newsletter UNPO, IX-2013

UNPO Newsletter

2 September 2013


Dear UNPO Members and Friends,

The months of July and August have been pivotal moments for UNPO. The first UNPO presidency meeting of the year as well as the end and beginning of new sessions at the United Nations and the European Parliament have provided us with the opportunity to reflect on our work and to gather new steam to do our best to bring the voices of our Members to the international scene.

This summer has seen several landmarks for our Members. Kosova is now recognized by over 100 States, Abkhazia has celebrated the fifth anniversary of the recognition by the Russian Federation of its sovereignty, and the Mapuche have made significant progress regarding the Anti-Terrorism laws following calls by the United Nations to end its discriminatory use against political activism. Meanwhile, other Members continued facing dire situation and violent repression. The Turkmens of Iraq have increasingly become the victims of targeted bombings in retaliation to their political demands. The Chittagong Hill Tracts have seen yet another attack on their villages, in an attempt to evict them from their lands. Finally, the Uyghurs have been facing increased repression by the Chinese government, which has placed new restrictions on religious freedoms on the occasion of the Ramadan and has conducted several violent attacks against them, the most recent one still awaiting clarifications.

The evolution of the situation of the Members was discussed during the 15th UNPO Presidency meeting that was held in July in Brussels. The agenda of the meeting covered a wide array of issues, including the review of membership of several UNPO Members, membership applications and the organization of the work of the secretariat. The UNPO Presidency was immediately followed by a series of advocacy meetings for the Khmer Krom, East Turkestan and the Crimean Tatars, who had the opportunity to meet with several EU officials. A few weeks later, UNPO held its fifth edition of SpeakOut!, an annual training that brings together young minority and indigenous people along with human rights activists for three days focusing on human rights and advocacy. Finally, at the end of August, UNPO organized a fact-finding mission to Russia and Azerbaijan in order to objectively assess cultural rights violations committed against the Lezghin in the northern Caucasus region. The findings of the mission will be used for upcoming events in the EU Parliament.

The next few months are expected to be even busier with activities. First of all UNPO is actively working on the preparation of a side event to the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, that will focus on the plight of the Iraqi Turkmen. Registration and information are available here. Finally, on September 17th, UNPO will be holding a press conference in the European Parliament to present the report on the Lezghin fact-finding mission and raise awareness about their situation.

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, UNPO pays tribute to activists who have fallen in their struggle for human rights, and hopes that our Members’ dream for self-determination will finally be fulfilled.


Marino Busdachin

UNPO General Secretary 

UNPO Newsletter July-August 2013

UNPO Presidency

The UNPO Presidency, composed of 9 rotating members, the General Secretary, the President and the Vice-president, gathered in Brussels for two days on the 6th and 7th of July for its first meeting of 2013. The Presidency gathers to evaluate UNPO’s work as well as to define a line of action for the coming months. It is also the occasion for the leaders of the organization to evaluate applications received as well as review certain Members. This year, the Presidency welcomed delegations from Acheh and the Kingdom of Barotseland, who were given the chance to present their applications to become UNPO members. The Presidency was preceded by a reception in the UNPO office on Friday the 5th of July, which gathered many guests, including friends of UNPO, representatives of our members in Brussels and former UNPO staff.

United Nations Activities & Events

UNPO has been active following up on the 23rd Human Rights Council session that took place in June, while preparing for the 24th session of September. UNPO has finished compiling the reports for the two side events held in June, that focused on the Iraqi Turkmens and on minorities in Iran. Both events contributed to a better understanding of the plight UNPO Members are facing and attracted considerable attention.


In addition, UNPO has submitted an alternative human rights report to the United Nations to raise awareness about the dire situations facing our Mapuche Member, ahead of the 83rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The report, written in cooperation with the Mapuche Foundation FOLIL and the Asociación Tierra y Libertad para Arauco, focused on the discrimination suffered by the Mapuche in Chile consequent to, inter alia, the disproportionate use of the anti-terrorism legislation. The use of this legislation has far-reaching consequences for the Mapuche’s claim to ancestral lands, their right to peaceful assembly, their freedom of opinion and expression and several other rights.


Last but not least, UNPO is working on the organization of a side event to the 24th Human Rights Council session that will focus on the plight of the Iraqi Turkmens. The event, entitled “Iraqi Turkmen: Unveiling Repression in Iraq”, will be held on September 19th (TBC) in the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Among others, the speakers will discuss topics related to land grabbing and extra-judicial killings.

European Institutions Activities & Events

Over the past two months, UNPO has again been very present in the European Parliament. The increasing visibility and appreciation towards this international organization became clear during many instances, whereby UNPO attended parliamentary delegation and committee meetings, conferences and preparatory meetings.


The beginning of the month of July was very busy in Brussels in the aftermath of the bi-annual presidency meeting as several members remained in Brussels for a few more days, taking the opportunity to meet with officials of the EU (Members of the Parliament as well as Commission officials). UNPO arranged meetings for the Crimean Tatars, East Turkestan as well as the Khmer Krom. Thanks to meetings with MEPs whom we had never had a chance to meet with before, UNPO and its Members were able to raise awareness in the Parliament about often-overlooked topics, all the while consolidating its base of several supportive MEPs who never fail to meet with us.

On July 10th, the Sub-committee for Human Rights at the European Parliament held a landmark hearing on the EU policy on slavery – a key event at which UNPO was present given the pertinence of the subject for our Haratin member. The hearing was the occasion for Professors Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd to present their new report on the EU’s policy on slavery, as well as to hear the EU’s Anti-Trafficking coordinator, Myria Vassiliadou, present her vision.

Fact-finding mission

UNPO organized a fact-finding mission to Russia and Azerbaijan in order to objectively assess cultural rights violations committed against the Lezghin in the northern Caucasus region. The five-day trip commenced in the Republic of Dagestan (Russia), bringing the participants on a route through Makhachkala, Derbent and a number of small Lezghin-inhabited villages before crossing the border to Azerbaijan, where further Lezghin settlements were visited. The participants of the fact-finding mission hail from a wide range of disciplines: a Member of the European Parliament; a journalist from MO* Magazine; members of the Flemish government; a photojournalist; and an academic specializing in the Caucasus. Alongside UNPO staff, who will write a detailed report, the participants will assist in advocating Lezghin rights through their professional capacities.

SpeakOut! 2013

During the week of August 6 – 8, the UNPO hosted the 5th annual SpeakOut! 2013 training workshop in Leiden, the Netherlands.  The goal in hosting this workshop was to bring together young UNPO Members and human rights activists to give them the necessary means and skills to be effective in human rights lobbying and advocacy. The program was hosted at Webster University in Leiden, with a trip to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. During this special three-day workshop, youths from Member nations and individuals interested in the field and study of human rights listened to informative lectures and participated in workshop simulations. There were many representatives from several Member nations, including the Khmer Krom and the Ahwazi. We were also happy to welcome guests from other unrepresented nations like the Aceh, Kashmir, and West Papua. More information on the event is available here as well as on the UNPO blog.


UNPO participated in several events during the summer. First of all on August 9th UNPO joined in Amsterdam with groups from West Papua, Suriname, Mexico… to celebrate World Indigenous Day. This day was instated by the UN Secretary-General in 1994 and has been used ever since as an opportunity to voice concerns about the issues that the indigenous people are faced with. Chief amongst these issues are land grabbing, basic human rights violations, cultural assimilation and lack of representation in local and national government.

Furthermore, UNPO attended two events linked with West Papua. The first one was held on July 1st and celebrated the Proclamation Day of the Republic of West Papua. The second event was the inauguration of a Free West Papua Campaign office in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Free West Papua Campaign was launched in 2004 in Oxford, UK, and aims at giving the people of West Papua the freedom to choose their own destiny through a referendum.

In addition, two UNPO staff Members from The Hague office went to the city of Diyarbakir, Turkey to attend a 7-day training on migration, entitled “Causes and Advantages of Youth Mobility and European Migration”, with the sponsorship of the YouthinAction fund. The training gathered 32 youth and explored issues pertaining to challenges and opportunities related to migration and mobility in Europe. The full narrative on the project is available on the UNPO blog.

Upcoming Activities & Events

As the European Parliament comes back from its summer break, UNPO in Brussels will again have the occasion to collaborate with MEPs. On September 17th, UNPO will be holding a press conference in the Parliament to present their report on the Lezghin fact-finding mission and raise awareness about their situation – a clear continuation of advocacy following their visit to Brussels in the Spring.

Additionally on October 3rd, UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin will be speaking at the European Parliament at a conference on extractive industries organized by the Socialists and Democrats.

Our Haratin Member will be represented by their leader Biram Dah Abeid on October 14th as he has been invited as a speaker by the Sub-committee on Human Rights of the European Parliament which will be holding a hearing on slavery in the Sahel.

In light of the upcoming 24th Human Rights Council session, UNPO is organizing a side event to the 24th Human Rights Council session that will focus on the plight of the Iraqi Turkmens. The event, entitled “Iraqi Turkmen: Unveiling Repression in Iraq”, will be held on September 19th (TBC) in the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Among others, the speakers will discuss topics related to land grabbing and extra-judicial killings.

Additionally, on September 27-28 UNPO is partnering with Indigenous Movement to hold a workshop on traditional knowledge and bio-cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. Places are extremely limited, email for information on participation!

Finally, on September 29th UNPO will be present to celebrate The Hague International Day. Come meet the UNPO staff and learn more about UNPO Members at the International Market in the World Hotel Bel Air!

UNPO Publications

UNPO launched its first ever cookbook, Native Delights, which is currently on sale and focuses on several worldwide UNPO members’ culinary cultures and traditions. You can purchase the cookbook for only $12.95. 

UNPO has become contributor for the online magazine diaforlife. During the next few months UNPO will contribute more articles about Members’ culture, traditions and situations.


We rely on financial support from our Members and friends to continue our work each year. Such donations are crucial to ensure the continued full participation and engagement of a great number of unrepresented communities, indigenous peoples, minorities and occupied or unrecognized territories. The recently published 2010-2012 Secretary General’s Activity Report provides an overview of the activities we have been working on over the past years with the help of our partners and supporters. As an alternative to direct financial contributions, you can always spread the word about UNPO or offer our cookbook to your family or friends.

Next Month’s Newsletter

Please send us your agendas for the coming months for inclusion in our diary. If you have any questions or queries please feel free to contact the UNPO Secretariat at

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