Dayaks open permanent office in New York
KOTA KINABALU: The Dayaks have opened a United Nations (UN) permanent representation office in Harlem, New York, and are working to get the organisation officially registered with the US government.

Their representative Andrew Atama Ambrose said the organisation would be known as the Dayak Nation Institute.

“We already have an appointment with the US Congress and will brief them on relevant issues. I will personally meet with Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to discuss issues related to our office,” he told FMT.

Atama said the organisation had recommended that Unesco carry out programmes related to indigenous languages in Sabah and Sarawak.
He said a UN forum earlier this year had discussed issues affecting indigenous languages, and his organisation believed the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak would benefit from Unesco involvement.

“This year, Unesco launched the Year of Indigenous Languages. They need to be reminded that they can also come and organise programmes in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
The organisation is also working on the issue of land rights. During a forum on sustainable development in Bangkok last month, Atama said the topic was discussed earnestly.

He urged Sabah’s Attorney-General Zaleha Rose Pandin to accelerate the process of alienating native customary rights lands.

Atama also said the Dayak people in Borneo would soon decide how they wanted to organise themselves as a people.

“Whether they want to categorise themselves as an association of people or an NGO or as a governing nation – they need to decide on this. This will be deliberated by some 250 delegates from all over Borneo in a special congress to be held next month in Keningau,” he said.

Once the decision is made, Atama said he could bring the report to the UN to be tabled for international recognition.

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