Daily Maverick

07 JUL 2015 11:18 (SOUTH AFRICA)




Once a year, delegates from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation gather for their annual congress. It’s a bit like the United Nations, but for populations that find themselves ignored or persecuted by the governing majority in their countries. This year, South African political party the Freedom Front Plus made the trip to Belgium to tell the rest of the club about the injustices faced by Afrikaners at home.



If you had peered in at a conference room in Brussels last week, you would have witnessed a very diverse group of people in discussion.

In one corner, you might have seen delegates from the Ogaden, a Somali clan who live in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State. Conflict between the Ethiopian government and an Ogaden liberation movement has been simmering for over a decade. NGOs have documented hundreds of extra-judicial executions of Ogadeni individuals by Ethiopian soldiers, their victims strangled and left in the open to be buried by villagers as a warning. Members of the Ogaden who are suspected of being involved with the liberation movement have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and rape by the military.

In another corner, you would have spied representatives from Tibet. In Dharamsala, India, the ‘Government of Tibet in Exile’ sits, headed by the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed rebellion against the Chinese. Tibetans are restricted from practicing their religion and exercising freedom of speech, and protests have been brutally cracked down on in the past. Since 2011, at least 110 Tibetans have chosen to express their anger and defeat at the ongoing occupation of Tibet by China by burning themselves alive.

And sitting among these groups, you would have found the Freedom Front Plus, there to speak on behalf of Afrikaners.

Established in 1991 in The Hague, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) now have over 40 members. Afrikaners, as a group, cracked the nod in 2008. The UNPO website explains that the Afrikaner people “are experiencing an increasing violation of their cultural, economic and political rights. Especially the latter [are] considered to be under severe strain as it is not being reported properly in the media, but effectively ignore the Afrikaners”.

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