MINELRES: Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin

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Thu Jul 14 20:10:29 2005

Original sender: Graham Fox <GRAHAM.FOX@mrgmail.org>

Minority Rights Group International - e-bulletin 

Welcome to the minority Rights Group International (MRG) email bulletin.
Simply click on the links below in order to access the full news story
or publication on MRG's website, or alternatively visit our site at:

In this e-bulletin: 

- Statements made at the 11th Session of the UN Working Group on
- Helping or harming minorities: The Millennium Development Goals 
- Minorities unite to maintain and strengthen UN Working Group 
- Forced eviction: a policy of oppression against minorities 
- Drafting Iraq's New Constitution: Principles and Materials 
- Kenyan Endorois legal success takes historic land rights case to final
- Message of minority rights taken to international conflict prevention
- New guide promotes minority participation in Economic life in
South-East Europe 
- Focus on: Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change - 60th birthday of Aung
San Suu Kyi 
- Events: Acadians commemorate ‘the Great Upheaval’ 
- Worth a closer look: The Media Diversity Institute 
  - Publications -  
        - Participation in Economic Life: An Advocacy Guide for Minorities in
South-East Europe 
        - Aceh: Then and Now (MRG report) 


Statements made at the 11th Session of the UN Working Group on
Minorities - June 2005 
MRG in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR), held its annual training event prior to the United
Nations Working Group on Minorities (30 May - 03 June 05). This year the
training was attended by over 35 minority participants from every
continent. The minority rights and advocacy training helped minority
representatives to raise their issues directly to their government
delegations, expert members and others attending the Working Group,
enabling them to make a vital and substantial contribution to this
forum. The interventions made by MRG/OHCHR participants in the training
are now available on the MRG website at:


Helping or harming minorities: The Millennium Development Goals 
Current strategies towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) could increase existing inequalities and may harm some minority
communities that are amongst the poorest of the poor. Globally
minorities should gain from progress towards the goals, yet are in fact
being left behind, stated MRG in advance of ‘MDG+5’, a UN consultation
and assessment process beginning in New York in June. The MDGs can be
met more effectively by ensuring that the needs and rights of minorities
are respected through strategies that reflect their uniquely vulnerable
and marginalized status within many societies.


Minorities unite to maintain and strengthen UN Working Group 
Over 40 minority organizations attending the UN Working Group on
Minorities in June have joined MRG in a collective statement calling for
the forum to be maintained and strengthened amid moves by some states to
undermine its work. Plans to shorten the WGM from five days to three,
and to hold it during the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, were met with
concern by minorities and expert Members of the Working Group alike.
Minorities fear a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for the only UN forum in
which they can directly raise their issues and stated that a new
Independent Expert on Minority Issues should supplement and not replace
the important work of the WGM.


Forced eviction: a policy of oppression against minorities 
Outrage over the Zimbabwean Government’s forced eviction and destruction
of the homes of thousands of families has caused international
condemnation and led to renewed calls for sanctions. But, as MRG points
out, forced eviction has long been a strategy employed by governments to
deal with troublesome minorities and opposition groups, or those
communities simply in the way of their development plans. Here MRG
considers other examples of forced eviction including those against the
Ogoni in Nigeria, the Endorois of Kenya, evicted to make way for tourism
development, the Chagossians, forcibly evicted from their Indian island
homes, and the Roma. 


Drafting Iraq's New Constitution: Principles and Materials 
Over the next few months, the people of Iraq are entrusted with an
historic task: to write a new permanent constitution for their country.
To serve the country well in the years to come, this constitution needs
to be drafted with the involvement of all Iraq’s different communities.
MRG has developed a resource pack to assist with this vital process
outlining some of the main principles and standards underpinning
constitutional government, comparing relevant examples and alternatives
for constitutional settlement in Iraq. The pack places particular
emphasis on the advancement of human rights and the participation and
protection of all of Iraq’s diverse communities.


Kenyan Endorois legal success takes historic land rights case to final
A case brought before the African Commission for Human and Peoples’
Rights by the Endorois people of Kenya over their eviction from their
ancestral lands was declared admissible in May. The Commission will now
make a judgment on the merits of the case. The recent success of the
Endorois heralds the first time that the Commission will consider the
merits of an indigenous land rights case and is also the first
significant victory for the community since they were expelled from
their lands to make way for the Lake Bogoria National Park and
subsequent mining activities. MRG is supporting the Endorois in bringing
this case through its legal cases programme.


Message of minority rights taken to international conflict prevention
Delegates elected from amongst nearly 40 minority representatives
attending the MRG/OHCHR training on minority rights and advocacy in May,
will take a message that minority rights are key to conflict prevention
to a major international conference to be held in New York in July.
Minorities voiced their issues and concerns during a two-day seminar on
minorities and conflict prevention and resolution held in Geneva on 26
and 27 May. This seminar was amongst the first dedicated to considering
how failure by states to promote and protect minority rights,
discrimination, exclusion and displacement from lands and territories
can contribute to conflict.   


New guide promotes minority participation in economic life in South-East
Minorities across South-East Europe are vulnerable to poverty and
economic exclusion and have little information about their rights to
economic participation, or about advocating for their effective
participation in economic life. This participation requires and includes
such things as full, equal and meaningful access to education,
employment and housing, as well as access to credit and development
programmes. A new MRG guide seeks to empower minorities to advocate for,
and bring about, change in policies, practice, attitudes and approaches
to minority rights in South-East Europe.  


Focus on: Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change 

Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change - 60th birthday tribute to Aung San
Suu Kyi 
In May 2002 MRG published its report ‘Burma (Myanmar): The Time for
Change’ at a time of some hope for the future and coinciding with the
brief release from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the
National League for Democracy. On 19 June 2005, Aung San Suu Kyi spent
her 60th birthday once more under house arrest having spent almost 10
years in detention. MRG joins the many others calling for Aung San Suu
Kyi’s release and that of all political prisoners in Burma. In addition
MRG urges constructive moves to bring about an end to the conflicts that
have plagued the state and a nationwide ceasefire, constitutional reform
and immediate steps to establish human and minority rights with the
assistance of the international community.   



Acadians commemorate ‘the Great Upheaval’ - July 28 
2005 marks the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the deportation of
Acadians from Nova Scotia (Canada) and adjacent areas to Louisiana and
other points along the Atlantic rims. The first removal by the British,
commonly called 'the Great Upheaval', began in 1755 and affected
approximately 7000 people. Following British military successes, further
Acadians were captured and deported until 1763. Acadians resettling to
Louisiana became known as "Cajuns", and their culture has continued to
flourish. As French Catholics in several other colonies of Protestant
and Anglophone New England, their reception was more difficult, making
assimilation one of the only viable means of survival. A World Congress
of Acadians held in 1994 and again in 2004 reunited descendants of those
who were deported. Today a thriving renaissance of Acadian culture is
celebrated through its music, theatre and literature. The Government of
Canada has designated July 28 as ‘A Day of Commemoration of the Great
Upheaval’. For further details:


For further information about the events above and details of MRG
programmes and advocacy activities, please visit MRG's website or
contact us directly.

Worth a closer look

The Media Diversity Institute (MDI) is a non-profit, non-partisan
organization that mobilises the power of media to lessen inter-group
conflict, advance minority and human rights, and support deeper public
understanding of all types of social diversity. It is based in London
and has offices in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. MDI focuses on
regions where news media have played a destructive role in exacerbating
ethnic and religious conflicts and violations of human and minority
rights. MDI works with media organisations, journalists, journalism
educators, NGOs and governments to prevent and reconcile conflict,
promote tolerance of vulnerable groups, and stimulate balanced and
non-partisan journalism. 


Information contained in external websites does not necessarily reflect
the views, policies or opinions of MRG and its staff.


Participation in Economic Life: An Advocacy Guide for Minorities in
South-East Europe 
Economic, social and cultural rights are on the political agenda. In
recent years, they have been given increased attention, internationally,
an domestically. This guide provides an overview of rights and
mechanisms relevant to the participation of minorities in economic life
in South-East Europe. It contains examples of best practice and lessons
learned by people or organizations advocating for effective economic
participation by, or on behalf of, minorities in the region.


Aceh: Then and Now 
At the end of December 2004, a huge earthquake and tsunami killed
thousands, injured many more and wreaked havoc in this northern province
of Sumatra, Indonesia. International aid has poured in and international
teams are working alongside Acehnese and Indonesian teams. What is less
well known is that Aceh was in the midst of a conflict between the
Indonesian forces and the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM, the Free Aceh
Movement) that has killed 15,000 civilians since 1976. 


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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental
organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and
linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote
cooperation and understanding between communities. 

MRG is a registered charity no. 282305, and has consultative status with
the United Nations Economic and Social Council and observer status with
the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights.

Contact MRG: 
54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT, UK. 
Tel: 020 7422 4200      
Fax: 020 7422 4201 
email: minority.rights@mrgmail.org 

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