Advocating for Indigenous Peoples at AMARC’s 4th Asia-Pacific Conference in Indonesia

November 29, 2018

By Dev Kumar Sunuwar (CS STAFF)

On behalf of Cultural Survival, I  participated in the 4th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on November 16-19, 2018. AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, is an international umbrella organization of community radio broadcasters founded in 1983, with nearly 3,000 members in 110 countries. The regional conference was focused on building resilient communities. Some four plenary sessions and panel discussions including workshops for skill building were held on issues and subjects ranging from disaster risk reduction to migration and human trafficking; rise of radicalism and extremism to gender-based violence and violence against minorities;  widening social and economic inequalities to freedom of speech.

Some 200 community radio broadcasters from 13 different countries in the Pacific, East Asia, South East Asia, and South Asia were present at the conference. For me, the most important achievement for Indigenous Peoples at the event was when a group of Indigenous journalists, including me, collectively pushed to pass for a resolution to create a Regional Action Committee on Indigenous Peoples. According to AMARC-AP leaders, this resolution was historic for AMARC. I had the opportunity to present about Indigenous radio, Cultural Survival and the Community Media Grants Project. I met several Indigenous language radio program production teams from Timor Leste, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and India.

What impressed me the most was the design of a “backpack radio,” a portable radio station for use during disasters. Radio is the most useful tool when a disaster occurs, and thanks to this design immediate radio broadcasting is possible with this low cost (under $500USD) Japanese tool. I interviewed the engineers and look forward to sharing more information on this equipment as it may be useful for many Indigenous communities living in the disaster prone areas.

back pack radio

I also visited Lintas Merapi FM, a community radio station set up for emergency broadcasting, to forecast the status and alert people about the Merapi Volcano, located on the border between central Java and Yogyakarta provinces in Indonesia.