Joint intervention of CRAM, LIL, CSCHR and CORE on Intervention on Future Works of Permanent Forum during UNPFII 2015

14TH SESSION OF THE UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES, 20 APRL – 1 MAY 2015, UN HQ, NEW YORK

Agenda Item 8:  Intervention on Future Works of Permanent Forum 

 

Madame Chair, I am Pushpa Koijam of the Meitei people of Manipur intervening on behalf of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM), Land is Life (LIL), CSO Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and at the UN (CSCHR) and Center for Organization Research and Education (CORE), Inter Tribal Committee.

Madame Chair, the provision on right to self determination, a fundamental right that transcends all provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other major International Human Rights agreements, is increasingly being arbitrated in indigenous peoples’ territories. Indigenous peoples efforts for greater defense of their land, rights and future and self determination is also increasingly being responded with brute use of force and arbitrary use of power.

In Manipur in India’s North East, the self determination efforts of indigenous peoples are responded militarily with brute forms of extensive militarization, with promulgation of emergency laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.  Militarization processes in Manipur led to wide controversy in Manipur, ranging from direct civilian casualties to land grabbing to facilitating development onslaught in Manipur, all converging to reinforce undermining right to self determination of indigenous peoples. Several UN human rights bodies had urged upon the Government of India to repeal emergency laws and to stop all forms of human rights violations.

One of the most direct impacts of militarization is on women and children. The infamous rape and murder of Miss Thangjam Manorama on 11 July 2004 by personnel of the 17th Assam Rifles and the countless victims of rape and other forms of sexual harassment is an obvious reality in Manipur. There are countless victims of rapes and sexual harassment committed by Indian security forces. The denial of justice, failure to prosecute and punish armed forces personnel involved in violations led to impunity.

Militarization can also led to impact on peoples economic means as several times, villagers residing in and around the Loktak Lake complained of military restrictions on their normal daily fishing activities at Loktak Lake and also the destruction of their fishing gears during military operations and due to military deployment all around Loktak Lake. Indigenous communities protested the restrictions of movements in their village by Assam Rifles personnel in Tengoupal village in January 2015.

Militarization is also associated with introduction of unsustainable development projects, as evident by the militarization of Mapithel Dam site, Loktak Project site, Khuga Dam etc. Usually, any call for sustainable, participatory and human rights based development would immediately lead to militarization of those specific project sites. Indeed the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Mr. James Anaya expressed strong condemnation with the Mapithel dam construction and the militarization process and application of emergency legislations in 2008.

The militarization process already hastened the fast worsening food sovereignty of Manipur as scores of acres of prime agricultural land, which community depend for growing food, is increasingly converted into non productive assets, including setting up military camps and firing ranges. Land grabbing is also carried out for militarization purposes in the region, where huge tract of prime agriculture land and forest are acquired for military and allied activities, which are deployed to counter indigenous resistance groups, struggling for their for right to self determination, to protect mega development infrastructures[1].

Besides confiscation of ancestral land, the militarization process also targets educational complexes and historical sites. There has been a longstanding demand from the students of Manipur University to shift the Assam Rifles currently occupying the Langthabal Hills, an important historical and cultural heritage site, located within the university premises. The Chinga Hills and the Langjing Hills etc, where the Meitei people worship their ancestral deities, has been occupied by Assam Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force, representing a desecration of indigenous peoples cultural and sacred sites.

One may recall that the village authorities of Khunkhu village, located near Leimakhong Army base in Manipur, complained that the Army authorities continuously used the area in the vicinity of the village as a field firing range since 1938 without compensation for damages caused to the village, constituting a direct violation of the Maneuvers, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938 and UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.

Militarization and impacts on civilians in indigenous territories has for long been overlooked. It is increasing evident that militarization process has disturbed the profound relationships of Indigenous peoples in Manipur with their lands and territories. Confiscation of prime agricultural land and resources without the consent of the communities has led to considerable social and cultural impacts, and also posing a threat to the physical integrity and survival as peoples. Militarization in residential areas has far wider and serious implications with the local economy and livelihood and survival issues.

Recommendations:   I would like to urge upon the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to kindly recommend to

  • Undertake a study on multifaceted and holistic impacts of militarization, such as physical and psychological impacts.
  • Consider the “Impacts of Militarization on Indigenous peoples land and territories”, as the special themes of the Fifteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
  • Urge upon Member States of the UN and especially the Government of India to end all forms of militarization in Indigenous Peoples territories and land and towards this,
  • To recognize the political rights and self determined rights of all indigenous peoples as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.

*(Note: The above mentioned organizations are member organizations of IPMSDL )

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Here are the other two interventions on item #3 (a) and (b) which were not read during the UNPFII 2015 but were submitted to the secretariat.
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Intervention on Agenda Item 3(a): Outcome of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

14th UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

20 April -1 May 2015, UNHQ, New York

20 April 2015

Madame Chair, I am Ms. Pushpa Koijam, a Meitei from Manipur, presenting a statement on behalf of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Land is Life, Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and at the UN and Centre for Organization Research and Education. One of the most outstanding outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is call on all members States of the United Nations to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 (UNDRIP). Indigenous peoples continues to confront challenges in the implementation of UNDRIP despite these emphasis in the WCIP outcome document.

The Government of India denied presence of indigenous peoples in its territories while also claiming all its one billion plus population in India as indigenous.  Such ambiguous positions hinders implementation of the UNDRIP and led to targeting indigenous peoples to human rights violations.

The provision on right to self determination, that transcends all provisions of UNDRIP is arbitrated in an aggressive form. In Manipur, self determination efforts of indigenous peoples are crushed with brute forms of extensive militarization, with promulgation of emergency laws, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, which confers with wide powers and immunity to Indian Armed Forces, resulting in extensive human rights violations in Manipur.  More than 1500 fully confirmed cases of Extra Judicial Executions has been documented in Manipur from 1980’s till 2012, as documented by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN.

The violation of indigenous peoples free, prior and informed consent and right to self determined development, as emphasized in the WCIP declaration, is a serious concern in Manipur. The violation of right to self determination of indigenous peoples in Manipur is lucid clear in the pattern of aggressive push of corporate led development and associated militarism. The ongoing Mapithel dam construction in Manipur, with heavy militarization despite the recommendation of UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples to the Government of India to stop construction is a clear signs of discrimination against indigenous peoples. The proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Power Project has been pursued without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities. The Tipaimukh dam will submerge more than 27,000 hectares of forest land and will destroy livelihood sources of indigenous communities of Manipur.

There is limited process to ensure accountability of corporate bodies involved in the destruction of peoples land, territories and resources. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation continues to remain unaccountable for the violations and devastation of Loktak Wetlands in Manipur. The Loktak Project submerged more than 80,000 acres of prime agricultural land and displaced several thousands of indigenous peoples, who still remain without resettlement and rehabilitation.

The ongoing oil and gas exploration and drilling move by Jubilant Energy, a multinational company based in Holland, clearly violates the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples of Manipur. The Government of India granted license to Jubilant Oil and Gas Private Limited, a Dutch company, for exploration and drilling works2 in two oil blocks in Manipur without informing and taking consent of the people of Manipur. Innocent villagers of Tamenglong, Churachandpur, and Jiribam are being duped to sign no-objections letters or NOC for Seismic surveys by Alpha Geo Company, without the people being informed on the impacts.

A serious challenge with such developmental processes in Manipur is the failure to recognize the right to self determination and self determined development of indigenous peoples over their land and resources. Development processes which are purely extractive, destructive and driven by profit motives for corporate bodies and political elites are introduced and exert tremendous pressures on the peoples land, resources, rights and survival. Development processes, incompatible to the traditional values and wishes, aspirations of indigenous communities are aggressively introduced.

The series of policy deregulations and formulation to serve corporate interest is another key concern. The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection, Act, 2006, the Manipur Hydroelectric Policy, 2012, the Manipur Industrial policy 2013, the Manipur State Climate Change Action Plan of 2010, the Manipur Tourism Policy, 2011, the New Land Use Policy, 2014 re some of the recent policies framed to advance corporate interest in Manipur.  The enactment of the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 has led to the widespread violence in Loktak wetlands and merciless eviction of indigenous fishing communities.

The extensive militarization associated with aggressive development process in Manipur is part of larger Government move to subdue the right to self determination of indigenous peoples.

Recommendations: I would like to take this privilege to request members of the Permanent Forum to urge upon the Government of India to initiate urgent actions to:

  • Implement the outcome provisions of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be fully implemented.
  • To recognize indigenous peoples’ right to self determined development with full recognition of communities’ rights over their land and resources.
  • Enforce moratorium on all mega development projects which failed to take the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities of Manipur.
  • End all forms of militarization in Manipur. In particular, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 should be repealed as a matter of urgency for its facilitation of development aggression.
  • Repeal all policies and acts that foster privatization and corporatization of communities land such as Manipur Hydro Policy, 2012, the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006
  • Decommission Ithai Barrage of the 105 MW Loktak HEP should be decommissioned as per the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, 2000.
  • Stop Oil Exploration and Drilling by Jubilant Energy in Manipur.
  • Stop construction of Mapithel dam, the proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam, Chakpi dam etc.

Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
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14TH SESSION OF UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES

Agenda Item 3(b): Comprehensive dialogue with UN Agencies and Funds on Post 2015

UN Headquarter, New York City, 21 April 2015

Dear Madame Chair, I am Pushpa Koijam of the Meitei people of Manipur intervening on behalf of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Land is Life, CSO Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and at the UN and the Center for Organization Research and Education.

The ongoing international process to define sustainable development Goals, financing for development and related indicators, has already caused deep concerns with indigenous peoples worldwide. We would like to express our serious concern that the Seventeen Goals and targets as outlined in the current SDG Working Documents for the post- 2015 Development Agenda has limited reference to indigenous peoples. This is inconsistent to the objectives of current development process to “leave no one behind”.

The overwhelming focus on private sector financing and public private partnership in the pursuance of aggressive development amidst extensive militarization of indigenous territories is a matter of serious concerns. The Mapithel Dam construction, proposed construction of the 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam and series of mega dams and extractive industries planned in Public Private partnership (PPP) mode in Manipur in India’s North East has already led to violation of indigenous peoples human rights.

Development fostered under the current development architecture has already ruined lives, destroyed futures of many indigenous communities, displaced fisher folks, small scale farmers and women from their survival sources not only in Manipur, but also across communities worldwide. Pursuance of development aggression with intensified militarism will never lead to sustainable development. Manipur witnessed series of development policies formed in the last decade, interestingly in the last few years, to promote corporatization and privatization of community resources, peoples live and future, such as the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006, the Manipur Hydroelectric Power Policy 2012 which will ruin indigenous peoples’ lives and future.

In Manipur, the definition of development priorities by International Financial Institutions with State facilitation led to promotion of an enabling environment for private sector/business rather than communities in an atmosphere of exclusivity and lack of transparency and accountability. Such process lacks a full scale impact appraisal, denial of information, misinformation, upsetting the fragile ecological integrity and destroying cultures. The adherence to human rights standards, such as, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, 2007, is absent.  These financial institutions and corporate bodies remains unaccountable as states continues to provide full support and protection.

The post 2015 shall include indigenous peoples as a clear target for sustainable development in accordance to their wishes and needs. Indigenous conceptions and framework of ‘Development’ is based on Indigenous values that are broader than financial frameworks and includes decision making, spiritual health, cultural values, and role as ecosystem custodians. The core factors of Indigenous model of development is founded on the principle of self-determination as outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples., where Indigenous peoples determine their own development processes.

The definition of SDGs and means of implementation should ensure recognition of indigenous peoples self determined development over their land and territories, with advancement of their traditional wisdom and knowledge of sustainable management and development of their land and resources.

An overwhelming emphasis on finance as means of implementation may not be appropriate for indigenous communities, which possess myriad survival activities (hunting, gathering, agriculture etc) but yet classified as non economic without realizing its viability and sustainability.

The means of implementation should advance harmony with people and nature and rather than a mechanism to reinforce profits for corporate bodies at the expense of nature and people’s survival.   A sustainable development goals financing need be guided clearly by principles of human rights. All efforts to implement and fund the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must extend beyond a focus purely on money or technology transfer and instead, focus on people led approaches.

The definition of global indicators should include the security of land rights of indigenous peoples, protection of their sustainable livelihoods and traditional knowledge, respect for the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, special measures in addressing the particular needs and circumstances of indigenous peoples such as on health, education, poverty alleviation. A rightful engagement of indigenous peoples with the UN Statistics Commission and the Inter-Agency Expert Group on Indicators in the formulation of global indicators appropriate for indigenous peoples is crucial.

The Private sector financing and public-private partnerships for sustainable development should be accompanied by mandatory transparency and accountability safeguards in accordance with human rights norms putting people’s rights before profit.

Sustainable Development in indigenous peoples territories and land can be best ensured if all development processes is rooted in their wishes and aspirations and towards sustaining their health and sustenance of our mother earth. For indigenous peoples, recognizing their inherent rights over their land and resources and respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent for any development decisions affecting their land and territories, as key indicator, is prerequisite for meaningful sustainable development in their land and territories.

Thank you, Madame Chair