Writing for The Equal Times, journalist Carmen Grau interviews Ainu leaders Fumio Kimura, Shizue Ukaji,
Sunday 9 August is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day that celebrates Indigenous knowledge and the achievements of Indigenous peoples in promoting minority rights and environmental protection across the world.
We at the Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies believe that on this day – as on all days – we must remind ourselves of the role that Indigenous peoples have been playing in resisting the destruction and commodification of the environment. Although Indigenous peoples comprise less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it is estimated that they protect 80 percent of the earth’s biodiversity. With the intensifying climate and ecological crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, the consequences of capitalism and colonialism that Indigenous peoples have been dealing with for centuries start being felt all across the world. Indigenous peoples have been disproportionately affected by these environmental disruptions, and they are amongst the fiercest advocates against the toxic system underlying these problems.
Hence, we at CEMiPoS believe that we must above all be reminded of the necessity of Indigenous resistance and empowerment. Protecting Indigenous rights is not only essential for the survival of Indigenous culture, language, and knowledge, but also for the resilience of the land they inhabit and the survival of our planet as a whole. The struggle of the Ainu is part of a global movement against injustice and oppression. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the world.