COON COME CRITICIZES "OFFICIAL U.N.
DISCRIMINATION" AT WORLD CONFERENCE
DURBAN, South Africa, Sept. 4 /CNW/ - A week of speech-making, lobbying and international diplomacy of the fractious World Conference on Racism in Durban has landed National Chief Matthew Coon Come at the centre of the event, or close to it.
Chief Coon Come addressed a packed press conference this afternoon on the issue of official text concerning indigenous rights. "The draft WCAR
Declaration gives with one hand but takes more with the other. It appears that a number of governments are now determined, by means of two
discriminatory paragraphs in the Final Declaration of this World Conference Against Racism, to impose inferior international human rights
status on all indigenous peoples of the world."
"If U.N. Member States insist on keeping these offensive paragraphs in the WCAR Declaration, the legitimacy of the entire World Conference process will be undermined. In that case, we Indigenous peoples are now forced to call for the removal of any and all mention of Indigenous Peoples from the WCAR text," said Chief Coon Come.
Some influential support has arisen for Coon Come concerning racism against indigenous peoples in Canada and elsewhere. In earlier presentations and a major plenary address today, noted Greek diplomat and U.N. human rights expert Dr Erica-Irene Daes associated herself with
the "esteemed National Chief". She stated that the reason "governments everywhere are increasing the likelihood of violence is very simple:
racism". (Chief Coon Come was widely criticized in Canada earlier during
the Conference for his statements that Aboriginal peoples in Canada face
extensive "structural racism".
Chief Coon Come will address a plenary session of global heads of state at the World Conference on Racism tomorrow morning. He is meeting with senior Cabinet Ministers of a number of U.N. Member State delegations and will lobby for the Conference Declaration to be changed to remove the "toxic language affecting our rights."
Indigenous leaders from around the world have coalesced at the event into a sizeable "Indigenous Caucus" in which Chief Coon Come, a delegation of half a dozen Assembly of First Nations and Quebec Grand Council of the Crees delegates, and Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, are playing leading roles. The World Conference daily newspaper editorialized today that "undeterred by the mayhem, one of the most vocal, organized and effective groups (at the Conference) has been the Indigenous Peoples' Caucus."
Chief Coon Come is being interviewed extensively by media such as BBC World Service, Italian, Canadian and South African national TV news. While praising some of Canada's official policies on indigenous rights, Coon Come is saying there is a "very large gap" between Canada's words and its actions.
For further information
- Jean Larose (Ottawa) (613)
- Rolland Pangowish (Durban) (082) 424-5304