Dear UNPO Members and Friends,
As the 2012 year grew to a close, UNPO held its General Assembly in Geneva, from November 29th to December 1st. This was the occasion for all Members to discuss the work and goals of the organization for the years to come.
The Assembly was punctuated by a visit to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as a candlelight vigil in front of the United Nations building to support the right to participate in political life.
On a festive note, the UNPO launched its first ever cookbook, just in time for the end of the year festivities. Native Delights gathers recipes from UNPO Members from all over the world and explains in detail how to prepare them.
UNPO continued its action towards ensuring the representation and the defense of its Members and their rights. Particular attention was drawn during the month of December to the impact large-scale mining has on indigenous people. Two reports focusing on the Philippines shed light on the situation, which can be related to other cases worldwide.
In addition, UNPO’s President and General Secretary expressed their continued preoccupation about the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan and condemned the Iraqi threats against the Kurds. They urged the international community to take immediate action and to facilitate negotiations between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government – a situation we continue to monitor closely. Concerns about the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord were also raised, as the Accord’s 15th anniversary has once again led to the disappointing realization that a lot remains to be done by the Government of Bangladesh to achieve ethnic peace in the region. Our Member, PCJSS, continues to call for the drafting of a clear Road Map to achieve compliance of the Accord.
Finally, two of our Members experienced decisive moments. Mr. Biram Dah Abeid, President of the Initiative for the Resurgence of Abolitionism in Mauritania, was warmly welcomed back to Mauritania by hundreds of supporters and sympathizers. It is hoped that Mr Abeid’s return will open a new chapter in the nation’s history in which the Government of President Aziz enforces its own laws and Mauritanians can finally be free of the shackles of slavery. His return was the occasion for the organization of the Freedom Caravan, which crossed the country to raise awareness about the plight of slavery in Mauritania. Meanwhile the Ogoni secured a crucial victory, when a Dutch court ruled that a subsidiary of Shell was partially responsible for oil pollution in the Niger Delta, and ordered it to pay compensation to the farmers whose land was poisoned because of leaking pipelines.
These encouraging steps bode well for the year to come, despite the major hurdles still facing other Members. We hope this year will be a fruitful one for the respect of our Members’ human rights and see progress in their struggles for self-determination.
UNPO General Secretary
visit our website for program of forthcoming events www.unpo.org