Christian communicators back indigenous rights

By staff writers
August 11, 2010

The World Association for Christian Communication has called for widespread recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ communication rights to improve their lives in every corner of the globe.

The global NGO, which brings together communicators across the world, made the appeal to coincide with the International Day of Indigenous People this week.

The statement in full reads: "Half way through the second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, launched in 2004 by United Nations’ General Assembly, there have been significant gains among the Indigenous peoples of the world.

"In regions such as Latin America, indigenous peoples are creating national and regional alliances and in some countries, such as Bolivia, they have an increased presence in the setting of national agendas as well as in public life.

"In Asia, new broadcasting legislation in Bangladesh allowing the existence of community radio stations has translated into indigenous people using new technologies to implement their right to communication and information.

"And yet much remains to be done. This is particularly true in relation to indigenous women, who have faced centuries of discrimination, marginalisation and human rights abuses. Despite the advances of the last fifteen years, indigenous women still face high levels of poverty and violence, lack of access to education, economic opportunities, land and natural resources, poor or non-existent health services, etc."

In the struggle to be heard, “Sometimes being present does not mean taking part,” said Melania Canales Poma, regional coordinator for the Andean and Amazon Women’s Organisation of Peru. She added that participating means “saying what one thinks, what one feels, and that is a fundamental part that we’re still missing.” Her plea points squarely to the need to establish mechanisms that guarantee indigenous women’s right to communicate.

This was the same sentiment expressed by Sanjeeb Drong of Bangladesh’s Adivasi Forum in his address to the third meeting of the UN’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People (EMRIP) held in Geneva in July 2010. He quoted Article 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.”

Mr Drong added that, “States have the main responsibility to take effective measures for promoting indigenous media and to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. Media can play a vital role in promoting and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at country level.”

World Association for Christian Communication:


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