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Rastas, others march for indigenous peoples

Published:Tuesday | April 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Bunny Wailer (foreground) leads a group of Rastafarians on a peaceful humanitarian march in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the April 21, 1966 visit of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. The group, which marched from Mandela Park to Jamaica House in St Andrew, also met with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and urged the Government to sign on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Members of the Rastafari, Kumina, Revivalist and Maroon communities in Jamaica yesterday conducted a peaceful, humanitarian march from Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree to Jamaica House in St Andrew, seeking to have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) ratified by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The march was also held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ethiopian Emperor His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I's visit to Jamaica on April 21, 1966.

The UNDRIP, which was brought before the UN's General Assembly on September 13, 2007, sets out the rights of indigenous peoples and encourages countries to work alongside them to resolve global issues.

Specific groups from Jamaica, including Rastafari, are recognised by the treaty.

Attorney representing the group involved in the march, Empress Nannah Harris-Barrington, and a delegation including reggae legend Bunny Wailer and consultant from the Rastafari Millennium Council, Maxine Stowe, were given an audience with Holness and Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.

"We were very well received by the prime minister and his delegation," Harris-Barrington told The Gleaner after the meeting.

"The culture that we have is an indigenous category recognised by the United Nations. The Rastafari that carry on their African tradition, the Maroons, the Kumina and the Revivalists - they are the four groups recognised by the United Nations as indigenous cultures being carried on in Jamaica."

She added: "We had a very successful meeting with the prime minister and his delegation, who have agreed to ratify the treaty. There are many areas that will have to be looked into - intellectual property and the (general) rights of Rastafari worldwide. This is about increasing the rights that are available under Jamaican statutes and to bring it under the umbrella of the international treaty," she said.