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Indigenous Association:CIYA moving forward for networking, education and indigenous rights

CIYA Reflection workshop on November 2010

Written by PEN Ratana
The Cambodia Youth Indigenous Association (CIYA) has now developed and revised objectives for 2011 and 2012. 1, Develop a strong network of Indigenous Youth in old and new target provinces, 2, Support the Indigenous youths both women and men to acquire higher education, 3, provide a platform for dealing with challenges regarding development on land, natural resource, and sustainable livelihood, 4, Advocate for recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and empowerment and 5, improve children accessibility to school. It is coming from a reflection in November 2010 and HBF semi-annual evaluation.

These objectives are a reflection from what they have learnt and experienced through the close engagement with many indigenous students from different provinces and the work with them to strengthen the relationship with the elders at communities to dialog and discussion on many issues from culture, livelihood, education, development issues, to political view especially in the Northeast of Cambodia (Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri). As well as, it comes from the work they have joint with the concerned organizations or institutions on dealing the indigenous issues to land, natural resources and rights at national and international level.

In 2010 - with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Cambodia - the association was able to improve its management skills and organizational structure and got involved in many new projects. For example, it is now the main coordinator for large-scale events such as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People or the Indigenous Peoples Forum. And the active members, at national level, have been increasing their capacity and opportunity in participating with the association as well as the other partner organizations. . One of the main achievements in 2010   was the annual assembly in June, which enabled CIYA to win a lot of new members and thereby expand their representation up to 8 Cambodian provinces (Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Strung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Thom Preah Vihear, Pursat, and Kampong Speu) with major populations of indigenous people. At the moment, the organization has s 244 members, from which 124 are women.

Besides working at communities’ level in the aim of expanding capacities to gain more experience with projects at provincial, CIYA is focusing on the coordination of activities at the national, regional level, and international. At the national level, CIYA has deepened the cooperation with the Ministry of Rural Development and other NGOs working on indigenous peoples’ issues. At the regional and international level, CIYA engages with UN Agencies and organizations in Asia Pacific such as Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, United Nation Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, TEBTEBBA (is Pilipino word which is meant Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), etc.

CIYA is one of 3 indigenous Peoples’ organizations and located in Phnom Penh. The foundation of CIYA was in 2005 by 10 indigenous students (Bunong, Kui, Kroeung and Topoun) who lived and studied in Phnom Penh who concern about their tradition, culture, belief, livelihood and indigenous rights degradation. Since then CIYA has played an important role to motivate indigenous youth to understand about the value to study at the university and share their efforts to support community on advocacy and claiming the recognition of their rights. With this association, the youths commit to preserve theiridentities and cultural heritage.

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