Sunday, June 07, 2009

Amnesty International vows support for Subanen women, youth

Pagadian City (Cagayan Journal/ June 7) - Amnesty International (AI) pledged to continue support to Subanen women and youth to know more about their human rights and assert them, after a two-day workshop on human rights in Pagadian City today.

“The active participation of women and youth Subanens is very important in the promotion of human rights of indigenous peoples in Zamboanga Peninsula.

“AI supports the efforts of Subanens themselves to speak out about human rights issues such as insecurity in the homes and roads, inadequate school rooms and absence of basic services for indigenous communities,” said Dr. Aurora Corazon A. Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

Billions of people are suffering from insecurity, injustice and indignity in the world, Amnesty International said when it presented the Amnesty International Report 2009: State of the World’s Human Rights, in a forum at the Guillermo Hotel in Pagadian. It reported about shortages of food, clean water, land and housing, about deprivation and discrimination and growing inequality and violence around the world.

“In the Philippines , people suffer from inadequate food, housing, education and decent jobs. People are excluded from participating in decision making because mechanisms for their participation are absent,” said Dr. Parong.

Dr. Parong added, “The looming human rights crisis in the world, which greatly affects the Philippines in many ways, further undermines the rights of marginalized peoples, especially the poor and indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples themselves sometimes remain silent about their problems and thus human rights education is important to empower them to have the confidence and courage to visit government institutions, speak out and claim their rights.”

The AI report dealt with the indigenous peoples’ (IPs) continued struggle for land rights as the government failed to comply with its obligation to obtain IPs’ free, prior and informed consent to development plans, including mining operations, in their traditional territories.

In Zamboanga Peninsula , indigenous peoples communities are also disturbed by mining and logging operations. The Subanens of Siocon have complained about the entry of mining companies in their lands despite absence of free, prior and informed consent. A complaint was filed in 2007 at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Subanens are waiting for the conclusion of the UN body.

“Protecting the rights of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from corporations is an obligation of government. Amnesty International believes that corporations should have accountability to the indigenous communities where they operate. Indigenous peoples do not want their lands destroyed to ensure that the future generations of indigenous peoples will have their ancestral domain to live in and nurture their children.“ explained the director.

Amnesty International is a grassroots organization with 2.2million members in more than 100 countries worldwide. It won the Nobel Peace Award for its human rights work. It is a non political and non-partisan organization.


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