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International Days

International Day of Indigenous Peoples – 9 August, since 1994

I have been in much the same situation as Jessica Rudder (see Policymic.com – very worth reading!) – I was very surprised to hear that the 9th of August is the “International Day of Indigenous Peoples”! Here, in Austria, you have heard (almost) nothing about it. However, in countries, where indigenous peoples are still living and where they proclaim their rights more frequently nowadays (at least it seems like it given the increased number of reports about demonstrations against (for instance) dam constructions), articles were published. The day was used to make the society aware of the importance and value of indigenous peoples and to demonstrate for their rights, particularly in Indonesia: People protested against the government which is still occupying their land. According to Pacific Scoop, 11 people were arrested after riots.

In Honduras a meeting of 40 representatives of indigenous peoples took place in order to analyse the current situation (Portal Amerika 21).

These events seem to be the exception. Organisations and the media took this day as a reason to more or less inform about indigenous peoples, for instance in:

ICIMOD (Nepal) , The Jakarta Post and The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Pro Bono Australia (Australia), UNEP Grida (Arctic), der Standard (Brazil), Prensa Latina (Bolivia) and Alertnet (Andes).

Amnesty International criticised governments that their economic interests took priority over the specific interest of indigenous peoples.

General background on this day was given on Climate Connections, Slow Food and at the Gáldu Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Also, Radio Vatikan prodcasted a talk on the importance of the day.

Am I going to remember the importance of 9 August next year?

Maybe …

… if the topic gets the needed attention,

… if governments actually take account of the interests of indigenous peoples, and

… if the economy recognises the potential and skills of indigenous people and aims to cooperate with them instead of exploiting them.

Maybe we will get informed about this day before the 9th of August next year so that we can actually organise activities in order to raise awareness …




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