Dec 15, 2010

DAY 1: UNPO Members Speak Out in UN Forum

Three UNPO Members highlight obstacles to effective economic participation in 1st day UN Forum on Minority Issues.

UNPO Members representing the Ahwazi Arabs, the Oromo and the Degar (Montagnards) made powerful statements during the first day of the 3rd Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues.In addition a parallel conference, co-organised by UNPO and Minority Rights Group International and chaired by UNPO Programme Manager Maggie Murphy took place with particular focus on minorities and natural resources. More information on the side event can be found here.

During the plenary session, Mr. Kok Ksor, Director of The Montagnard Foundation underlined the need for genuine commitment of states to implementing the admirable recommendations outlined in the draft paper of the Forum. He highlighted that the violent relocation of Degar people into infertile land, and confiscation of their fertile land was evidence that Vietnam falls very short of meeting their national and international obligations and duties.

Dr. Karim Abdian, Director of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization juxtaposed the wealth of the Ahwaz region in Iran with the poverty of its ethnic Ahwazi Arab residents. The centralised nature of the State he argued had undermined all local efforts to adequately partake in economic life.

Mr. Hunde Dhugassa of the Oromia Support Group drew attention to various land issues including confiscation, land grabs and food insecurity as well as the violent oppression of the Oromo people. He called for pressure to be place on Ethiopia to acknowledge the equal nature o f all citizens within its borders.

UNPO has a delegation of over 20 representatives from 13 different Member groups taking part in the two day forum, aiming to influence and guide the discussions and underline the importance of their particular case studies in their home regions. There are 300 minority representatives present alongside Permanent Mission delegations.

The Forum is opened this morning, December 14 2010 by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketeow and this year’s Chair of the Forum, Professor Gita Sen.