IWNFEI urges states to implement UN declaration on rights of indigenous people
Dimapur, Aug. 9 (EMN): The Indigenous Women’s Forum of North East India (IWNFEI) on Tuesday expressed dismay to the states for not implementing the United Nations (UN) declaration on the rights of indigenous people and called to recognise their rights for democratisation and promoting genuine pluralism for peace and justice.
This was stated during the observation of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People at Don Bosco Institute of Development for Leadership (DBIDL), on Tuesday.
IWNFEI consists of Kuchdhowa Janamar Jyoti Block Maha Sangha, Zeme Mothers’ Association (North Cachar Hills),Tangsa Women Welfare Association (Arunachal), Naga Women’s Union, Zomi Mothers’ Association, Lai Women Association, Naga Indigenous Women’s Network, Tuensang Women Welfare Society, and Borok Women Forum (Tripura).
It stated that the adoption of the UN declaration was made possible through sacrifices of people around the world, and their rights and role in the society were being recognised increasingly under international human rights instruments.
It shared that among indigenous people, women have a crucial role as a holder of scientific and technical knowledge of medicines, herbs and food systems, language, culture, rituals, art and weaving, and conservation of resources, adding that their role in maintaining indigenous identity and knowledge systems and in re-building communities and societies must be recognised and supported both by the state and all communities.
“Our lands and territories are the spaces where we have exercised our agency and freedom, but it is under attack from militarisation, unsustainable development programmes, land grabbing, fortified approach to conservation, and unjust laws and policies that are imposed upon us. As a result, displacement from our homelands, violation of human rights and killings has continued for generations. Further, prolonged conflict and violence has also led to internalisation of violence within our communities with increased experience of violence against women—both internally and externally”, it stated.
“We have sacrificed for the common good of the society and for the future of our children. We have also suffered in picking up the shattered pieces of our homes and communities caused by the prolonged conflict to build back families and communities”, it added.
Speaking during the programme, the Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur, Sachin Jaiswal shared that the role of women especially in environment protection becomes important. He opined that though there might not be any formal organisation for women in village councils in the state, a major role is played by women.
He shared that the younger generation should be encouraged to go to villages, and interact with the elders as it will help them learn about culture, while also encouraging the women to document their knowledge and practices.
The members of Asian Indigenous People Pact (AIPP), Indigenous Women’s Forum of North-East India (IWFNEI), Nags People’s Movement for Human Right (NPMHR), Karbi Human Rights Watch, Borok Indigenous/Tribal Peoples development centre (BITPDC) and Zo Indigenous Forum further proclaimed the declaration of indigenous people of Northeast India during the event.
The indigenous people of Northeast also called on the government of India to acknowledge that indigenous people have suffered from historic injustices as a result of inter alia, their conquest, colonisation and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources; to comply and effectively implement all their obligations as they apply to indigenous people under international instruments, to undertake prompt review of the peace accords, agreements and other arrangements made with indigenous people of Northeast; to evoke its commitment to the Indo-Naga peace process; to recognise the contribution of demilitarisation of the lands and territories of Indigenous people to peace, economic and social progress and sustainable development, understanding and friendly relations among different communities, and to repeal all extra constitutional laws, especially the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, 1988, and initiate withdrawal of its armed forces from the region.