On IP Heroes Day 2020: Live Their Legacy, Carry The Torch Of Self-Determination
On International Indigenous Peoples Heroes Day 2020, the way to honor our Indigenous Peoples martyrs is to be the new heroes and living champions that will carry on the fight for ancestral land, rights and self-determination.
Live their Legacy, Carry the torch of Self-Determination
In this time of trials and great crisis, we need our heroes.
And the Indigenous Peoples, all throughout the world, with their common history of colonization, slavery, conquest and genocide, have produced not just one but collectives and communities of heroes whose legacy we honor in today’s celebration of International Indigenous Peoples (IP) Heroes Day.
November 10 is an important day. On this day in 1995, Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa of Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), along with eight Ogoni activists, were sentenced to death and executed by the Nigerian Army. Ken-Saro Wiwa with the Ogoni communities stood up in defense of their land, rights and ways of life against the Royal Dutch Shell Company and Nigerian government.
That is why this day is not only historic. The International IP Heroes Day is an assertion for the International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), founded on the same day, to live our IP heroes and martyrs’ bravery.
Today, Indigenous Peoples remain oppressed by colonial attacks in the form of imperialist plunder of their ancestral lands, large-scale land grabbing of their territories, extreme poverty, systemic dispossession, discrimination and violence. The global crises of COVID-19 also highlighted the fact that centuries later they remain marginalized and threatened to vanish.
Still, stories of Indigenous Peoples’ heroism rise at the most trying times. Indigenous Dusun of Sabah, the Dumagat and Aeta in the Philippines, the Lepcha people of Sikkim and Indigenous communities of Manipur from North East India battle hydropower and mega dam projects in their ancestral lands and fragile environments. First nations of Wet’suwet’en, the Waorani of Ecuador, Yanomami people of Brazil and many other tribes in the Amazon are gaining victories in blocking and pushing back giant mining and extractives impacting their communities. We are inspired how Orang Asli confronts giant palm oil plantations and logging profiteering from their landlessness.
We continue to witness how living IP heroes capture the embodiment of courage. The Ogiek and Sengwer peoples of Kenya, and forest-dwelling tribes of India exposing and opposing the sham forest conservation State programs that uproots them from their lands inspires us. We honor the Jummas from Bangladesh, the Lumad of Mindanao, the Quiche of Guatemala, the Aboriginals and many more who stand in the line of criminalization, State-terror and violence for asserting their rights and basic freedoms. And we take inspiration on how indigenous West Papuans and Karen resist any attacks aimed to suppress their assertion of self-determination and independence.
As we pay our tribute to our IP heroes and martyrs, let us remember that their achievements are the result of continuous struggle. Let us admire and learn from their sacrifices. In times when powers-that-be attempt to revise our IP heroes’ history and malign our collective struggles through disinformation and fascism, our movement and unity with IP, advocates and other oppressed sectors will bring new heroes to continue to blaze trails.
Live their legacy, carry the torch of
Defend IP Rights! Defend ancestral lands!
Struggle for self-determination and liberation!