Speakers Call for Inclusion of the Rights of Indigenous Persons with Disabilities

May 11, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

Speakers Call for Inclusion of the Rights of Indigenous Persons with Disabilities

On the Occasion of the 11th Session of the

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

 

11 May 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Diana Samarasan, Director

Telephone: 617-261-4593

Email: dsamarasan@disabilityrightsfund.org

Website: www.disabilityrightsfund.org

 

New York City, New York

In a Side Event occurring today, on the occasion of the Eleventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, six Indigenous leaders with disabilities will speak for the first time to an audience of the world’s Indigenous leaders.  “Indigenous persons with disabilities experience multiple layers of discrimination and face barriers to the full enjoyment of their rights, based on their indigenous status and also on their disability status,” said Catalina Devandas, Disability Rights Advocacy Fund Program Officer.

The Side Event is intended as a step towards dissolving divisions between movements and promoting inclusion of Indigenous persons with disabilities in the broader Indigenous rights movement, as well as in the work of the UN system by, for and with Indigenous Peoples. Panelists will explore the complexities of an intersectional identity, as well as approaches to advancing rights and inclusion of indigenous persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.

Ms. Ipul Powaseu of the Papua New Guinea Assembly of Disabled Persons stated, “Women, as well as men, with disabilities face multiple layers of discrimination, the lack of available opportunities, and a high level of poverty. These barriers limit our full participation in our communities. To start with, our right to life is threatened since children born with a disability are at higher risk of infanticide.  Even where services are available, Indigenous persons with disability are often excluded from access to education, employment, health, and obtainment of legal status.  We are especially affected by climate change, as we are the first to suffer the effects of displacement.  We also have less access to natural resources, and we are directly affected by the exposure to hazardous waste from the mining and agro-chemical disposal. We are vulnerable to natural disasters and armed conflict.”

The panel discussion includes opening remarks by Ms. Akiko Ito, Chief, UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Ms. Kate Gumley, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs of the Government of Australia.  Moderated by Ms. Myrna Cunningham, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, panelists include OlgaMontufar (Nahuatl from Mexico), Kamala Sen Chakma (Chakma from the  Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh), and Ipul Powaseu (from Papua New Guinea).

The panelists intend to make the following recommendations to the United Nations:

?         Indigenous persons with disabilities must be included in the regional and global caucuses of the UNPFII to ensure that their voices are heard in the Forum’s agenda

?         A special report on the situation of Indigenous persons with disability needs to be drafted

?         Indigenous persons with disability must be included in the preparatory work for the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights to ensure that their situation is discussed at that high level meeting

?         Indigenous persons with disabilities must be included in the agenda of the UN System, including the Human Rights Council´s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People

 

The Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) is collaborating with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with thesponsorship of the Government of Australia and the support of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to organize the Side Event.

 

DRAF and its sister organization, the Disability Rights Fund—a grantmaking collaborative between donors and the globaldisability community—support DPOs in the developing world, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe to participate in implementation and monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).

Donors to the Funds include AusAID, the American Jewish World Service, the Leir Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).