Asian states urged to address discrimination against tribal groups

Date of publication: 
13 August 2015

It is about time that Asian states put a stop to the discrimination of indigenous peoples around the region, a U.N. official said.

“The sad situation is many indigenous peoples are not recognized in many Asian countries,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples told

Their distinct identities as indigenous peoples “are not recognized by many governments,” she said.

Corpuz said indigenous groups have been victimized by discrimination and racism “since colonization”.

“This particular situation is very distinct to them and this should be addressed by the Asian states,” she said.

In a separate statement issued to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Aug. 9, Corpuz noted that “systematic violation” of tribal peoples’ rights — arbitrary arrests, labeling of indigenous peoples as terrorists, torture and extrajudicial killings — continue.

“Many of them still do not enjoy their rights to their lands and resources. Many of them are still subjected to displacement because of actions and policies taken by government,” Corpuz told

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, a leading human rights activist in the Philippines, said “nobody is doing enough for the indigenous peoples.”

“I don’t think anybody has been doing anything for them, neither the government nor the Church,” Mananzan told

The nun said they are “doing what they can do” to help the indigenous peoples through various programs, “but they remain a forgotten people.”

Datu Eduardo Banda, tribal leader of the Manobo tribe in the southern Philippine province of Cotabato, said the presence of the Catholic Church in indigenous communities “seemed to have lessened in recent years.”

“Tribal communities are also distancing themselves from religious groups,” Banda said. “We realize that religion has become a cause of division in some communities,” he said.

Banda said the challenge for the Church is to “help advance the struggle against destructive mining and development aggression.”

Corpuz said a “stronger outcry to protect the rights of indigenous peoples” is necessary.

“I appeal to the dominant society and everybody to support this outcry,” she said, adding that the indigenous peoples “have a very vital contribution in ensuring sustainable development and ensuring a sustainable world.”

The U.N. official cited the case in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao where mining companies and military operations against rebels displaced tribal communities and violated the rights of indigenous peoples.

“This should be addressed by the government because the Philippine government has adopted several U.N. protocols on the rights of people,” Corpuz said.


Victims of development aggression: Indigenous Peoples in ASEAN

Although all states in the ASEAN voted for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, most of them still refuse to respect and implement the indigenous peoples’ collective rights, especially to their lands, territories and resources and to self-determination. Several ASEAN states, underpinned by legal systems inherited from colonial times, have arrogated to themselves the right to allocate, regulate and determine ownership, use, control and development of land and resources.

Document File – Victims of development aggression.pdf –

Author – Asian Indigenous People Pact

Keywords – Indigenous Rights

Publication Date – 21 July 2015