Indigenous peoples’ rights and stamping out discrimination stood at the center of celebrations to mark the 29th International Day of the World's Indigenous People.
On Friday, the government, civil society and other stakeholders, including UN agencies, gathered to celebrate the annual. This year, it fell under the themes “Enhancing Inclusive Engagement and Partnership Between Indigenous Peoples with the Government, Civil Society, and Development Partners” and “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-Determination”.
The day aims to raise awareness of the rights of indigenous people, especially women and youth, in relation to the promotion and protection of traditional and cultural identities by contributing to the elimination of forms of discrimination against indigenous peoples.
Benjamin Moreau, Deputy Representative of OHCHR, said that the theme highlights the need for solid national commitments for action. Additionally, these actions must consider the participation of environmental human rights defenders, indigenous people, civil society groups, and support from business actors and other active stakeholders.
“As indigenous people across the world have continued to call for their rights, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight our shared responsibility in ensuring that indigenous people can fully, freely, and safely participate,” he said. “Because indigenous people have a right to make their voices heard and participate in decision-making in matters which would affect them.”
Nuon Monichenda, Representative of the Director of the Department of Ethnic Minority for Development, Ministry of Rural Development, said that the ministry has made efforts to develop and preserve indigenous cultures.
There has also been a focus on promoting the law and obligations pertaining to indigenous people, accelerating the identification of indigenous people, enhancing the capacity of indigenous people, offering vocational training to youth, particularly women, building a culture village, and accelerating the development in every sector for indigenous communities.
“The indigenous people have played an important role in developing the right decision-making, and they have faced several context changes in socio-economics,” she said. “So, the indigenous people need to be aware of technological usage and develop the necessary skills in order to tackle the problem and contribute to the country's suitability growth.”
According to the National Report on Demographic and Socio-Economics of Indigenous People in 2021, indigenous people in Cambodia are estimated to comprise 1.25 percent (183, 831) of the national population.
In addition, the government has categorized indigenous people into 22 groups spread across 15 provinces, consisting of approximately 455 indigenous communities.
Sev Thvay, a librarian for Indigenous Cambodia from Ratanakiri, said that the international day is positive as it allows him to show other participants the identities of indigenous people and their rights as citizens in Cambodia.
“Today, I’m happy and proud since I can show the people who we are, the indigenous people,” a 23-year-old said. “Also, I can show my traditional culture, both dancing, art and performance, and materials that we use every day, in order for participants to learn more about us.”