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Interview mit Rigoberta Menchú (1993)

(Auszüge aus dem Transkript eines Global Vision Videointerviews von Michael O'Callaghan)


What is your message to humankind?

We are living in a troubled world, in a time of great uncertainty. It's a time to reflect about many things, especially about humankind as a whole, and the balance between collective values and individual values.

The world right now is preoccupied with business, buying and selling and making money. But solutions can be found in our community, among the indigenous peoples who are the victims of terrible repression and violations of the law in many parts of the world. You can find experience, self-educated people, and a whole side of science which is not well known.

There is a big change going on in the way people see the world: change in the concept of development, in the way people live together. But for this change to bear fruit, we need education on a global scale. Humankind will not recover from its mistakes without global education. The United Nations, human rights organisations, indigenous peoples, and all the countries of the world should concentrate their efforts on education. Solutions will come when the world becomes educated about global values, the common values of its inhabitants and communities.

We have to focus on solutions in this time of great challenges. If we just wait around, the problems will overwhelm us. We need to take the initiative, to launch local, regional and global projects, to unite our efforts, and really listen to indigenous peoples. We have to listen to people to find out what they want, to discover the solutions they have to offer for the future.


What should be done to protect indigenous peoples?

It is very important to understand that we indigenous peoples don't need "protection." What we do need is simply to be allowed to exist, to live, to let our own culture develop, and to recover the meaning of our own history. Indigenous peoples have always depended on their traditional wisdom and culture. Our cosmological vision, our way of thinking, our lifestyle have empowered us to survive through many difficult times in the past. Now that we stand at the close of the twentieth century, this fact should send a very clear message to the conscience of the world. We indigenous people reaffirm our struggle to survive!

To me, the most important thing is that indigenous people still possess a balance, an equilibrium with Mother Nature, a balance between human life and the earth itself. For us, the Earth is the source of knowledge, of historical memory, of life! But the rest of the world does not share this vision, and so they keep on destroying Mother Earth. Indigenous people aren't strange. We may be special, but we are also part of the modern world in which we all live. We are part of the diversity of cultures, the plurality of races, the mixture of societies on all the continents where we live today. Indigenous people are not some myth from the past, a myth that survives only in legends and in ruins! (...)

No people can flourish who do not know their own past. The past is a good foundation for the present, and an inspiration for the future. People owe it to history and to the present to prepare for the future. Finally, I sincerely hope that now, at the end of the twentieth century, indigenous people will never again be forced into extinction on the face of this Earth. We need international law, national legislation, the legal protection of our human rights, as well as the respect and acceptance of society in general, in order to face the future.

To listen to indigenous peoples is to listen to the women and to those who know how to love this earth. We may be only a small grain of sand, but it is one which will prove important for the challenges Humankind must face in the next millennium.


What do you feel about human rights?

Among the nations which have suffered the most widespread human rights abuses, unpunished atrocities, murders, terror and fear, is Guatemala. The recent historical events in Guatemala have fragmented the culture of the Mayas in many places. Displacement, refuge, exile are daily facts of life in my country. However, these things have also allowed us to learn something more in our experience of the world. In Guatemala today, there are some very courageous women who are making a stand, indigenous women, who are leading the struggle! We believe the war in Guatemala is no disgrace for the Mayas. It's a disgrace for the people of Guatemala...

Unfortunately, the rest of the world has turned a blind eye on the situation. Atrocities still go unpunished, and many governments have helped to cover up the problem. I think it's important to say this, because the Guatemalan people know it, and we feel offended again and again when we realise that our country has been silenced. This has also made us aware of the plight of other people. Solidarity between nations must be militant, constant, and continuous. There is a need for international organisations to which the victims can turn for help, to which people can go to defend their lives and to protect their human rights.

Finally, I believe that peace in Guatemala is not a myth. Peace in Guatemala is not a myth, neither is it a myth for Central America, or for the people of this continent or other continents. Rather, it is a process which requires effort and consciousness-raising around the world, especially among those in governments and in large organisations who have the power to make important decisions.

Peace requires work in the heart of the small society that is Guatemala. But Guatemala is also part of Humankind, and what has been going on in Guatemala is a very bad example for the world and for future generations. I hope that the world will one day acknowledge its responsibility and will not be indifferent to any war, no matter where it happens, or to any violation of human rights, no matter where it may occur, because the massacre in the Quiché is a wound in the heart of Humankind.


What is going on in Guatemala now? (i.e. March 1993)

It's a very complex situation. The war is officially over, yet there are continuous assassinations, enormous suffering and grinding poverty. But the greatest problem in Guatemala is that most people cannot participate in the political negotiations, because they don't speak Spanish! An emergency parliament needs to be formed immediately to address the problem. Blatant disregard for the law is rampant. We must put an end not only to these violations of law, but also to the suppression of truth, to the repression and persecution of over a million civilians who take part in our self-defence patrols.

About a million people have been displaced within the country. Some have sought refuge in the mountains, where they suffer a great deal of bombing. Over two hundred thousand Guatemalans are refugees. Many people have been forced to permanently abandon their farms or leave their towns. In other words, the war is not just the armed conflict which occurs every day, but it's also the general persecution which afflicts the whole economy and society, and which also - as a routine matter - limits our freedom of speech. In the end, the people of Guatemala are paying a very high price for all of this. If we don't recognise the magnitude of the problem in Guatemala, we will never come to grips with the whole issue of development both in Central America and throughout the continent. Guatemala has suffered a lot of repression, and especially, many unpunished crimes. I would say that ninety percent of the people who suffer from the war, the widows and the orphaned children in the streets, are indigenous people. This is a fact. It's not only a racial issue; it is just a reality which happens to fall on the heads of the indigenous people.

[entnommen aus: Global Vision,]



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