Indigenous Reality Remains Grim as UN Forum Ends

Michael Astor | Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Indigenous languages are rapidly disappearing, leaders continue to be assassinated, youth suicides are on the rise and human rights are routinely disrespected, participants of a major United Nations forum said Friday.

Leaders painted a grim picture of indigenous reality around the globe in the 21st Century as the 15th session of the United Nation’s Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues drew to a close.

“During our two-week-long session we have heard story of oppression, displacement, discrimination and the marginalization of our people, however, we have also heard stories of hope and success,” Alvaro Pop, the forum’s chairman said in his closing remarks.

Pop called for greater dialogue between national governments, indigenous people and the U.N. so that their “vision of life and the relationship with Mother Earth can be understood and shared.” He also called for greater respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people, which he said is too often ignored.

The two-week long forum that ended Friday united over a 1,000 delegates from all over the world, most of whom face similar predicaments as logging, mining and the oil and gas industry continue to encroach on their ancestral lands.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his closing remarks addressed this year’s theme “Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution.”

“While much has been achieved, much remains to be done. For example, conflicts on the lands and territories of indigenous peoples, and the lack of inclusion of indigenous peoples’ voices in peace processes, remain a challenge, Ban said. “I call on all Member States, on indigenous peoples and the entire U.N. system to work together to address these and other serious concerns.”

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