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Successful Conclusion of the Indigenous Representatives’ Hunger Strike and Spiritual Fast at the UN Working Group on the Draft Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

2 December 2004

To the Communications Media
To the Indigenous Peoples of the World
Sisters and Brothers
Ladies and Gentlemen

This morning, Thursday December 2, 2004, we, the Indigenous Peoples' delegates who joined together in a hunger strike and spiritual fast inside the United Nations during the 10th session of the Intersessional Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples, participated in a traditional Lakota ceremony to end our fast.

Through this ceremony we offered our profound thanks for the many positive outcomes of this action, which far exceeded our expectations. We also offered our prayers for the many peoples, organizations and individuals that supported us and provided assistance.

This support was vital to the success of our efforts and made this small sacrifice worthwhile.

We have decided to end our hunger strike and spiritual fast for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in response to an appeal by the representative of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Vice President of the UN Commission on Human Rights who have met with us, listened to us with open minds and hearts, and responded to our concerns with proposals that offered from our point of view, concrete and positive steps forward.

They requested that we end this action because most of our immediate objectives have been accomplished. Over the long term, they will continue to work with us to insure that no document different from the Sub-Commission text will be adopted by the Human Rights Commission if it is not produced by a consensus of the Indigenous Peoples.

We offered to present our concerns in writing to the High Commissioner, to the Chair of the Human Rights Commission and to all the Chairs of the regional caucuses, so they can be fully aware of what took place in the Working Group.

They offered to set up a meeting between the Office of the Human Rights Commission and us, prior to the Human Rights Commission session in March of 2005.

They agreed, if the Working Group's time is extended, to establish new procedures for participation, ones that would guarantee that the voice of Indigenous Peoples and organizations who cannot be present in Geneva can also be heard.

We, as Indigenous peoples' delegates from different countries, undertook this action, with the support and solidarity of Indigenous Peoples and organizations from around the world, to call the world’s attention to the continued attempts by some states, as well as this UN process itself, to weaken and undermine the Draft Declaration developed in the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations and adopted by the UN Sub Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The outpouring of messages of support for this position from all parts of the world continues. As of last night we had received several hundred faxes and e-mail messages. We encourage everyone who has made their position known as a result of this action to continue to monitor the situation regarding the UN Draft Declaration, especially the position of the countries in which they live. We ask you to continue to let these governments know that Indigenous Peoples will not allow our rights to be negotiated, compromised or diminished in this UN process, which Indigenous Peoples initiated more than 20 years ago. We will continue to call for the adoption of the Sub Commission text which has been approved by two UN bodies and has been endorsed and supported by hundreds of Indigenous Peoples and organizations as the minimum standard required for the recognition and protection of Indigenous Peoples' rights internationally.

We want to thank Mr.Dzidek Kedzia, Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Ambassador Gordan Markotic, Vice President of the Office of the Commission on Human Rights, for their very positive approach in responding to our concerns.

We sincerely thank the members of INDIGENEVE for their hard work and generous assistance.

We especially thank the hundreds of Indigenous Peoples, Organizations, friends and supporters who wrote to us with messages of support. We strongly urge that their voices continue to be heard in these discussions, which directly affect their lives and survival.

We especially appreciate and acknowledge our brother, Marcelino Diaz de Jesus, known to many of us, who has been in a hunger strike in his community in Mexico, in solidarity with ours, as have many others around the world.

Brothers and sisters, we are in this great house but it is not our house. We are in a palace where documents are written for Peoples but not for our Indigenous Peoples. They open doors for us to enter but they close their ears and hearts. What can we do? We can do many things, even a hunger strike. But there is one thing we should never do - we should never, never give up our rights.

For our Peoples, our Future Generations, and For All Our Relations,

Adelard Blackman, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Canada ;
Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation, Arizona United States ;
Alexis Tiouka, Kaliña, French Guyana ;
Charmaine White Face, Ogala Tetuwan, Sioux Nation Territory, North America ;
Danny Billie, Traditional Independent Seminole Nation of Florida, United States;
Saul Vicente, Zapoteca, Mexico.

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