UNPO Newsletter August 2012
Dear UNPO Members and Friends,
The last month of the summer has been eventful for the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization-UNPO team and its Members. Drawing on the importance of digital tools and social media that have played a remarkable role in recent democratic movements, UNPO has been active in re-establishing its participation in social media. UNPO has now a new Facebook page and a blog which you can follow here.
Once again, UNPO would like to congratulate the participants of the 2012 edition of SpeakOut! upon their completion of the three-day Human Rights training, which focused on empowering youth and young professionals from a wide range of nations and backgrounds. This year about forty participants from minorities as diverse as Assyria, Afrikaners, Hmong, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Khmer Khrom participated in the conference and acquired useful insights on Digital Democracy, as well as media and communications for promoting human rights advocacy.
Meanwhile in other parts of the world, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) achieved major progress in peace talks with the Government of the Philippines bringing both parties closer to a just and permanent political situation. In Somaliland the date for local elections has been set to 28 November 2012 to democratically elect local council nationwide. In Taiwan several indigenous groups have launched language revival programs as an initiative to save aboriginal languages facing extinction, while the government has started collecting records that could save nine endangered languages. At this year’s Olympic Games athletes from Kosova were not allowed to participate under their flag, but the recognition of their sovereignty by the Republic of Mali brings closer the aspirations to be recognized by the United Nations. Tibetan Prime-Minister in-exile completed his one year tour of global advocacy in order to build up international support for Tibet. Recurrent
August has been successful on many levels and brought renewed hope for our Members in their home countries. The African Commission has asked the Rwandan government to recognize the Batwa and pastoralists as indigenous people, to make appropriate legislative provisions in this respect, as well as to return land that was taken away from indigenous peoples without compensation. The government of Nigeria will start implementing environmental clean-up actions so that Ogoniland may begin to recover from years of oil contamination. For the first time in 75 years, a Turkish Foreign Minister visited the city of Kirkuk, met with the Iraqi Turkmen community and promised protection and reconstruction of peace for Turkmen.
Unfortunately, despite the positive news several Members have to deal with difficult situations. The Chilean government is continuing unjustified discrimination against the Mapuche community, violent police attacks are recurrent and the indigenous groups are being evicted from their ancestral land. In the meanwhile in Mauritania, seven anti-slavery activists from the organization IRA-Mauritania still remain under arbitrary arrest facing serious sentences. Amnesty International has joined other NGOs in issuing an appeal for Urgent Action. Even though the practice of slavery was criminalized in 2007, it still continues as a result of the unwillingness of the ruling elite to leave behind the caste system. Ramadan in East Turkestan has been described as more intense in 2012 than usual as a result of the Chinese authority’s interference with Uyghurs’ religious practice. The government has been discouraging, and in some places even banning, people from fasting and attending mosques during working hours. In Inner Mongolia coal mines expansion plans by Chinese authorities could lead to serious environmental repercussions in the region, with a severe weather crisis and the drying up of vital water supplies.
UNPO General Secretary