an increase in homicides, threats and instances of forced displacement.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees issued a report Aug. 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, focusing on these imminent and present dangers. The threats could result in the physical or cultural disappearance of many peoples, and the warnings about this emergency are not new.

 Read more (Indian Country Today)

Biodiversity Pact Begins With the Genes

1 November 2010
The delegates to the 10th Conference of Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity ended up with a relatively weak plan for the Herculean task of halting the disappearance of species. The exception was a pact on the use of genetic resources. Delegates from 193 countries agreed to put under protection 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans by 2020 to stop the loss of plant and animal diversity in their ecosystems.  Currently less than 10 percent of land and less than one percent of the oceans are protected. Previous targets had been 25 and 15 percent, respectively. But among the items agreed was the "Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilisation," the most notable achievement of COP 10 -- which had been in negotiations for 18 years.

 Read more (IPS news)

UN Human Rights Council adopts two resolutions related to indigenous peoples' rights

20 October 2010

On September 30th, 2010, the 15th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to renew the mandate and change the name of the former “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People.” This position is currently held by Professor James Anaya and will now be called “the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”  
The second resolution addressed other areas of work on the rights of Indigenous Peoples including the UN Voluntary Fund, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the organization of half-day panel on Indigenous languages at the Human Rights Council next year.

 Download resolution A/HRC/RES/15/14 on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur
 Download resolution A/HRC/RES/15/7 on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Peru: New Oil Spill in Corrientes River

20 October 2010
Eleven communities of Villa Trompeteros in the region of Loreto do not have drinking water due to an oil spill caused by the company, Pluspetrol, in the Corrientes River, which took place a week ago.
This claim was made by the members of the Federation of Native Communities of the Corrientes River (FECONACO) and the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP).

< font>Read more (servindi.org)

UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples reports to UN General Assembly

18 October 2010
On 18 October 2010, Prof. James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples, presented his second annual report to the United Nations General Assembly in New York during its 65th session. In his report, Prof. James Anaya notes that indigenous peoples are entitled to their own institutions and self-governing structures to enable them to manage their own affairs and ensure that the development process is aligned with their own cultural patterns, values and customs

Read more

Chile: Support the Indigenous People of Rapa Nui

4 October 2010

This morning a C-47 military plane arrived on Rapanui (aka Easter Island) with a contingency of SWAT teams to augment the already in-place armed forces set to remove indigenous Rapanui people from their ancestral lands.

The Rapanui people pledge support from their Indigenous brothers and sisters, peoples movements and wider civil society, to urgently contact, petition, protest Chilean embassies to demand that the Chilean Government cease hostilities against the Rapa Nui people and recognise their rights to their homeland.

'The Chileans are still colonizing the island and continuing to destroy the ancient archeological sites which have been desginated by UNESCO as a "patrimony to humanity."'
 Read more on http://saverapanui.org/home.html

India: Enforced Disappearance of Anthony Shing, Head of Foreign Affairs of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland

4th October 2010

Anthony Shing is the Head of Foreign Affairs of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), which has been holding peace talks with the Government of India since 1997. Anthony Shing went missing on 27 September, 2010. He disappeared after he landed at Kathmandu international airport on 27th. He was on his way to India to attend the next round of peace talks scheduled to start on 29 September 2010.

 Read more and appeal to the governments of India and Nepal

Bangladesh: Indigenous peoples demand recognition right in Constitution

27 September 2010

On 25 September, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum yesterday reiterated its demand for constitutional recognition of the ethnicity, language and culture of the country's indigenous people. They also demanded constitutional recognition of the indigenous people of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) for their political, economic, social, cultural and religious security. The forum placed the demands at a human chain programme in front of the National Museum at Shahbagh in the city

  Recognise the indigenous in constitution, Adivasi Forum urges govt (The Daily Star)
 Indigenous peoples call for restoration of '72 constitution (The Daily Star)

Climate Justice Treks from Cochabamba to Cancún

24 September 2010

The "people's" climate agenda that the Bolivian government and civil society produced at an April conference in Cochabamba has made its way to the official United Nations negotiating table. But its inclusion in a binding climate treaty is unlikely, say activists.

The agreement approved by the World Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, was a response -- founded on the idea of climate justice -- to the derailed official talks for a new, obligatory global climate pact.
Read more (InterPress Service)

Human Rights Council hears presentation by Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples

20 September 2010
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the presentation of reports by James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. It also concluded its general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council's attention.

Mr. Anaya, presenting his reports, said the first part of his written report to the Council presented a summary of his activities, and in the second he presented views on the responsibilities of business enterprises in relation to the human rights of indigenous peoples. Since his last report, he had continued his efforts to work in cooperation with the other United Nations agencies and mechanisms that dealt with issues confronting indigenous peoples. In conjunction with this work, he had continued to carry out work in four principal areas to fulfil his mandate. These were promoting good practices; communications relating to alleged human rights violations; country reports; and thematic studies. Efforts to promote good practices had involved advocating for endorsement of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by those States that did not do so in the General Assembly two years ago.
 Read more (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)

UN Voluntary fund for indigenous populations accepting applications for 2011
15 September 2010
The United Nations Voluntary fund for indigenous populations is currently accepting applications for indigenous representatives seeking funding for their participation in the 2011 sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)

The deadline for applications is 1 October 2010.

Website of the UN Voluntary Fund

Indigenous Peoples and Environmentalists denounce Shell for Financing the Program REDD

13 September 2010

Indigenous and environmental leaders denounced the oil company, Shell, for entering the carbon market with the objective of cleaning up its image and gaining huge profits as part of a false solution to global climate change.

The Nigerian environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, Chairman of Friends of the Earth International; Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network; and Teguh Surya, Campaign Director of the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WAHLI) – Friends of the Earth Indonesia, among others, have all denounced Shell.

 Read more (Servindi)

Perú: Seven Years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

13 September 2010

One hundred forty-six women listed in the register of victims of political violence, who should have had access to financial reparations, have passed away in recent years without the State having done a thing to redress them. This figure, provided by the Demus association, illustrates the harsh reality of the nearly eighty thousand victims and family members that are still waiting for the government to fulfill its obligation to provide and implement a comprehensive reparation plan.

 Read more (Servindi)

No Dialogue in Mapuche Conflict

9 September 2010

The Chilean government is pushing through legal reforms in an attempt to bring to an end a nearly two month hunger strike by 34 Mapuche indigenous prisoners. But it is failing to address two critical aspects of the conflict: the lack of effective dialogue and a failure to recognise it as a political problem.

"The Mapuche people's demands don't only have to do with the Mapuche. It's a problem of Chilean society as a whole," José Araya, coordinator of the Citizenship and Intercultural Programme of the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizen Observatory, a local NGO), told IPS. A group of Mapuche inmates who describe themselves as political prisoners declared a hunger strike on Jul. 12. They were gradually joined by others, to reach a total of 34 fasters, held in different prisons in southern Chile.

Read full story (IPS)
Letter by civil rights observatory to UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya
Chilean Civil Rights Observatory (in Spanish)

Court orders Peru to consult indiginous peoples on mining, oil Projects

3 September 2010

Peru's highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, said the executive branch isn't fully complying with international conventions that oblige it to consult with indigenous peoples before approving projects, especially in the mining and hydrocarbons sector.  The Tribunal Wednesday ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to fully comply as soon as possible with its obligation to put into place the right to allow indigenous groups to have "prior and informed" consultation.

Read more (Tradingmarkets.com)

Brazil: Government gives go-ahead for Belo Monte dam

27 August 2010

Brazil's government has given the formal go-ahead for the building on a tributary of the Amazon of the world's third biggest hydroelectric dam. After several failed legal challenges, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the contract for the Belo Monte dam with the Norte Energia consortium. Critics say the project will damage the local ecosystem and make homeless 50,000 mainly indigenous people.

 Read full story (BBC News)


Mali nomads flee drought

27 August 2010
Nomadic communities in northern Mali's desert regions are facing one of the most serious droughts of the last twenty years.

"Since the end of last year's rainy season, many herders understood that this was going to be a drought year," said Mohamed Assaleh, mayor of the northern town of Talatye. "Grass hasn't grown anywhere in the district. So they have decided to search for pastures further afield."

More than a quarter of the district's population has already migrated elsewhere - towards the Niger river at Tessie and Ouattagouna, into neighbouring Niger and even as far as Burkina Faso far to the south.

Read full story (IPS news)

India: Dongria Kondh tribe in stunning victory over mining giant

27 August 2010
On 24 August, India’s Dongria Kondh tribe has won a stunning victory over one of the world’s biggest mining companies. In an extraordinary move, India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has blocked Vedanta Resources’ controversial plan to mine bauxite on the tribe’s sacred hills.

Actor and broadcaster Michael Palin said today, ‘I’m absolutely delighted that the threat of destruction has been lifted from those who have lived for so long in the Nyamgiri hills. I hope it will send a signal to the big corporations that they can never assume that might is right. It’s a big victory for the little people.’

 Read full story (Survival International)
 Amnesty International:  India rejection of Vedanta mine a landmark victory for Indigenous rights

UN Special Rapporteur publishes report on indigenous peoples of Russia

25 August 2010
The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya, has made public his report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation, which follows a visit to the country from 4 to 16 October 2009. In the report, the Special Rapporteur welcomes initiatives undertaken by the federal and some regional governments to improve the living conditions of indigenous peoples and to advancing their cultures and participation in decision-making. Still, he writes, further efforts are needed to ensure that the existing laws are fully and consistently implemented throughout Russia and for all indigenous peoples, and to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights, especially to lands and resources, consultation, and participation at the municipal, regional and federal levels, are fully respected.

UN Press release 
Full report in English (PDF)
The Report in Russian (PDF)

Russia: Residents of Northern Yakutia feel devastating effects of global warming

24 August 2010
According to the Russian news agency Vostok-Media, Chukchi representatives from Yakutia say, that their community might disappear within the next decade. This is what Villagers of Kolymskoye told the Russian news agency Vostok-Media, responding to questions about the impact of the record summer heat, which has hit the Far North East of Sakha (Yakutia), a giant autonomous territory in Russia’s Far East, within which the world’s coldest permanently inhabited places are located.

 Read more

Burundi: Batwa representatives nominated to the National Assembly and Senate

18 August 2010

According to the Constitution and the electoral code of Burundi, the national independent electoral commission should nominate 3 Batwa (indigenous peoples) to the National Assembly and 3 Batwa to the Senate based on a list presented by the representative organizations of Batwa, which are legally recognized and regionally represented.  In Burundi, 5 indigenous organizations have presented candidates after consultation meetings with the indigenous peoples. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court has published the final results of the last legislative election.  The list below contains the names and organisations of the Batwa nominated:


Ecuador: Indigenous human rights defenders investigated for terrorism after protests

17 august 2010

The Ecuadorian government is investigating Marlon Santi (president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONIAE) for alleged sabotage and terrorism in connection with his participation in a protest against government exclusion of Indigenous representatives from a high-level, international meeting about Indigenous issues. On June 24 and 25, the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela met in Otavalo to discuss, among other issues, Indigenous affairs, but no Indigenous groups were invited to this meeting of the “Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA).” This omission spurred a protest by thousands of Indigenous people.
Increasingly, the Ecuadoran government has been launching investigations and legal actions against NGOs that oppose the government, especially those involved in anti-mining activities. Ecuador’s new mining law now guarantees mining companies protection of their operations; hence these accusations seem to serve to marginalize the voices of Indigenous and campesino organizations.

 Read more on the web site of Cultural Survival

Rights of San people violated in Botswana

15 August 2010   

After being forcibly removed from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana in 20002, the Bushmen won a historic victory on 13 December 2006, when Botswana's High Court ruled that their eviction by the government was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’. The Court also ruled that they have the right to live inside the reserve, on their ancestral land inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. However, this ruling has been seriously crippled by the denial to Kalahari Bushmen of the right to water contained in the judgment no. MAHLB-000393-09 delivered Wednesday July 21st 2010 by the High Court in Lobatse, Botswana. The right and access to water are essential to the full enjoyment of the right to life and all the rights contained in the African Charter. A denial of such right is a denial of the basic right and the denial of the right to life as enshrined in the article 4 of the African Charter.

Read the press release of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on this issue. 

Read more
4 August 2010 Botswana: bushmen lose right to Kalahari water well

For background information please download the article on Botswana from the Indigenous World 2010 as a pdf file here 
Go to IWGIA’s Botswana Country Profile


10 August 2010  

In a historic constitutional referendum on 4th August, 2010, 68 % of the Kenyan’s who turned out to vote supported the proposed new constitution. Indigenous communities also voted in favour of the proposed new constitution. The new constitution is a clean break with the past and provides several avenues for the pursuit and strengthening of indigenous peoples individual and collective rights.

Read more about the gains for indigenous peoples ...