AMAN presents concerns to UN Permanent Forum

Down to Earth No 66  August 2005

Indigenous peoples are calling for land security to be included in the post-tsunami rehabilitation programme, and for the involvement of indigenous peoples, including women.

Presenting a statement to the May session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN in New York, the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) and the Acehnese indigenous network JKMA, reported that thirty member communities were seriously affected by the tsunami disaster. Around 4,000 indigenous people lost their lives.* Around 7,000 survivors from indigenous communities were living in emergency tents, with others living in temporary barracks which lacked adequate facilities.

AMAN and JKMA also insisted that indigenous communities, whose cultures are tied to customary lands along the coast, should not be relocated away from coastal areas and that relocation programmes must fulfil the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

The statement was made jointly with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) from Canada. It highlighted a programme of collaborative work agreed between these indigenous organisations. This is based on a needs assessment conducted with affected indigenous communities, which will focus on free, prior and informed consent in the planning and implementation of reconstruction activities; education; employment and income generation; housing and alternative energy development.

(Joint statement by AMAN & AFN to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 4th session, New York, May 25, 2005).

*These include Pak Keucik Jailani , Acehnese indigenous leader and member of AMAN's council (see obituary, DTE 64).