A delegation of Huaorani from Yasuni rainforest is preparing for a trip to New York City in May 2012 to attend the 11th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The Huaorani are part of the grassroots organization Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory) founded by members of three communities living in the area of the Ecuadorian Amazon known as the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, one of the world’s most biodiverse places. These communities are Bameno, Boanamo and Wema.
The Huaorani will have to travel to Quito to apply for a US visa which will enable them to attend the UNPFII. They will have to travel for three days from their communities to Quito and go through the visa processes and interviews, a challenging and novel process for the Huaorani, but well worth it. If granted visas, they will have to travel even farther, to New York City, to attend the UNPFII.
This year’s special theme of the UNPFII is the Doctrine of Discovery, a 500 year old law doctrine which has been used for centuries to violate the human rights of indigenous people. Through this doctrine, discovery gave sovereign rights to European powers over the lands of and over the [non-Christian] indigenous people “discovered” in Asia, Africa and South America. Many themes concerning the livelihoods and even survival of indigenous will be debated during the 2 week event, like the implementation of the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples into national constitutions, Indigenous Peoples and extractive industries, climate change impacts on Indigenous People, open dialogue between Indigenous Peoples, country Governments and UN Agencies.