Thank you, Mr./Madam Chair,
UNDRIP Article 44 states
All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals.
The Declaration obliges states to abstain from violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today, however, we clearly see how the Russian government not only violates indigenous rights domestically but treats the rights of indigenous peoples at the international level in a manipulative manner. We have reached a point where Indigenous Peoples themselves, unwittingly start to violate the rights of their own kin instead of joining the struggle for the defence of our rights.
Divide and conquer is an old strategy of the Russian empire: the Russian government uses Indigenous Peoples as propaganda tools at all levels including, unfortunately, the United Nations. I realize how difficult it is for our indigenous sisters and brothers from all over the planet, present at this session, to understand what is actually going on in Russia. It is even more difficult to understand the war. The Russian government works to manipulate not only Indigenous communities within Russia but also the global movement of Indigenous Peoples. And unfortunately, its attempts are not entirely without result.
Throughout this week, we have been witnessing endless repetitive speeches by both government representatives and government-picked indigenous representatives from Russia, denying our legitimacy, that is, the legitimacy of those who had to flee the aggressor country, but who continue to speak out on violations of indigenous rights in our home country. This demonstrates the degree to which Russian authorities fear the truth about their crimes against indigenous peoples getting exposed.
They have forced us to leave the country because we spoke truth to power, and now they are trying to silence us by saying that we have no right to speak out on the issues facing our brothers and sisters who are still living in Russia.
Let me assure you: Those of us who had to leave Russia due to reprisals by the state or due to harassment by corrupt businesses acting in collusion with the state, have not become less Indigenous. We also have not become less vocal about the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Someone has to continue to talk about the consequences of colonialism for Indigenous Peoples in Russia. Someone has to continue to support those who can’t speak for themselves, for fear of reprisals, criminalization, forced mobilization, and for whom justice in current Russia is out of reach.
We, all Indigenous Peoples, must abide by the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and integrity, as set out in the Declaration.
We recommend that EMRIP, while monitoring the implementation of decisions of EMRIP and other UN bodies, undertake its own verification of the accuracy of information provided by States and other stakeholders, using independent reputable sources.