News / Asia

Rights Group: Indigenous Peoples Exploited in Rush for Resources

Boonrian Chinnarat holds a net he once used to catch giant catfish at his house in Chiang Kong district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Feb. 7, 2011. He blames the disappearance of the fish partly on China's upstream dams.Boonrian Chinnarat holds a net he once used to catch giant catfish at his house in Chiang Kong district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Feb. 7, 2011. He blames the disappearance of the fish partly on China's upstream dams.
x
Boonrian Chinnarat holds a net he once used to catch giant catfish at his house in Chiang Kong district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Feb. 7, 2011. He blames the disappearance of the fish partly on China's upstream dams.
Boonrian Chinnarat holds a net he once used to catch giant catfish at his house in Chiang Kong district of Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Feb. 7, 2011. He blames the disappearance of the fish partly on China's upstream dams.
Ron Corben
BANGKOK -- Human rights organization Minority Rights Group International says unprecedented demand for natural resources globally, but especially across Asia, is leading to ethnic conflict and displacement of indigenous communities.

In its annual report released Thursday, the group says the demand for resources covers such areas as logging and dams, oil, gas or mineral extraction, coastal tourism, commercial fisheries, conservation parks and large scale agriculture.
 
Carl Soderbergh, a spokesperson for Minority Rights Group International, says the global economic downturn, pressures to boost revenue sources, the emerging bio-fuel market, and resource exploitation has created a "perfect storm" in which minorities and indigenous peoples bear the brunt of demands.
 
“In terms of the trends globally, there’s been an intensification of the exploitation of natural resources pushing into areas populated by minorities and indigenous peoples," Soderbergh said. "We see this with regard to Latin America, in terms of mining in North America, the Alberta tar sands project. In Europe, we see, for example, wind farms and iron ore mining in the Arctic.”
 
In Africa, attention has focused on the leasing of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land for corporations and foreign governments for cash crops. The trends are of concern, said Soderbergh.
 
“This is a wave that has been mounting and increasing over the last 16 years or so. Everyone is chasing, all governments are chasing, a dominant development paradigm in which today minorities and indigenous peoples don’t really have a place, and that is the problem,” he said.
 
In Asia and South East Asia, mining development, dam construction and project development have had a widespread impact on the region’s hundreds of indigenous communities.

In China, investment in mining has forced herders off traditional grazing lands and ancestral villages in regions such as Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, as well as in Tibet.
 
In Vietnam, over 90,000 people, mostly ethnic Thai,  were relocated to make way for the Son La hydropower plant with Vietnamese scientists warning many were left without access to agricultural land.
 
In Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest region, home to the Kuy indigenous people, official land grants of tens of thousands of hectares of forest for mineral extraction, timber and rubber plantations have forced many people to give up traditional livelihoods.
 
Conflict has also been evident in Indonesia where increased palm oil plantation development has been given priority as well as the mining industry in Papua.
 
Nicole Girard, the right’s group’s Asia Program Director, says conflict over land is on the rise in South East Asia, driven by foreign investment, especially from China.
 
“It’s definitely increasing, like the resource exploitation in indigenous peoples' territories. But one of the reasons in South East Asia is because the economies of Laos and Vietnam are opening to more foreign investment, including lots of Chinese investment, including Burma," said Girard.
 
Increased fighting in Burma’s ethnic-Micontrolled Kachin State over the past year is directly linked to conflicts over resource investment largely from Chinese business, she adds. 

In a separate report, the non-government group, Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (IPP) called for Asia’s governments to adhere to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People to ensure communities are fully consulted before development projects go ahead.
 
A spokesperson for IPP said the region’s governments had a “moral obligation” to respect United Nations agreements. Both groups say indigenous communities back natural resource development, but need the protection of and respect for human rights.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs