Sep 14, 2010

Drum Ceremony With A Message: Indigenous Nations Let Themselves Be Heard

An event held in The Hague marked the 3rd anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


The Dutch Alliance of Indigenous Peoples marked the 3rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with a Drum Ceremony in The Hague yesterday, 13 September 2010. Opening with a captivating performance of a cakalele (traditional war dance), the indigenous Moluccan peoples (Alifuru) led much of the event, which was billed as a “Drum Ceremony with a Message.” Representatives of indigenous communities from every continent were present in support of a public call for the world to respect and comply with the Declaration.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the historical injustices perpetrated against indigenous peoples and asserts their right to autonomy in local affairs as well as their right to their own land, religion, culture and language. While a vast majority of the United Nations General Assembly signed the Declaration, violations of the rights of indigenous peoples continue unabated. Current issues facing indigenous populations include forced displacement due to internal conflict, environmental degradation and powerful business interests, as well as discrimination and persecution based on ethnic identity.

Members of the Dutch Parliament, including Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party, Arjen El Fassed of the Green Left Party and Jeroen Recourt of the Labor Party, participated in the event and conveyed their support for the implementation of the Declaration. As part of the ceremony, the MPs were “called out” from the Parliament by the dancers, singers and drummers, and then led back to the stage. Van Bommel was then presented with a Call to Action for the rights of indigenous peoples, which was put together by the Alliance with input from UNPO for the occasion. After reading aloud from a summary of the Call, van Bommel gave a brief speech expressing his support and intention to pass on the information to others within the Dutch government.

The dancers followed this speech with a unity dance, symbolizing the collective struggle of indigenous peoples together with those who fight for their rights worldwide.