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 It is possible to find the way out. Todzha

LIENIP NewsFrom year to year the United Nations together with the world society are struggling with global problems such as clean water scarcity, endangered species of animals, children’s rights, etc. On 1st January 2005 the UN declared the Second Decade of Indigenous Peoples of the World. It means there is a problem which needs special attention. Indigenous peoples, living on their territories often rich in natural resources, are nevertheless one of the poorest category of population. Their traditional lifestyle, economy and crafts are far from profit.

And the law devoted to save the aboriginal peoples is far from reality. From 2006 the Tuva-Todzha people are included in the list of indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North of the Russian Federation. Once being a rich reindeer region, it is now striving for well-being. In 2010 the Todzha people got an ally. In February 2010 in the Tyva Republic the Tyva department of LIENIP started its work. The result of its activity became the establishment of some communities of Tuva-Todzha people in Todzhinsky and Mongun-Taiginsky regions. The organization is working closely with indigenous representatives of the Tyva Republic, it invites them to different events held at the federal level.
On 9th August LIENIP held the seminar “Urgent Issues of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Traditional Nature Management” in the Tuva Institute of Humanitarian Researches. The activity was dated for the 90th anniversary of the Tyva Republic and the International Day of Indigenous Peoples of the World marked every year on the 9th August (the holiday is established in 1994 by the UN General Assembly). The initiator of the seminar was the Association “Tos Chadyr” of Tuva-Todzha people communities, which aims to unite indigenous organizations and communities, as many of the communities work separately while their problems are common.

The president of LIENIP Gulvaira Kutsenko answers the question of the reporter of the weekly “Plus-Inform” what is the main problem of indigenous peoples, Tuva-Todzha in particular:

"The main problem, I think, lies in the indigenous peoples themselves that should increase their activity and potential. We believe it can be accomplished through organization of educational events, seminars, internships. People need to acquire knowledge about their rights and, most importantly, be able to use that knowledge. With the rise of literacy the situation will change. Because indigenous peoples themselves are the experts, they can precisely identify the problem, and we have seen it in the workshop. Figuratively speaking, no one can tell for a man, if his shoes hurt or not. For sure, the most important problem that affects all indigenous peoples is the unresolved land issues. Natural and land resources are not freely available to indigenous peoples, although the law, which unfortunately does not work, gives indigenous peoples the full right to the land. The Russian legislation has a good base of laws, but the situation still remains difficult. It depends very much on the goodwill of the state, and on the activity of the indigenous people. Interaction with the authorities is an urgent need for the indigenous communitis. At the seminar representatives of all the communities are taught the basics of law, we discuss and seek solutions to their problems, use the experience of other regions. Of course, there is a number of issues that can not be solved at the local level. Therefore, at the workshop we develop specific recommendations, taking into account the wishes of indigenous peoples, for consideration of the Ministry of Regional Development of Russia, and many of the recommendations are further applied in life.”

“Indigenous peoples must know their rights, at least in order to demand what is given to them by law”, says the vice-president of LIENIP Elena Nechushkina:

"Currently, three federal law and a number of legal acts are issued that are intended to regulate the activities of indigenous peoples. Some of them, unfortunately, are declarative for a while, i.e., almost not realizable. Yet it is important to be able to use even those laws which are available. I believe that implementation of laws 70% depends on the policies of the region, it means in your region everything will depend on the policies of Tuva. Specific problems should be solved by regional authorities. But in the republic there is no one separate law on indigenous peoples. It is even more important for local people to have the law literacy! They should maintain a dialogue with the authorities. They need to develop serious programs, suggestions, concepts for further development. And what can they do without knowledge what the law guarantees to them, what irrefutable rights they have. There are, of course, serious gaps in the laws, for example, the law on territories of traditional nature management of indigenous peoples, which guarantees the right to free use of land that originally belonged to this people - for ten years it has not been realized. They have rights to land... as well as all other citizens. That is, they can only be tenants, and no benefits are provided. Only in some regions local authorities meet their wishes. In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Khabarovsky Krai there is a very strong policy. In Krasnoyarsky Krai the government gives grants specifically for indigenous peoples, because they cannot compete with commercial organizations. With this support, people are able to develop independently, and provide jobs to others. Thus, the region's economy is recovering”.

Director of the of Tuva Department of LIENIP Tatiana Demkina:

"I was born in Todzha, and one of the main problems, as I see it, is that we cease to be masters of the land on which we live. It is given to rent for a long term to large enterprises, and indigenous peoples cannot compete with them. Indigenous community is not a commercial organization and they don’t do any trade activities. In Russia today very few communities are prosperous. In Tuva, indigenous peoples are engaged in traditional crafts, fishery and hunting. State subsidies are very insignificant, but people need something to live. The lands that feed Tuva-Todzha people, are gradually given to someone’s hands. Industrial enterprises are gaining bigger and bigger areas, develop the natural resources of our land. Tuva-Todzha people have fewer opportunities to do traditional economic activities. Thus, it appears that the Tuva-Todzha people have more and more restrictions to use the land once their own.” “Our organization invited to a seminar the representatives of all communities, people have come even from the most remote areas of the republic. They showed great interest, and it became clear that they really care about all these issues, and they expressed it during the workshop. IPO "LIENIP" works with the Ministry of Regional Development in Moscow at the federal level, thus we acquired more opportunity to help people. Now it is the time when we must save ourselves”.

Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Hural of Tere-Holsky kozhuun, founder of the community "Amy" Arsen Bayyr:

"In my opinion, the main problem lies in the incoherence of the people and the authorities. The leading positions are taken by people unaware with the problems. Taiga communities must be headed by the people familiar with the taiga, steppe people will never understand taiga people, and they had never seen a deer. But we first need to establish a mechanism for harvesting and marketing of products produced by the taiga. Previously, the organization of harvesting was done by state farms-promkhoz, the pricing policy was formed, everyone was satisfied. If, for example, there were no nuts, then people specialize in something else, and promkhoz always helped their hunters. But traders just seek for profit, they produce nothing, waiting for the final product. I live on a Tere-Hol, I also care about the land issue. This is our ancestral territory, and they must remain with the people, as this is natural habitat of indigenous peoples. Our earth feeds us, not the magnates, for whom the main thing is profit. Therefore, we understand that now we have to act together with the support of the authorities”.

The discussion turned to be quite serious. Each of those present knew problem in details, and its insolubility already stuffed mouth. Yes, laws need to be known and used correctly - nobody is arguing. But the loopholes in these laws can not be found by everyone, even literate people in legal matters. Indigenous people really need the support of our government. The government of Tuva still has no official ready to deal with the problems of indigenous peoples. But there are such people among Todzhas. In July 2011 the president of the Association of indigenous communities Tuva-Todzha of Siberia "Tos Ciadir" Svetlana Demkina was elected as a member of the Public Chamber of Tuva. Her activities will allow to implement fully the interaction of indigenous representatives with government bodies and local authorities. Maybe now the problems Tuva-Todzha people will be paid the necessary attention and all the questions will be solved. Time will tell.

Natalia Chernousova, correspondent of "Plus-Inform"

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