CHRO Statement to the 22nd Session of UNWGIP
Statement presented to:
Economic and Social Council
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Sub-Commission on the promotion and Protection of Human Rights
Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP)
Twenty-second session19-23, 2004
By: Chin Human Rights Organization
Topic: Conflict Resolution and Indigenous Peoples
Intervener: Kenneth VanBik
Dear Chairperson and members of fellow delegates for Working Group on Indigenous Populations,
First of all, allow me congratulate you for your reelection as the Chairperson of this Working Group.I also would like to thank you for this opportunity to present the plight of my Chin peoples on this occasion.I am Kenneth VanBik and I represent Chin Human Right Organization. On the one hand, I agree with you that the root cause of conflict in many indigenous areas is due to the State’s refusal to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. On the other hand, I have reservation on your paper paragraph 18: “the colonization of indigenous territories also negatively affected indigenous peoples in many other ways. Indigenous populations severely diminished in number during the colonial period as a result of forced labour, warfare, malnutrition due to the destruction of the natural environment, diseases and even calculated extermination”
The reason for my reservation is that you did not specifically mention the continuation of such colonial practice in many modern States. Today some States in Asia continues the practice of the colonisers, perpetrating many atrocities against the indigenous peoples, as in Burma. For examples, forced relocations and cultural genocides have been deliberately executed by the military junta in Chin States. By cultural genocide, we mean incidents such as the denial of native language teaching in our own local schools as well as the declaration of Burmese as the only official language in our Chin communities.Religious oppressions also have been occurring in Chin State. Pulling down many crosses and replaced them with pagodas in Chin hills by the Burmese military regime is a reflection of such religious oppression and persecution.These kinds of atrocities inevitably lead to violent confrontation and armed conflict up until today.
Due to the above mentioned atrocities and human rights violations committed by Burma military regime, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights decided to nominate a Special Reporter on Burma in 1992 in order to monitor situation of human rights in Burma and submit his/her report to United Nations General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights. The resolution is extended every year and the year 2004is not an exception because the human rights situation in Burma remains the same.
In 1994, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to resolve the conflict in Burma. In that resolution, the UNGA strongly urged to have a tripartite dialogue among the major political players in Burma: indigenous leaders, democratic opposition led by the Noble Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military regime. In order to implement this resolution, the UN General Secretary appointed His Special Envoy to Burma in 1995.
As of today, the effort of the Special Envoy has not eased the conflict in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house-arrest, and the military junta continued its own agenda against the will of the people of Burma as well as that of international community.
For an alternative means to resolve conflict in Burma, I strongly support for “the establishment an international body to adjudicate or advise on disputes between indigenous peoples living within the borders of a modern State and non-indigenous institutions, including State institutions” (Paragraph 77). Thank you.