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SOURCE: RRI

Support team helping with Komnas HAM National Inquiry
Support team helping with Komnas HAM National Inquiry 

The release of a new series of reports in March by the Indonesian National Commission On Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the government’s human rights agency, marks the first official process to examine the human rights impacts of land rights conflicts on Indigenous Peoples throughout Indonesia’s forest areas. The state-led “Inquiry,” which looks at 40 case studies of land conflicts across the country, is the result of a yearlong process which included public hearings, ethnographic studies, and discussions on the non-recognition of local communities’ customary land rights. According to RRI Collaborator AMAN (Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago), resolution of some of these 40 conflicts is just a matter of law enforcement. Following the National Inquiry, the situation has improved for Indigenous Peoples in some cases; however, violence has increased in others.

Forest zone determination started during the colonial reign of the Dutch East Indies, but 70% of Indonesia’s land was declared as “forests” during the Suharto Regime — without recognizing the rights of the thousands of indigenous communities who live in them. Vast areas of these forests have also been handed over to private companies as logging, plantation, and mining concessions, or declared as protected areas. The dispossession and exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from their own customary territories has led to an increasing number of conflicts; Komnas HAM estimates that as much as 20 percent of all complaints received by the agency relate to land disputes.

The Inquiry found that communities involved in these land disputes experience numerous abuses — including displacement, intimidation, violence, and takeover of traditional indigenous forests. Report findings also show that conflicts result from an array of factors: lack of legal certainty in recognition of indigenous territories; lack of standard police guidelines in handling natural resource conflict; and a state development agenda that is strongly biased toward protecting corporations over community rights.

The report was officially launched in mid-March in Jakarta, in the presence of state representatives from the Office of the President, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the Anti-Corruption Commission. Teten Masduki, Chief of Staff of the Office of the President, welcomed the publication of the report results and reaffirmed President Joko Widodo’s commitment to respecting, protecting, and recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Despite this commitment, contradicting legal interpretations of a Constitutional Court decision that says adat forests are to be excluded from State forests has proved to be a major blockage to increasing protection for Indigenous Peoples’ territories.

The report’s concrete policy recommendations—including passage of the Law on Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, and the establishment of an independent Task Force on Indigenous Peoples—have prompted calls for the government to enact needed reforms. RRI Partners and Collaborators continue to advocate for effective implementation of Komnas HAM recommendations across Indonesia and encourage prompt government action to recognize community rights.

The Komnas HAM report is composed of five books on the “National Inquiry on the Rights of Customary Law-Abiding Communities Over Their Land in Forest Areas”:

  • Book One: Provides an overview about the National Inquiry process, main findings and recommendations
  • Book Two: Addresses specifically the situation of Adat Women
  • Book Three: Goes deeper into each of the conflict cases, providing ethnographic information and testimonies
  • Book Four: Describes main lessons learnt from this National Inquiry approach
  • Booklet: A policy brief summarizing key findings and recommendations of this inquiry to improve laws and policies

The full reports are available in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

– See more at: http://rightsandresources.org/en/news/landmark-report-investigates-human-rights-abuses-suffered-indigenous-communities-affected-land-conflicts-indonesia/#.VylH54RcSkr

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SOURCE: DhakaTribune

Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Committee, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum and CHT Headmen’s Network announced a programme of 300-kilometre long human chain at a news conference at Tugun Restaurant in Rangamati yesterday.

People in Chittagong Hill Tracts will form the human chain demanding complete implementation of CHT Accord and establishing a separate land commission for ethnic people in plain lands on January 18.

The human chain would span from Dudukchara of Panchari in Khagrachari to Gundhum of Naikhyangchari of Bandarban from 10am to 11am, said sources.

Leaders of the organisations at the news conference alleged that the government was continuing to deceive people by providing wrong information about the implementation of the CHT accord.

They said there was no move to implement the basic aspects of the accord rather initiatives against the treaty was on.

National Human Rights Commission member Nirupa Dewan, Headmen’s Network leader Shaktipada Tripura and CHT Citizen’s Committee president Gautam Dewan were present at the news conference.

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SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) organized a youth training titled “Capacity Building Training of Youth on ILO Convention 107, 169, 111 and International Human Rights Mechanisms”, from 1-3 November at Royal Hotel in Bandarban district with support from International Labour Organization (ILO). The objective of the training was to enhance understanding of indigenous youths on ILO convention 107, 169 and making them aware about international human rights mechanisms. A total of 29 indigenous youth from diverse ethnic groups from Chittagong Hill Tracts participated in the training, most of who are studying at different colleges and universities.

On the first day of the training there was an opening session; where Honorable member of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council (CHTRC) Mr. Sadhuram Tripura; Chairman of Rowangchari Upazila Parishad Mr. Kyawba Mong Marma and President of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum-Chittagong region Mr. Sharat Jyoti Chakma were present as guests. The opening session was chaired by Executive Director of KF Mr. Pallab Chakma while Mr. Hiran Mitra Chakma of KF delivered welcome speech.

In his speech Mr. Sadhuram Tripura said that to work further and carry the legacy of the elders, youth are needed to be equipped with multiple skills and be specific while acquiring the knowledge for the goal to achieve a complete knowledge. Mentioning about ILO Convention No. 107 and 169, he said that these international instruments for the rights of indigenous peoples should be popularised widely. He also emphasized on the practice of these knowledge and to divert into an asset to the indigenous community for the overall development. Other speakers of this session expressed that this training would help to build a strong network among the youth and that would lead youths to move together for the development of the society.

The training has covered many issues, including the basic understanding on human rights and UN human rights mechanisms, the basic understanding on gender and related issues, UN mechanisms on the rights of indigenous peoples, basic understanding on ILO Conventions 107, 169, and 111, ILO Convention and indigenous peoples’ engagement into this tools, leadership development and responsibilities of indigenous youth, national laws and policies related to indigenous peoples’ rights, media advocacy and digital security.

On the second day of the training the participants have paid a field visit at a Mro village named Mrolong, to see Mro indigenous people’s life and livelihood practically.  On third day, an experience sharing session was conducted by Mr. Lelung Khumi, which describes his life and the struggle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Again, with the participation of the participants “Youth Forum: a panel discussion session” was held. Ms. Ramree Bawm moderated the discussion where with a panel of six participants, who have shared their personal experiences on different issues.

On the closing session, Ms. Wyching Prue Marma, vice chairman of Bandarban Sadar Upazila Parishad was present as guest of honour and distributed certificate to the participants. In her speech Ms. Wyching Prue Marma said that it is wonderful to be a part of an event where a group of young people apart from studies and work, participating into trainings on ILO and International Human Rights mechanisms. She requested the youngsters to be aware about the rights and to practice for the betterment of the society.

In their experience sharing session participant thanked ILO and KF for organising this important and exclusive training for them. They emphasized to organise this type of capacity building training for youth. Finally, with the closing remark of Pallab Chakma the training has came to an end.

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SOURCE: AICHR

Application Form for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) applying for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR is now available.

Those wishing to have their application discussed in the next AICHR Meeting which will be held from 27 to 29 November 2015, please submit the Application Form along with supporting documents by 1st November 2015.

  Application Form for Consultative Relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) (20.4 KiB, 264 hits)

For more details, please refer to:

  Guidelines on the AICHR’s Relations with Civil Society Organisations (525.6 KiB, 933 hits)

– See more at: http://aichr.org/news/consultative-relationship-with-the-aichr/#sthash.Ed7Y2OOf.dpuf

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SOURCE: UNCHR

GENEVA (22 September 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, today called on the Philippines Government to launch a full and independent investigation into the killings of three human rights defenders in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, which is currently affected by armed conflicts.

One of the human rights defenders killed was the director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development (ALCADEV), a school providing education to indigenous youth who live in the mountains and service communities in the CARAGA region. He was found murdered in one of the ALCADEV classrooms in the town of Sitio Han-ayan on 1 September.

This occurred immediately after members of the Philippine Army and alleged members of paramilitary forces had occupied the school’s function hall as well as its grounds, and after members of the paramilitary had detained the director. As a result of the forced occupation by the Philippine Army and paramilitary troops of the school’s premises, 2,000 residents have had to evacuate to nearby Tandag City.

“Military occupation of civilian institutions and killing of civilians, particularly in places such as schools which should remain safe havens for children from this type of violence, are unacceptable,  deplorable and contrary to international human rights and international humanitarian standards,” the Special Rapporteurs said.

Two other representatives of the Manobo community, including a tribal chieftain and the chairperson of MAPASU, an indigenous (Lumad) organization protesting against human rights violations, mining operations and land conversions, were shot in front of their community members by alleged paramilitary forces.

Following the murders, the military is hindering the access of indigenous communities from spending long periods of time needed for tilling in the mountains where their farms are located. The communities are also denied access to the sacred burial sites also located in those mountains.

The incident followed another set of brutal murders which took place on 18 August in Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao where five members of an indigenous Manobo family, including a 72 year old blind person and two children, were murdered, allegedly by members of the Philippine Army.

“We take note of the announcement made today at the Human Rights Council in Geneva by the delegation of the Philippines that an investigation is underway,” they said. “We urge the Philippines authorities to ensure that such investigation into these tragic events be carried out independently to identify and bring perpetrators to justice, to ensure the safe return of the indigenous peoples displaced by the recent violent events, and guarantee redress to the victims’ families in compliance with their indigenous traditions and the demilitarization and restoration of peace in regions affected by armed conflicts including in Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon.”

The Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concern about the increasingly pervasive insecurity and rising unlawful killings of human rights activists in the conflict-prone regions of the Philippines. Mr. Forst urged the Government to finally accept his repeated requests to visit the country in order to assess, in the spirit of dialogue and cooperation, the environment in which human rights defenders operate in the Philippines.

The experts’ call has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in June 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Learn more, log on to:
Indigenous peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx
Rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Philippines: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/PHIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 at hyoo@ohchr.org) or write to indigenous@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16481&LangID=E#sthash.uY6xgssV.45bmCw7x.dpuf

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SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

Recently the government of Bangladesh undertook plan to acquire 500 acres of land belonging to tea workers for establishment of Bangladesh Economic Zones in Chunarughat upazila under Habiganj district. Around 6,000 tea workers belong to indigenous Santal community have been living on this land for generations. They will be uprooted from their ancestral land if the government plan is implemented.

Tea workers alleged that they get only Taka 69 (US$ 0.80) per day for their job. Even after that, they have been living happily because they have land to cultivate and reside in. But, as president of Chandpur Tea Garden Panchayet Committee Sadhan Santal said, there is a conspiracy to grab their ancestral land in the name of building a special economic zone.

It is worth mentioning that around 6,000 Santals are dependent on 500 acres of land of Chunarughat upazila for living and cultivation. Among them, around 1,100 Santals work at the Chandpur Tea Garden. The Santal labourers claimed that their predecessors made the land cutting hills and forests 150-200 years ago. There is a graveyard of their forefathers. They cannot give away their ancestral land.

In a discussion on “Human Rights of Tea Garden Workers and Their Socio-Economic Development” jointly organised by Indigenous Social Development Organisation and Tea Garden Workers on 2 August 2015 at National Press Club in Dhaka, the workers of Chandpur Tea Garden in Habiganj threatened that they would rather die than give up their ancestral land chosen for setting up a special economic zone. (This report has been prepared based on information collected through Kapaeeng’s networks and news of The Daily Star titled ‘Tea workers won’t give ancestral land’ published on 3 August 2015.)

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SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

An Analysis by Kapaeeng Foundation of the Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Women and Girls (January-July 2015)

The human rights violation on indigenous women and girls in Bangladesh has turned into a matter of grave concern over the years. As a part of its sustained work, Kapaeeng Foundation monitored and documented the cases of human rights violations on indigenous womenand girls for the period January-July 2015. The findings of Kapaeeng Foundation project an alarming trend of violence against indigenous women and girls (VAIWG) in the country. During this period, Kapaeeng Foundation documented 42 cases of VAIWG. In these 42 cases, 56 indigenous women and girls were fallen victims of violence, 29 of them are from the plains and 27 women from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

A close look into the cases during first half of the year reveals that 8 women and girls fell victims of gang rape, 11 fell victims of rape, 10 fell victims of attempted rape, 16 fell victims of physical assault, 6 fell victims of sexual harassment, 2 fell victims of abduction and 3 fell victims of killing. What is most disturbing is the victims who fallen prey to violence are mostly minor and adolescent girls, belonging to the age group of 2 to 19. It appears that this age group was the easiest target of the perpetrators during the period of observation. And most of the perpetrators of these incidents allegedly belong to Bengali settler community and were influential members of mainstream population.

The observation of Kapaeeng Foundation over the first seven months of the year 2015 demonstrates that the causes of VAIWG remained similar to previous years. A good number of cases of VAIWG occurred during January-July 2015 were centered around the lands of indigenous peoples. For example, on 19 June 2015, at least 10 indigenous women were physically assaulted and one woman was raped in Mirsarai, Chittagong in connection to an attempted forced expropriation of their ancestral land. It is observed that in a good number of cases, the perpetrators including members of Bengali settlers in the CHTand influential locals in the plains used rape or other forms of sexual violence as weapons to uproot indigenous peoples from their lands. And in other cases, the perpetrators used violence as a way to express their hegemonic masculine attitude towards indigenous women using them as sexual objects.

Although the first seven months of the year demonstrates an alarming trend of VAIWG, the legal justice system has apparently failed to ensure protection and justice of the victims. It is observed that although cases were filed after most of the incidents of VAIWG were occurred, the alleged perpetrators were not arrested and brought to justice except for very few cases. Furthermore, the unfriendly legal justice system in the country often coupled with the financial incapacity of the victims, lack of follow-up of the cases, lack of awareness of the victim and their families, existing social taboos, patriarchal mindset in different corners of the society and lack of legal aid services in the country have contributed to the impunity of the perpetrators. It is also alleged that the perpetrators often use money and forceto manipulate the justice system and go scot-free. Taking the advantage of the financial incapacity of the victims and their vulnerable social positions, most of the perpetrators tend to settle the matters locally through threat, intimidation and offering a certain amount of money as compensation.

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