International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. This was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 23 December 1994. As we celebrate this day, we remember our indigenous leaders and activists who contributed to the local, national and global indigenous peoples' movements, who passed away or disappeared. In the Philippines, we remember James Balao, in particular, an Igorot leader who disappeared under the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and remains disappeared until today. We also remember, Nelson Mallari, a leader of the Aeta peoples in Central Luzon who just passed away. We remember Mr. Alloy and Mr. Sombolinggi in Indonesia, the founders and leaders of AMAN (National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago) who also passed away last month. We give thanks to them and all the other indigenous martyrs in others parts of the world who dedicated their lives to the indigenous peoples' struggles. We also remember the people in Philippines who lost their homes and some of their loved ones at the height of the enhanced monsoon rains in these past three days.
We thank all those who got involved in getting the international community to adapt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which embeds all the collective and individual rights which are inherent in each indigenous peoples and individuals. We thank all those who are trying their best to get this Declaration implemented and operationalized in their nations, countries and communities. We are convinced that we have the strength, the knowledge and the capacities to get this implemented, ourselves, and to be active agents of change for the good, not only for ourselves, but for the broader society and Mother Earth.
As we celebrate this day, we celebrate the victories we, indigenous peoples, achieved in our struggles to get our rights respected, protected and fulfilled and the steps we gained as we assert our self-determined development, at the local, national and global levels. We should be able to learn our lessons well and use these to enhance and improve further our knowledge and wisdom, our actions, and our life plans.
As we celebrate this day we should also acknowledge that there are still a lot of challenges in our struggles. Many States and corporations still do not recognize our distinct identities as indigenous peoples and are not implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as they should. Militarization still remains a key problem in many indigenous peoples' territories. The oppression and discrimination against indigenous women, adolescents and girls persist. Our capacities to transmit indigenous values and knowledge to our youth and children remain limited. Racism, discrimination and fundamentalism of religions and ideologies is becoming more pervasive in many parts of the world. Thus, we should strengthen further our resolve to face these challenges by strengthening our own selves, our nations, communities, institutions and networks to be able to address these in more united and organized ways.
As we celebrate this day, we give thanks to our ancestors, our elders and spiritual leaders, who bestowed on us the wisdom, values and spiritual strength to pursue their and our dreams and visions of a more humane, just and sustainable world. Many of use still see ourselves as part of Mother Earth and many of us regard our communities to include not only us human beings but all the living and non-living, the seen and the unseen, the past, the present and the future. In the face of the present multiple ecological, economic and cultural crises, we, indigenous peoples, should reinforce and further enrich the wisdom, knowledge, values and practices we learned to contribute long-lasting solutions to these crises. We should be able to discern more deeply what contributions we can provide to our own communities and to the broader society and how we can enhance these contributions. We need to identify ways on how we can work more constructively and on a more equal basis with others to shape the great transformation badly needed in these troubled times.
As we celebrate this day, we give thanks to our friends, supporters and allies who are willing to understand more deeply the rights and development issues we are struggling for and who are willing to provide us the technical, moral and financial support we badly need. They are our fellow travelers and workers in bringing about the transformation towards a world we all would like to leave to our future generations.
We, in Tebtebba, together with our partner indigenous peoples’ organizations in various countries, pledge to continue our work in ensuring the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and operationalizing and realizing indigenous peoples’ self-determined development. We will pursue these goals by enhancing our work in education, training and awareness-raising; research,documentation and information communications; policy advocacy; and community-strengthening using an integrated and holistic framework for indigenous peoples’ self-determined development. This framework includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystems approach, culture and knowledge-based approach. This integrated and holistic approach is underpinned by gender and inter-generational equity approaches.
Long live the indigenous peoples of the world! Long live the indigenous peoples' movements! More strength and power to us all!
Vicky Tauli-Corpuz on behalf of Tebtebba
Executive Director, Tebtebba
Convenor, Asia Indigenous Women’s Network
Telephone: 63-74-4447703, Cellphone: 63-9175317811