Dear sisters and brothers,
Nya wenha Skanonh
Warm and respectful greetings. We write to you an urgent message and request for solidarity. Two of our indigenous sisters, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Kankana-ey- Igorot, Special Rapporteur to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues and Joan Carling, Kankanaey, Igorot co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development have been placed on a list including 600 people declared by the Philippine government as terrorists.
These Mother Earth and human rights defenders must be protected and it is time we rise up collectively to ensure that no harm comes to them. We all know they are now in grave danger. As the Human Rights Watch stated it is a “Government hit list”. They will be targeted.
During the UN International Expert Group Meeting, held 23-25 of January 2018, the American Indian Law Alliance and the Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee recommended that a reporting and monitoring system be developed by the United Nations when threats of violence are made by Member States and organizations to Indigenous Mother Earth and Human Rights Defenders. These threats and attacks need to be fully documented and followed by UN mechanisms.
The recommendation was derived from a threat one of our brothers received after posting his statement to social media.
Lists of these threats must be completely transparent and made available to all Member States, UN Agencies, Organizations and NGO’s. A formal penalty or sanctioning system must be developed as retribution for offenses and be implemented by UN Mechanism to sanction these violators. These sanctions must also be made public.
Utilizing the UN Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, United Nations Charter and international Human Rights Laws, overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples, Nations and Organizations with the full, prior and informed consent to any processes that are discussed and later agreed upon.
We need to send a clear message that violators are put on notice that we as Indigenous Peoples, Nations and Organizations will not tolerate threats and attacks to our people or lands.
We need to identify and enlist all Indigenous Peoples, Nations, Organizations, UN Agencies, UN departments and Member States willing to assist in these efforts.
We look forward to your feedback and working with all of you on this very important issue facing all Indigenous Environmental and Human Rights Defenders.
During the UN International Expert Group Meeting, Joan Carling stated that there is always an expectation of a trade-off when working within these systems and by Member States. I say to all of you we have nothing left to give this includes our lives.
Lastly, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, stated during this same UN International Expert Group Meeting “The protection of our rights must come first”.
Please share this.
With love and solidarity,
American Indian Law Alliance
The American Indian Law Alliance (AILA) is an Indigenous NGO in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, (ECOSOC).