WORKING GROUP ON INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS
24th Session, Geneva 31 July to 4 August 2006
My name is Giancarlo Barbadoro, Chairperson of the Ecospirituality Foundation and Representative of the Breton traditional community of "Menhirs Libres", of Carnac, French.
I am here to speak for this traditional community of "Menhirs Libres", that wishes to present to this Assembly an appeal for help to support of spiritual identity of Native europeans.
The historical framework of the circumstances and the vicissitudes of the indigenous peoples of our planet is well known. They have repeatedly been subjected to tragedies of every kind, generally caused by the majority society and even today they are battling to have their rights recognised and to be able to freely manifest their traditions in a climate of respect for their cultural identity.
These deeds do not only occur in the areas of the planet that the majority society has colonised, but have also taken place in continental Europe where tragic events have transpired that are not dissimilar to those experienced in other parts of the planet.
Even on the European continent, before the historical powers annihilated them, there were indigenous peoples who possessed traditions substantially similar to the remainder of the planet.
The native Europeans, like the natives all over the planet, do originate from, nor do they identify themselves with the cultures born of the great historical religions. They have their own specific traditions and they have continued to exist in silence, alongside the dominant majority culture and they are proud of their non-religious identity.
The official history of these native Europeans apparently concluded when they were forcibly integrated into the dominant culture, which exterminated their cultural leaders and cancelled the traces of their cultural identity.
Today the dominant cultures on the European continent deny the fact that native Europeans still exist and relegate their manifestations to the display cabinets of archaeological museums.
But in fact, even nowadays the native Europeans represent a dynamic culture with a strong presence in European history.
Even today they offer witness to their historical existence in the sacredness attributed to the megalithic monuments scattered all over the European continent, through the teaching of myths, the continuity of their music and through the popular culture that preserves the ancient customs.
For this reason we ask this Forum to dedicate attention to the historical situation and that the identity of the European natives who survived the tragedies of history should be safeguarded so that they can preserve their culture and the free and open practice of their customs.
In the hope that it will thus be possible to guarantee to all those who want to reveal themselves and declare themselves as such will be able to leave the silent shadow of history to freely manifest their identity and practice in an equally free manner their traditions and their culture, while still respecting the other majority cultures.
With this action it would be possible to morally compensate for the historical injustices suffered by the native Europeans.
What is more, this would allow the native Europeans to give their precious contribution to the cultural heritage of humanity as a whole, enriching it through new cultural contacts and new challenges for the spirit.
Today the ancient cultures of the native Europeans survive in autochthonous communities that keep the reference to the ancient European traditions alive. Their sacred places are still used for religious and social rites.
In France, at Carnac (Bretagne), one of these traditional communities exists, but it is subject to intimidations and prevented from the practice of its free spiritual identity and is asking for help.
Although the French state does not foresee identities other than its integral national character, this community, who we could call native Europeans, bound by its thousand-year-old traditions, nonetheless claims its own specific identity and asks for access to the megalithic area that it considers a sacred place, millenary symbol of its identity - access which is currently denied, just as freedom for its traditional use is denied.
The megalithic area at Carnac was confiscated by the French government with the excuse of preserving it from damage by tourists; it has been fenced off and the traditional community living in the area is prevented from gaining free access to the place.
Since 1991 the inhabitants have been prevented from entering the area, due to a project that foresees the transformation of the site in an archaeological park for commercial purposes. The traditional Breton community is not resigned to losing this ancient reference point and has undertaken a protest that has now been underway for fifteen years.
The protest is led by the movement "Menhirs Libres" the voice of the Breton community. A protest that has become increasingly forceful as time has passed.
Cèline Mary, chairwoman of "Menhirs Libres", states: "This place has always been inhabited and now the government wants to transform it into a museum. This means depriving it of life, stripping it of all meaning. The menhir have always been a living place and they must continue to be so for ever."
The traditional Breton community is aware that if they should lose the moral relationship with the symbol represented by the megalithic site, they would risk losing, after thousands of years of historical continuity, their cultural, spiritual and social identity.
If this were to happen, apart from the continental European soul, the whole of humanity would be uselessly deprived for ever of a traditional testimony of its roots in the loss of the precious spiritual heritage represented by the historical community of Carnac.
Thank you, Mr President.
I thank all of you for listening to my appeal.
Chairperson Ecospirituality Foundation
- of the Breton "Menhirs Libres" Community of Brittany
- of the Apache Survival Coalition of Arizona
- of the Confrérie Mbog-Parlement, Cameroun
- of the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation of Australia
- of the United Confederation of Taino People, Caribbean