NPMHR observes International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples
KIGWEMA, AUGUST 9
The Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) today joined the United Nations in observing the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples by organizing a short programme at the Dimori Cove, Kigwema. The Day is observed every year on August 9 as designated by the UN General Assembly in 1994. This year the occasion is observed on the theme ‘Bridging the Gap: Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’.
Delivering the keynote address, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) South Asia executive member, Neingulo Krome pointed out that the indigenous peoples who are supposed to be the first people of the world are somehow sidelined and are now marginalized.In the context of Nagaland, Krome said the state is one of very few indigenous regions in the world whose people still constitute a majority (80% or more) in their land. Expressing concern that many rights of the Nagas as an indigenous people are being taken away under different guises, he underscored the need for Nagas to reflect on what they are doing to protect their society, their rights and their identity.
The human rights activist also stated the people are on the verge of losing their rights in the name of development. He said the Nagas are today reducing themselves to some document that was a part of an agreement which was rejected by the Naga people a long time ago.
“To think that Article 371 (A) is the only basis of our survival…it’s a shame,” Krome asserted.
He laid emphasis on FPIC (Free, prior and informed Consent) for any kind of development activity, and the application of the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use. He highlighted that FPIC is a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples and further underscored that this component needs to be understood by the people.
He also voiced concern that the whole of Nagaland has been declared “disturbed area” by the Centre. “NPMHR has raised this issue time and again but nobody cares…if we go on living like this, our rights and our identity will all be gone,” he lamented.
Krome also read out the statement of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) on the occasion of the International Indigenous Peoples Day 2014 which highlighted areas of concern for the UN pertaining to indigenous peoples.
“In line with the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, we call upon indigenous peoples and advocates from all walks of life to further strengthen our solidarity and collaboration in pursuing our common vision for social justice, peace and sustainable development. Let us take stock of our gains and advance the realization of our rights with greater commitment and determination. This is our duty to our ancestors and to our future generations. Let us also celebrate our diverse cultures, and take pride of our identities as distinct peoples who are equal to others. On the occasion of Indigenous Peoples Day, let the world know of our invaluable contributions in caring for mother earth and the need to have our voices heard in crafting the world we want. Let the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day echo our collective aspirations for the realization of our rights to achieve equality and dignity for all,” states an excerpt of the statement.
Earlier, Rev. Dr. Toshi invoked God’s blessings while NPMHR secretary general, Dr. Gina Shangham delivered the welcome note. The programme was chaired by NPMHR executive member, Elias Humtsoe.
Kohima Declaration of NPMHR on Page 2