Ties renewed at 3rd Int’l Indigenous Youth Conference


CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Forty-seven indigenous youth gathered in the 3rd International Indigenous Youth Conference from September 5-9, 2016 in Chiang Mai, Thailand to forge unity in advancing the right to self-determination.

Participants to the 3rd International Indigenous Youth Conference during the opening program. Photo courtesy of IIYC
Participants to the 3rd International Indigenous Youth Conference during the opening program. Photo courtesy of IIYC

The participants came from different indigenous communities in Indonesia, West Papua, Jharkhand, Manipur, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Australia, Turtle Islands, Kenya and Brazil.

The conference was organized by the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN), Land is Life, the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and the Jharkhand Indigenous Tribal and Peoples for Action. The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Tonkla Indigenous Youth Network of Thailand hosted this conference with support from the Christensen Fund.

The conference offered spaces and opportunities for grassroots indigenous youth to express their ideas, concerns and voices on important themes happening at the global level. The discussions and sharing include the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Self-determination, International policies, mechanisms and processes and the Sustainable Development Goals. Topics that are also relevant to the indigenous youth such as environmental crisis, education, employment, health and culture were also tackled. From the discussions and workshops, the indigenous youth participants studied the basic and appropriate framework and skills on these themes relevant to them and their communities. The sharing from the guest speakers, as well as from their fellow participants inspired the audience.

Robeliza Halip of AIPP discussed the overview, salient points, updates and the challenges on the implementation of the UNDRIP. This was followed by a discussion on the indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination presented by Benedict Solang, an Igorot elder and member of the advisory council to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and IPMSDL Cordillera.

The Secretary of the Center for Research and Advocacy in Manipur, Land is Life’s Asia Coordinator and member of APIYN’s Advisory Council Jiten Yumnam provided the framework on the Sustainable Development Goals and its relevance to the indigenous peoples and youth. He stressed on the importance of indigenous peoples and the youth’s active participation and monitoring and the SDG’s especially at the country level.

Joan Carling, secretary general of AIPP, urged the indigenous youth to be active in strengthening their organizations as this is significant to their engagement with the UN and other international institutions’ mechanisms and processes relevant to the indigenous peoples and youth.

In her concluding remarks, Carling said that, “the youth has a lot of opportunities such as the use of media. It is better to start at a young age, but you should be deeply-rooted with your communities. You are educated. The youth can be the channel of the voiceless. The biggest contribution of the youth is to work from the grassroots to global level but not loosing sight of who we are and where we come from as indigenous peoples.”

After the discussions, the participants came up with an evaluation of the UN mechanisms and programs, on their current situation as indigenous youth and their idea of a self-determined sustainable development. They also formulated recommendations that may be addressed by them, their organizations and communities, their governments and the UN agencies.

They also came up with concrete outputs from the advocacy skills that they learned from the conference. This include a song capturing the situation of the indigenous peoples and youth, their demands, actions and calls highlighting APIYN’s campaign – Indigenous Lands in Indigenous Hands. The other workshop groups produced a video on the proceedings of the conference, press statements and a detailed action plan in the establishment and sustaining of national, regional and global indigenous youth networks.

Finally, the participants vowed to continue to work and advance the indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination. They also demanded for the states to fully recognize the indigenous people’s rights to their lands, water, forests and socio-economic-political and civil rights. The conference concluded with a visit to two indigenous villages in Thailand – the Ban Huay Mhak Liem and the Huay E-khang villages so the participants may learn of the plight of the villagers and build solidarity ties with them.# nordis.net


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