Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum on Indigenous People's Day

Excerpts from Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú  Tum's official 28th International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples press release.


Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a long-time promoter of indigenous rights and ethno-reconciliation worldwide. Her extensive work to raise awareness of widespread indigenous rights abuses during the Guatemalan Civil War led to her eventual Nobel Prize recognition. She was raised in a K'iche' Mayan community and is passionate about uplifting new generations of indigenous leaders through PeaceJam programming. She has also been integral to the international movement to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Below, Rigoberta Menchú shares some of her reflections on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.


On the history of the UN International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.


That today, August 9, we once again celebrate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, in a routine that we have carried out for 28 consecutive years since 1995, after resolution A/RES/49/214, approved by the UN, September 23, 1994.

Undoubtedly, to establish the celebration of an International Indigenous People's Day after having passed through an International Year dedicated to themselves and to approve the First International Decade of Indigenous Peoples of the World (1995-2004), raised many hopes so that our individual and collective rights.

Both the regulations approved in more than 40 years, were requested to the UN by our indigenous organizations and their historical leaders and are the result of a tenacious resistance of many national, regional and international struggles of sacrificed days to ensure cultural integrity and our rights in a permanent manner. For 25 years (1982-2007) within the Working Group on Indigenous Populations created in 1982, we promoted Initiatives, which, like ILO Convention 169, to date guide the thinking and actions of Indigenous Peoples, allowed the formation of the Mechanism of Experts on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples EMRIP), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


On the continued work for indigenous rights worldwide:


 Taking into consideration this historical and institutional framework to have reasons to celebrate, today women, men, children, youth, old men and women of the indigenous populations in Guatemala and the world should enjoy the best conditions and guarantees of the full exercise of their individual and collective human rights, a situation that does not occur in reality.  The indigenous peoples must manifest, protest and categorically state that this is not a day for celebratation, but of resistance and demand, because contradictorily, what throws the balance of our history in the last half century, are dramatic evidence of how our rights continue to be violated, despite that the indigenous peoples have sought with tolerance and patience the recognition of our identities, ways of life and the right to land, territories and natural resources, within the framework of the law, dialogue and mutual respect.


On the state of Indigenous Rights in Guatemala:


It is up to us today to denounce with indignation before public opinion and the international community, the violent and abusive way in which the police forces and the powers of the Guatemalan State ... together with the national and transnational economic groups of mining and agriculture palm cultivation, they have been evicting dozens of Mayan Q'eqchi's indigenous communities from their lands and ancestral territories in Verapaces and other regions.


Closing Call-to-Action:


Unite to demand the immediate cessation of these inhumane actions, the end of impunity, access to justice and full respect for the individual and collective rights of indigenous communities and populations in Guatemala and anywhere in the world where they occur.

Hear more from Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum on our her laureate page!

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