måndag 9 december 2019
Josefina Lundgren Skerk

Speech by Josefina Lundgren Skerk

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Fourteenth session New York, 20 April - 1 May 2015. Item 7 a: Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Statement by Josefina Lundgren Skerk, Vice President of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.

We, the Sami Parliament in Sweden, honor the traditional territories of the Lenape Nation and Onondaga Peoples here today. This is my first ever intervention in the UN; for me and my family, this moment is very significant.

My grandmother was the first woman in our family to give birth in a hospital; when she had recovered, she placed my new-born mother in a wooden box on her bicycle and rode 30 kilometers back into the forest. My mother was 10 years old when the road and electricity came to where they were living; she was 30 years old when Sweden stopped forcibly sterilizing Sami women.

Sweden has yet to stop forcibly assimilating children - the State continues to refuse the Sami language, culture and history being taught in most schools, and does so now, in most cases, through structural discrimination. The lack of teachers, scheduled time, funding, adequate laws and systems leaves Sami children and youth without their language and identity.

Sweden still refuses to implement the UNDRIP, claiming to wait for the Nordic Sami Convention. So far, we have waited nine years for the Nordic Sami Convention. Negotiations are on their way, but moving slowly. We have waited 26 years for the ratification of ILO 169. Meanwhile, the Sami languages continues to suffer, and the lands and waters as well. For example, 98 % of Europe’s total iron ore production comes out of Sami lands in Sweden.

The vast and irrevocable destruction of nature continues and without the consent of the Sami People. The Swedish State has recently adopted a mining strategy that aims to drastically increase the number of mines within Sweden. 500 mining exploration permits are currently granted on Sami lands in Sweden, the majority for gold. The Sami People and their supporters and allies have joined in protests, declarations, statements and unanimous Sami Mining Policies within the Sami Parliament against this mining boom, and for international Indigenous Human Rights to be implemented in Sweden.

The Swedish State has a century-long policy of deciding what criteria determines who is Sami and on the basis of livelihood. This discrimination has resulted in laws and policies that severely divide and damage the Sami people. Another result is that the majority of the Sami people are left without the possibility to decision making regarding proposed mining projects, as their collective claims to the Sami land and water, based on hunting, fishing, collecting edible plants and herbs, cultural activities, spirituality and other Sami lifeways, are not recognized in the Swedish State’s laws. State policies highlighting only certain cultural practices of the Sami People is resulting in a critical loss of Sami culture as a whole, in turn leaving gaps in what we, as a People, can pass on to our children and future generations as a living culture. The richness and complexity of our cultural practices is being diminished by State policies and decisions.

Historically, the decision made by the Swedish State Parliament in the creation of the Sami Parliament in Sweden stated that the Sami Parliament would not be a body for self-determination for the Sami People. In this way, little has changed since the creation of the Sami Parliament in Sweden in 1993, except for the Swedish State documented opinion... when answering the Universal Periodical Review in its 2014 review report, Sweden stated that the self-determination of the Sami through the Sami Parliament lived up to the requirements of the UNDRIP.

However, in reality no formalized consultations or FPIC procedures between the Swedish and Sami political leaders in Sweden on matters affecting the Sami exist, the cultural funding from the State to the Sami Parliament has decreased each year since 1993, and this whilst the Sami Parliament budget is, in fact, decided by the State in its allocations. Operating as an administrative branch of the Swedish State Government as an Indigenous Sami Parliament is not enough. As you can see, despite what the state of Sweden might present to the international community, in fact, we the Sami People living within Sweden continue to struggle for our true and actualized justice, equality and self-determination.

The Sami Parliament of Sweden recommends the Permanent Forum support and endorse our call for the State of Sweden to respect our collective right as an Indigenous People to self-determination in accordance with the UNDRIP and its founding Human Rights treaties and intentions, including our right to determine policies as well as status of the Sami people in Sweden and our rights to our traditional ways and lands and languages therein, to fully implement the UNDRIP and to continue to urge all States to ratify ILO 169 as a necessary complimentary agreement to the UNDRIP mandates.

As a daughter and granddaughter, in honor of all indigenous mothers and grandmothers, thank you.

© Sametinget 2019
Uppdaterad: 2015-04-30

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