Victoria Tauli-Corpuz responds to PBI-Canada question about global solidarity among Indigenous land defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 19, Peace Brigades International-Canada listened to a webinar organized by Peace Brigades International-Switzerland and Franciscans International about the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders in Guatemala.

We had the opportunity to ask the panellists about solidarity efforts with Indigenous nations outside of Guatemala, for instance in Canada.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, responded:

“We just formed an organization called Indigenous Peoples Rights International which is actually working on building solidarity between Indigenous peoples who are victims of criminalization. The main objective of IPRI is to address the issue of criminalization and violence against Indigenous peoples as well as the impunity in their countries.”

Tauli-Corpuz added: “We are linking up with the organizations in Canada or in the US because that’s where many of the companies are coming from as well. So, whenever you have those problems that you face we can also help in the campaign against a particular company or a particular incident that happened in your country.”

The website for IPRI can be found here.

In 2019, there were 157 attacks on Indigenous peoples defending territory, the environment and the right to land in Guatemala.

The Global Witness Defending Tomorrow report further documents that 12 land and environmental rights defenders were killed in Guatemala that year.

That report also notes: “In January 2019, members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation indigenous group who objected to the construction of a gas pipeline through their territory were forcibly removed from their protest site in British Columbia [Canada]. Heavily armed police arrested 14 demonstrators, injuring one of them.”

It adds: “The police were enforcing an order by the British Columbia Supreme Court requiring the removal of the protestors’ barricade, which blocked the access road to the pipeline’s proposed construction site. First Nations people claim the project infringes on their land rights. The court order effectively criminalised them for protesting on their own land.”

On average four land and environmental defenders around the world have been killed every seek since the Paris climate agreement was reached at the UN COP21 climate summit in Paris in December 2015. More than one-third of those fatal attacks have been against Indigenous land defenders and water protectors.

The video of the PBI-Switzerland and Franciscans International webinar on the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders in Guatemala will be posted shortly.

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