International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous people are often described as part of human communities that try to stick to their traditions and customs while being in contact with the advancements in the way of living and technological progress.
It usually seems that the pace of development is slow among the natives compared with other communities. The reason for this slowness is that native communities generally adopt the path of development on the basis of their traditions and customs, as well as balancing the needs of their communities. As a matter of fact, these ethnicities do not accept every change in the way of living overnight and what is of paramount importance for them is the preservation of their habits and traditions.
It can be said that indigenous people are more heedful of sustainability than other communities and human groups. Their attention to natural resources, as the most important factor of development, has led the world's scientific communities to increasingly focus on indigenous knowledge.
To commemorate millions of natives who stick to their traditions and customs in different countries, the UN dubbed August 9 first from 1995 to 2005 and then for another decade from 2005 to 2015 as International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples to further support the indigenous people in the world. August 9 is a pretext to promote and protect the rights of the indigenous people of the world, as well as a reminder of the efforts that these people have made to improve the world, especially in terms of environment protection. Although this day has not been marked internationally for a few years, the importance of the natives of the world and the numerous problems facing them require global attention.
Indigenous people are groups of peoples, ethnicities and nations showing a historical and cultural bond with the place they are living in. The term indigenous usually refers to the early inhabitants of countries and regions. Some believe that their type of living actually mirrors the lives of humans of early periods, which have been impacted little by negative effects of urbanization. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted on September 13, 2007, also states that indigenous people are exceptional with special culture and customs that enrich the diversity of cultures and civilizations, and, due to their dependence on land and natural environment, have certain rules in protecting it. These people, like all nations, should enjoy human rights, in particular equality and non-discrimination.
In pursuit of such a goal, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted on September 13, 2007 in New York, during the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. Although this declaration is not legally binding under international law, it seems to reflect the commitment of UN member states to move in new courses. In fact, the UN describes it as an important standard for dealing with indigenous people, which is undoubtedly an important tool for removing human rights violations of 370 million indigenous people and helps them fight discrimination and marginalization.
Despite declarations, resolutions, agreements and other international instruments to support indigenous people, the rights of these people continue to be violated in some countries, the most evident of which can be seen in the US. Native Americans have always been suffering from racial discrimination. Thus, they have been struggling to defend their rights, including access to their ancestral lands. According to a new report by Amnesty International, assassination, threats, rape and discrimination are part of a series of abuses suffered by native Americans.
Ever since the occupation of the Americas, especially the North America, the leaders aimed at consolidating their position on the new continent through whatever means they could resort to including genocide and abolition of the indigenous population of the region. These criminal and racist Europeans massacred nearly 100 million people and deprived the survivors from their natural rights and created many problems for their presence in the cities. The Washington-Times wrote in an article that two and a half million hectares of New York's uplands have been taken from indigenous peoples through fake government contracts. The daily goes on to say that the chieftains in these areas have filed a complaint to US courts to defend their rights, but they have not made any conclusions as the courts are under the influence of the US regime and will surely prefer the vested interests of the American people rather than the natives.
The Special Human Rights Rapporteur also states that the US government industrial projects have prevented the indigenous peoples from reclaiming their land ownership, especially that of their holy places. The poverty among Native Americans is almost twice the national poverty rate in the US.
Indigenous people since the beginning owned parts of the territory which are near natural resources such as rivers, forests, mountains, or some natural resources such as mines. Hence, governments intend to capture these lands and seek to evacuate these areas from their main owners.
The obvious example can be seen in the recent case of the Canadian government against the indigenous people of the country though capturing the territories that are rich with many mines. It seems that governments face hurdles to seize these regions since the international observers will protest and support the moves of the native populations. That is why today, instead of open genocide of these people, they gradually expel the indigenous inhabitants to other areas and capture their lands under the guise of education and training policies. For instance, some 30% of native Canadian children, totaling 150,000, were sent to boarding schools since the late 19th century to separate them from their culture and language and to bring them up with the imposed English or French language and Christian culture.
The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in a report released in 2015, described keeping children away from their parents in boarding schools run by Catholic churches in the last 120 years as a cultural genocide. The indigenous women of Canada also face with systematic violation of human rights, which have sparked the protest of Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Commission in recent years, although like other global issues, that are not to the interest of the big powers like the US, these protests have not gone beyond words and at most have resulted in issuance of resolutions.
In another corner of the world, Australian aborigines are also captivated by European colonialists and the rights of successive generations have been violated. Australian aborigines are black, thin, broad-nosed with curly black hair and entered Australia thousands of years ago from Southeast Asia. At first, they were wandering in the wilderness in quest of prey and gathering food. Their weapon was spear, but the blond Europeans who later occupied Australia treated the natives very savagely and haven't unfortunately stopped this behavior.
A new study shows that racism is on the rise in Australia, and about half of the natives and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia have recently faced racism. Nova Pris, an indigenous athlete and former Australian politician who knows what discrimination means due to the color of the skin, says, "It is very unpleasant and weakens you. You feel that you are subject to such inhuman treatment because you are born in this world."
A recent study by the Australian Reconciliation Institute shows that 46% of the Australian aborigines have experienced racism in the last six months. The figure was 39% two years ago. In the meantime, while the aborigines comprise only 3% of the total population in Australia, 27% of the prisoners in the country are these poor people who often face barbaric behavior of guards whereas they have nowhere to complain or even make their voices be heard. This was confirmed by Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, who told Reuters: "The excessive use of force, solitary confinement and chaining children in fetters and shackles are brutal and inhuman." Figures also show those Australian aboriginal teens aged 10 to 17 are 17 times more susceptible to be under the Australian correctional system, and are incarcerated 28 times more than non-natives.
Another inhumane treatment of Australian aborigines is separating children from families in a bid to eliminate the culture and integration of indigenous people and make them be absorbed in the European immigrant community. 4-year-old Alfred, 2-year-old Joyce, one-week-old Luke and many other aborigines were separated from their parents and sent to Catholic schools or given to white families to cut them form their deeply rooted past. This strange policy was enforced by the government for 60 years on aborigines, especially the inhabitants of northern islands in the Strait of Morse. The Australian government, like the governments of Canada and the US, decided to eliminate all indigenous people in the unification project and merge them into the European immigrant community. The Australian government has apologized from the aborigines, but most of these people have not forgotten the disasters caused by the European occupiers of their land. Thus, such little apologies are just like lollipops to pacify the natives.
Declaration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples has just kindled a very weak light of hope that there would be a universal movement to protect and promote the well-being and rights of these people. Today we can see that the rights of these people are ignored, especially in the countries that masquerade as defenders of human rights. And the indigenous people living in different regions continue to see their rights trampled by the ruling government, especially those living in the US and Europe.