By Our Reporter
SHILLONG, Dec 10: Grassroots, an NGO working to protect and promote indigenous peoples’ rights, on Friday released a short Khasi video on Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Talking to reporters about this video, Grassroots president, Mayfereen Ryntathiang said that the objective to come up with this video was to create awareness among the indigenous people about FPIC whose objective is quite similar to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
According to her, even the state government is not aware about FPIC despite India having endorsed the FPIC framework put forward by the UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Ryntathiang feels that people should be in a position to understand better about the rights of the indigenous people recognised by the UNDRIP.
The Grassroots president said that FPIC indicates that no indigenous community with community or Raid land should be disturbed by internal or external forces.
She said that this video will help to understand that their consent and views are important before any big project comes into force.
“No big projects can take place without their consent,” the Grassroots president said. According to her, land grabbing is still taking place whether in urban or rural areas.
“This specific right recognised by the UNDRIP will become null and void if people are not aware of it,” Grassroots president said.
Citing an example, she said that they are trying to help the local villagers of Laitmawsiang under Sohra Syiemship to oppose the decision to hand over the raid land to an individual.
According to her, the decision is not justified to hand over the Raid land to an individual since it is meant to be utilised by the community as a whole.
“The matter is still pending in the district council court,” Ryntathiang said. She observed that the indigenous people will not die hungry if the community or raid land is protected.
“The indigenous people will have their own food security,” he said.
Meanwhile, noted visual designer, Mario Pathaw also released the Illustrated Book on the Integrated Farming System (IFS) on the occasion.
“Coming from visual design specialisation I think it is very vital that we communicate for the people so that people could understand. Be it from all perspective. People will understand more with visual aids especially from the rural areas,” Pathaw who designed this illustrated book said.
According to him, many of the research papers that he came across, especially work on indigenous practices, just got stuck in the library.
“Many do not understand such research work. Only people doing research may be looking at these documents,” he said.
Pathaw said that he is really happy to be part of this great project.
Meanwhile, Grassroots president said that this integrated farming book needs to be translated into Khasi and Garo languages so that many farmers can benefit from this.
“This integrated farming training which we conducted is a combination of Japanese and Khasi traditional farming techniques. This book will help to give them huge impetus to people who are directly engaged in agricultural activities,” she said.
According to her, this book is an outcome of what they have learnt from the ground. “We are just sharing what we collected during the training and also what we learnt from the farmers,” Ryntathiang added.