Thursday, August 30, third day
"You came here to listen to each other, not to behave the way you are doing!"
List of the articles today***Editorial:...Stay engaged and keep up the fight!"***Sexual Orientation***Videobite of the day:Interview with Doocha (Roy) Kennedy***Dalits***Youth and children***
Interview with Mr. Tom Goldtooth, National Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network***Asian and Asian descendants***
"ůStay engaged and keep up the fight!"
This was the message received today from the Secretary General of UN, mr Kofi Annan, during his speech for the NGO Forum.
He mentioned how important it is that NGOs work in partnership with the UN against racism. As a concrete plan he suggested that NGOs should produce together with UNO an annual report on racism. This report should comprise not only the reflection of the existing violence and discrimination, but also the good practices from different countries. And the next step is to introduce these practices in regions where the racism is still present. So, action!
Some had the opportunity to ask questions. They covered a large spectrum of issues: indigenous people, reparations, caste and Dalit issue, colonialism, gender and intersection of gender and racial issue, implementation and monitoring the conference's follow up. Although he didn't answer to all the questions (like the Palestinian topic, for instance), Mr Kofi Annan promised that they will be on the agenda of the Governmental Conference and all of them will be approached.
The documents adopted in this conference will do nothing, said the UN Secretary General, unless the representatives here present will continue the work and will lobby the governments back home, trying to implement what they promised.
A clear invitation to action!
Research shows that in any given community between 5 - 8 % is gay or lesbian. So at the NGO Forum -given that there are app 8000 participants- between 400 and 650 people are gay or lesbian. This means that this group is one of the largest ones at the NGO Forum (compare: there are app 300 Dalits present).
But mostly you will not see this group. Partly this has to do with the fact that sexual orientation is, without doubt, one of the more controversial issues at the NGO Forum and WCAR , as it is at many conferences.
As a result the visibility of this group is not too high. Either by choice or for other reasons only a relatively small group fights for the rights regarding sexual orientation.
In the preparations of the WCAR, ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) was not accredited. Some countries objected, and in the plenary voting, 43 votes were supportive, 43 against. At the NGO Forum the theme is nevertheless discussed. Two participants give their opinions on the way they feel sexual orientation is delt with.
Arturo Sanchez, is Youth Representative in the NGO Drafting Committee and a member of ELIGE: Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Mexico.
All over the world there are laws against gays and lesbians. And here, at the Youth Summit, someone even said that sexual orientation is just an invention, an idea. Like it does not exists. But it does, just as discrimination of blacks, women, Jews, Palestinians and all the other ones that are here, do exist. I really believe I am being discriminated because I am gay. I feel that it is even harder in Latin America to be gay because of the strong idea of machismo.
At this conference we will have to wait what will happen. I hope that the Mexican Government will make a statement on sexual orientation.
Manfred Itzinger is a member of the Green Party, within this party he works for 'Greens the Other Way' an interest group for lesbians, gays and transgendered in Austria.
In Austria the situation is perhaps not so difficult as in other countries. But I am surprised about the open way sexual orientation is discussed here. The meeting of the TC (Technical Commission) yesterday was good. It was not too easy though to follow the discussions because some words are difficult in English. There was discussion whether or not include sexual orientation in the list of reparations. To me it was clear that it should. The Austrian Government still has not recognized lesbians and gays as victims of the Nazi regime. So for us, it is important.
Videobite of the day:
'Interview with Doocha (Roy) Kennedy Ambassador
of the Kuradji Aboriginal tent embassy
click here to play the RealVideo file.
If you don┤t have RealPlayer:
mr Henri Tiphagne explains
Henri Tiphagne is a member of the Core Group that campaigns for the Dalit cause.
It is difficult to have missed it; the Dalits made themselves known at the NGO Forum. Present with some 300 people they are a visible -and sometimes rather hearable- group.
Mr Tiphagne, can you explain the cause of the Dalits ?
The Dalits are being segregated, only get inferior work and as a group just don't matter in the whole cast system. The UN should recognize this and be aware that there are 260 million people in different countries that suffer from this form of discrimination. Our first attempt here is to be sure that the UN, at the Governmental Conference, is focused on this group too. We think and hope that countries from the world community will help us in this struggle.
What are your goals at the NGO Forum and the WCAR ?
We want to raise awareness, and of course; be visible. We hope that we will gain support from the NGO's present here at the NGO Forum. For the Governmental Conference we want to have raise awareness there too and moreover, be sure that the Dalits are in the list of victims. The Dalits suffer from multiple forms of discrimination. But; we must be sure that it is not an ignored form of discrimination.
Youth and children
"We are not here for confrontation, we are here for progress!"
With these words young people started the session that concerns their issues. Clearly they are not in favor of long introductionary talking, but for direct input towards the plan of action.
During the works in the commission, a lack of representation was noticed - not too many people are present and not from all regions. Anyway, those who were present were ready to tackle the issues the most important for them: indigenous youth, youth participation, youth exchanges, descendants of immigrants, children labor, children involved in wars (children-soldiers), etc. Some participants just asked questions to the resource persons, some others already prepared reports and comments to be added in the final document. All their notes will be taken in consideration by the drafting committee for the plan of action and will be added to the results of Youth Summit.
Asian and Asian descendants, a group that wants more visibility
Asian and Asian Descendants have experienced unique forms of racism and racial discrimination both historically and in the present day. The legacy of colonialism, indentured servitude, internment and exclusionary immigration laws continues to impact diasporic Asian communities. Racism against Asian and Asian descendants manifests itself today through a lack of access to political and economic opportunities, racism in media, hate crimes, racial profiling, discrimination in empowerment and unfair immigration policies and practices.
During the NGO Forum in the WCAR an Asian Descendent NGO Caucus was set up by diasporic and immigrant Asian NGO representatives. Its purpose is to emphasize the inclusion of Asians' issue in the documents, since they still largely ignore racism and xenophobia directed toward Asian and Asian Descendants.
Aryani Ong, moderator of the caucus says that there is only a little mention of Asian and Asian descendants and they have very specific issues including racial violence, immigration, human trafficking, sex trade, etc. She states: 'Racism is different for the Asian and Asian descendants than for other people of colour. Particularly for the Asian Diaspora, there are differences in different parts of the world. No matter how long the Asian people have been in the host countries, they are not fully accepted there - they are seen as foreigners.'
Interview with Mr. Tom Goldtooth, National Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, coming from Minnesota, USA,. He attended the Technical Commission on Indigenous People.
'How did you find the work in this commission?'
'I enjoyed it, because what I heard from the other participants here that we, the indigenous people, have something in common - we are all brothers and sisters, we have to struggle together to defend our lands. We must have self-determination and we have to develop a mechanism within the United Nations, just to recognize us as indigenous people.'
'How would you define the term "indigenous people"?'
'Generally speaking: "Native people who come together". The complication comes from the fact that each native people have their own identification of who they are. We need to find a common ground of the identification at a global level. There is also another terminology used: "Aboriginal", but if you look in the dictionary, this notion will not describe who we are either. People started to say: "we are indigenous on our land, where we live". In most cases we never left the area where we reside, where have our grassroots, where we maintain our culture, our music, our art. We come together in such a Forum, not as individuals, but to seek collective rights - we come here as nations and these are the things that I liked to hear here today.'
'Which was the most raised issue in the meeting today?'
'Access to land and equal rights' - the most important issues.
'Which are the achievements of the work today - will the final document make a difference afterwards?'
'I am not sure that the document will be satisfactory to our network, but will allow us to continue our struggle to another day!'
That's it for today!
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