UN meet starts with call to protect rights of indigenous people | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 23, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 23, 2008

UN meet starts with call to protect rights of indigenous people

Indigenous peoples are one of the main protectors of environment and the Mother Earth, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the 7th Session of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in New York on Monday.
He said respecting the rights and culture of the indigenous peoples, human being can respect the Mother Earth.
More than 3,000 indigenous delegates, government and UN representatives, observers from NGOs and international human rights organisations, churches and community leaders attended the on April 21.
The theme of the session is "Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges".
Chief guest of the session Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, said indigenous way of life can protect the mother earth. Indigenous peoples have been struggling for achieving equal rights and justice for long, he added.
In his speech, Morales said, "To save people and humanity, to save the earth and nature, we should fight to end current capitalist system. Capitalist system is inhumane and it is responsible for global warming, climate change, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters."
He said, "Indigenous values respect the Mother Earth, we cannot sale it and we cannot privatise our mother earth."
President of Economic and Social Council Leo Merores also attended the session.
Indigenous representatives stated that the climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by indigenous communities, including political and economic marginalisation, loss of land and resources, human rights violations, discrimination and unemployment. Indigenous peoples who choose or are forced to migrate away from their traditional lands often face double discrimination as both migrants and indigenous peoples. Deforestation, particularly in developing countries, is pushing indigenous families to migrate to cities for economic reasons, often ending up in urban slums.
The session will continue for two weeks covering issues on human rights, education, health, environment, economic and social development and culture.
The indigenous representatives said linguistic diversity is being threatened around the world and saving indigenous languages is a matter of great urgency and is crucial to ensuring the protection of the cultural identity and dignity of indigenous peoples.
Mani Swapan Dewan, former deputy minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs, Juam Lian Amlai, Flora Bably Talang and Rev Fr Joseph Gomes attended the session. First Secretary of Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN Ishrat Jahan Ahmed also attended the session.

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