The problem on the protection of our forefathers is of great magnitude and of international concern. In Amnesty International’s article entitled, “Americas: Indigenous people at high risk of human rights violations” , it highlighted the laudable attempt of ten countries in the Americas to protect the rights of their indigenous peoples. In one way or another, our lives can be traced back to the indigenous peoples. Hence, any step taken in order to eliminate the dangers that they face is matter that concerns all of us.
The discrimination of indigenous peoples may be rooted in other people’s hunger for power and domination. As the article states, indigenous peoples are subjected to various attacks against their safety and honor. The native tribes in the Americas, such as the Pemon indigenous community, and the Embera-Katio communities of Cordoba, are being used and abused by armed groups such as the paramilitaries in order to fulfill their selfish objectives.
In a sense, these indigenous peoples are treated like objects that other people can just use to their advantage, without regard for their dignity and humanity. While development and progress are not bad in themselves, they can be the tools that people may use to justify their violence and disrespect for the lives of indigenous peoples. This is what the article by Amnesty International seeks to prevent, by encouraging governments of countries in the Americas to pursue measures in order to enforce laws protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
Amnesty International recognizes that despite the existence of laws protecting the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas, these are still insufficient without aid of proper and effective enforcement measures. What might be needed in order to achieve this goal of safeguarding the lives of the tribal communities is the political will of governments in order to pursue such measures. This is due to the fact that if there is actually no will on the part of the executive to ensure the application of enacted laws, all actions by the legislative branch of the government will only be put to naught.
Hence, protective laws will only be mere scraps of paper. While the article is informative insofar as giving an introduction about the various occurrences of indigenous peoples-directed discrimination, it does not go as far as enlightening the reader as to the actual content of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, or Convention 169, which was adopted on 27 June 1989 at the General Conference of the International Labor Organization. This treaty was the background used by the article in talking about the indigenous peoples of the Americas and their current situation.
However, the content such treaty was not discussed, and it is not clear whether the occurrences illustrated in the article may actually be prevented by the provisions of the convention. In sum, the article seems like a mere survey of the violations of indigenous peoples’ rights that are taking place in the different countries in the Americas. While it may be a good introduction, it lacks content worthy of a thorough analysis of the issue at hand.
It would have been more useful if it also discussed the steps taken by the individual governments of the Americas or by the region as a whole in making sure that the enforcement measures are put into place and made effective. The reader would have also been more informed of the situation of the tribal communities if a brief background of each was given. In any case, the article on indigenous peoples was intriguing and engaging enough for the reader, and might even prompt a search for other materials on the subject.
Perhaps the reader may be encouraged to read further on challenging impunity, which it describes as “one of the crucial steps” which must be taken by governments in the Americas if they are serious about protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. In conclusion, the article, like its topic, serves a purpose that is beneficial for the indigenous peoples of the Americas. With it, Amnesty International is able to share its advocacy with all of its readers. It serves as an instrument of knowledge about the truth about the lives of the most important people in the history of our world…the lives of our forefathers, from whom we all came.
Courtney from Study Moose
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