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Taiwanese groups to urge indigenous network at Senegal congress

By Christie Chen, Focus Taiwan News Channel

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Taiwanese environmental and indigenous groups said Thursday that they will propose the establishment of an indigenous network at an upcoming congress in the African country of Senegal with the aim of uniting global support for indigenous people on environmental issues.

“We hope to highlight issues such as the disposal of nuclear waste on indigenous land at the Global Greens Congress,” said Chiu Hsin-hui, an official of the Green Party Taiwan, which drafted the proposal.

The congress, to be held March 29-April 1 in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, will focus on global warming, clean energy, biodiversity and democratic development in African nations and other countries.

In 2008, more than 800 people from over 80 countries participated in the congress, held once every four years.

The party said the purpose of the network would be to give voice to the global indigenous community and urge countries to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and apply it to their national laws.

Indigenous people are often impacted by global warming, water shortages and declines in biodiversity caused by activities such as mining, deforestation, dam construction and nuclear waste storage, the party said in the proposal.

It mentioned the Tao people, who live on Taiwan’s outlying island of Lanyu, as well as aboriginal tribes in the U.S. and Australia, as examples of indigenous people becoming victims of nuclear waste disposal on their traditional lands.

“Although we have long been concerned about indigenous issues, we have been limited in our capacities,” said Omi Wilang, secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan.

He said the relocation of indigenous people from their homelands and the impact of development projects on indigenous lives are not unique to Taiwan, but are common problems faced by indigenous people around the world.

“The network would allow indigenous people around the world to voice support for each other,” he said.

The Taiwanese representatives to the congress will also draw attention to land justice and biodiversity, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, violence and human rights issues in Syria and Tibet, clean high technology and the Occupy movements around the world.

“Taiwan is a critical player and stakeholder in the world,” said Keli Yen, another Green Party Taiwan official.

She said Taiwan’s democracy and human rights, and its management of biodiversity, can serve as models for other countries.

“Green parties in other countries are looking to Taiwan to set the standards of governance,” said Yen.

She added that Taiwan has a big responsibility to exert its influence in the areas of human rights and environmental justice.

03/22/2012 – 12:00

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