- HB Kham
Kathmandu: Every year the indigenous peoples globally observe the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August.
Nepal is observing this day by organizing various programs. This day is being celebrated after United Nations General Assembly formally adopted a resolution and passed it on 23 December 1994. Two decades have already been observed. This is the third decade of celebration.
It is reported that there are almost 370 million indigenous peoples around the world in 90 countries. They cover 5% of the world’s total population and 15% of the world’s population is represented by these natives or indigenous peoples globally.
In Nepal, currently, 59 indigenous tribes have been officially recognized, while 22 reported to be falling under the new category of newly identified indigenous peoples have yet to be officially recognized. Many others continue to be unrecognized by the government and civil society.
The country’s national census shows that there are 125 ethnic communities with 123 languages spoken of which only 3 or 4 groups belong to the ruling clan while the rest of the communities belong to the marginalized indigenous communities. One of the indigenous groups known as ‘Raute’ still lives in the jungles.
The Indigenous day on August 9 is celebrated with great pomp and show everywhere in the world. But this day is not only to dance and eat. The day is observed to show solidarity among indigenous people and make governments alert against the encroachment of their human rights, political rights, cultural rights, and religious rights.
The day is also celebrated to enforce implementation of ILO Convention 169 and the UN DRIP passed by the UN in favor of the indigenous peoples around the world.
Mr. Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to Nepal (2008) to study the situation of human rights had reported that the government of Nepal needed some amendments in the domestic laws that breached the cultural rights of the indigenous peoples. Anaya had also suggested the government assessing the implementation of the UN instruments concerning the rights of the indigenous peoples of Nepal.
In Nepal, the leaders of the indigenous association are divided among various political ideologies. This trend forces them to remain divided mentally and politically which has hampered the growth and development of the indigenous peoples. August 9 as an international decade day is celebrated by all. But we do forget after this day that what is to be done in favor of the indigenous peoples.
The indigenous people of Nepal are represented in the federal parliament and state assemblies and also at local bodies. But this representation is hardly up to nearly 26%. Despite this representation, they cannot represent the will and aspiration of the indigenous peoples as they are monitored and controlled by their political masters of different ideologies which does not represent authentic indigenous ideologies related to “right to self-determination, self-rule or cultural independence, right to vote for the person of own choice.
The new constitution also does not address all the political and cultural rights of the native people although the constitution is deemed to be the best of all framed so far.
The celebration of this day will be result oriented only when its leaders are truthful to their obligations towards their people and the top leaders running the countries realize that the indigenous people must be embraced to create an integrated society and country which will prosper and develop with cooperation and coordination from all the people.
Indigenous people are endowed with rich cultural heritage which is the main sought after value in the world. It is said that indigenous people still inculcate their indigenous cultural traditions which give identity to a nation. Extinction of these indigenous cultures and languages will be a total loss for the whole humanity and global world.
That’s why the UN also declared the year 2019 as the international year of indigenous languages.
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