August 8, 2008

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: U.S. and Canada Found Guilty of Racism

Dear Readers,

We share this article, which examines racism and occupation of indigenous lands in the US and Canada, and looks at the participation of mining and resource companies in that occupation. The article notes that Canada voted NO to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It's worth pointing out that Colombia is the only country in South America that abstained from voting on the Declaration.

Sincerely, María de la Chiva.

U.S. and Canada Found Guilty of Racism

By Haider Rizvi, Originally published in IPS, August 7, 2008.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 7 (IPS) - The international community now fully recognises the native peoples’ right to protect their lands and live distinct lifestyles. Yet, most of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples continue to face abuse and injustices at the hands of state authorities and commercial concerns.

"We must look at the substantial successes we have been able to achieve, but also reflect on how far we have to go," Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environment Network told IPS on the eve of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Though pleased with the U.N. General Assembly’s decision last year to approve the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, Powless and other activists say they have no reason to believe that those who have occupied their native lands are willing to change their behaviour.

"Governments in the past have been complicit in genocides, land seizures, massive environmental degradation, and many other human rights abuses because [indigenous peoples] were denied their fundamental rights and freedoms," said Powless, a Mohawk whose nation’s territory is now divided between modern-day Canada and the United States.

Last year when the 192-member U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, both the U.S. and Canada were among a handful of countries that voted against it.

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