Peace Brigades International accompanies defenders of the rights of Indigenous peoples

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Honduras accompanies the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations in Honduras (COPINH). In January 2019, members of COPINH (pictured above) expressed solidarity with Unist’ot’en land defenders following the RCMP raid on their territory to facilitate the construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline.

Peace Brigades International stands in solidarity with threatened and at-risk human rights defenders around the world.

In 2018, 77 per cent of the 321 human rights defenders killed were defending land, environmental or Indigenous peoples’ rights, often in the context of extractive industries and state-aligned mega-projects.

A key global instrument in the articulation and advancement of human rights is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

It is notable that when the United Nations General Assembly adopted UNDRIP on September 13, 2007, Canada voted against it, Colombia abstained, while Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico voted in favour of it. Peace Brigades International accompanies numerous Indigenous rights defenders in Latin America.

PBI’s work includes accompanying Indigenous struggles against mining, hydroelectric dams, deforestation, displacement, and industrial wind power projects.

Just a few recent notable examples:

PBI-Mexico accompanies EDUCA at Indigenous Guelaguetza festival against mining;

PBI-Colombia accompanies Indigenous Wounaan verification mission;

PBI-Guatemala accompanies Indigenous land defender Justino Xollim at court hearing;

PBI-Mexico and the Civil Observation Mission on the right to water for the Indigenous community of Ayutla;

PBI-Honduras and PBI-Guatemala accompany Indigenous communities opposed to dams;

PBI-Mexico accompanies Indigenous Zapotec group opposed to industrial wind power megaprojects on their territory;

PBI-Guatemala accompanied Q’eqchi fisherman opposed to now suspended Fenix nickel mine.

PBI-Canada is also keenly aware of continuing violations of Indigenous rights in Canada and has reported on that in these recent articles:

The PBI-North America Project on structural violence against Indigenous peoples;

Land defender Rita Wong sentenced to 28 days in a Canadian jail;

Mohawk land defender Ellen Gabriel on the continuing struggle for land and territory;

Global Witness human rights report notes criminalization of Unist’ot’en land defenders.

PBI-Canada is also organizing a speaking tour in this country with representatives from CCALCP legal collective who are seeking the implementation of the right to free, prior and informed consent in Colombia.

Indigenous peoples are criminalized and killed for defending their territory and rights and continue to suffer from ongoing dispossession from their land, marginalization, poverty and the impacts of colonization.

The full implementation of UNDRIP and protection of Indigenous rights defenders would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples. To read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, please click here.


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