This week there was a meeting of the International Council of Minority Rights Group, of which I am treasurer, coinciding with MRG’s Global Team Week. All 45 of the staff were there, although one from the Uganda office was delayed a couple of days with Visa problems. As always it was uplifting. I didn’t count the number of different nationalities represented but it must have been a dozen or more. The 10 Council Members have six nationalities between them.
MRG is a small and very effective NGO fighting for the rights of minority peoples. This year it celebrates its first half century, having been set up by David Astor in 1969. In recent years in addition to its very effective advocacy and awareness work it has secured ground-breaking legal judgements on indigenous peoples’ rights in Africa, minorities rights in Europe and on the continuing fight against slavery in Mauretania.
A few years ago while visiting friends in Kenya I went with the MRG representative to visit the Ogiek people. They are a small tribe of honey hunters who for millennia have lived in the Mau Forest in complete harmony with nature. Recently the Kenya government ordered them to leave the forest on the grounds that they couldn’t be trusted to look after it. Of course, these untouched forests contain valuable timber which the politicians have their eyes on. I found 5000 displaced people living in financial and cultural poverty, their ancient way of life having been taken away. MRG have since won a landmark case in the African Court ordering the Kenya government to allow them to return. Sadly, a court judgement is one thing, implementing it is another.
More information on https://minorityrights.org.