Indigenous peoples from different countries unite to fight for self-determination

Northern Dispatch
Posted by

MANILA – “The most noble and the greatest task in the world is to sacrifice for our people and land. United we will stand; divided we will fall… It is our responsibility as Indigenous Peoples (IP) to let the flag of victory flutter proudly in the sky”.

This was the message of an elder quoted by Ivan Torafing, secretary-general of Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN) in his synthesis of the discussion of the panel on Indigenous Peoples Struggles for Self-Determination and Liberation.

Amid the worsening situations of IPs as discussed by delegates from the Philippines, Northeast India, Nepal and West Papua in Indonesia, Torafing called for the IPs of the world to march forward and join the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL). He said it is a movement that comprised IPs and advocates worldwide “standing firm for IP rights to govern and liberate themselves from imperialism, state oppression and human rights violations”.

Unity, he said, strengthens the struggle.

He also gave his highest salutation to the elders whom he said have nurtured and protected their indigenous communities, lands and resources. He added that it is their responsibility as IP youth to continue and heighten the struggle their forefathers have begun.

Trampling on Moro’s rights

Bai Ali Indayla, secretary-general of Kawagib-Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Human Rights, presented how the Bangsamoro has been fighting for their right to self-determination for which they have also resorted to armed struggle.

However, this struggle has been co-opted by local politicians through issuing a law declaring the Bangsamoro territory as an Autonomous Region in 1990. This, she said, paved the way for “representatives of the Moro landed class and big business to plunder people’s money and for business investments to exploit Mindanao’s natural resources and worsen the landlessness of the taliawids (peasants)”.

Indayla also expressed her disgust on Aquino’s cancellation of the ARMM election. On June 30, Aquino signed into law the cancellation of the August 8 election, appointing Officers-in-charge instead for the next 21 months. This aims to synchronize ARMM election with the 2013 national elections. Moreover, this move of the president also aims to “institute reforms” in the ARMM.

“What it demonstrated was chauvinism, discrimination and the outright trampling of the Moro peoples’ right to self-determination. The Bangsamoro’s right to decide and not to decide in the context of the elitist and bourgeois Philippine elections is still a matter within the purview of the reactionary state,” Indayla added.

International IP struggles

IP situations from Northeast India presented by Jiten Yumnam, Nepal by Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar, and West Papua, India presented by Leonard Imbiri, showed how IPs all over the world are being deprived of their basic rights. Development aggression is focused on their ancestral lands in the form of mining, geothermal plants, dams, massive logging and others.

Their struggles to self-determination and liberation are met with militarization and state terrorism. Yumnam himself has been a victim of arrest and torture in 2009, for having protested fake encounter killings in Manipur, India. (

Share This Post