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FOCUS June 2004 Volume 36

Organized Move


Loss of land and culture, environmental degradation, and abusive police/military operations continue to plague many indigenous peoples in Asia. Development projects are ironically some of the major causes of these problems in recent decades. And laws that do not recognize the rights of indigenous peoples facilitate the occurrence of these problems.

Concepts such as "free, informed and prior consent" and "open dialogue and negotiations" are not much of help unless the indigenous peoples themselves are prepared to deal with governments and other institutions such as business enterprises.

Recognizing that many of their problems will not be solved unless they assert their rights collectively, indigenous peoples are organizing themselves, within their own communities and across communities at the national and regional levels. They need to raise their voice more strongly to force the recognition of their problems and claims by governments, private sectors, and international institutions.

The effort toward greater unity of purpose and action by the indigenous peoples should be welcomed and supported.

Human rights are more meaningful when realized by those who bear them. This is what the indigenous peoples are probably aiming at by organizing their communities for collective action.

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