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06 / 08 / 2004
Indigenous youth search for new ways to defend their rights

Indigenous youth meet today and tomorrow at the Forum in order to evaluate the impact of the UN grant program to help them use defense mechanism on an international scale. This a step prior to the activities that will be held as part of the Word Youth Festival which will culminate on August 9, International Day for Indigenous Peoples.

A total of 42 indigenous youth will meet today and tomorrow in order to proclaim their rights before international organizations. Up until now, seventy indigenous have benefited from this training program. The objective of this program is to evaluate the effect of the programs on the indigenous communities, analyze the strong and weak points of the communities and establish new plans of action that will allow indigenous communities to strengthen their struggle for equal rights.

Coordinator of Forum Dialogues, Pedro Ralda; Marina Gallés, from the World Youth Festival; Eulalia d’Ortado, from volunteers for indigenous peoples in the United Nations and Mirian Masaquiza, a Kichwa Salasaca woman from Ecuador, will present the activities that will be held by the indigenous representatives at the Forum.

Ralda highlighted the collaboration among the Forum, the festival and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for these activities that will include people from all over the world.

Eulalia d’Ortado described the Forum “as an exceptional framework to evaluate this program and have other programs to attract the public”, like the events planned for August 9 that will deal with health and education as well as other indigenous issues.

Miriam Masaquiza said: "indigenous peoples are not only something to study but people who live and think as well, with our systems, although they have almost been destroyed." She added that, “indigenous peoples have always been fighting and must now continue fighting because, for them, nothing is free.” Miriam Masaquiza called for organisms and governments to recognize the rights of indigenous. According to this activist: "we will continue to survive despite problems, despite the fact that we have been kicked off our land and denied our resources, reduced our education and minimized our existence."

On August 9, in honor of the 300 million indigenous people in the world, the World Youth Festival will revolve around the theme of cultural diversity. Therefore, this Monday, indigenous peoples will speak at the Speakers' Corner, have an interactive stand with diverse debates and participate in “141 Questions for 141 Nights” with the theme “Can we be indigenous in the 21st century?” chaired by indigenous youth