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Salute To Saw Paul Of KESAN, IP Awardees Of Goldman Environmental Prize 2020

A win for Indigenous Peoples defenders, a win for the environment and struggle for self-determination!

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) salutes its partner Saw Paul Sein Twa, an Indigenous Karen rights activist, from the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) for winning the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize.

In a visit to the Karen community in 2019, IPMSDL witnessed how Saw Paul has immersed himself with the life and struggles of the Karen people and community. His grassroots involvement is anchored and built on community cooperation and participatory governance. He has been active in working towards the protection of the environment and Karen’s ancestral territories through the 5,400 sq. km. Salween Peace Park. Efforts to strengthen Indigenous knowledge and practices in securing their territories’ biodiversity and sustainable food production coupled with the use of modern technology shine alternatives away from existing destructive methods and global capitalist economic systems. Undeniably, Saw Paul and KESAN’s contribution does not only inspire people but moves them into action with IP rights and collective leadership at the core.

This exemplary work is even more impressive amid persistent and escalating attacks against IP human rights defenders (IPHRDs), communities, and organizations from state armed forces and corporations in Burma. The Karen people continue to work despite the increasing rights violations, conflict, threats of Hatgyi mega-dams, land-grabbing, and infrastructure projects of Burma military government, international finance institutions (IFIs), and transnational corporations (TNCs).

The recognition given to Saw Paul – the organization and community he represents – only proves the central and critical role of Indigenous Peoples in sustainable development as well as environmental protection. Saw Paul and the Karen people’s work is a testament that the struggle for land rights, self-determination, justice, and peace is a concrete solution to defend our planet and people against imperialist plunder and war.

IPMSDL also celebrates the victory of other Indigenous rights activists: Time Magazine Person of the Year 2020 Nemonte Nenquimo of Waorani people who fought to preserve 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest against oil extraction; and Mayan leader Leydy Pech who stood against the giant Monsanto and suspend its plans to plant genetically modified soybeans in Mayan territories in southern Mexico.

The IP right to decide for their future, and govern and manage their lands and territories are century-old medicines to the virus of profit-driven, colonial and deadly structures that kill the planet and its people. Let these recognitions spark inspiration to further strengthen our resolve in defending our ancestral territories and right to self-determination – a key element in safeguarding our planet and future generations.

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