Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples Launched
The UK's first parliamentary group for tribal peoples will be launched at Westminster on Wednesday 23 May at a reception to be attended by Bushman leader Roy Sesana, TV stars Bruce Parry and Ray Mears, and MPs including Labour’s Diane Abbott and the Conservative John Bercow.
The group will be chaired by Cheltenham Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood, with Diane Abbott as secretary.
Former Minister for International Development Clare Short and veteran human rights campaigner Lord Avebury are also among those who have joined the group.
The group has been set up with Survival's support 'to promote action inside and outside parliament in support of tribal peoples', and 'to ensure that government does all it can to protect threatened tribal peoples'.
Martin Horwood said:
“I'm delighted to see the all-party campaign for tribal peoples taking off in Parliament.
MPs can play an important part in raising awareness of tribal peoples' rights generally but can also directly influence government.
45 MPs have already signed an Early Day Motion welcoming the Botswana High Court judgement in favour of the Bushmen.
Our next campaign will be to encourage UK ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention 169 (ILO 169), which recognises the right of indigenous peoples to collective ownership of their land.
Survival staff and supporters have worked tirelessly on these issues for years. Now it's time for MPs to play their part”.
Bushman leader and Alternative Nobel Prize winner Roy Sesana will be seeking support for his people's ten-year struggle to return to their land in the Kalahari desert, Botswana.
Despite the Bushmen's dramatic court victory in December, the Botswana government is trying to prevent them returning to their land.
The country's President has urged them not to go home, and the Attorney General has said that only Bushmen named in the court case can return.
Some have gone home, but many hundreds more are desperate to do so.
Despite the court ruling that the evictions were illegal, the government has refused to help the Bushmen make the long journey home. It has also banned the Bushmen from taking their small herds of goats back to their land.
Since the court ruling, Bushman hunters have been arrested, beaten and held for days without food.
“We Bushmen won our court case, and this made us feel strong again. But now the President is ignoring Botswana's own court.
I am asking people in Britain to please help us, because people are dying in the places where we have been forced to live”.
Sesana will also go to Downing Street to deliver a letter from the Bushmen to Tony Blair expressing their dismay at the British government's support for the evictions.
Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples
Survival International Bushmen campaign
International Labour Organisation Convention 169 (ILO 169)
Alternative Nobel Prize
Early Day Motion
Right to Livelihood 2005
What have they got to hide?
We in the West don’t know best
Indigenous does not mean Primitive
Liberal by Name but Not by Nature
UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights Blocked
Be of Good Cheer
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