Article 26 __title__ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples] of the United Nations Declaration states that Indigenous people have the right to develop and control resources which they have traditionally owned
Nuuk, Greenland (PRWEB) December 11, 2008
The 16th August Union, a collective representing small scale miners in Greenland, is using the upcoming trials of several of its members, accused of "stealing" rubies from their own Inuit Ancestral land, as a test case to illustrate to the international community, Denmark's violation of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights.
"Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration states that Indigenous people have the right to develop and control resources which they have traditionally owned," said Inga B. Egede, co-founder and Chairperson of the Union. "It also states that states shall give legal recognition to these lands with due respect to customs, traditions and land tenure systems."
The Inuit people have gathered rubies freely on "Greenland" for centuries, using them traditionally as part of their cultural heritage. Until the recent "discovery", or documentation of valuable ruby material in Greenland by the Canadian company, True North Gems, the Greenlandic government supported Native Greenlanders to freely collect and sell their rubies, even sending delegations to the International Tucson Gem show.
The right of the Inuit's to mine and sell rubies was written into Article 32 of the Minerals Act in the Greenlandic Constitutional law, which is being reinterpreted by the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, under the Greenlandic home rule and Danish government, to disenfranchise Native Greenlanders who remain under colonial rule.
The 16th August Union is fighting for their right to maintain control of their resources. "Technically, no foreign mining company has any legal right to exclude Intuit Ruby miners from anywhere in Greenland, yet" said Egede, who stated that only exploratory licenses have been granted, not exploratory licenses, which offer legal site protection.
"The fact that they would put our members on trial for taking rubies from our ancestral land is a clear indication that the Danish Crown views the Declaration of Indigenous Rights that they recently signed, as merely a public relations sham," said Egede.
Earlier this year, Egede and the union collected over 3000 signatures, about five percent of Greenland's population, in only three weeks, in support of their campaign for small scale mining rights. The Union does not oppose the efforts of large scale mining. It seeks to
create a fair system where large scale and small scale mining can coexists.
"I call upon all people of conscience to support our efforts by signing the petition requesting our rights," said Egede, who is also seeking legal support for his efforts on behalf of Inuit small scale miners.