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International Indigenous Youth Conference (IIYC)

April 17-21, 2002 Baguio City, Philippines

" What is the most precious thing to man? Life! If Life is threatened, what ought a man to do? RESIST! This he must do, otherwise he is dishonoured, and that is worse than death. If we do not fight and the dam pushes through, we die anyway. If we fight, we die honourably, I exhort you all then - FIGHT!

So said Macliing Dulag, one of the many martyrs of the Cordillera struggle for ancestral land and self-determination in the Phillipines. He was leader of the Cordillera peoples who opposed the building of the Chico Dam project during the regime of the former dictator Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. He was assassinated by the military in 1982.

Eighty three participants of the International Indigenous Youth Conference came together at this historic gathering of indigenous youth from around the world to share our experiences and forge a common voice in responding to the challenges of globalisation.

We represent indigenous youth of the colonial borders of Australia, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Canada, United States, Finland, Norway, Russia, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. The conference was hosted by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance -Youth Commission under the theme "Building Solidarity Among Indigenous Youth in Asserting Indigenous Peoples' Rights Amidst Globalisation."

We learned a lot from our hosts, a country up to its eyeballs in debt to the World Bank and IMF, where development has not solved poverty. For indigenous peoples development means that we can expect our rivers to be poisoned, our traditional ways and economies ravished and our methods of survival destroyed leaving us dependant on the state, just how they want us. The strategies of destruction and assimilation of indigenous peoples are the same worldwide; divide the community, destroy the resources, assimilate the culture and then use what's left to boost tourism for the country. Culture becomes a commodity of the dominant or colonising society.

However to enforce these policies and objectives of assimilation and eradication governments are often engaged in military occupations and conflicts with indigenous people or territory is militarised as a by-product of capitalist aggression. US troops in response to the 'War Against Terrorism' have been reintroduced in the south of the Philippines in co-operation and in exchange for military spending with the president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her government. The people suspect that the US is using the Abu Sayef as a justification for US imperialism, to get their foot in the door in Asia and to strip the resources in this country. Accompanying the deployment of US troops is human rights abuses, sexual exploitation of women, corruption and the persecution of activists and advocates of democracy. Recently a young woman on a fact-finding mission in the south with human rights group Karapatan was killed by government forces who accused her of being a part of the New Peoples Army (armed guerrilla movement).

Every day indigenous people and people who speak out for justice for all are being killed or silenced, and our land from Russia to Canada to the Philippines and everywhere is being expropriated for capitalist profit at the cost of our lives, traditional ways, and our subsistence economies. It is time to unite our struggle against corporate and government policies that put the rights of profit ahead of the rights of people.


. To firmly stand to assert our right to self-determination and to the full recognition of our inherent rights as indigenous peoples

. To fight mega-infrastructure projects that result in the economic, environmental, and physical displacement of our communities

. To continuously advocate existing laws that uphold our collective human rights and to mobilise against laws and institutions which do not serve our needs or justice, such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO

. To revive our culture, languages, spiritual values and traditional structures of governance

. To affirm and uphold the rightful status of women as equal in society, family, the workplace and the movement for social transformation

. To expose, oppose and condemn the Imperialist and US State led wars of Aggression, which target the world's poor

. To strengthen the solidarity of indigenous youth against all forms of colonisation, foreign, domestic hegemony and state repression

. To unite with all the oppressed classes and sectors of the world and actively participate in international actions

. To link with other socially progressive movements that work to fight globalisation

. To establish concrete forms of organisational formation by building region wide networks

. To join all forms of struggle to end all forms of oppression, racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples

. To call upon the United Nations and States of the world to recognise and adopt in full the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights in it's original text.

. To assert the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over all issues concerning them

www.redwiremag.com thanks Tania Willard