The United Nations’ International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event recognises the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.
Indigenous peoples, both as a community and as persons, have the right to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law, as provided for in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right not to be discriminated against in any way in the exercise of their rights, in particular with regard to their indigenous origin or identity, and therefore have the right to self-determination, i.e. they have the right to freely determine their political status, economic, social and cultural development, to self-government in matters concerning their internal and local affairs, as well as to have the ways and means to finance their autonomous functions. Activists, defenders of nature and bearers of ancient knowledge, the indigenous peoples of the world are indispensable players in safeguarding a more sustainable, safer and fairer world.
2019 was a black year for activists, with 212 confirmed murders. Add to this the deaths from Coronavirus, due to the lack of protection of indigenous peoples by governments.
Brazil's indigenous peoples are particularly affected by this pandemic, not least because of policies that have neglected the crisis. The largest city in the Amazon, Manaus, has appeared in newspapers around the world due to the high number of infections and deaths caused by the coronavirus. It has been compared to Guayaquil in Ecuador, probably the most affected area in the whole of Latin America. Indigenous people are the most vulnerable, because they have a higher incidence than other problems, live far from health facilities and often in poverty. Even more vulnerable are the populations in voluntary isolation, because the diseases of the outside world are a real threat to their existence. The area has almost no health infrastructure and indigenous people are more vulnerable to this type of respiratory disease. History teaches us how diseases like this can destroy entire native populations. The hospital beds were finished within a week. Access to healthcare is absent in the Amazon. The responsible authorities in all states in the Amazon may be committing the crime of genocide because historically it has already happened that entire populations have been exterminated by epidemics like this one. Geographically the Amazon is a very difficult area to control. There are many illegal activities that are still being carried out today, such as oil and mineral extraction, logging and transportation of timber and coca crops. This means that all the people working in these activities risk bringing the virus into remote areas. In addition, health infrastructure and access to health and information are scarce, while corruption abounds. In addition to the creation of the Emergency Fund, indigenous organisations in Brazil have recently asked the WHO for help.
While the whole world is facing the pandemic with the means at its disposal, there is something we can all do to help the indigenous peoples and the planet: adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, use renewable energy, save resources, reduce, reuse, recycle, ditch single use plastic. Try our natural reusable products, Say Yes to Life, Earth Thanks! 🌿