Declaration of the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders (IPHRD) Network in Asia

Date of publication: 
22 October 2013

We, Indigenous Peoples human rights defenders representing 17 organizations from nine countries in Asia gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand from October 16-19, 2013, discussed and shared our issues, experiences and challenges we are facing on the ground and strategies to address the dire situation of indigenous peoples in the region.

We honor our fellow indigenous peoples human rights defenders who have been in the forefront of our movements and struggles. We are particularly inspired by their courage and determination to advance and defend our individual and collective rights.

As indigenous peoples, we continue to face serious challenges especially on the recognition and exercise of our individual and collective rights as stipulated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other relevant international instruments and standards. We are still challenged up to this day with regards to our recognition by states as distinct peoples with collective rights and the neglect of our welfare and well-being.

The dominant economic model of development and the policies and projects based on this model which depends on the exploitation of natural resources leads to our marginalization and alienation from our lands, territories and resources.

Our territories are bombarded with projects such as mining, energy projectslike hydro electric projects andgeothermal plants, oil exploration, national parks, conservation and other development projects, plantations, economic land concessions and other forms of land use conversion, without our Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) dispossessing us of our lands, territories and resources,our life, and our identity.

At the same time, as we assert our collective rights and oppose and resist the exploitation of our lands, territories and resources, we are met with repression,heavy militarization of our communities, conflicts and grossviolations to our individual and collective rights. Of deep concern are the increasing labeling of indigenous peoples human rights defenders as “terrorists”,“extremists”, and “separatists”, declaring indigenous peoples’ territories as “disturbed areas”, to legitimize full-scale military operations, extra-judicial killings, forced evacuations and other human rights violations.

These violations are further exacerbated through the implementation of national security laws and measures known variously as “Operation Greenhunt”, “Operation Conflagration”, “Operation Upliftment”, “Operation Plan Bayanihan”, among others.

Indigenous women, children, elders and the disabled are not spared from all these as they are also exposed to abuses which worsens their vulnerability.

Despite these challenges and risks, we, the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network (IPHRD Net), strengthen our resolve to advance our collective rights and defend our communities.

As a network, we commit to:

  • Remain vigilant as we continue our work to assert our rights and defend our communities
  • Consolidate and expand the IPHRD Net as a regional platform for solidarity for indigenous human rights defenders
  • Strengthen our solidarity to advance and assert our collective rights in all levels as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Reach out to more indigenous communities in our education and organizing work and advance our advocacy at all levels through building stronger alliances
  • Link our local and national campaigns as a regional collective campaign for the defense of our land, life, and resources for the future generations
  • Continue our tradition of sharing resources, information, lessons to sustain our campaigns and advocacy
  • Deepen our solidarity among ourselves as a source of strength in our work
  • Strengthen the capacities and awareness of the younger generations for the continuity of our struggles and aspirations
  • Proactively monitor the performance of our governments in their compliance to international human rights treaties and standards
  • Cooperate with other human rights organizations and networks to gather support and protect victims of human rights violations
  • Cooperate with other organizations and networks on common issues affecting indigenous peoples.

Affirmed and adopted this 19th day of October 2013 in Chiang Mai, Thailand