Ignite: Keeping the Fire Alive [Keynote Speech] Delivered by Beverly Longid

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IPMSDL

Gawis ay agew ken datako amin! Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed comrades, and the vibrant new generation of Indigenous activists, warmest greetings to all!

Thirteen years ago, beneath a shared sky and in a distant land, the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) was born from the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Alternatives, and Solutions to the Climate Crisis. Our movement’s name, though long and intricate, embodies our unwavering spirit. It proudly proclaims our aspirations for freedom, equality, and justice, our relentless fight for our right to land, and our determination to break free from the chains of discrimination, racism, oppression, and exploitation. Today, we wear this name with pride. It is a badge of honor, a testament that signifies our steadfast commitment.

As we gather here today, let us revisit our past resolutions, reflect on our accomplishments, draw lessons from our experiences, celebrate our victories, and gather new insights as we embark on this three-day journey. Most importantly, we are here to reaffirm our solidarity with each other’s struggles and our shared aspirations for genuine self-determination and liberation.

On November 9, 2010, we collectively resolved to:

  1. Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to survival, self-determination, liberation, and social justice. Strengthen global solidarity among indigenous peoples beyond the conference. Organize the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.
  1. Defend Indigenous Lands and Resources against development aggression, resource plunder, and political impositions. Advocate for recognition of indigenous rights and involvement of youth and women in managing ancestral territories sustainably.
  1. Demand Accountability from imperialist countries, multinational corporations, and financial institutions for their environmental impact. Reject market-based climate solutions, promote indigenous knowledge and practices in climate strategies, and participate in climate change discussions.
  1. Push for a Proactive Climate Disaster Response of governments and international programs addressing climate disasters affecting indigenous communities. Document successful indigenous adaptation and mitigation efforts, particularly by women, and integrate these practices into disaster responses.
  1. Resist Corporate Control in agriculture, promote biodiversity, and advocate for indigenous sustainable agricultural practices. Campaign against land acquisitions and military actions undermining food sovereignty.
  1. Combat Human Rights Violations, condemn militarization, and State repression against Indigenous Peoples. Uphold international declarations particularly the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Combat criminalization, vilification, terrorist-labeling of indigenous activists and leaders, and the misuse of indigenous culture for counter-insurgency objectives of States in line with the US-led War on Terror.
  1. Oppose socio-economic and politically motivated population transfers in indigenous territories. Work to stop cultural genocide and ethnocide of indigenous peoples.
  1. Support Indigenous Peoples’ Struggles for Self-determination liberation, and sovereignty—Foster learning, collaboration, and alliances with other movements in pursuit of common goals.

The theme of our gathering, “Ignite: Keeping the Fire Alive,” is not just timely; it is profoundly fitting. This gathering reaffirms the resolutions and objectives we agreed upon a decade ago. Its purpose is to rekindle and sustain the flame ignited by our ancestors—those heroes who sacrificed sweat and blood for our people’s struggle. Our heroes, whom we honor every November 10 – a day we have declared as International Indigenous Peoples Heroes Day.

“Ignite: Keeping the Fire Alive” is more than a title or a theme. It is a call to action. This flame hasn’t dimmed, even during the years when we did not convene; it has grown stronger. Our presence here signifies our commitment to keep this fire burning. Much like a guiding torch in the darkness, our passion to effect meaningful change in the world remains indispensable, even amidst the challenges we face.

Let our stories and narratives be the building blocks of a stronger movement for self-determination and liberation. Let us fill these halls with stories of joy, struggles, and victories, of stories that look back at our history but also visions of the future. Our goal is to weave all of our narratives and experiences into a more consolidated International IPMSDL and chart the course of our movement in the years to come.

Over the years, we have established our international coordinating body, representing our membership across the global regions, and institutionalized our governing body. In 2010, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance took the lead, hosting and acting as the global secretariat for the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL). But in 2013-2014, we transitioned the global secretariat into a structure comprising dedicated Indigenous Peoples’ advocates based in Manila, Philippines.  

Despite our streamlined structure, our global secretariat also serves as the secretariat for three prominent international formations: the Indigenous Peoples constituency of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), Commission 10 on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, National Minorities, and other oppressed nations and peoples of the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS), and the Merdeka West Papua Support Network.

Our reach has expanded significantly. Through our official website and social media accounts, we have enhanced our communication, fostering an active platform for exchanging ideas, sharing developments, and expressing solidarity. We have launched online and onsite campaigns on land and self-determination, published research materials, and organized valuable learning exchanges.

We look forward to the ICC and global secretariat’s report that shall give the details of our achievements, as well as shortcomings, and recommendations moving forward. Needless to say, we still have much to learn and do.

I am happy to see familiar faces, the stalwart leaders who have walked this path with us. But my joy is immeasurable because we are also graced by a new generation of Indigenous activists. Your presence is not just symbolic; it is pivotal. You are the pulse of our movement, the embodiment of our hopes and dreams. In your hands lies the power to shape the destiny of our communities, our movement, and our planet. The challenges may seem daunting, but remember, the solutions we seek are embedded within our traditions, our wisdom, and our collective strength.

To my fellow activists, leaders, and the elders who were with us in the founding of our movement, you stand as an inspiration to all who continue to carry out work in the name of freedom, and rights for Indigenous peoples.

Our elders and scientists warn us of a looming climate crisis, a ticking clock urging us to act swiftly. Hunger, drought, fascism, and tyranny ravage communities worldwide. The world seems divided, torn apart by the powerful few. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, but it is precisely why we are here today.

These next two days are not just a conference; they are a sanctuary of knowledge, a crucible of ideas, and a fortress of unity. Let us use this time to learn from each other, strengthen our bonds, and take decisive steps forward toward a future that is just, free, healthy, and sustainable.

Together, let us fan the flames of our shared passion and commitment. Let us ignite not just a spark but a wildfire of change that will sweep across nations, illuminating the path to self-determination and liberation. 

In our unity lies our strength, and in our determination lies our power. Let us march forward, hand in hand, and let the world bear witness to the growing force that is the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.

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