Indigenous People of Asia


Ahiska Altaic Arabic Azerbaijani Bashkir Bedouin Buryat Chuvash Dongxiang Gagauz Hazara Kafir Kalash Kalmyk Karachay Karakalpak Kazakh Khanty Khakass Komi Kurds Kyrgyz Mansi Nenets Nogal Nuristanis Ozbek Pashtun Persian Qashqai Shors Tungusic Tuvan Turkmen Tungusic Uzbek Yakhut / Sakha
Indigenous peoples in Asia and across the globe are continuously experiencing repression and violation of their fundamental and collective rights, particularly their land rights and rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Governments and transnational companies continue to silence indigenous peoples’ voices and disregard their rights in the name of profit. In 2015, Global Witness’ On Dangerous Ground recorded 185 killings of land and environmental defenders, i.e. people struggling to protect their land, forests and rivers from mining, agribusiness, hydropower and logging activities. Of this number, 40% are indigenous peoples with majority of the cases happening in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines being the second highest with 33 killings. Furthermore, there remain to be unsolved cases of indigenous human rights defenders such as the case of Porlajee ‘Billy’ Rakchongcharoen of Thailand who disappeared in 2014 and Kalpana Chakma of Bangladesh who was abducted in 1996, to name a few. The violations of human rights continue to take place with impunity in many countries.


1. The UNDRIP, ILO C 169, FPIC, CBD 8(J), the Cancun Agreement on REDD+ Safeguards, the Climate Change Paris Agreement and other relevant international instruments related to Indigenous Peoples’ rights should be implemented as minimum standards of ERPD and ERP.

2. The Indigenous Peoples should be recognized and established as the rights holders, not merely as the stakeholders in the ERP.

3. The Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, territories and natural resources inter alia forests, water, and timber and non-timber forest products should be ensured.

4. The customary laws and practices, indigenous knowledge, skills and technology, and tangible and intangible cultural heritages of the Indigenous Peoples should be recognized, respected, promoted and fulfi lled.

5. It should be ensured that there are no negative impacts of ERP on the Indigenous Peoples’ traditions and culture, life style, livelihood practices, and cosmo-vision.

6. Proportional and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples through their collective and institutional representation in all institutional structures and through their recruitment, at all phases and levels, including at the national, provincial and local levels, should be ensured.

7. Proportional representation of the indigenous women should be ensured.

8. Indigenous Peoples experts should be actively engaged at all levels and phases of the ERP.

9. Awareness raising and capacity building of the Indigenous Peoples about ERP and REDD+ should be carried out.

10. It should ensure voluntary isolation of Indigenous Peoples and that the ERP strictly does not relocate and resettle the Indigenous Peoples without obtaining their FPIC.

11. Distribution of non-carbon benefi ts must prioritize the Indigenous Peoples as they contribute the most to the management and protection of the forest.

12. Equitable, transparent and coherent benefi t sharing of both carbon benefi ts and noncarbon benefi ts should be ensured.


13. Relevant documents and information must be made accessible to and be provided to the Indigenous Peoples in their respective mother tongues in a manner and through a medium that are indigenous peoplesfriendly.

14. Feedback grievances redress mechanism and the mechanism for ensuring the Indigenous Peoples’ rights must be put in place.

15. Forests, territories and pasturelands that have been traditionally managed, used and protected by the Indigenous Peoples must not be converted into a community forest, a collaborative forest or a government forest.

16. In case any forest of the Indigenous Peoples is already converted into a community forest, or a leasehold forest or any form of government forest, that forest must be handed over back to the Indigenous Peoples.

17. The culture, the world-view and the need of the Indigenous Peoples should be taken into account while introducing support to livelihood options.

18. Necessary arrangements should be made to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights of the Indigenous Peoples and the occupations and livelihood practices based on the indigenous knowledge and skills should be promoted.

19. While introducing alternative sources of energy, the need of the Indigenous Peoples should be properly identifi ed and consensus with them should be reached.

20. The ERP must not restrict the collection and consumption of forest products that have cultural and spiritual values for the Indigenous Peoples.

21. Traditional life styles and livelihoods of the Indigenous Peoples must not be restricted in the name of forest conservation and REDD+.

22. It should be ensured that there is no destruction of crops and harm against human life from the wild life of protected forests.

23. Incrimination and millitarization against the Indigenous Peoples for their act of harvesting culturally and socially needed forest products from protected areas, forests and national parks must not occur

This Position Statement of indigenous peoples regarding the Emission Reduction Program of Nepal was jointly developed by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), National Indigenous Women Federation (NIWF) and Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities Journalists (FONIJ).


Solomon Islands Literature

“On the island of Florida in the Solomons a tindalo, the spirit or ghost of a dead man who in his lifetime possessed great mana or power, was believed to retain this power after death. Sometimes a rough image was set up on a sacred spot associated with him, such as his burial place – sometimes simply in a garden, the bush, by the sea-shore, or in his village. The tindalo did not enter the image but it served as a focus for approaches of a propitiatory and supplicatory nature. Offerings of food and money were made. On this and neighbouring islands a tindalo might also take up his abode in another living creature, such as a shark, a snake, a crocodile or a frigate bird.”

“In the Solomon Islands as throughout Melanesia beliefs about origins, not only of men but also of animals, plants, and social customs are frequently linked with certain archetypal themes, one of which is the myth of the ogre-killing child born to an abandoned woman. Other related themes concern abandoned women who mate with animals or birds or abandoned children who are suckled by animals or birds. Very often one of two hostile brothers or one of a band of brothers is regarded as a creator. Then there are the myths about a snake relative who is killed and from whose body comes various forms.”

“One of these stories come from the district of Medina and is about Marruni the earthquake, who had a human body that ended in snake’s tail which he kept hidden from his wives. One day they returned from the garden early without giving the warning signal and discovered him sunning himself. He sent them away and cut his tail into segments. He gave a clan name to some pieces and from each of these came the people of that clan. From others came birds, snakes, fish and pigs. Marruni is said to have come from the tiny offshore island of Tabar, which seemed to have been the home of the germinal culture of the area, and to have brought the malanggin or memorial rights for the dead with him from there.”

“Hatuibwari of the Arosi district was a winged serpent with a human head, four eyes and four breasts and he suckled all he created. The greatest of all these figona was Agunua who was thought to embrace all the others who were merely his representatives or incarnations. He made all kinds of vegetables and fruits but his brother burnt some of these in the oven, making them forever inedible. He made a male child who was helpless at caring for himself so he created a woman to make fire, cook and weed the gardens. The first drinking coconut from the tree was sacred to him.”

“In a story from New Ireland, there was a great devouring pig who caused the villagers to flee to the offshore island of Tabar, leaving Tsenabonpil behind because she had a swollen leg, so heavy it would have sunk the canoe. She mated with a bird and produced twin boys who killed the pig. The woman sent the pig’s hair attached to a coconut leaf to Tabar as a sign. The fugitives returned and Tsenabonpil allocated them to different clans and assigned them their totems so that they would know how to behave towards one another. She also taught them magic and other skills.”


This site has more information and wonderful images!
Solomon Islands Ethnology

The Solomon Islands: Headed for Self-destruction?
Shields from the Solomon Islands
Trip to Solomon Islands, 1999, by Stephanie Mills

Extract from Cranstone and Starzecka The Solomon Islanders [p15 -16]

Warfare was endemic. It varied from a traditional and continuing state of war between communities to sudden, temporary outbreaks of raiding or ambush. The number of individuals involved could be a few or a few hundred but casualties in any one confrontation were usually slight. Traditionally in all the larger islands and some of the smaller ones there was antagonism between the inhabitants of the interior, the ‘bush people’, and the coast dwellers , the ‘saltwater people’. This hostility was linked with cultural differences between the two groups: the bush people relied on agriculture whereas for many coastal people fishing was the mainstay of the economy and the sea-going canoes gave them mobility which the bush people were denied. In conflicts, the coast dwellers were usually aggressors and victors.

Headhunting was restricted to the central Solomons and had religious importance, heads being associated with mana and the ancestor cult. The custom of preserving heads as trophies existed throughout the islands. This was done as a sign of power and success, whether the heads were those of enemies or transgressors within the community. Headhunting was also carried out on an individual basis by professional headhunters whose services could be obtained upon promise of payment of ‘blood money’. Cannibalism was practised locally but usually not concurrently with headhunting. It had ceremonial character, the victim being a sacrifice.

The principal weapons were spears, clubs and bows and arrows. The spear was the main fighting weapon, used both for thrusting and throwing. Spears were usually made of palmwood and had multiple barbs either carved or made of wood or bone and lashed to the head. Foreshafts were decorated with plaiting of yellow, red and black orchid stems in the north-west and were carved or had pearl-shell inlay in the south-east. …

Clubs were made of wood and were used to deflect spears and to administer the coup de gr’ce as well as for hand-to-hand fighting. The clubs of Malaita and Ulawa were lozenge or baton-shaped and had coconut-fibre binding at the butt end. In the central islands clubs were often paddle-shaped. Shafts were decorated with plaiting of coloured vegetable fibre or the butt end had a carving of small human figures. One type of San Cristobal club had a very distinctive sickle shape and was especially well adapted to parrying spears. They could be decorated with carving or pearl-shell inlay. Stone-headed clubs used as weapons occurred in Rennell and Bellona. In Malaita the small stone-headed clubs with shafts inlaid with pearl shell were for ceremonial use. Other ceremonial clubs differed from functional weapons by the richness of decoration, the basic shape being the same.

Bows were used locally but widely. Arrows had reed shafts and palmwood foreshafts and were not feathered. They had barbs, either carved or lashed on; especially dangerous were arrows with barbs of human bone for they contained mana of the dead man. In Bougainville barbs were deeply undercut so that the head broke off in the wound. … Arrows were never poisoned but magical substances (which could cause tetanus) might be smeared on them.

The sling was used in some localities, mainly for attacking tree houses. Shields were used in many areas. They were usually narrow and light, made of wicker or parallel slats lashed together. In Florida and Guadalcanal oval wicker shields were used; in Ysabel and Choiseul, rectangular slab shields. Elaborately decorated shields, with designs of pearl-shell inlay and shell beads, were purely ceremonial, used in presentations among chiefs.

Maori Literature

“Kuaka marangaranga”

“Whangaihia te tangata Ki te ika ora ia mo ra tahi,
engari akohia ki te hi ora ia mo ake tonu ake (atu)”.

(Feed a man with fish, he will live from day to day,
teach him how to fish, he will live forever.)

Ko te wharangi haukainga nei
mo nga iwi katoa.

Internet Resources: Ko Te Rarangi Kaupapa Maori
Hosted by National Library’s Te Puna Web Directory. This replaces “Nga Matatiki Rorohiko”.

Maori translation
Ngata dictionary translates Maori to English and vice versa, with examples in sentences

Fishing with New Nets
Maori Internet Information Resources and
Implications of the Internet for Indigenous Peoples
Alastair G. Smith
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand

a monthly review of law affecting the
indigenous Maori people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).


It is true that science is knowledge, but it is equally true that ALL knowledge is biased, ALL knowledge is culturally defined. In this we must shift our arguement from one of science to one of scientific method and this I believe is where the failing of western `science’ arises.

Our tupuna (ancestors) where obviously great scientists and scholars, how else were we able to adapt and survive in our respective lands, the navigation and maritime skills of my Polynesian forebears, and the great civiliszations and technologies of yours prooves this. However it is the way they aquired and analyzed knowledge which differs to western scientific method.

Western Scientific method being one of `Hypothesis-Test-Hypothesis’ means that all observation and experimentation is determined and largely defined by the initial theory upon which the hypothesis is based. The result of this is that the scientist will observe the data appropriate to the theory, (their observation being constrained by their theories), and will thus either prove or disprove that theory.

The sad thing about this is that scientific method has become the dominant form in all western/colonial thinking in both pure and social science. In New Zealand less than 1% of scientists are Iwi maori.

The Tohunga (keepers of knowledge) of my people, also used observation and experimentation, they would cross examine travellers and explorers, and they would gather to debate the tenants of knowledge (this was one of the functions of Taputapuatea marae on Rangiatea (Ra’iatea in the Society Islands)). The knowledge thus procured would be intergrated and compared to `myth’ defined schemes and thus become accepted truth.

The methods they used however were not theory based abstractions as in western science. They were practical, experience-orientated observations made whilst involved in a given activity – thus the Polynesians had Tohunga tatai aro rangi, Professional Navigators who knew everything their was to know about navigation and locating yourself at sea, by actualling observing the stars and going out on their ships, tasting and feeling the water for salinity and temperature, observing the movement of sea and air currents, sea swells, fish and birds.

Their system of knowledge was able to discern the volcanic rim of fire which coming from the north, runs through the centre of the country. They were able to detail the development of a feotus, discribe the appearance of a bird in the shell, describe the enternal workings of the human body and with nothing but `stoneage tools’ produce intricately carved peices which only with laser technology is being reproduced.

The statement that data is neutral and unbiased is misguided and entirely a product of western scientific thinking.

Each society sees and defines it’s world through culturally biased eyes. The things seen (the raw data) is different, the `truths/facts’ extracted are culturally determined, and the absolute scheme of knowledge and truth – that societies reality – is unique.

Native peoples around the world do need more scientists, but let us remember always that western science is a product of western knowledge. We all have our own knowledge and thus our own science – the challenge is to rediscover our own truth, and create our own reality not live it one that colonisation has imposed.

Naku noa

Tena ka mihi atu ki a koutou me to whanau kei te tuara o te honu.
(Acknowledgements to you and your family upon the back of the turtle island.)

Rangiatea ll History ll Rangiatea in Aotearoa


G Ngaiterangi Smallman

Tatai Korero/Tuwharetoa Panui
RD 1 Hirangi Road
New Zealand

Maori Students Officer
Te Roopu Maori
527 Castle Street

Otago University Students Association
New Zealand


Maori Poupou Figure


Concentrated between Burma and Thailand, there are an estimated 8 million
Mons in the world today. Yet, their rights often go unrecognized. Like
many indigenous peoples of this region, for the past forty years the
central government in both Rangoon and Bangkok have ignored and attempted
ethnocide of the Mon people -- who were the orignial inhabitants in the
Burmese-Thai region. The Mon language is a distant relative of the Khamer
(Cambodia) langauge group, having no similarities with Burmese and the
Burmese alphabet is based on the Mon alphabet.
After successive waves of Burman and Thai immigrations from the north in
the last milenia, and after repeated attacks the kingdom of the peaceful
Mons was defeated in 1757 and the higher culture taken as war booty to
upper Burma by the Burmese king and many hundred thaunsand of Mon jhad
been facing genocide. Meanwhile, in Thailand Mons were given speical
areas to live and found sympathetic favor under the Thai king, himself a
descendent of the Mons, mostly in areas around Bangkok's main river.
Present Situation
Today, however, the situation is radicaly different with assimilation
rampant on both sides of the border. Centralization and capitalism are
working hand in hand to annihilate all indigenous peoples. A planned gas
pipeline from Burma's Gulf of Martaban will dissect Monland on its way
into energy-strapped Thailand, and so foriegn policy in the era of
"constructive engagement" does not favor the Mon people (as was seen by
the recent Halockhani attack by SLORC troops and the Thai starving out of
the refugees to return across the border).
The refugee situation is increasing due to forced labor on "infrastruc-
ture" projects in the area, such as the gas pipeline and the 110 miles
long dead Ye-Tavoy railway construction. Villages regularly undergo forced
relocation while harrassment, violence and pillaging continue under SLORC's
reign of terror. Also, many Mons have been targetted for arrest in the
Sangkhlaburi area and Kanchanaburi District, which is viewed as an attempt
by the Thais to put pressure on the  New Mon State Party to sign a
cease-fire agreement with the Burmese military junta.
One of the biggest problems for the Mon people is recieving outside
information and spreading out inside information to international
Approximately 50-60% of the Mon people cannot read or write in Burmese,
and less are able to use English. Thus access to much information is
prohibitive, especially about health care, politics and international
news. This is in addition to strict censorship controls and added ethnic
suppression by the Burmese junta.
For  more information on the Mon, Please contact

MIS (NCM) GPO Box. 375 Bangkok 10501 Thailand. The New Mon State Party (NMSP): :Fighting against Burmese military junta by both arm struggle and political activities; Mon NAtional Relief Committee MNRC (MNRC): : Working for Mon refugees in the Thai- Burma border; Committee for Publicity of People Struggle in Monland (CPPSM): Mon Human Rights Group;

Mon refugees '' being harassed ''
Bangkok Post April 23, 1995.
        MON refugees seeking sanctuary in Thailand from the civil war
Burma are being harassed by Thai authorities to facilitate the
construction of an oil pipeline between the two countries, according to
US refugee workers in Bangkok and Mon relief officials.
        Pressure on the Mon, one of the many indigenous Burmese
minorities involved in a five-decade crusade against the ruling Slorc
(State Law and Order Restoration Council), has increased steadily since
the Thai and Burmese governments reached an agreement on the passage of
the natural gas pipeline through Mon territory, according to Phra Wongsa
Pala, a Buddhist monk and chairman of the Mon National Relief Committee.
        Human Rights Watch/Asia reported in December last year that
Thailand's treatment of Mon refugees" falls far short of international
standards." In 1994 Thailand forced more than 6,000 Mon refugees back
into Burma who were subsequently attacked by the Burmese military.
        The report suggests mistreatment of refugees in "almost certainly
linked to economic and security concerns" about development projects in
Burma, including the proposed natural gas pipeline.  Unocal , a US
company, is one of the companies named in the report as being involved
with the natural gas project.
        Harassment now includes daily and nightly police raids on Mon
temples along the Burma-Thai border, and persecution of the sick and
disabled, the reports said. In raids authorities arrest men, women and
children, torture victims, war-wounded, and seriously ill refugees,
including those with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)
recognition, a special status accorded by the UN to political refugees,
the reports alleged.
        There are also threats to repatriate all ethnic Mon Buddhist
monks back to Burma.
        "Pressure is being placed on the little people," says Marryknoll
Mission Association of the Faithful co-ordinator Vicki-Armour Hileman, of
Davenport, Iowa, Hileman spent six years as a missionary in Asia
including two years working with Mon refugees in Thailand.
        "The Unocal pipeline, which the Burmese are trying to force
through Mon territory, would mean an economic boom for Thailand.  By
rounding up the helpless, they hope to force the Mon into signing a peace
accord and agreeing to the pipeline," Hileman said.
        The Mon who occupy the area that is largely virgin jungle, are
strongly opposed to the pipeline which they say will destroy their
habitat, exploit their labour, and directly benefit the Slorc
financially.  They have voiced their opposition in several letters to
        Repeated raids are spreading panic among refugees, many of whom
have been tortured in Burma and are terrified of arrest.  In the last
year, three have been seriously injured trying to avoid the police.
        During an April 19 raid, Maung Kyan, a severely handicapped
ethnic Mon refugee in need of serious ongoing medical treatment, was
arrested by Yannawa police and put into detention with his wife and two
small children.
        Maung Kyan and his family all have UNHCR status, which in most
countries assured protection until a safe return to their homeland is
possible.  Thailand however, is not a signatory of the UN Protocol.
        Maung Kyan, who lost his eye-sight and both arms in a land mine
explosion ten year ago, has recently had a cornea transplant and required
daily medication and monitoring.  The Mon National Relief Committee fears
that without proper medical care and a clean environment, he could lose
his eye.
        The US embassy, the UNHCR, and various refugee groups have
expressed concern over Maung Kyan's welfare, but have been unsuccessful
in obtaining freedom for him and his family.
        The Mon National Relief Committee had asked the US State
Department and concerned US groups to call for his release and an end to
the harassment of Mon refugees.

MIS 24/4/95
Maung Kyan and his family all, however, have been recognized as concerned
person by UNHCR, they will not accept any assistance from UNHCR. Only
UNHCR branch office in Thailand  have approved the border policy for the
Burmese refugees, especially for the ethnic people, since 1993.  Being
Mon nationality, Maung Kyan and his family were covered by this policy
and UNHCR do not grant any assistance including the medical treatmant.
Bucause of his both arms and his eye-sight were lost by a land mine
explosion, he is unable to work for his survival. He and his family took
refuge in the Buddhist temple and supported by the Mon National Relief
So many Mon refugees were suggested to go back to the border and received
assistance there by UNHCR when they applied for refugee status.  Even
some former university students included in that policy and was organized
to stay in the border. UNHCR does not care for their further education
and future life. Therefore, for their daily food, they have to work in
construction site and other illegal jobs. They were deported to Burma
side after been detaining in the Immigration Detention Centre for several
weeks if they were arrested. UNHCR can not do any thing and do not
reconsider to withdraw the policy of border case and  refugeestatus
without assistance.  This is only own dicriminating policy of Bangkok
branch office of UNHCR.
MIS - Mon Information Service. April 25 1995.

Mon Information Service 

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