Recognize the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of French Guiana
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French Guiana is a french overseas land located in South America. Seven indigenous nations live there : the Tɨleuyu (Kali'na), the Paykweneh, the Wayãpi, the Wayana, the Teko, the Lokono (Arawaka), and the Apalaï. They total approximately 10,000 people and live along the developed coast and in the inland Amazonian Park.
My name is Alexander. I am a Kali'na mixed blood striving for the recognition of my culture and for the respect of the rights of my ancestors.
I decided to launch this petition in order to continue the work of my late grandfather who was the customary chief of the village of Paddock. He was not afraid to speak to the representatives of the French State, to bring to them the voices of his "Brothers and Sisters".
We are in 2016. While the eyes of Europe are focused on the success of the Arianespace space rockets, the Indigenous people of French Guiana are trying to make themselves heard in a French Guianese society that ignores them.
Despite UN condemnations and sundry parliamentary reports, France continues to deny the existence of the rights inherent to indigenous people, on the grounds of "the indivisibility of the Republic". Worse, their fundamental rights as French and European citizens are simply not properly protected.
Victims of illegal gold mining and of the pollution of their rivers by mercury, victims of the theft of their ancestral knowledge, victims of insecurity and of lack of access to care, victims of alcoholism and subject to a high rate of suicide, the French Guiana Natives are "the orphans of the Republic."
This has to change.
Thanks to their mobilization, aboriginal people in Canada and several other countries have already seen a significant progress through the implementation of their rights under international conventions.
That is why, with the support of elected officials in Metropolitan France and in French Guiana, I ask the French government to ratify the International Labour Organization's Convention 169 (Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989), which is the only legal instrument for the implementation of indigenous rights in France.
I ask the government and elected officials to hear our calls for :
- access to decent educational, medical and administrative facilities, to end the isolation of remote villages;
- implementation of an proper public health policy for the prevention of suicide, of alcoholism and of mercury contamination;
- environmental protection through putting a stop to clandestine gold mining and limiting the implantation of gold mining corporations;
- ending the theft of native medicinal knowledge by pharmaceutical corporations and their researchers;
- teaching in our own native tongues and with respect for our cultures;
- the return of ancestral lands in overpopulated village areas;
- the respect of our customary leaders and their systematic participation in decisions concerning their lands in French Guiana.
Given the urgency, the State can no longer shirk its responsibility and ignore the diversity of its communities. France must provide appropriate, timely and practical solutions to establish "Real Equality" among all her citizens.
Let us be responsible, let us be human, and let us act for the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of French Guiana.
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