A two-day historical far-western regional gathering of six endangered indigenous groups of Nepal held on 26 and 27 April in Tikapur of Kailali district has concluded by issuing an 11-point declaration.
The collective gathering of representatives of ethnic organizations of endangered Raji, Raute, Kusunda, Kuchwadhiya, Sonaha and Khuna communities was organized for identifying and seeking unity on common issues of those communities and planning necessary strategies and campaigns in order to ensure and cause to ensure those issues in coming days in Constituent Assembly and subsequent constitution, laws, rules, policies and plans and their implementation in practice. Raji, Raute, Kusunda and Kuchwadhiya communities are identified as indigenous in the official list of 59 indigenous groups while Sonaha and Khuna communities are yet to be listed.
The declaration issued through collective decision of the representatives of ethnic organizations of those six communities and signed by those organizations calls for the following:
- Rights and ownership of endangered indigenous groups over lands and natural resources, that they have traditionally used but do not possess legal ownership over, should be preserved.
- Preferential rights to water, lands and forest in the traditional domain of endangered indigenous groups should be confirmed.
- State should conserve and promote traditional occupations of endangered indigenous groups based on natural resources such as fishing, collecting gold in rivers, boating, making wooden products, etc.
- Endangered and nomadic Raute indigenous peoples should be allowed to access and use, control and manage community, national and other forests without any condition.
- Safe housing and settlement programs should be implemented for endangered indigenous groups.
- Endangered indigenous communities should be provided employment on one-house one-employment policy.
- Representation of endangered indigenous groups in local and other agencies should be ensured.
- Social security allowance provided to endangered indigenous peoples should be at least NPR 3,000 (Three thousand Nepalese Rupees).
- Scholarships should be made available to students belonging to endangered indigenous communities from primary to high-level education as well as technical education.
- Sonaha, Khuna and other indigenous groups yet to be officially enlisted should be immediately listed in the annex of National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities Act 2002.
- Representation of indigenous peoples in constitution drafting process should be ensured on one-indigenous group one-representative basis as per consensus within respective ethnic organizations.