December 15, 2009
SUSTAINING indigenous communities and minority groups is increasingly important in the face of an expanding global population.
The need for natural resources such as oil and land is becoming more precedent especially in the face of climate change.
Minority groups and indigenous peoples occupying the required land face cultural and physical genocide as governments attempt to meet their economic, social and environmental objectives.
In West Papua, the indigenous people have suffered years of persecution at the hands of the occupying Indonesian forces.
West Papua, which was allocated to Indonesia as part of the New York agreement in August 1962, has an abundance of land, oil, copper and gold.
According to FreeWestPapua.org, the global demand for these resources has led to the gradual displacement and destruction of the Papuan tribes.
Peter Marshall a journalist from Indymedia.com says after the 1962 agreement a number of prominent Papuan leaders were forced to vote in favor of Indonesian occupation, coining the label ‘the act of no choice’.
“Since then (1962) there have been many reports of repression by Indonesia in the country, including murder, political assassinations, torture, rapes, disappearances and bombing.
“The government also had a program of resettling migrants from Indonesia in the country, apparently aimed at producing an Indonesian majority population,” says Marshall.
The Papuan people, who were granted independence by Indonesia’s predecessor, the Netherlands, continue to fight for self-governorship using both passive and violent methods.
In July the Indonesian Newspaper, Kompas Cyber Media, reported that the National Liberation Army of the free west Papua movement gathered at the border between West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
The group raised the Morning Star Flag, the West Papuan symbol of independence, in support of self-governorship.
Fifty West Papuan supporters assembled in Melbourne on August 14 to commemorate the New York Agreement, they took their protest to the United States and Indonesian consulates to remind them of the West Papuan tragedy.
In an article on Green left online reporter Selena Black said:
“The protestors promised to further the campaign internationally so that the genocide of indigenous West Papuans is no longer ignored.”
As a result of the global demand for West Papua’s natural resources the American mining company Freeport McMoran set up a gold and copper mine in the Grasberg area.
The establishment of the Grasberg mine resulted in the forced deportation of the Papuan communities who resided on the land.
In August this year the Amungme tribe filed a $30 billion lawsuit against Freeport McMoran for damages sustained to their ancestral lands over the 40 years of the Grasberg mines operations.
The tribe’s lawyer, Titus Natkime, claims the Amungme people own the 2.6 million hectares on which the mine is located.
“The tribe holds the traditional rights to own the land and all its resources, but other people took away all the financial benefits from us.
“From 1969 to 2009, our land has been exploited and we have not had a fair share of the wealth it generates,” said Mr Natkime in an interview with Heru Andriyanto from the Jakarta Globe.
A spokesperson from Freeport McMoRan, Mindo Pangaribuan, responded to the Amungme’s claim by email, stating:
“Since 1996, PT Freeport Indonesia has allocated 1 percent of its gross revenue for a society development program, and in 2008 the partnership fund reached some $324 million.”
The ethnic minorities of Myanmar, like the West Papuan’s face cultural and physical genocide under the countries military regime led by General Thein Sein.
General Thein Sein seized power after the 1990 elections, which were won by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy.
They won 82 per cent of the parliamentary seats, yet the military rejected the results, imprisoned the victors and intensified its grip on power.
Since then the Burmese people, primarily the ethnic minorities have been terrorized by an overwhelmingly brutal regime.
Ethnic groups including the Chin, Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon, face religious and cultural persecution under a regime that will do anything to stay in power.
Reporters and human rights activists Caroline Cox and Benedict Rogers said in an article in the Telegraph, if the regime continues to terrorize the ethnic minorities these groups could vanish forever.
“The Chin people, like other ethnic groups, endure widespread and systematic forced labor and rape.
“Over the past two years, their suffering has been compounded by a chronic food shortage, caused by a natural phenomenon,” say Cox and Rogers.
At the ASEAN summit in Thailand in October, General Thein Sein deflected international criticism over the treatment of the nation’s ethnic minorities.
He revealed nothing about the up and coming elections in Myanmar next year, the first elections to be held since General Thein Sein seized power in 1990.
General Thein Sein responded to the criticism at a press conference at the end of the summit saying:
“We underscored the importance of achieving national reconciliation and that the general elections to be held in Myanmar [Burma] in 2010 must be conducted in a fair, free, inclusive and transparent manner in order to be credible to the international community.”
The ASEAN nations however, are optimistic about the up and coming elections after the United States offered to act as a mediator between General Thein Sein and the other Asian regimes.
Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh responded by saying:
“We are aware of a new era of hope and that there will be some normalization of relations between Burma and the United States, which we welcome.”
Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, reiterated this saying:
“ASEAN has always argued that engagement is the right approach. We feel that if everybody takes this approach we would be encouraging Myanmar [Burma] in her successful implementation of her own roadmap [to democracy].”
Looking at General Thein Sein’s track record, it is highly unlikely that by next year the nation will be a democracy under which the ethnic minorities will longer face political oppression.
Mongolia’s Tsaatan reindeer herder’s have faced a similar predicament to the people of Myanmar and West Papua.
As a result of the recent upheavals of Mongolia’s socialist era (1921-1991) and regulation changes such as the introduction of strict hunting laws, the Tsaatan people have become politically, economically, culturally and socially marginalized.
The Tsaatan, however, have suffered a much more positive fate.
Up until recently tour guides were bringing tourists into the remote mountain area of Tsagaannuur in the Hovsgol Province without giving anything back to the community.
Bayanjargal a Tssantan tribesman says on msn’s world blog , the tourists who visited her community treated her people like objects in a museum.
“Tour operators were taking Americans and Europeans out to this remote place, charging thousands of dollars and the community wasn’t getting a penny of that,” she says.
However with the help of an American woman named Morgan Keay the Tsaatan people came up with the solution of eco-tourism.
Eco-tourism is to provide a sustainable income to the Tsaatan tribe that will insure their survival.
The tribe, with the help of Ms Keay, has since set up the Tsaatan Community and Visitors Centre in Tsagaannuur, which has hosted 100 people since it first opened earlier this year.
Borhuu, one of the Tsaatan managers of the project who also doubles as a guide says on msn’s world blog:
“The biggest achievement was establishing the TCVC (Tsaatan Community and Visitors Centre)… before, we didn’t have an income source like this.
“Now we are working and earn a salary,” he says.
Like the Tsaatan reindeer hunters, a number of American Indian tribes have made a cultural comeback after facing years of social, cultural and social marginalization.
American Indian tribes from all over America are now gathering together regularly to celebrate their unique culture.
In September several tribes gathered to attend the International Conference on Building Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Communities.
The conference aimed at encouraging the various tribes to build sustainable communities through the preservation of their culture, meditation, organic agriculture and renewable energy.
Various tribal groups assembled at the recreational community centre in Carbondale, Colorado on December 5 for the Centro de Estudios Indigenas de las America festival.
The three-day festival, that celebrates the American’s Indian culture, included traditional music, dancing and food.
Dr. Ramon Nenadich the gatherings organizer, said in an article on postindependent.com , that humankind can take two trains, one that is headed towards an abyss with no driver:
“The other is headed toward the salvation of humanity.
“It is moving more slowly, and stopping all the time. It is the train of forgiveness, of humbleness and of understanding. The driver of that train is the indigenous people.
“Most of society is on the wrong train,” he said.
The gathering was concluded with a fundraiser for the organization backing the festival, the Davi Nikent organization.
In a world where so many ethnic groups and indigenous peoples run the risk of losing their culture and identity it is important remember that there is a solution.
One has only look at the Tsaatan Reindeer herder’s and the American Indian tribes to realize that there are ways of sustaining these cultures, however it is a slow process that still requires a lot of work.
December 9, 2009
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the Deceleration of Human Rights. In this light it is important to remember the terrible oppression of the people of Myanmar under General Thein Sein’s military regime.
General Thein Sein seized power in 1990 after the elections, that were won by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). They won 82 per cent of the parliamentary seats, yet the military rejected the results, imprisoned the victors and intensified its grip on power.
Since then the Burmese people, primarily the ethnic minorities have been terrorized by a overwhelmingly brutal regime. Ethinc groups such as the Chin who are predominantly Christian, Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon, face religious and cultural persecution under a regime that will do anything to stay in power.
“They face cultural genocide, and there may even be a case of attempted genocide to investigate.”
The Chin have been forced to abandon their religion, and their children have been lured away and trained as Buddhist monks.
“The Chin people, like other ethnic groups, endure widespread and systematic forced labour and rape. Over the past two years, their suffering has been compounded by a chronic food shortage, caused by a natural phenomenon.”
It is important that other nations put pressure on the Myanmar government to stop committing human rights abuses against it’s own people in the face of the up and coming elections next year. Caroline Cox and Benedict Rogers report
December 8, 2009
Post Independent’s, John Stroud reports on a Native American gathering at the recreational community centre in Carbondale, Colorado on December 5.
The three day festival which celebrates the American’s indian culture, included traditional music, dancing and food.
Dr. Ramon Nenadich the gatherings organiser said in Stroud’s article that humankind can take two trains, one that is headed towards an abyss with no driver:
“The other is headed toward the salvation of humanity,” he said. “It is moving more slowly, and stopping all the time. It is the train of forgiveness, of humbleness and of understanding. The driver of that train is the indigenous people.
” Most of society is on the wrong train,” he said.
The gathering was concluded with a fundraiser for the organisation backing the festival, the Davi Nikent organization. Click here to read Stroud’s article
The link between Nigeira’s indigenous culture and the political manpower needed to efficently it’s ecomonic potentianshals is missing says the Guardian’s Bridget Chiedu Onochie in her article At workshop, culture workers told to harness Nigeria’s culture-tourism potentials.
This was the focus of the Third National Workshop organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation held in Kaduna, last week. The conference decided that Nigera’s cultural tourism potentials should be harnessed. Through proper festivals, historical and cultural sites as well as a tourism programe that guarantees the inflow of international tourists. Making culture play a vital role in international relations.
They said in order to achive this the “government has to take concrete steps to re-brand and repackage the nation’s culture in a way that it can be marketable to the rest of the world.”
October 29, 2009
Larry Jagan from Mizzima. com reports that Prime Minister and General Thein Sein managed to deflect international criticism at the ASEAN summit held in Thailand this month and reveal nothing about the up and coming elections to be held in Myanmar next year.
The Myanmar government made the following statement at the end of the summit:
“We underscored the importance of achieving national reconciliation and that the general elections to be held in Myanmar [Burma] in 2010 must be conducted in a fair, free, inclusive and transparent manner in order to be credible to the international community,” read the president’s statement at the end of the summit.”
Something postive did come out of the summit however, with other attending antions sounding more optomistic about the possibilty of Mynamar becoming a democracy.
Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said the following when asked about India’s policy towards Burma on the last day of the summit.“We are aware of a new era of hope and that there will be some normalization of relations between Burma and the United States, which we welcome.”
Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, made the following statement”ASEAN has always argued that engagement is the right approach. We feel that if everybody takes this approach we would be encouraging Myanmar [Burma] in her successful implementation of her own roadmap [to democracy].”
These two statements come as a result of the United States offer to mitigate between the Myanmar regime and the other ASEAN nations on the path to a democratic regime for the Burmese people. Read Larry Jagan’s article.
October 11, 2009
A non-profit organisation called ‘Sustaining Cultures’ has been established in Taos, New Mexico. The organisation helps maintain indigenous peoples culture and beliefs.
“A world where diverse indigenous cultures and races of people live peacefully with respect and understanding for each other.”
Sustaning Cultures work with indigenous peoples from all around the world to increase their standard of living without loosing touch with their roots. Fair trade markets are set up to sell the products that are created by indigenous peoples and community support programmes are created to aid the local governing force.
Education programmes have been established by the organisation for non-indigenous peoples to promote awareness and appreciation of indigenous cultures. Click here to find out more about Sustaining Cultures
October 5, 2009
Barbara Williams from mercurynews.com has interviewed Ryan Mlynarczyk and Mandy Creighton who are making a documentary to make people consider the benefits of living in sustainable communities. The pair are filming their documentary as they search for a sustainable home by biking 12,000 miles over a 18 month span.
The pair left San Francisco on Oct. 5, 2008 and have cycled for more than 117 days and have interviewed more than 525 people for their film. The duo intend to finish their treck by April of 2010.
“We’ve learned so much that we want to share,” Mlynarczyk, 33, told Williams “But we don’t want to make a boring educational film or talk just about tips for people. We want to spark them, to inspire them to Google what they want to know.”
October 5, 2009
West Papua was struck by a 6.1- magnitude earth quake on Sunday. The quake occurred 123 kilometers north-west of West Papua’s capital of Manokwari and reached a depth of 56 kilometres. The head of the Indonesian geophysics agency said the earthquake in Papua has nothing to do with that in Sumatra, the tectonic plates in both incidents are different” and that “there were no immediate reports of injuries in West Papua”. (Reported by ABC News) Read Original Article.
September 21, 2009
Rob Capriccioso from Indian Country Today reports that American Indian tribes from around America are gathering together ” to focus on building sustainable communities through meditation, renewable energy, organic agriculture and cultural preservation.”
The ‘International Conference on Building Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Communities’ will be held from Sepetember 25 – 27 and the organisers expect hundreds to attend. Read Full Story