WGIP condemn closure of RAIPON
Aili Keskitalo read a statement on behalf of the Working group of Indigenous Peoples during the Barents Regional Committee meeting in Oslo, 14.11.12
First of all I would like to thank the chairman for the opportunity to raise this issue. Secondly I would like to thank the Barents Regional Council for strengthening the Indigenous Peoples participation in the important Barents cooperation through the adapted terms of reference. Because of the above mentioned it is a huge paradox that I have to stress a very regrettable issue that we have heard of through media.
On behalf of the indigenous peoples in the Barents region I would like to express a deep concern on the fact that Russian Authorities, through the Ministry of Justice, have decided to close the Indigenous organization RAIPON for a period of time. RAIPON has for a long time been able to work for the civil rights of indigenous peoples and for the strengthening of their traditional way of living within the Russian Federation. RAIPON has been a steady and reliable partner for the Saami People for many years, both through the Barents and the Arctic cooperation. We regret the decision from the Russian Authorities. The closure of RAIPON is of great concern. The organization is a partner in concrete projects financed through the Barents cooperation, and the closure of RAIPON will thus have serious impact for these projects. Financial and human resources used in this projects will now vanish.
Earlier today we heard that a representative from the Norwegian foreign ministry stressed that the indigenous cooperation has played an important role in the Barents cooperation from the very moment it was established. Let me remind you that if this is something we want to continue, we need reliable and lawful partners on the Russian side. RAIPONs situation today is very unclear and the future seems uncertain.
Challange the indigenous cooperation
From the indigenous peoples point of view this challenge the very foundation of the international cooperation between indigenous peoples.I will discuss the situation with the Sami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland. I believe that this issue will be on the agenda in consultations between the Sami Parliaments and their countries foreign ministries.
Personally I am shocked that the Russian authorities’ have decided to close down RAIPON, but I hope that the participants within the Barents Cooperation can facilitate dialogue between the federal government in Russia and RAIPON, and thus help them to solve this unacceptable situation. We understand that this is a temporary decision and have therefore huge expectations that this dispute will be resolved. We appeal to the participants in the Barents Cooperation and ask them to engage in this issue.