Category Archives: Indigenous Peoples

Asia Land Forum: Shaping land agenda and defining land rights to achieve food sovereignty

Participants of the Asia Land Forum.

Participants of the Asia Land Forum.

The Asia Land Forum was held on 5 September 2016 in Ortigas Center, Quezon City, Philippines. Divided into two parts, the Forum engaged the Philippine Government on the proposed legislative land agenda of the CSO members of the International Land Coalition (ILC), and provided space for knowledge exchanges on achieving food sovereignty through advancing land rights. Around 85 participants from the Governments of Philippines, Nepal, and Cambodia; intergovernmental organizations (ADB, FAO, IFAD, WB); CSO representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand  took part in the discussion.

The morning session on “Shaping the Land Agenda in the Philippines” pressed on the land agenda for the Duterte Adiministration under the framework of land rights as human rights. Philippine CSO members of ILC demanded for the passage of the (i) Completion of Notice of Coverage Bill or the NOC Bill, (ii) Indigenous Community Conservation Area (ICCA) Bill, and (iii) the National Land Use Act (NLUA) Bill, collectively called as the “Triple Land Rights Bills,” to effectively address land rights issues that affects the lives of marginalized sectors such as indigenous peoples, farmers and fisher folks as well as the urban poor communities.

Wilson Requez of the People’s Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network, Inc. (AR Now!) discussed that more than 69,000 hectares (ha) of landholdings are yet to be covered for redistribution (DAR Status Report, 2016) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). With the failure to pass the NOC Bill on completing the land acquisition and distribution provision of the CARP during the 16th Congress, it is hoped that in this 17th Congress, the Bill will be passed as the legislative champions for agrarian reforms both in the Lower and Upper Housed have already filed bills for the Completion of Notice of Coverage and are hoping to sustain the momentum it gained during the 16th Congress.

Dave de Vera of the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID) highlighted the importance of ICCAs in conserving indigenous people (IP)’s lives and source of livelihood leading to biodiversity conservation. Hence, the passage of the ICCA Bill will further strengthen the mandate of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and will highlight the very important role of IPs in the conservation of our remaining resources.

Lastly, Elmer Mercado, EnP of the Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! (CLUP Now!) stressed that a clear land use policy through the NLUA should be passed to rationalize the use of lands and address the current degradation of country’s land resources.

Representative Teddy Baguilat  committed to support the passage of these Bills in the current Congress.

During the afternoon session on “Realizing the sustainable development goals: Defending land rights of communities to achieve food sovereignty in the region,” participants discussed the food security priorities of international organizations and selected Asian countries and sustainable development goals in the context of hunger and land rights.

Fifty-two representatives of grassroots organizations, peoples’ movements and CSOs from 10 Asian countries signed the Quezon City Declaration on Food Sovereignty calling upon concerned States, institutions, and corporations to respect and adhere to the 12 principles of the Declaration on protecting and strengthening land rights towards food sovereignty. See Declaration here.

The Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), the International Land Coalition (ILC), the GIZ, and the Philippine Development Forum-Working Group on Sustainable Rural Development Forum (PDF-SRD), in partnership with AFA, AR NOW!, CARRD, PAKISAMA, PAFID, TFM and XSF organized this event.

Peter Hauschnik of GIZ opening the Forum

Peter Hauschnik of GIZ opening the Forum



ANGOC Chairperson Emeritus Fr. Francis Lucas opening the Forum.



Representative Teddy Baguilat giving his reaction to the presentation on the proposed NOC Bill,

Attempted murder to an indigenous environmental activist in Cambodia

We are posting this news shared by Prey Lang Community Network (PLCPN).

Location of Prey Lang Forest in Cambodia. Photo by

Location of Prey Lang Forest in Cambodia. Photo by

Prey Lang Community Network (PLCPN) activist Phan Sopheah was attacked by an unknown group of people while camping in Bueng Char Region during their patrol in the Prey Lang Forest on 23-27 March 2016.

As part of PLCPN’s initiative on protecting the Prey Lang Forest, PLCPN visits four provinces surrounding the Prey Lang Forest (Kampong Thom, Preah Vihea, Kratie and Stung Trung) to monitor and suppress the illegal logging in the forest. During their 5-day patrol, PLCPN have confiscated illegally logged woods, 35 chainsaws, and other tools used for logging.

Sopheak was sent to a local clinic for quick treatment on the same day and is now safe. She is one of the young Prey Lang activists nominated to represent PLCN to receive an Equator Prize from UNDP in December 2015 in Paris.

Sopheak is already the third indigenous environmental activist attacked during the month of March. The other two were indigenous activists murdered in Honduras on 3 and 16 March 2016.

PLCPN calls for the following to Government:

  1. Fully investigate the attempted murder on Sopheak and bring those criminals to justice.
  2. Permanently criminalized all forms of timber trading, both legal and illegal, in the Prey Lang region.
  3. Stop all logging activities in the Prey Lang region.
  4. Conduct Investigations to determine who is involved in the logging business.
  5. Help to intervene and cooperate with PLCN to protect Prey Lang.

Arippa people: “We need lands for agriculture!”

Adivasis and Dalits of Arippa in India protest for their land rights. Photo by Ekta Parishad.

Adivasis and Dalits of Arippa in India protest for their land rights. Photo by Ekta Parishad.

Around 3000 Arippa indigenous people (IP) and landless poor in India started a hunger strike in front of the Kerala Secretariat on 19 February 2016 to protest for their land rights which they have been demanding since 2013. Ekta Parishad joined the 15-day protest.

Tribes claim the 55.46 acres of a 90-acre land in the Arippa forest in Kulathuphuza village to be a surplus land meant for redistribution among the landless poor. The Kerala Government, however, allotted this for developing universities and campuses apart from the 68.46 acres allocated for institutional developments (George, 2014).

In 2013, the Kerala Government has enacted the “Zero Landless Program” awarding titles of 3-cent lands (equivalent to 0.01 hectare) to the IPs and landless poor for dwelling. This amount of plot barely provides sustenance to the families. They need lands for agriculture.

For three years, these activists have been conducting mass mobilizations for their land rights; and the Government has been deaf of these people’s pleas.

In a news story posted on 20 February 2016, an action was finally heard from the Government. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has directed the District Collector to furnish details of the Arippa families to whom he promised to give lands upon availability.

Indigenous peoples will continue to fight for their rights

Indigenous people’s rights advocates demanding for the inclusion of PPMHA in the list of national priority legislations 2015-2019. Photo by New Perspectives Foundation. Retrieved from

Indigenous people’s rights advocates demanding for the inclusion of PPMHA in the list of national priority legislations 2015-2019. Photo by New Perspectives Foundation. Retrieved from

Two days before the 17th Plenary Session in the House of Representatives of the Indonesian Government, indigenous peoples and advocates gathered in a mobilization led by the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) on 24 January 2016 in Central Indonesia to demand the inclusion of the Draft Law on Recognition and Protection of Indigenous People (PPMHA) in the national legislation priorities 2016.

The PPMHA will ensure the protection of indigenous peoples and will recognize their roles in forest protection. The Bill will bridge various laws and policies on indigenous peoples including those related to lands, territories, resources, institutional, social, political, and cultural. It will also address conflicts on claiming indigenous peoples’ rights.

AMAN has championed the PPMHA in 2011, and in 2013 it was formally proposed in the House. Following the failure of its passage in 2014, several efforts were done by CSOs to ensure its success by 2016. Despite of these and President Jokowi’s pledge to prioritize the Bill, PPMHA was not included in the list of priority bills during the Plenary Session on 26 January 2016, failing around 70 million indigenous peoples hoping for its passage.

AMAN Secretary General Abdon Nababan, together with other CSOs and indigenous peoples, vowed to continue the fight for the PPMHA. “We will continue to work through the various channels available,” he says.


Now online: new journals, issue briefs, and land monitoring report of LWA

We are happy to share our newest publications!

With limited land, access to it has been a prevailing issue which leads to human rights violations to farmers, and to the disadvantaged women and indigenous peoples.

These Land Watch Asia (LWA)’s Lok Niti journals compile scoping studies from seven Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Philippines) telling of how women and indigenous peoples struggle to claim their land rights:

Lok Niti women_resizedwomen issue briefThe Lok Niti on “Women stake their claim to land” outlines the statuses of women’s land rights in each country, the legal frameworks covering such rights, the key factors promoting or impending women’s land rights, and the strategies to address gender inequality and advance women’s rights to own and benefit from the land. Its issue brief, “Women’s land rights in Asia,” may also be downloaded here.

lok niti IPIP issue briefThe Lok Niti on “Indigenous peoples and their sacred lands,”on the other hand,reveals how the basic bond of indigenous peoples to land are threatened by forces far more powerful than they are equipped to face. The IP issue brief, “On the customary rights of indigenous peoples in Asia,” is also available here.

1LWA also started the Land Reform Monitoring Initiaive in 2010 strengthening evidence-based advocacies of CSOs on access to land and security of land tenure. The “2014 CSO Land Reform Monitoring Report: Towards an Accountable Governance on Land in Asia” features the 2014 CSO land reform monitoring reports on the status of land tenure and access to land of the seven countries. It also reflects the recent expansion of the monitoring initiative to a ridge-to-reef framework providing a more holistic approach in addressing ancestral lands, rural lands, and marine resource concerns.

1A proceedings on “A Regional Workshop on Land Monitoring Initiatives”was also prepared to highlight  LWA’s “Regional Workshop on Land Monitoring Initiatives: Towards an Accountable Governance on Land” held in Manila, Philippines on 21-22 April 2015 – which includes the country land monitoring reports; the country updates in Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam; and the new land reform monitoring framework modified for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bangladesh: Training course on IP lands held

We are posting this news shared by the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD).

Participants shared their feedback on the training.   Photo: ALRD

Participants shared their feedback on the training. Photo: ALRD

ALRD organized a training course on Adivasi (Indigenous People) Land Law & Land Management at the NGO Forum Office in Rajshahi District on 2-5 November 2015 to enhance the capacity of partner organizations working on indigenous people’s rights. Thirty participants (12 are women) from 14 different organizations took part in the training.

Participants identified the grounds of IPs’ land dispossession, the corruption in land administration, and the state obligation for protection of IPs in Bangladesh. They have also come up with strategies to resolve land disputes among IPs.

“Statistical Analysis of Land Disputes in Cambodia, 2014” report launched

We are sharing this news posted in The NGO Forum on Cambodia website on 28 September 2015.

Panel of the launching workshop. Photo by NGOF.

Panel of the launching workshop.
Photo by NGOF.

NGOF launched the report on Statistical Analysis of Land Disputes in Cambodia, 2014 on 22 September. The report launching workshop was to publicly disseminate the report results, present key findings, and to increase knowledge and understanding of land situations in order to bring all relevant stakeholders to pay attention on them and further spread out to call for intervention.

Around 60 participants from the National Assembly, Mondolkiri’s Deputy Governor, Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction, local authorities in Phnom Penh, development partners, local and international NGOs network/members and communities attended the launching.

The report aimed to provide evidences of land disputes in 2014. Findings include:[1]

  • that land disputes occurred in 2014 is lesser than the previous years;
  • the highest rate of land disputes occur in Phnom Penh;
  • economic land concessions (ELCs) are the major cause of land disputes;
  • 14% of land disputes affect indigenous peoples;
  • displacements affected 230 families; and
  • 68 cases were resolved in 2014.

Moreover, NGOF Executive Director Dr. Tek Vannara mentioned that land disputes are the biggest challenges Cambodia face.

The report is available online in Khmer and English versions.

[1] As culled from the report [The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF). (2015). Statistical Analysis of Land Disputes in Cambodia, 2014. Phnom Penh: NGOF.]

Bangladesh: Training on CHT Land Management

Women Headmen of CHT are participated in the training course on leadership development.  Photo by ALRD.

Women Headmen of CHT are participated in the training course on leadership development.
Photo by ALRD.

ALRD organized a training for IP leaders titled, Training on Leadership Development of Headmen and Karbaries in CHT Land Management, on 4-8 September 2015 in Tonga, Rangamati in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

Thirty, mostly are customary women leaders (29), participated in the course.

The training was to develop leadership skills of Headmen (customary leaders) and Karbaries (village heads) to perform their duties effectively as traditional leaders in CHT resource management.

Philippines: Forest guards receive equipment safeguarding their ancestral domains

We are posting this updates shared by Casandra Emata of Xavier Science Foundation, Inc. (XSF).

MILALITTRA (left) and PTTA (right) forest guards receiving their equipment and WEO IDs. Photo by XSF.

MILALITTRA (left) and PTTA (right) forest guards receiving their equipment and WEO IDs.
Photo by XSF.

XSF, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PTFCF) turned over equipment and paraphernalia for more than 100 Bantay Lasang (forest guards) of the Portulin Talaandig Tribal Association (PTTA) and Miarayon-Lapok-Lirongan-Tinaytayan-Talaandig Tribal Association (MILALITTRA) on 8 and 10 August.

The ceremony is part of the activities of XSF’s project, Enhancement of Community Capacity for Sustainable Ecological Protection and Economic Development (EcoSEED), funded by PTFCF. PTTA and MILALITTRA are XSF’s EcoSEED community partners.

The event is also done following the training for the EcoSEED tribal partners conducted in June on building their capacities as wildlife enforcement officers (WEO). Tribes observed a ritual to bless the equipment, such as radios, cameras, boots and raincoats. DENR also distributed IDs to recognize PTTA and MILALITTRA forest guards as full-fledged WEOs.

The tribes recognize the importance of the training and the provision of equipment in effective safeguarding of the forests of Mt. Kalatungan Range in Bukidnon where their ancestral domains are situated.

Training on roles and responsibilities of the indigenous local government officials of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) on land management held in Rangamati, Bangladesh

Post shared by the Association for Land Reform (ALRD).

The training proper

The training proper. Photo by ALRD.

ALRD Headman Network of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) organized the training to enhance the capacity of the indigenous local government officials and activists on land management of CHT in Rangamati on 26-29 June 2015.

Entitled Training Workshop on Role and Responsibilities of Headman and Karbari in CHT Land Management, the four-day training focused on the issues of land management in the CHT, history of land management, regulations, the current situation of CHT, and the international conventions related to IP and human rights.

Thirty four participants from Karbari District, local government representative, development activists, students, and advocates participated in training.