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One year after the UN General Assembly approved the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Britain and four of its former colonies have not shaken off their reputation as leading opponents of tribal peoples’ rights.
The four countries which voted against the declaration – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US – are all former British colonies. And the British government continues to resist calls to sign up to ILO Convention 169, the leading international law on tribal peoples.
In addition, many of the companies in the spotlight for targeting tribal lands are based in Britain, Australia, the US or Canada. Perhaps the most controversial is UK-based Vedanta, which is planning a massive bauxite mine on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe in India, despite their steadfast opposition.
Other mining companies mired in controversy are US-based Freeport McMoran, operators of the world’s biggest gold mine at Grasberg, in Papua, Indonesia, and Canadian TVI Pacific, whose mine in the Philippines has been fiercely opposed by the Subanen people. Norway’s government has recently sold its shares in British company Rio Tinto, a joint venture partner in the Grasberg mine, due to ‘a risk of contributing to severe environmental damage’.
Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘For centuries the colonial policies of Britain and other European countries were directly responsible for the deaths of millions of tribal people around the world. How tragic that today Britain and its former colonies are exporting another kind of misery – commercial exploitation under the guise of ‘development’.’
For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]