Indigenous Voices, Indigenous Rights: The Role of Community Media

Mr. Jeff Brez gave welcoming Remarks and outlined some of the existing policies that protect indigenous rights. Ms. Suzanne Benally discussed her work at Cultural Survival, and the right of all indigenous groups to their own community media, in their own languages. She further explained the need for access to non-indigenous media, without discrimination.

Mr. Shaldon Ferris shared the benefits of local radio stations, which include providing people with a voice and preserving community identities. Mr. Ferris grew up with mainstream American media, and while it was a good form of entertainment, no one ever looked or sounded like the indigenous people watching. Under the Apartheid regime, all media was controlled and consisted of news from other places. The indigenous need local radio to preserve their identity and culture. They have stories to share, but they have no platform.

Ms. Avexnim Cojití gave statistics on the Guatemalan population and indigenous languages. They are the poorest of the population; they are malnourished and do not have access to electricity and media. Newspapers do not reach indigenous communities, and most are not literate in Spanish, leaving radio as the best form of communication. Even though the government is supposed to support and allow indigenous media, current radio stations do not attend to the needs of local communities, and most operate unsupported by the government. While there is still pride for indigenous history, it is becoming shameful to be indigenous in Guatemala. Community Media would help spread pride, and advocate for human rights, indigenous rights, etc.

Mr. Dev Kumar Sunuwar explained that the indigenous people of Nepal lack resources, and have low access to education in technical knowledge and skills. The speakers were followed by a round of questions, reinforcing the need to spread media outlets to indigenous communities around the world.

Meeting: Briefing on “Indigenous Voices, Indigenous Rights: The Role of Community Media” (co-organized by NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section, Outreach Division; and the Strategic Communications Division, Department of Public Information (DPI))

Date/Location: Thursday, April 27, 2017; 11:00-12:30; Conference Room 11, UNHQ NY

Speakers: Jeff Brez, Suzanne Benally, Shaldon Ferris, Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Avexnim Cojití

Written By: WIT Representative Renée S. Landzberg

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi

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