Forum Concludes First Week with Discussion on Indigenous Peoples in Central, Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia

11 May 2012
HR/5091

Forum Concludes First Week with Discussion on Indigenous Peoples in Central, Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia

11 May 2012
Economic and Social Council
HR/5091
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Eleventh Session

8th Meeting (AM)

Forum Concludes First Week with Discussion on Indigenous Peoples in Central,

Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia

 

Speakers Call for Improved Socio-economic Conditions for Indigenous, Steps

To Help Them Adapt to Climate Change, Control of Corporate Expansion on Lands

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this morning put its spotlight on the native peoples and cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, with civil society groups and Forum experts urging firm steps from the region’s Governments to improve the socio-economic conditions of the indigenous peoples, help them adapt to climate change and to reign in corporate-driven globalization.

During a special half-day dialogue, Permanent Forum experts from the Russian Federation cited the vast region’s ethnic and cultural diversity, and lamented that its fragile natural ecosystems — along with the reindeer herding and other traditional livelihoods they supported — could be ruined by a combination of indifference, legislative gaps and unchecked industrial expansion.  While the Russian Federation and Ukraine had pledged to support indigenous peoples, they still found their lands, languages and cultural heritage under serious threat.

“For all the importance of international cooperation, it is important to acknowledge that States have the ultimate responsibility for addressing the situation of indigenous peoples,” said Andrey Nikiforov, who joined fellow Permanent Forum expert Ana Nikanchina in noting that, while countries of the region were substantially developed, the indigenous peoples faced socio-economic challenges and their rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were often disregarded.  Today’s discussion should raise awareness about such challenges and highlight ways they could become more involved in local decision-making on issues that affected their rights and cultures, she said. 

Providing a snapshot of one unique way of life in the Arctic that was under pressure from a rabidly globalizing world, a representative of the Association of World Reindeer Herders said reindeer herding communities continued to struggle in the face of land use change, climate change and development.  For example, intensive industrial development and expansion in Scandinavia had seriously reduced the land area of reindeer pastures there.  “We need to proceed with great caution and seek to identify solutions that do not do more harm,” he said, calling for holistic measures to address specific challenges in Scandinavia, as well as in the Russian Federation where outdated land laws remained in effect.

As things stood now, traditional herders were forced to pay to use land they had lived and worked on for centuries, “something that many people see as unacceptable and immoral”.  He encouraged the Russian Federation to develop a federal law on reindeer herding, which set out mechanisms for protecting pastures and provided socio-economic development programmes for herders.  More broadly, he called for strengthening indigenous peoples’ capacities, and improving indigenous education systems, especially for young people.  Such systems should incorporate both science-based and indigenous learning, so herder communities could be more self-sustaining.

Addressing several of the concerns raised during the dialogue, Maxim Travnikov, Deputy Minister of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, said that addressing the interests of indigenous peoples was the subject of the fundamental work of the Government at the central level, as well as many groups representing the interests of minority peoples.  The main thrust of such endeavours was to maintain a complex balance by strengthening social protection for the indigenous peoples by ensuring that they had all the rights and services enjoyed by all Russians, while not interfering with the ways of life they had acquired from their ancestors. 

Among other things, the Russian Federation aimed to improve the health-care system to boost health and reduce mortality, and to enhance access to education, including the development of languages.  Today, the country had 277 dialects and 39 languages being studied in schools, including 17 indigenous languages.  Yet, he said that it was difficult to agree with some of the negative assessments of his Government’s efforts.  The Russian Federation continued to study the Declaration, and the majority of its tenets were in line with Russia’s views on the sustainable development of indigenous peoples.  At the same time, the Russian Federation could not necessarily agree with the Declaration on political self-determination and rights to land.

Specifically on land issues, he said the Russian Federation believed that minerals belonged to all the people of the Russian Federation and such resources should be used to benefit the entire country, regardless of group affiliation.  Of course, there might be differing views on that matter, so the Government continued to assess its position.  Turning to traditional land use, he said that for a decade, a law had been in place “that admittedly is not working well”.  In response, the Government had approved a draft amendment, elaborated in association with indigenous groups, and he hoped it would soon be adopted.

But a representative of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation (RAIPON), said that in the past decade, the Russian Federation had made no significant moves to resolve the problems of indigenous peoples.  Instead, the situation remained “extremely unsatisfactory” in many regards.  The configuration of the world was changing and there were plans for Siberia, the Arctic and the Northern oceans that would affect indigenous peoples and their way of life.  Addressing such issues, therefore, called for real action, and not just public proclamations.  There needed to be real improvements on the ground through State policies for indigenous peoples on the ground, he said.

The Permanent Forum also today wrapped its dialogue on combating violence against indigenous women and girls, with a host of civil society groups putting forward recommendations to ensure that their rights were protected in both law and practice.  One speaker urged the Commission on the Status of Women to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the epidemic of trafficking in women, while another requested the Permanent Forum to initiate a study to identify and address the core issues involved in the cases of abuse of domestic workers.  Governments were urged to harmonize their legislation with international human rights norms, to ensure that indigenous women could overcome years of discrimination and marginalization.

Participating in the dialogue on Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia were:  The Arctic Caucus; Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation (RAIPON); Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (MAFUN); L'auravetl'an Information and Education Network of Indigenous People (LIENIP); Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea; Mejis of the Crimean Tatar People; Yakaghirs Elders; and the Foundation for the Protection of the Constitutional Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A Senior Expert on Indigenous and Community Issues from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also made a presentation.

The dialogue on combating violence against indigenous women and girls included presentations from the following:  Tribal Link/Project Access Global Training Program; Confederation of Indigenous Peoples from Bolivia (CIDOB); Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico; Indian Social Institute; Kapaeeng Foundation; Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia; Jatiya Adivasi Parishad; Asian Indigenous Women’s Network; United Confederation of Taino People; and Jumchab Metta Foundation; Tonatierra; and San Caucus.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 14 May to take its agenda item on the right of indigenous peoples to food and food sovereignty.

Background

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this morning held a panel discussion on Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia.  It was also expected to continue with its dialogue on the Doctrine of Discovery and its ongoing impact on indigenous peoples, with a special focus on violence against indigenous women.

Dialogue on the Indigenous Peoples of Central and Eastern Europe

ANNA NAIKANCHINA, Permanent Forum member from the Russian Federation, said Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia were among the world’s most ethnically diverse.  They were substantially developed, but the indigenous peoples living there continued to face socio-economic challenges and their rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were disregarded.  Moreover, across all the areas, life expectancy was low, and in some of the specific regions, traditional languages were under serious threat and land use was routinely restricted.

One of the main drivers of those challenges was the fact that the people of those regions did not have access to mechanisms that would ensure the protection of their rights.  Today’s panel discussion aimed to raise awareness about the challenges the peoples of those regions faced, including through discussing ways those people could become more involved in local politics and in decision-making on issues that involved the protection and promotion of their rights.  She said that there was also great potential for indigenous peoples to cooperate with corporations wishing to develop their lands.  It was absolutely necessary to ensure, however, that they had access to education and basic services.

ANDREY NIKIFOROV, Permanent Forum member from the Russian Federation, said that indigenous issues were gaining more prominence, with international structures and mechanisms in place that would help them become more aware of their rights, so that they could be protected and promoted.  Discussions like the one the Permanent Forum was holding today should be a platform for dialogue between States and indigenous peoples, “not a platform for criticism”.

He hoped that diverse country situations would be discussed and he expected that customary questions would arise, such as “who are indigenous peoples?” and “what is their status?”  Overall, he expected that it would become clear that there was no single solution to the challenges faced by indigenous peoples.  What was generally needed was a long-term strategy and targeted measures to support those people.  In the Russian Federation, for example, measures were being discussed towards building broad support structures.  Yet, for all the importance of international cooperation, it was important to acknowledge that States bore the ultimate responsibility for addressing the situation of indigenous peoples.

MAXIM TRAVNIKOV, Deputy Minister of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, said that of the indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation, 40 groups lived in the far north of the country, where there were severe climatic conditions.  Addressing the interests of indigenous peoples was the subject of the fundamental work of the Government at the central level, as well as many groups representing the interests of minority peoples.  Following the 2010 census, it was found that the number of Russia’s indigenous minorities had increased to 316,000 people.  The increase had not been the same for all indigenous peoples.

The main thrust of the Government’s policy was to maintain a complex balance by strengthening social protection for the indigenous peoples by ensuring that they had all the rights and services enjoyed by all Russians while not interfering with the ways of life they had acquired from their ancestors, he continued.  The Russian Federation had produced a document that informed its policy.  That document, developed by the federal authorities in cooperation with regional and local authorities, established clear criteria for dealing with indigenous peoples.  The main thrust of the Government was to improve the system of health care and medicine, in order to improve health and reduce mortality, and to enhance access to education, including the development of languages.  Today, the Russian Federation had 277 dialects and 39 languages being studied in schools, including 17 indigenous peoples’ languages.

Another thrust of the Government was enhancing job opportunities among indigenous peoples.  The aim was to make the people competitive, so that they could find their niches within the economy.  The Government believed that special cultural rights existed for indigenous people wherever they lived, including language training in schools and economic rights directly linked to the indigenous way of life.

RODION SULYANDZIGA, of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation (RAIPON), said that in the Russian Federation in the last 10 years, none of the problems of the indigenous peoples had been resolved.  Instead, the situation remained extremely unsatisfactory, in many regards.  The configuration of the world was changing and there were plans for Siberia, the Arctic and the Northern oceans that would affect the lives of the indigenous peoples and their way of life.  Addressing the problems of indigenous peoples, therefore, called for real action, and not just public proclamations.  There needed to be real improvements on the ground through State policies for indigenous peoples on the ground.

Concerning the latest census in the Russian Federation, at least one indigenous people had disappeared and another was down to three people, he continued.  The increase in the numbers of indigenous peoples had only been seen in seven areas.  That was a negative indicator of how things were for indigenous peoples.  In the Russian Federation, the Constitution provided guarantees in line with international law, but those were only decorative.  The national committee facts were only on paper and were not being implemented.  The traditional lands of the indigenous peoples were up for auction and they had lost the right to be recognised by Government, as the federal authority had moved away from certain rights.

MIKHAIL POGODAEV, Association of World Reindeer Herders, said his group represented herders living in nine countries.  Recalling his statement from earlier in the week, when the Permanent Forum had considered the impact of the Discovery Doctrine on indigenous people and their livelihoods, he said reindeer herding communities continued to struggle in the face of land use change, climate change and globalization.  As reindeer herding was largely based in Arctic countries — which were both rich in raw materials and biodiversity and seriously impacted by climate change — it was necessary for stakeholders to understand how such issues affected the daily lives of the herders.

For instance, he said that intensive industrial development and expansion in Scandinavia had seriously reduced the land area of reindeer pastures there.  “We need to proceed with great caution and seek to identify solutions that do not do more harm,” he said, calling for holistic measures to address specific challenges in Scandinavia, as well as in the Russian Federation.  Indeed, industrial development in traditional reindeer herding areas in the Russian Federation had sparked a broad dialogue on finding opportunities for herders to benefit from such projects.  All such efforts should be based on the free prior and informed consent of indigenous communities.

At the same time, he noted that the Russian Federation had not yet reformed its land use laws and had not implemented legislation for reparations.  Therefore, as things stood now, traditional herders were forced to pay to use land they had lived and worked for centuries, “something that many people see as unacceptable and immoral.”  He encouraged the Russian Federation to develop a federal law on reindeer herding, which set out mechanisms for protecting pastures and provided socio-economic development programmes for herders.  More broadly, he called for strengthening indigenous peoples’ capacities, and improving indigenous education systems, especially for young people.  Such systems should incorporate both science-based and indigenous learning, so herder communities could be more self-sustaining.

KATHERINE I. JOHNSEN, Senior Expert, Indigenous and Community Issues, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), provided information on that agencies engagement with reindeer herders in the Russian Federation and Mongolia.  Working with the Association of World Reindeer Herders, the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, and local herders, UNEP had developed an initiative called “Nomadic Herders”, a partnership-based project in line with the Permanent Forum’s recommendations.  The participants had the shared goal of securing healthy and well-functioning ecosystems to protect the biodiversity and ensure the basis for indigenous livelihoods, and the ability for the communities to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Providing specific details about Nomadic Herders, she said the project had kicked off in Mongolia in late 2010 with a request from that country’s Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism to engage further with local reindeer herders, the Dukha, to asses and increase awareness on Mongolian reindeer husbandry, its challenges and opportunities.  Subsequently, in June 2011, UNEP and the Reindeer Herders Association had facilitated a community-based workshop and field visits to the Tsagaannuur reindeer herding district to meet Dukha herders and to discuss with them ways to jointly address their concerns. 

She went on to outline some of the recommendations that had emerged from a report based on those discussions, including on the need to establish community monitoring of the changes in land use, industrial development and other social and economic changes affecting reindeer herding and taiga (boreal forest) ecosystems.  Other recommendations called for training the Dukha in recording their own terminology and knowledge related to reindeer husbandry, migration practices and land use, and developing adaptation strategies based on traditional knowledge.

AIKE NIILAS PEDER SELFORS, of the Arctic Caucus, said that special attention needed to be paid to ensuring legal guarantees for indigenous peoples communities and that there should be certainty of the laws that guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples.  Two studies had been presented during the present session of the Forum.  The Arctic Caucus supported the conclusions and recommendations of those studies.  On its own, the Caucus recommended that the Forum appoint Anna Naykanchina of theRussian Federation to undertake a study on the resilience of indigenous peoples, with a focus on good practices.  The report of that study should be submitted to the Forum at its twelfth session.  It also recommended that the Russian Federation and other states should endorse the agreed positions with regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Additionally, the Forums should request Governments to take steps to ensure that indigenous peoples had representatives in discussions of matters affecting them, with representatives appointed through selection processes decided upon by the indigenous peoples themselves.

NATALIA CHAYKA, of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation, said that a significant problem affecting indigenous peoples in her area remained unemployment, which affected the ability to meet the needs of the population for development.  A poor environment, harsh living conditions and lack of work were preventing the people from teaching their children and making them qualified.  Because people did not have permanent wages, they were unable to teach their children and prepare them for employment.  That created social problems, including high mortality.  It was, therefore, necessary to establish conditions for strengthening the social capacity of the people.  Obtaining food and housing were other problems confronting the indigenous peoples, since most of them were on the poverty threshold.

VASILIS NEMECKIN, Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples, said globalization was affecting all countries and, as a result of that phenomenon, traditional languages were under serious threat worldwide. Targeted efforts were needed to preserve native languages and ensure they were made available “from the nursery to the university.” The Permanent Forum must enhance its activities in that regard, including facilitating technical assistance so that such languages could be saved. He went on to urge Governments to support the sixth World Congress of the Finno-Urgic Peoples, to take place later this year in Hungary.

GULVAYRA KUTSENKO, on behalf of L'auravetl'an Information and Education Network of Indigenous People, which united more than 20 indigenous groups living in the Russian Federation, said that country was home to some 47 different ethnicities and, while various aspects of State apparatus addressed the protection of their rights, more measures were needed.  Indigenous peoples in the region continued to maintain traditional cultures, economic activity and language systems.  As such, ensuring their sustainable development required targeted strategies implemented at the community level.  Several regions were carrying out such measures, but she urged that ethnicity not be a barrier for taking advantage of such benefits.  More dynamic and effective legislation was being developed to protect indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation, including steps to achieve their rights under the Declaration.

NADIR BEKIROV, Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of the Crimea and the Crimean Tatar People’s Front, said while the Russian Federation was the largest part of the region, that fact did not mean that the situation of indigenous peoples living in surrounding regions could be ignored.  He was concerned that the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the relevant Special Rapporteur had only visited one country and one region during a recent trip there.  He called for a more holistic view that included all the regions’ diverse indigenous communities, including in the Ukraine.

That country, he said, had done very little to recognize the rights of its indigenous communities.  Indeed, the situation for those people was getting worse, as Ukraine remained one of the 11 countries that had refused to recognize the Declaration on Indigenous Rights.  Further, Ukraine continued to appropriate the land of the Crimean and Tartar peoples, suppress protestors and prosecute human rights defenders.  With all that in mind, he urged the Human Rights Council to suspend Ukraine’s membership until that country undertook serious legal measures to recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.

ABDURAMAN EGIZ, representative of the Mejis of Crimean Tatar People, Ukraine, said that the Soviet Union had had a serious impact on the Crimean Tatar people.  The Soviets had kept the Crimean Tatar people in exile and, today, only 300,000 of them had returned.  An international forum was being planned on the question of the restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people.  The forum was initiated due to the urgent need to preserve the linguistic and cultural identity of the people.  Ukraine had done little to restore the rights of the people of Crimea.  The Forum was being supported by the European Union, the United States, Canada and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), but Ukraine had not shown any interest in supporting the initiative.  The Mejis of the Crimean Tatar People was very concerned about the neglect by Ukraine.  The Forum would produce a road map for the restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatars.  He called on the Permanent Forum to call for action on the longstanding issue of the Crimean Tatars.

ELIDA ATLASOVA, representing the Council of Yakaghirs Elders of the Russian Federation, said that there were only 1,600 Yakaghirs left in the Russian Federation.  The Yakaghirs had a recognized right to their own language and the language had official status in the country.  One of the areas of activity, in that regard, was that languages of the north were being studied.  The language of the Yakaghirs was now spoken by some 30 people, mostly older people.  There were few opportunities for higher education, because the parents were mostly poor reindeer herders.  The Russian Federation was conducting work to support the indigenous peoples, but it was necessary to combine efforts.  There was a need for partnership, so that the indigenous peoples could feel protected in their public sphere.

VLADIMIR CHERNY, of the Foundation for the Protection of Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Russia, said for 11 years, his Foundation had represented indigenous peoples in the Russian Parliament and had put forward many proposals that had been passed into law.  It was important that indigenous peoples be represented in the making of legislation.  Currently, there was a trend for indigenous peoples to lose trust in their own institutions and there had been some political combat.

Taking the floor again, Mr. TRAVNIKOV said his delegation appreciated the very interesting discussion, and many, if not most of the views were well known to him.  At the same time, it would be difficult to agree with some of the assessments.  On the Declaration, he said the Russian Federation continued to study that instrument and the majority of its tenets were in line with the Russian Federation’s views on the sustainable development of indigenous peoples.  At the same time, the Russian Federation could not necessarily agree with the Declaration on political self-determination and rights to land.

Specifically on land issues, he said the Russian Federation believed that minerals belonged to all the people of the country and such resources should be used to benefit the entire country, regardless of group affiliation.  Of course, there might be differing views on that matter, so the Government continued to assess its position.  Turning to traditional land use, he said that, for a decade, a law had been in place “that admittedly is not working well”.  In response, the Government had approved a draft amendment, elaborated in association with indigenous groups, including RAIPON, and he hoped it would soon be adopted.

As for traditional fishing communities, he hoped such ways of life could be sustained, while the needs of commercial fishing businesses received adequate support.  He went on to say that, while he disagreed with the figures presented regarding Russia’s financial support to indigenous peoples, he acknowledged that there needed to be more transparency regarding such expenditures.  He also called for a holistic view of the issue, so that the full diversity of indigenous peoples of the region could be heard.  That way, the Permanent Forum, Member States and other stakeholders would have a more comprehensive picture of the situation.

Statements on Combating Violence against Indigenous Women

ANDREA LANDRY, Tribal Link/Project Access Global Training Programme, highlighted the aspects of the Declaration regarding violence against indigenous women and girls and noted the recommendations that had been put forward yesterday when the discussion began.  She urged the Commission on the Status of Women to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the epidemic of trafficking in women.  The Permanent Forum was requested to ensure that all relevant United Nations funds, agencies and programmes were apprised of the discussions that had taken place and that every effort was made to implement the recommendations

NELLY ROMERO, Confederation of Indigenous Peoples from Bolivia (CIDOB), said that discrimination, exclusion and humiliation were the terrible common denominators that had drawn indigenous peoples to participate in the Permanent Forum’s work.  Yet, even as their rights were trampled, indigenous peoples must join together and raise their voices to ensure that their rights were protected and promoted.  Turning to the situation in Bolivia, she decried the “massacre” of indigenous peoples there and said:  “We have an indigenous leader, but his hands are stained with the blood of indigenous peoples.”  Democracy demanded the participation of all and subjugation of none.

SYLVIA PEREZ, Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico, said the women in her region faced serious challenges and the relevant States must provide redress and reparations for “invasion” of indigenous lands.  Those same Governments must guarantee the rights of the indigenous to effectively participate in all decision-making structures in the region, particularly those dealing with the use of indigenous lands and territories.  Those Governments must harmonize their legislation with international human rights norms, to ensure that indigenous women could overcome years of discrimination and marginalization.

JOSEPH MARIANUS KUJUR, Indian Social Institute, said that domestic workers had to endure impossibly long hours of work without security.  Even when they were paid, their work remained undervalued.  That situation called for regulation, since the domestic workers were excluded from labour laws and were subjected to physical abuse.  They were also denied their rights and access to health services, in addition to suffering various forms of violence.  Their situation looked a lot like a contemporary form of slavery in which the women from tribal communities were exploited.  They suffered double discrimination and double victimhood, first as women and then as tribal women.  The violence against them was structural and needed to be addressed structurally.  In that regard, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues should initiate a study to identify and address the core issues involved in the cases of domestic workers.

PEDRO SOSA, speaking on behalf of Tonatierra of Guatemala, said that in Guatemala and other countries, indigenous land was frequently plundered, so that the indigenous peoples suffered both the effects of history and the damaging effects of the present.  Many communities had been prompted to oppose mining and other activities that damaged their environment.  Their inputs were, however, often ignored by the States, which took actions without consultation.  As a result, tension had been rising in Guatemala and in many other countries.  In Santa Cruz, such tension led to events which gave the Government the cover to impose a curfew, instead of addressing the root causes of the situation.  Tonatierra had expressed concern at the way information was being handled and called for an impartial investigation into the events, as well as for the lifting of the curfew that was imposed.  He stated that States needed to ensure the physical integrity of indigenous peoples, including those that had disappeared.

LEON OMA TSAMKGAO, representing the San of southern Africa, said that the theft of lands and attempts to destroy the culture of the people and their ways of life by extreme violence, including genocide, was the source and cause of all the violence that the people still faced today.  When people’s land, which was the basis of their dignity and their lives, was taken away, they were left vulnerable to abuse and their rights to safety and security were violated.  The infamous apartheid practice of paying San workers in alcohol, instead of a wage, had led to serious alcoholism in the communities and was a major cause of violence.

Unfortunately, she said, independence from colonial powers had not ended that practice.  In Nyae Nyae, no San person owned or operated a bottle store or “shebeen”, yet they were the ones who suffered from that scourge.  She said that women had been forced into prostitution by poverty and despair and that young women were now falling pregnant or becoming infected with HIV and tuberculosis as a result.  Noting that Botswana had never submitted a report to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and South Africa and Namibia had done so only once, she called on southern African Governments to honour their commitments to uphold the dignity and rights of indigenous women and children.  The International Labour Organization should also investigate and bring to an end the abuse of San workers, particularly women and children.

ANMOY CHAKMA, speaking on behalf of Kapaeeng Foundation, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, United Confederation of Taino People, and Jumchab Metta Foundation, said that even as the Permanent Forum met to discuss combating violence against women, in Bangladesh, women were passing their days in fear of having grave violence being perpetrated against them.  Indeed, many of those women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts were preyed upon by military personnel, even though Bangladesh was a party to major international human rights treaties.  Rapes and other violence against indigenous women in Bangladesh were pervasive due to impunity.  There was not a single case where women preyed upon received justice.  He called upon the Government of Bangladesh to comprehensively address the issue and to carry out all elements of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.