News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survivalinternational.org/news.rss Photographer Jimmy Nelson's work attacked before opening in Brussels Photographer Jimmy Nelson's controversial work 'Before They Pass Away' has been attacked by tribal peoples around the world.
Photographer Jimmy Nelson's controversial work 'Before They Pass Away' has been attacked by tribal peoples around the world.
© Jimmy Nelson/teNeues

The controversial work of photographer Jimmy Nelson will open at the Young Gallery in Brussels on November 7, amidst protests from indigenous people around the world and organizations such as Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, for portraying a false and damaging picture of tribal people.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá from Acre state in Brazil recently protested outside Nelson’s exhibition in London. He said, “As a tribal person I feel offended by Jimmy Nelson’s work ’Before They Pass Away’. It’s outrageous! We are not passing away but struggling to survive. Industrialized society is trying to destroy us in the name of ‘progress’, but we will keep defending our lands and contributing to the protection of the planet.”

While Nelson claims his work is “ethnographic fact”, Survival Director Stephen Corry denounces it as a photographer’s fantasy which bears little relationship either to how the people pictured look now, or how they ever appeared.

Nelson portrays Waorani girls unclothed with a 'fig' leaf.
Nelson portrays Waorani girls unclothed with a 'fig' leaf.
© Jimmy Nelson/teNeues

The photos of Waorani girls from Ecuador, for example, portray them shorn of the clothes that contacted Waorani routinely wear, and wearing “fig” leaves to protect their modesty, which they have never done (previous generations of Waorani women wore a simple waist string).

Nelson’s subjects are supposed to be “passing away”, but no mention is made of the genocidal violence they are being subjected to.

The Dani of West Papua are wrongly called the “the most dreaded head-hunting tribe of Papua”, but no mention is made of the killings, torture and intimidation they have suffered under the Indonesian occupation since 1963.

Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda said, “What Jimmy Nelson says about us is not true. My people, the Dani people, were never headhunters, it was never our tradition. The real headhunters are the Indonesian military who have been killing my people. My people are still strong and we fight for our freedom. We are not ‘passing away’, we are being killed by the brutal Indonesian soldiers. That is the truth.”

Nelson’s work has also received fierce criticism from tribal peoples in North America and New Zealand. A Maori blogger wrote, "Maori people are not part of a dying breed and we don’t need to be portrayed as such, for a book,” and Cowlitz Indian Elissa Washuta wrote in Salon magazine, “Nelson’s mission is built on a horrifying assumption: that these indigenous peoples are on the brink of destruction. He couldn’t be more wrong.”

Nixiwaka Yawanawá protested against the 'outrageous' exhibition of Jimmy Nelson's work at London's Atlas Gallery, wearing his ceremonial headdress.
Nixiwaka Yawanawá protested against the 'outrageous' exhibition of Jimmy Nelson's work at London's Atlas Gallery, wearing his ceremonial headdress.
© Sophie Pinchetti/Survival

Davi Kopenawa, spokesman of the Yanomami tribe in Brazil and known as the “Dalai Lama of the Rainforest”, said during his recent visit to London, “I saw the photos and I didn’t like them. This man only wants to force his own ideas on the photos, to publish them in books and to show them to everyone so that people will think he’s a great photographer. Just like (Napoleon) Chagnon, he does whatever he wants with indigenous peoples. It is not true that indigenous peoples are about to die out. We will be around for a long time, fighting for our land, living in this world and continuing to create our children.”

Notes to Editors:

- Read Survival Director Stephen Corry’s full exposé of Jimmy Nelson’s work in US journal Truthout

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:16:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10524 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10524
Tribes and farmers unite to end oil palm expansion in Philippines Palawan tribal people say that their coconut trees are dying because of pests spreading from the oil palm plantations.
Palawan tribal people say that their coconut trees are dying because of pests spreading from the oil palm plantations.
© ALDAW

Tribal people and small-scale farmers in the Philippine province of Palawan have called for a halt to the expansion of oil palm plantations which are destroying the forests they rely on to survive.

Their newly formed Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG) collected over 4,000 signatures from tribal people and farmers affected by the plantations, calling for a moratorium on oil palm expansion.

Palawan, which is often referred to as “the Philippines’ last ecological frontier”, is a biosphere reserve and home to tribal peoples such as the Palawan, Batak and Tagbanua, who rely on their forests for food, medicines and for building their houses.

Yet there are plans to convert up to 20,000 hectares – an area the size of Washington DC – into oil palm plantations, which will forever destroy the forests the tribes rely on. Oil palm is used for biofuel and is found in many foods and cosmetics.

Oil palm plantations are devastating for tribal communities who rely on their forests to survive.
Oil palm plantations are devastating for tribal communities who rely on their forests to survive.
© ALDAW

“To find medicinal plants we must walk more than half day to reach the other side of the mountain range,” said a tribal Palawan man. “Because of the far distance we must leave our young children at home, so they do not learn the name and uses of these plants. The old knowledge is being lost.”

The plantations have brought hardship to the local communities. Rates of poverty and malnutrition are rising fastest in the area with the largest amount of land converted to oil palm production. Indigenous community organiser, John Mart Salunday called the oil palm project a complete "fiasco” in terms of poverty eradication.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, supports the demand for a moratorium on oil palm plantations in Palawan and is calling on the Philippine government to ensure that the Palawan tribes’ free, prior and informed consent is sought before any activities take place on their land – as enshrined in international law.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:09:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10514 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10514
Eden Project photo exhibition showcases tribal people of the rainforest Sebastião Salgado's stunning images of the Awá tribe in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, taken in 2013, will be showcased in the Rainforest Biome of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. The Awá are finding it increasingly difficult to hunt game in the forest, and have been brutally attacked by loggers while out hunting.
Sebastião Salgado's stunning images of the Awá tribe in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, taken in 2013, will be showcased in the Rainforest Biome of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. The Awá are finding it increasingly difficult to hunt game in the forest, and have been brutally attacked by loggers while out hunting.
© Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures

Stunning photographs of tribal people of the rainforest by Cornish explorer and writer Robin Hanbury-Tenison and world-renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado will go on display at the UK’s Eden Project from Friday, October 24, 2014.

The exhibition – called “People of the Rainforest” – will be on display in Eden’s Rainforest Biome. The images were taken in the Amazon rainforest, Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia, and will be installed in the corresponding areas of the Biome.

The pictures have been specially selected to remind visitors to Eden that an estimated 200 million indigenous people around the world depend on forests for their home and livelihood.

The exhibition was prompted by a letter from Eden Project co-founder Sir Tim Smit to Robin Hanbury-Tenison suggesting that the themes of people and forests were drawn together at Eden.

Eden has worked with Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, to bring the exhibition to Cornwall. Survival International was founded 45 years ago by a group of people, including Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who were appalled by the genocide of Amazon Indians in Brazil.

A nomadic Penan hunter-gatherer in Sarawak, Malaysia, using a blowpipe (1976). His loincloth is made from a long strip of soft, beaten bark, and around his waist is everything he needs in the forest: a sharp parang in its wooden sheath and a small container to hold spare poison darts.
A nomadic Penan hunter-gatherer in Sarawak, Malaysia, using a blowpipe (1976). His loincloth is made from a long strip of soft, beaten bark, and around his waist is everything he needs in the forest: a sharp parang in its wooden sheath and a small container to hold spare poison darts.
© Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Mr Hanbury-Tenison said: “Tribal people are the best guardians of the environment. This is one of Survival’s main messages, because so many of the issues facing tribal people revolve around land rights.

“By including images of tribal people within the rich and beautiful habitats of the tropical Biome at Eden, we should be able to get across this essential message, and spread the word that people and plants need each other ."

Dr Jo Elworthy, Director of Interpretation at the Eden Project, said: “These thought-provoking images will animate Eden’s Rainforest Biome in a powerful way. Eden is a living theatre of plants and people. We are well-known for our plants and this provides the opportunity to bring the vital stories of rainforest tribal peoples into the picture.”

Notes to editors:

- The photographs are incorporated into the foliage of the Rainforest Biome.

- To use or view the images contact Ghislain Pascal by email; or on +44(0)2076878700/ +44(0)7778 788 735

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:15:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10512 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10512
Tragedy strikes Colombia’s Sierra Nevada Indians Arhuaco Indians, Colombia
Arhuaco Indians, Colombia
© Survival International

A series of tragic events has hit Colombia’s Arhuaco, Kogi and Wiwa tribes in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of northern Colombia.

On 6 October eleven Wiwa Indians were killed after a lighting bolt struck a communal building where sixty of the tribe’s leaders were meeting.

Amongst the dead were “mamos” or spiritual leaders, and health experts.

The following day, five Arhuaco children and the mother of one of the children were killed by a landslide that destroyed their home.

On 14 October, Jacinto Sauna Zarabata, the son of the Kogi tribe’s leader was shot dead. Jacinto was at home with his partner when he was killed.

Jacinto’s father, José de los Santos Sauna, told press he had received death threats in the past, but the motive of his son’s death remains unknown.

In a statement, Sierra Nevada Indian organization Gonawindúa Tayrona said, “We hope that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice, and not forgotten like so many others, such as the murders of our leaders Napoleón Torres, Ángel María Torres and Hugues Chaparro, killed 22 years ago, or the attempted murder of Arhuaco leader Rogelio Mejía Izquierdo two years ago.”

“When they found him, he was dead.”Dilia’s husband was murdered and tortured more than 22 years ago. His killers still evade justice.

The Sierra Nevada Indians believe it is their responsibility to maintain the balance of the universe, and that natural disasters are a consequence of human failure to keep that balance.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:52:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10509 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10509
Survival calls for release of tribal political prisoners and journalists in West Papua Papuan tribal people have suffered immensely from Indonesian military brutality since 1963.
Papuan tribal people have suffered immensely from Indonesian military brutality since 1963.
© Survival

French journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat face trial by the Indonesian authorities in West Papua on October 20, 2014, on charges of “abusive use of entry visas”, after being arrested while making a documentary film in August.

Dandois and Bourrat were arrested after meeting with Areki Wanimbo, the head of the Lani Besar Tribal Council in the Papuan highlands, who has also been detained.

Wanimbo is now facing charges of “conspiracy to commit treason”, a charge that is applied to a wide variety of “offences” including peaceful political activities and possession of flags.

The journalists could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 500 million Rupiah ($41,000).

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, calls for the release of the two journalists, and for an end to restrictions on foreign media in West Papua. Survival also highlights the plight of Papuan tribal people who have suffered immensely under a brutal Indonesian occupation since 1963. Many have been jailed for peacefully expressing their views.

According to Papuans Behind Bars, at least 74 Papuan political prisoners were being held in Indonesia in September 2014. Many have suffered arbitrary arrest, torture, violence, abuse, unfair trials and neglect. Survival is calling for their unconditional release.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Indonesia’s treatment of Papua’s tribal people is one of the most urgent and horrific humanitarian crises of our time. Indonesia’s new President must put an end to the killings, torture and arbitrary arrests and release those arrested for peacefully expressing their political views.”

Note to editors:

- Survival wrote to the new Indonesian President Joko Widodo on September 29, 2014, regarding the oppression of Papuans. Download the letter to President Widodo (known as “Jokowi”) (pdf, 655 kB)

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Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:06:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10503 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10503
"We'll die for our lands", Guarani Indians declare in Brazil's capital Forty Guarani leaders traveled over 1,000 km to Brasília to insist that the authorities map out their ancestral land.
Forty Guarani leaders traveled over 1,000 km to Brasília to insist that the authorities map out their ancestral land.
© CIMI

Forty Guarani Indian leaders have traveled over 1,000 km to Brazil’s capital to insist that the authorities map out their ancestral land before more of their relatives are killed.

The delegation expressed its dismay at a recent High Court ruling which, if upheld, will be a huge setback for the land campaign of one community whose internationally renowned leader, Ambrósio Vilhalva, was killed last year.

In response to the government’s failure to fulfil its legal duty to map out the Guarani’s lands for their use, the leaders declared “We can’t wait any more for the government to keep its promise… We will resist, and we’ll die for our lands.”

This resistance takes the form of land reoccupations, which often result in violence but which the Guarani see as the only way to return to their land. One community, Kurussu Mba, has been attacked by gunmen three times since it reoccupied part of its land last month and the Indians now face a court order threatening to evict them imminently.

Guarani leader Eliseu Lopes visited Europe last month, to seek international support for his people.
Guarani leader Eliseu Lopes visited Europe last month, to seek international support for his people.
© Fabio Artese/Survival

Thousands of Guarani in central-western Brazil are living in overcrowded reserves and perilous roadside camps, where they are attacked, killed and forced to endure malnutrition and one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Meanwhile, ranchers earn huge profits from the sugar cane, soya and cattle on their ranches which occupy the Guarani’s ancestral homeland, and frequently send gunmen to attack the Indians.

Guarani leader Eliseu Lopes visited Europe for the first time last month, to seek international support for his people and their plight. He told Survival Italy, “For us, land is life, land is everything, but all our land has been destroyed… the government is not mapping out our lands, so we are taking matters into our own hands”.

Read the Guarani’s latest declaration and a letter from Kurussu Mba community, and support Survival’s Guarani campaign.

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Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:46:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10496 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10496
India: Tiger Reserve tribe faces eviction  The Khadia were evicted from Similipal Tiger Reserve in December 2013, and have been living in miserable conditions under plastic sheets.
The Khadia were evicted from Similipal Tiger Reserve in December 2013, and have been living in miserable conditions under plastic sheets.
© Survival International

Tribespeople living inside a tiger reserve in India are being “threatened” and “cheated” into leaving their ancestral land in the name of tiger “conservation” – even though there is no evidence that they harm the wildlife, and they desperately want to stay on their land.

In September 2014, members of the Munda tribe in Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha state met with India’s Forest Department, after promises that their rights to their forest would be recognized.

But the villagers reported to Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, that they felt “threatened” and “cheated” into signing an eviction document drawn up by the foresters. They reported that they weren’t aware of what the document said (most don’t read or write Oriya, the language it was written in), and were only later told that there was no land available for them to be moved to.

Tribal peoples are the best conservationists. Yet they are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of tiger 'conservation'.
Tribal peoples are the best conservationists. Yet they are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of tiger 'conservation'.
© Sandip Dey

A Munda man said, “We were cheated [into signing this paper] and are now very afraid of the consequences.”

Another, Telenga Hassa, said, “We would rather die than leave the village. The forest department is pressurising us to go – they are giving a lot of threats to us, saying things like, ‘If you try to stay we will lodge many police cases against you, we will say that you are Maoists and we’ll arrest you.’”

Tribal peoples are better at looking after their environments than anyone else, and India’s Forest Rights Act recognizes their right to live in and from the forests, and to manage and protect them.

But across India, tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation, particularly for tiger reserves. In addition to threats and harassment, they’re promised land, housing and money as compensation, but often receive little or nothing.

Telenga Hassa's community in Similipal Tiger Reserve is being 'threatened' and 'cheated' into leaving their home.
Telenga Hassa's community in Similipal Tiger Reserve is being 'threatened' and 'cheated' into leaving their home.
© Survival International

Only three villages of the Kol and Munda tribes remain inside Similipal Tiger Reserve. Thirty-two families of the Khadia tribe were evicted and moved to a resettlement village outside of the forest in December 2013. Without access to the forest’s produce, and no adequate housing, they have been forced to live in miserable conditions under plastic sheets, and rely on government handouts for their survival.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Many of the forests where tigers survive in India have been cared for by tribal people, who are better at looking after their environment than anyone else. But now the government is using threats and tricks to force the tribespeople out in the name of conservation, and leaving them in squalor. What’s worse, the tribes’ forests are opened up to thousands of tourists each year, and poaching and illegal logging are rampant. It’s time the conservation industry spoke out against this injustice.”

Note to editors:

- In May 2014, Survival submitted a complaint to the Odisha Human Rights Commission. They did not respond, so Survival sent another urgent and updated complaint in October. Download it here (PDF, 119 kB)

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Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:50:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10488 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10488
Columbus Day: genocide of America's tribes continues Aché woman shortly after she was captured and brought out of the forest in 1972, Paraguay. In April, the Aché launched a landmark case over the genocide they suffered.
Aché woman shortly after she was captured and brought out of the forest in 1972, Paraguay. In April, the Aché launched a landmark case over the genocide they suffered.
© A. Kohmann/Survival

To mark Columbus Day on October 13, 2014, Survival International reveals current and recent cases of tribal peoples facing genocidal violence by outsiders on their land.

In April 2014, Paraguay’s Aché tribe launched a landmark case over the genocide they suffered during the 1950s and 60s. The Aché were decimated after colonists launched killing raids, captured tribespeople and sold them as slaves.

Brazil is home to around 100 uncontacted tribes, the most vulnerable societies on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

The uncontacted Kawahiva in central Brazil are facing annihilation as loggers and ranchers invade their land. After evidence suggested they were being deliberately targeted by loggers, forcing them to live constantly on the run, a public prosecutor launched an investigation into their genocide.

Survivors of the Haximú massacre, in which goldminers killed 16 Yanomami Indians, hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives.
Survivors of the Haximú massacre, in which goldminers killed 16 Yanomami Indians, hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives.
© C Zacquini/Survival

Other cases of genocide include the brutal attack on the Yanomami village of Haximú in Venezuela, near the border with Brazil, by goldminers in 1993. Sixteen Yanomami were killed, including the elderly, women and children, and four of the culprits were subsequently convicted of genocide in an unprecedented ruling.

Five Akuntsu in Rondonia state, Brazil, are the last survivors of a genocide that wiped out most of their tribe. In 1985, government investigators uncovered an entire communal house which had been bulldozed – evidence of a brutal massacre by gunmen.

The violent invasion and destruction of the rainforest of Brazil’s Awá tribe by armed loggers and ranchers has also been described as genocide by Brazilian experts. Following a high-profile campaign by Survival, the invaders were evicted from the Awá’s key territory in January 2014, but the government has so far failed to implement a permanent land protection program to stop the invaders from returning.

Awá man Karapiru witnessed the massacre of his family by outsiders, Brazil.
Awá man Karapiru witnessed the massacre of his family by outsiders, Brazil.
© Survival International

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, “Industrialized societies subject tribal peoples to genocidal violence, slavery and racism so they can steal their lands, resources and labor in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’. Since the dawn of the Age of ‘Discovery’, tribal peoples have been the innocent victims of an aggressive colonization of their land. By portraying them as backward and primitive, the invaders have justified a systematic and cruel annihilation, which continues to this day. It’s time the genocide stopped.”

Note to editors:

- See Survival’s photographic gallery of tribal peoples of the Americas facing genocide

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Sat, 11 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10485 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10485
Hundreds of Bushmen abused in Botswana – new report Mogolodi Moeti is just one of hundreds of Bushmen to have suffered abuse by wildlife officers and police. He said, 'They told me that even if they kill me no charges would be laid against them because what they were doing to me was an order from the government.'
Mogolodi Moeti is just one of hundreds of Bushmen to have suffered abuse by wildlife officers and police. He said, 'They told me that even if they kill me no charges would be laid against them because what they were doing to me was an order from the government.'
© Survival International

A new report from Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has revealed hundreds of cases of beatings, arrests and abuses suffered by the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana at the hands of wildlife officers and police.

The report, “They have killed me: the persecution of Botswana’s Bushmen 1992- 2014” details over 200 cases of violent abuse recorded between 1992 and 2014, including a Bushman who died after being tortured; a child shot in the stomach after his father refused police entry to his hut without a warrant; and a Bushman who was buried alive for killing an antelope.

The Bushmen were illegally evicted from their ancestral homeland in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the name of “conservation”. They are accused of “poaching” because they hunt their food, and face arrests and beatings, torture and death at the hands of wildlife officers and paramilitary police.

Xoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration in 2005. She was one of several Bushmen who managed to remain in the reserve, resisting eviction. But the government cut off any access to water for residents who refused to leave their homes.
Xoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration in 2005. She was one of several Bushmen who managed to remain in the reserve, resisting eviction. But the government cut off any access to water for residents who refused to leave their homes.
© Survival International

The U.S. State Department has labeled Botswana’s discrimination against the Bushmen a “principal human rights concern” and the government has been condemned nationally and internationally by Botswana’s High Court, the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Motswana political activist and former Robben Island prisoner Michael Dingake, the BBC’s John Simpson and many more.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve was created as a ”place of sanctuary” for the Bushmen to continue their way of life as hunter-gatherers in 1961. But after diamonds were discovered in the reserve in the 1980s, the government began to force the Bushmen off their ancestral homeland.

Tribal peoples like the Bushmen are better at looking after their environment than anyone else, but Botswana’s President Ian Khama has justified their persecution in the name of “conservation”, while allowing diamond mining and fracking exploration to go ahead in the reserve.

Bushmen are calling for President Khama to uphold their right to hunt on their ancestral land.
Bushmen are calling for President Khama to uphold their right to hunt on their ancestral land.
© Survival International

A 2006 High Court ruling upheld the Bushmen’s right to live and hunt inside the reserve, but the government has imposed a nationwide hunting ban, effectively starving them off their land. Meanwhile, rich trophy hunters are encouraged to hunt protected species on private game ranches.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “All these crimes were committed in the name of ‘conservation’ but no conservation organization has stood up for the Bushmen. Now they are accused of ‘poaching’ because they hunt their food; Bushman families risk starvation to remain on their ancestral land, while the government encourages fee-paying big game hunters. NGO giant Conservation International welcomes President Khama to its board. Prince William’s anti-poaching coalition, United for Wildlife, invites him as an honored guest, and even asks him to host its next meeting, yet he is directly responsible for trying to finish off the last hunting Bushmen in Africa. Survival is fighting these abuses. It’s time the secrets of the conservation industry were exposed.”

Notes to editors:

- Download Survival’s report on the violent abuses faced by the Kalahari Bushmen (PDF, 4 MB)
- Visit Survival’s “Parks Need People” page for more examples of tribal peoples being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of “conservation”.

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Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:40:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10474 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10474
"Stop destroying the Earth's lungs", Amazon Indians plead in Europe Davi Yanomami sold and signed dozens of copies of his groundbreaking book, 'The Falling Sky'.
Davi Yanomami sold and signed dozens of copies of his groundbreaking book, 'The Falling Sky'.
© Camila Almeida/Survival International

Amazon Indian leaders Davi Yanomami and Mauricio Yekuana have completed a unique trip to Europe, where they urged the global population to “stop destroying the Earth’s lungs”.

Davi, a Yanomami shaman who has been called the “Dalai Lama of the Rainforest”, spoke of the illegal mining, ranching and deforestation which pose a serious threat to his tribe and many others across Brazil.

He warned that the destruction of the Amazon is a danger for all humanity, and that if it is not stopped urgently, “the world will die and we will all die with it”.

Davi and Mauricio’s engagements included a meeting with the King of Norway, a sold-out talk to hundreds of people in London, and a tour of the UK to engage hundreds more in their campaign.

Mauricio Yekuana joined Davi Yanomami in warning of the grave dangers of illegal mining on indigenous land.
Mauricio Yekuana joined Davi Yanomami in warning of the grave dangers of illegal mining on indigenous land.
© Eleanor Russell/Survival

Davi also launched his groundbreaking new book “The Falling Sky” in the UK, and signed and sold dozens of copies.

Several major news outlets, including BBC Brasil and the BBC World Service interviewed him about his life, land and shamanism.

Davi is internationally renowned for his tireless work to protect his tribe’s forest. He is President of the Yanomami Association, Hutukara, and together with Survival International and the NGO Pro Yanomami Commission, led the international campaign for the protection of the Yanomami land after an influx of illegal miners in the 1980s decimated the tribe. The government finally recognized the Yanomami land as an indigenous territory in 1992, but illegal mining continues today.

Mauricio, spokesman of the Yekuana tribe which lives alongside the Yanomami in northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, is Vice-President of Hutukara.

Their visit was coordinated by the Rainforest Foundation Norway, CAFOD and Survival International.

Watch a film clip of Davi speaking about his tribe’s life and land, shamanism and his new book, and support Survival’s campaign to protect the Yanomami territory.

Notes:
- Listen to Davi’s interview on BBC Outlook (from minute 26).
- “The Falling Sky”, written in collaboration with anthropologist and friend Bruce Albert, is the first ever book written by a Yanomami Indian and was listed among the top 10 science books of 2013 by ‘New Scientist’ magazine. Using evocative language, it discusses Davi’s life story, and the importance of shamanism to the Yanomami’s way of life. Buy your copy here.

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Wed, 08 Oct 2014 17:59:27 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10472 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10472
Chabu hunter-gatherers in Ethiopia killed by settlers Violence against the Chabu has been described as an 'emerging genocide' by experts.
Violence against the Chabu has been described as an 'emerging genocide' by experts.
© Samuel Jilo Dira

Members of a hunter-gatherer tribe are reportedly being hunted down and killed by settlers who are invading their lands in southwest Ethiopia.

The Chabu, who number just 1,500, are some of Africa’s last hunter-gatherers. They live in a remote part of Ethiopia’s forest highlands, to the northwest of the Lower Omo Valley.

Settlers from other regions in Ethiopia have been penetrating into the Chabu’s ancestral home. This has led to heightened tensions and conflicts over land.

Violence has escalated to such an extent that independent experts are calling the situation one of “emerging genocide.”

At least 24 Chabu have reportedly been killed by settlers in the past month, and many more have been forced to flee their homes.

In one incident, a Chabu mother was reportedly killed while caring for her young son, as he lay dying following an attack.

© Samuel Jilo Dira

Although the government has sent army units to the area, they have done little to stop the violence, and one important Chabu regional representative has been arrested.

The Chabu have been fighting to be recognised as a distinct people or nation within Ethiopia, a status that affords them greater protection under the country’s constitution.

Settlers and local government officials, who wish to steal the Chabu’s land, have thwarted these efforts.

Note to editors

- The anthropologists Professor Barry Hewlett and Samuel Jilo Dira, who have worked with the Chabu for several years, are available for interview. Mr Jilo Dira speaks Amharic.

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Tue, 07 Oct 2014 11:59:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10461 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10461
Cameroon: WWF complicit in tribal people’s abuse Baka in southeast Cameroon face serious abuse at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported and funded by WWF.
Baka in southeast Cameroon face serious abuse at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported and funded by WWF.
© Selcen Kucukustel/Atlas

UPDATE 16 October: WWF has responded angrily to Survival’s campaign. Read the facts behind the headlines.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has uncovered serious abuses of Baka “Pygmies” in southeast Cameroon, at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported and funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The Baka are being illegally forced from their ancestral homelands in the name of “conservation” because much of their land has been turned into “protected areas” – including safari-hunting zones.

Rather than target the powerful individuals behind organized poaching, wildlife officers and soldiers pursue Baka who hunt only to feed their families.

Watch Baka recount the abuse they suffer at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported by WWF:


Baka suffer abuse in the name of conservationIn southeast Cameroon, many Baka are being illegally forced from their ancestral homelands in the name of “conservation.”

They are accused of “poaching” because they hunt their food.

They face arrest and beatings, torture and death at the hand of anti-poaching squads supported by WWF.

Many Baka (such as the woman speaking in this video) in fact refer to anti-poaching squads as “dobi-dobi” (WWF), since they do not distinguish between WWF and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna.

The Baka and their neighbors accused of "poaching" face arrest, beatings and torture. Many Baka claim that friends and relatives have died as a result of the beatings.

Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna, which employs the wildlife officers, is funded by WWF. WWF also provides officers with technical, logistical and material assistance. Without this support the anti-poaching squads could not function.

UN standards require WWF to prevent or mitigate “adverse human rights impacts directly linked to its operations” even if it has not contributed to them, but the giant of the conservation industry appears reluctant to acknowledge this. Despite the evidence that the anti-poaching squads have grossly abused the rights of the Baka, WWF continues to provide its crucial support.

As a result of the loss of their land and its resources, many Baka have reported a serious decline in their health and a rise in diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. And they fear going into the forest that has provided them with everything they need for countless generations.

The Baka fear going into the forest which has provided them with everything they need.
The Baka fear going into the forest which has provided them with everything they need.
© Survival International

A Baka man told Survival, “The forest used to be for the Baka but not anymore. We would walk in the forest according to the seasons but now we’re afraid. How can they forbid us from going into the forest? We don’t know how to live otherwise. They beat us, kill us and force us to flee to Congo.”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. They know more about their lands and what happens on them than anyone else. If conservation is to work, organizations like WWF need to stick to international law, uphold tribal peoples’ land rights, ask them what help they need in protecting their land, listen to them, and then be prepared to back them up as much as they can. A major change in thinking about conservation is urgently required.”

UPDATE 16 October: WWF has responded angrily to Survival’s campaign. Read the facts behind the headlines.


Notes to editors:

- “Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves. Read more.

- Survival has submitted a request to the Cameroonian National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms asking it to investigate these abuses.

- Many Baka (such as the woman speaking in the video) refer to anti-poaching squads as “dobi-dobi” (WWF) since they do not distinguish between WWF and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna.

- Visit Survival’s Parks Need People page for other examples of tribal peoples evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of “conservation”.

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