The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues urged UNESCO to step up the protection of world heritage sites to protect sites from the mining giant Rio Tinto, including Apaches Oak Flat. Rio Tinto blew up 46,000 years of Australian Aboriginals' history and sacred teachings when it blew up Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia. (Panel of ancient rock art painting, Quinkan Cave near Laura, Cape York, Queensland, Australia)
By Brenda Norrell
June 16, 2023
NEW YORK -- The release of imprisoned Leonard Peltier, the protection of Apaches sacred Oak Flat, and the halt of Enbridge's Line 5 were included in the final report of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The murders of Indigenous in Nicaragua, the imprisonment of Australian Aboriginal children, cross-border crime in the Amazon, and the rights and safety of Indigenous journalists are in the report from the UNPFII's 22nd session held in New York, April 17 -- 28, 2023.
The preservation of language was given the highest priority, pointing to the vision that Indigenous languages contain concepts that the future of the planet depends on.
Urging clemency for Leonard Peltier, the report states, “Owing to his age and poor health, his release is a humanitarian imperative.”
Stressing the need for the protection of world cultural sites from the mining giant Rio Tinto, the Forum urges UNESCO to step up its protection of world heritage and cultural sites to protect sacred places from Rio Tinto mining, including Apaches Oak Flat in Arizona. Rio Tinto blew up Australian Aborigines' ancient Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia and 46,000 years of history was lost.
Fishing rights and the decommissioning of Enbridge's Line 5 are among the priorities included in the report. Urging Canada to decommission Enbridge’s Line 5, the report states, “The pipeline presents a real and credible threat to the treaty-protected fishing rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada."
Deploring the horrific solitary confinement and imprisonment of Aboriginal children in Australia, the Forum urges a halt to the human rights abuses, and reform to prevent the removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities. During the live broadcast, it was reported that Aboriginal children are held in blood-stained cells and given "suicide tips."
The final report includes the alarming increase in murders of Indigenous women defending their rights, land and resources, and mercenaries targeting Sahel in Africa. Encroachment and land theft are ongoing globally. The report stresses the need to protect DNA, intellectual property rights and ancestral knowledge.
The Forum said Nicaragua must halt the gross human rights violations against the Mayangna Sauni and Wilu communities by armed settlers and bring murderers to justice.
The U.N. Permanent Forum said it is alarmed that the development of "green transition" energy is resulting in mineral extraction and the building of hydroelectric dams. And further, the creation of conservation sites is resulting in the displacement of Indigenous Peoples.
The impacts of the new green technology include the windmills that are reducing grazing areas for Saami reindeer herders in Norway. Further, Norway is urged to address the hate speech toward Saami.
Among the most noticeable omissions in the report was the genocide in residential schools.
The final report did not include the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Native children in residential schools in Canada and the ongoing search for tens of thousands of unmarked graves of Native children abducted by Canada and the churches and abused in residential schools. The report does not include the fact that the Pope confirmed, in July of 2022, that the Catholic Church committed the crime of genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
The report omits the fact that The Holy See was given the floor at the session. The Holy See did not address the genocide, but instead spoke on climate change.
The report includes only a few references to the widespread targeted assassinations of Indigenous Peoples around the world who are defending their lands, water and forests from mining, logging and development.
The final report omits the report by a Mongolian youth who said that China is carrying out cultural genocide in Mongolia. It also omits the report by a Vietnamese youth that police are unlawfully arresting youths. It doesn't include the responses of the governments of Russia and China.
During the session, broadcast live on the web, China's representative denied that China is carrying out cultural genocide in Mongolia. China does not have Indigenous Peoples, he said, but instead has regional ethnic autonomy. While denying cultural genocide in China, he redirected the attention to abuse in residential schools.
China's representative pointed to the historical inequalities and tragedies that Indigenous children have suffered in residential schools. Indigenous People have suffered a "dark history of genocide and cultural cleansing." Efforts must be made to right the historical wrongs and restore justice and equity to Indigenous Peoples, he said.
During the session, the Federation of Russia defended itself and said the countries of the world who accuse Russia of imperialism have not resolved their own colonial way of thinking. Further, Russia said fake non-profits, humanitarian organizations with foreign funding, are claiming to represent Indigenous Peoples abroad.
Land rights, the rights of youths and women, the need to protect the water, and the rights of migrants resounded around the world. Governments and corporations are seizing water and land without the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples. Hunting and fishing rights are endangered globally.
The final 26-page report includes these priorities:
Clemency for Leonard Peltier
The U.N. Permanent Forum report urges the release of Leonard Peltier, which was presented to the Forum by AIM West."The Permanent Forum reiterates the regrets that it expressed at its twenty-first session regarding the very high and inhumane incarceration rates of Indigenous Peoples globally, which contribute to poor health, poverty and early and preventable deaths. The Permanent Forum repeats its previous recommendation to the United States of America on the grating of clemency to Leonard Peltier. Owing to his age and poor health, his release is a humanitarian imperative."
Decommission Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline
"The Permanent Forum calls upon Canada to re-examine its support for the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline, which jeopardizes the Great Lakes in the United States. The pipeline presents a real and credible threat to the treaty-protected fishing rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada. The Permanent Forum recommends that Canada and the United States decommission Line 5."
Protect Oak Flat and Juukan George from Rio Tinto mining
"The Permanent Forum calls upon UNESCO, including its Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to step up its policies, safeguards and actions on the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ tangible and intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO safeguards that reflect robust free, prior and informed consent protocols, as prescribed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, could contribute to the prevention of the destruction and desecration of Indigenous Peoples’ lands and sites by public and private enterprises. Examples include mining activities of the company Rio Tinto on the ancient Aboriginal site Juukan Gorge in Western Australia and the sacred Oak Flat of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, United States of America."
"The Permanent Forum recognizes the development of renewable energy sources but remains alarmed that irresponsible development related to green technology and the green transition, has led, at times, to violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including mineral extraction and the building of hydroelectric dams and other large scale infrastructure without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples. The Permanent Forum recommends that Member States provide the resources necessary to develop and implement Indigenous Peoples’ own free, prior and informed consent protocols in such contexts."
Conservation Areas Resulting in Displacement
"The Permanent Forum is equally alarmed at the many testimonies from Indigenous Peoples on the establishment of protected areas and conservation measures without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples and the persistent violations of their human rights in the context of conservation. The Permanent Forum underlines that it is the responsibility of Member States and other actors to obtain free, prior and informed consent directly from Indigenous Peoples when developing policies and legislation pertaining to conservation measures and protected areas."
"The Permanent Forum invites the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination to conduct a study on the human rights abuses against Indigenous Peoples of the Sahel region by mercenaries and other non-State armed actors."
"The Permanent Forum urges that discussions at the forthcoming summit to renew the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, scheduled to be held in Brazil in August 2023, fully involve Indigenous Peoples from the Amazon region in determining a road map that addresses their situation, including cross-border illegal activities and organized crime."
Nicaragua: Killing of Indigenous by white settlers
"The Permanent Forum welcomes the intent of Nicaragua in drafting legislation on territorial regulation of Indigenous territories. The Permanent Forum urges Nicaragua to establish dialogue with the legitimate Indigenous authorities to initiate and conclude drafting of the legislation as soon as possible, in order to prevent the repetition of the recent gross human rights violations against the Mayangna Sauni and Wilu communities, allegedly committed by armed settlers. It further urges Nicaragua to ensure that perpetrators are held to account through the justice system for the murders committed and for the destruction of property. Impunity is not an option."
Peace Accord for Bangladesh
"The Permanent Forum welcomes information from the Government of Bangladesh on progress towards the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. It calls upon Bangladesh to make further efforts towards full implementation of the Accord through constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, the three Hill District Councils and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission."
Rights of Women in Nepal
"The Constitution of Nepal has provisions for special, protected and autonomous regions for Indigenous Peoples. The Permanent Forum welcomes further progress towards realizing the provisions of the Constitution, including by considering the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to Nepal in 2018 on respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their traditional lands and resources and to self-determination."
The impacts of residential schools, displacement for the U.S. military bases, and Ecuador's rights of nature were revealed in the live web TV, but the details are not included in the final report.
In Canada, stolen lands and genocide
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Roseanne Archibald First Nations said lands and resources in Canada are being stolen, without free, prior and informed consent. Speaking on intergenerational trauma, she stressed the need for economic means for recovery. Residential schools were "institutions of assimilation and genocide." She amplified the voices at the Forum and called for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Archibald's comments were broadcast live. Watch on web TV https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1l/k1l4mlf1it
Revealed in the live webcast: Indigenous displaced for US military base in Indian Ocean
(Center) Chagossian speaks on horrific displacement and poverty as a result of a U.S. military base and quotes Human Rights Watch during the live broadcast. "About 60 years ago, the United Kingdom government secretly planned, with the United States, to force an entire Indigenous people, the Chagossians, from their homes in the Chagos Archipelago. The Indian Ocean islands were part of Mauritius, then a UK colony. The two governments agreed that a US military base would be built on Diego Garcia, the largest of the inhabited Chagos islands, and the island’s inhabitants would be removed. The UK government split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius, creating a new colony in Africa, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). So that it would not have to report to the United Nations about its continued colonial rule, the UK falsely declared that Chagos had no permanent population." Watch on web TV: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1l/k1l4mlf1it (Screenshot Censored News)
Ecuador's Indigenous Live at the United Nations