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April 4, 2008

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Australian gov't moves to implement UNDRIP; Canada, US and New Zealand should follow suit

In a historic and unprecedented move, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) during the opening of the new parliament. The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) thereby reiterates its call for the US, New Zealand and Canada to follow suit and accede to the Declaration as a step in recognizing indigenous peoples' existence and rights as a people.

Mr. Rudd went further where many governments fear to tread and made a public apology to the indigenous peoples of Australia. In his speech: "To the stolen generations, I say the following: as Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Government of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry. I offer you this apology without qualification. We apologize for the hurt, the pain and suffering that we, the Parliament, have caused you by the laws that previous parliaments have enacted."

The CPA welcomes this development from the Australian government especially during the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. However, we challenge Mr. Rudd that such statements should not remain as hollow promises. It should provide justice to the stolen generations to give meaning and sincerity to his apology. Justice can come in the form of just compensation, necessary rehabilitation, and other appropriate measures. The CPA hopes that the Rudd Parliament in partnership with the Aborigines comes out with new legislations, policies and programs that would genuinely respect and promote Aboriginal rights.

With such pronouncements, we also look forward to the greater and full participation of indigenous peoples not only in legislation but on all matters that affect their rights and interests. Thus, the CPA stresses the that Philippine government must urgently implement the Declaration, of which it is a signatory. Concrete measures must be undertaken to redress the human rights violations against the country's indigenous peoples. #

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