Call to ensure indigenous rights

Kathmandu, August 7:

The Constituent Assembly should incorporate the ILO Convention 169 in the new constitution to secure the rights of the indigenous nationalities, sociologist and indigenous right activist Dr Krishna Bhattachan said today. “Bolivia has converted the ILO Convention 169 into the country’s law. Nepal should also follow suit by incorporating it in the new constitution,” Dr Bhattachan said, presenting his paper on “UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The programme was organised by National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities on the occasion of the World Indigenous Day 2008.

The convention’s declarations, already published in Nepali language, should be translated in all national languages and distributed throughout the nation, he said. For the effective implementation of the convention, awareness campaigns and trainings should be organised at government offices, committees of political parties and media houses, he said.

According to Bhattachan, the convention has incorporated legitimate aspirations of the indigenous nationalities and paved the way for ensuring rights of the indigenous people.

“Though the rights of the indigenous people as stated by the convention are not new, the state has ignored these rights.” He said the convention is the emerging international law and is gaining the status of customary law.

Dr Bhattachan claimed that no articles concerning the indigenous nationalities can be written in new constitution without their consent. “The National Planning Commission and the council of ministers have no right to make decisions that affect the indigenous people,” he said. “The indigenous people should be informed before such decisions are made.”

Commenting on the paper, Maoist leader Pampha Bhusal expressed commitment to fight for the cause of the indigenous people. She said the indigenous nationalities should be given the right to self-determination. NFDIN member-secretary Lok Bahadur Thapa Magar said indigenous people and other minority groups would wage a struggle if the new statute failed to fulfil their aspirations.

Likely protest

•No article concerning indigenous nationalities should be inserted in the new constitution without consent of the indigenous people.

•Janajatis threaten to wage a struggle if the government failed to fulfil their legitimate

aspirations.