Indigenous Peoples battling for rights in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve

  • News Date: July 17, 2017 | Post By LAHURNIP

Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the only hunting reserve in Nepal established in the land, territories of Magar indigenous peoples in 2039. The government of Nepal occupied the area of 28 Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Rukum, Baglung and Myagdi for the purpose of establishment of the reserve. In addition, the government is in the process of extending the hunting reserve's buffer-zone areas that cover 16 VDCs of Rolpa and Pyuthan district.

Around 100,000 indigenous and local community members are directly affected by this reserve. Magar including other indigenous communities (Thakali, Gurung, Kumal etc.) who have spiritual and livelihood connection with their land territories are restricted entering the hunting reserve. Most of the people residing in rural areas of these districts have natural resource based livelihoods. The reserve encroach their cultivable and pastures land and is being punished on the charges of consuming forest products and illegal poaching.

On 6 May 2016 the Government of Nepal has deployed army claiming of security of the hunting reserve. The decision of deployment of the army was solely made by the cabinet at centre without consultation with the affected indigenous and local communities. The ILO Convention No. 169 guarantees indigenous people's rights over local natural resources, and makes it mandatory for the state to consult them before implementing any project that could be detrimental to their livelihood, culture and existence. Similarly, the deployment of army is also the violation of Article 30 (1) and (2) of United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The struggle committee formed by the affected communities is constantly voicing their demands since 2012. The primary demands of the affected communities are: i) repeal the decision of mobilising army in their land territories b) ensure Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and participation of the affected communities to conduct hunting reserve related activities c) handover the hunting reserve in the hand of communities (self-management), and d) make collected revenue transparent and mobilize for the welfare of communities by ensuring meaningful participation of the peoples concerned.

The struggle committee, with the facilitation of LAHURNIP conducted series of activities (interaction among political parties, affected communities and government agencies) both at local and national level. A total of 16 memorandum letters were submitted to the concern authorities, ministries and political parties to draw the attention of the government, ministries and other concerned stakeholders. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was requested several times for protection of the rights of affected communities. As results, the local leaders of political parties are committed to take initiatives to address the issues and NHRC monitored the situation of human rights violation and assured to take needful action to resolve the issues.