Ranjan K Baruah
There are rights for every indigenous person on earth. With the rapid progress and development the concern of indigenous people may not be heard as the population is less in comparison with others. Indigenous peoples are the ethnic groups that are defined as “indigenous” according to one of the various definitions of the term, though there is no universally accepted definition. In the late twentieth century, the term began to be used primarily to refer to ethnic groups that have historical ties to groups that existed in a territory prior to colonization or formation of a nation state, and which normally preserve a degree of cultural and political separation from the mainstream culture and political system of the nation state within the border of which the indigenous group is located. The political sense of the term defines these groups as particularly vulnerable to exploitation and oppression by nation states. As a result, a special set of political rights in accordance with international law have been set forth by international organizations such as the United Nations
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous people reflects the world’s cultural diversity and are the custodians of its biodiversity.
The United Nations and many other organizations are focusing on the rights of the indigenous people. One of the important decisions taken was declaring 9th August as international day for indigenous people. By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9th August every year during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination (Article 3), as well as their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”. This year’s theme shine a spotlight on indigenous media — television, radio, film and social media — and their role in helping to preserve indigenous cultures, challenge stereotypes and influence the social and political agenda.
“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions,” the Secretary-General of UN Ban-Ki –Moon said. “They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.”
2011 — “Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting their own future”
2010 — “Celebrating Indigenous Film Making”
2009 — “Indigenous Peoples and HIV/AIDS”
2008 — the observance focused on reconciliation between States and indigenous peoples
2007 — the observance in 2007 centered on the urgent need to preserve indigenous languages
2006 — “Partnership for Action and Dignity”
From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous people are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity. They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions. Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions. They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice.
“Let us use the media – indigenous and non-indigenous, and especially new outlets – to create bridges and establish a truly intercultural world, where diversity is celebrated; a world where different cultures not only coexist but value each other for their contributions and potential”, mentioned Ban – Ki-Moon.
It’s time for all of us to be voice for the indigenous people’s right in the North East. There are many indigenous communities who are living for years and years. The rights of the indigenous people must be upheld and rights based organization must focus more on the rights of the indigenous people. Together we can make sure that the rights of the indigenous people are intact and as this year’s theme media must play its role for the same.
(With inputs from UN Publication)
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