Political history of IPs land rights scrutinized

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Kathmandu, August 2019 A two-day workshop titled “Examining the Political History of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights over Land” held in Kathmandu, on July 19-20, 2019. The event was organized by Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) in collaboration with Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), one of its member organizations in Nepal.

A total of 28 participants, including land and forest rights experts and activists affiliated to various organizations from Bangladesh, India and Nepal attended the workshop. The event was facilitated by Gam A. Shimray, General Secretary, AIPP; Binota M. Dhamai, Executive Committee (EC) member, AIPP; and Gobinda Chhantyal, Vice-Chair, NEFIN.

The objective of the two-day event was to examine the political history of indigenous peoples (IPs)’ land rights in the three South Asian countries and explore ways to move forward supporting one another with their different expertise and experiences. Gam A. Shimray from AIPP said, “Our study shows that land rights struggle has remained a key common issue in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. It would be worthwhile to come together to share our rich experiences, knowledge and histories from these South Asian countries and thereby see how we can support each other with our expertise and experiences while moving forward with our struggle.”

The meeting concluded that political regression and decline in democracy was happening in all these three countries and that many of the existing land and forestry laws in these countries, which were of the British colonial origin, continued to adversely impact IPs in relation to their rights to land, forest and other natural resources. 

It held that ongoing IPs struggles eventually helped deepen democracy and stressed that the struggles needed to be taken forward, forging alliances among the IPs/IPOs, IPs networks and collaborating with support organizations, human rights organizations and UN agencies at the country, regional and global level.

In his closing remarks, NEFIN Chair Jagat Bahadur Baram described the two-day event as a big platform for sharing rich ideas and experiences on land/forest rights in relation to IPs from historical and political viewpoints from the three countries.

Shomona Khanna, CR Bijoy, Elina Horo and Bijay Pande from India; Devashish Roy, Gautam Kumar Chakma, Pallab Chakma and Ajoy A Mree from Bangladesh; and Dr. Dambar Chemjong, Dr. Janak Rai,Dr. Mukta Singh Lama and Shankar Limbu from Nepal were among the speakers/commentators at the workshop.

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