"Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices"
S.M. Mohiuddin Hasan
The International Day of the World's Indigenous People (9 August) was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995 2004). In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 2015, with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” The focus of this year's International Day is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices". The theme aims to highlight the importance of indigenous media in challenging stereotypes, forging indigenous peoples' identities, communicating with the outside world, and influencing the social and political agenda.
“From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the day. “They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions.”
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, indigenous peoples reflect the world's cultural diversity and are the custodians of its bio-diversity.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples' right to self-determination (Article 3) and their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and develop past, present and future manifestations of their culture in various forms.
“Indigenous voices are recounting compelling stories of how they are combating centuries of injustice and discrimination, and advocating for the resources and rights that will preserve their cultures, languages, spirituality and traditions. They offer an alternative perspective on development models that exclude the indigenous experience. They promote the mutual respect and intercultural understanding that is a precondition for a society without poverty and prejudice,” the Secretary-General said.