November 30, 2004
1 December 2004
INDIGENOUS DELEGATES ON HUNGER STRIKE AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Delegates representing indigenous peoples went on hunger strike last Monday (29 November) at the UN in Geneva to protest against attempts to weaken the ‘’Draft United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.’’
This year marks the end of the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, during which the Draft Declaration on their rights has been developed, following hundreds of consultations with representatives from indigenous communities around the world. The Draft Declaration could be the strongest international agreement yet on indigenous peoples’ rights but, with the deadline for its final acceptance fast approaching, a number of states including the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand, appear to have taken a u-turn on their previous position. Having expressed no strong objections to the Declaration over the period of over a decade of its development, they have recently intervened to weaken the content of the text. The UK Government has insisted that every reference to ‘rights’ be removed and has repeatedly proposed that the term 'indigenous peoples' should be replaced with 'indigenous individuals’ as they object to the concept of collective human rights.
The indigenous delegates on hunger strike have been attending the 10th session of the Intersessional Working Group on the Draft Declaration currently taking place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. They called the strike as an expression of their frustration at the continued attempts to undermine the Draft Declaration and to call on the Commission on Human Rights to establish a process that will take into account the voices of indigenous peoples.
Mapuche International Link expresses its unqualified support for all those involved in the hunger strike. Members of our organisation have participated in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations for the last 20 years and we share the disappointment that many years of work by indigenous groups is now being sabotaged by the interests of a handful of states. Indigenous communities around the world continue to be dispossessed of their ancestral land and resources and face discrimination and persecution. We strongly object to any attempt to diminish the human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous peoples and call for the adoption of the original text of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Notes to Editors
Mapuche International Link (MIL) is an organisation committed to promoting the cause of the Mapuche nation, who are the indigenous people of southern Chile and Argentina. Based in Bristol, England, MIL works in partnership with other Mapuche organisations and with organisations supporting the rights of the world’s indigenous people.
For further information, contact Reynaldo Mariqueo