News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survivalinternational.org/news.rss India: Park guard shoots child in infamous “shoot-to-kill” national park Akash Oram in hospital after he was shot by park guards (click photo to see full size)
Akash Oram in hospital after he was shot by park guards (click photo to see full size)
© JEEPAL

A seven year old tribal boy is reportedly in a critical condition after being shot by a park guard in a national park in northeast India, notorious for its brutal “shoot to kill” policy towards suspected poachers.

The boy, named in reports as Akash Oram, is a member of the Oroan tribe who live around Kaziranga national park. He sustained serious injuries to his legs, and is being treated in hospital.

Two park guards have been suspended after the shooting, following an outcry from local tribal people. Akash’s village is facing eviction.

The incident raises serious concerns over the advisability of the “shoot to kill” policy, which has seen at least sixty-two people killed in the park over a nine year period. This militarized approach to conservation has had serious consequences for local tribal people, who face arrest and beatings, torture and even death in the name of conservation.

Madegowda C, a tribal rights activist from the Soliga people in southern India, said: “The Kaziranga park director is violating the human rights and constitutional rights of the tribal people… Forest conservation is not possible without tribal and local communities. Most of the forest officials do not understand the relationship between the forest and tribal peoples, they need to understand tribal cultures and our lifestyles in the forest. Tribal peoples are the indigenous people of this country and they are human beings.”

The Hindustan Times has reported that other tribal people in the area have been shot as “poachers” just for wandering over the park boundaries to retrieve cattle or collect firewood. A 2014 report by the park’s director revealed that Kaziranga park guards are encouraged to execute suspected “poachers” on sight with slogans including “must obey or get killed” and ”never allow any unauthorized entry (kill the unwanted).”

Extrajudicial execution is very common in Kaziranga, and guards are given legal immunity for shooting suspects
Extrajudicial execution is very common in Kaziranga, and guards are given legal immunity for shooting suspects
© Survival

Locals near the park are reportedly paid to inform on suspected poachers. If someone is subsequently killed, the informant is given up to $1,000.

Former Environment and Forests minister Prakash Javadeka from Narendra Modi’s BJP party, planned to implement the policy nationwide, despite human rights concerns and the acute risk of guards killing or wounding innocent people.

This is despite the fact that in BRT tiger reserve in southern India, where tribal peoples have won the right to stay on their ancestral land and militarized conservation tactics are not used, tiger numbers have increased at well above the Indian national average, demonstrating that militarization is not necessary for successful conservation.

Targeting tribal people diverts action away from tackling the true poachers – criminals conspiring with corrupt officials. Earlier this year, four Kaziranga officials were arrested on suspicion of poaching and involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.

Militarized conservation tactics are not only used in India. In Cameroon for example, Baka “Pygmy” people have repeatedly testified to beatings and torture at the hands of eco-guards. Likewise in Botswana, Bushmen are criminalized when they hunt to feed their families, and face arrest and beatings.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “It’s time for a global outcry to stop innocent tribal people being shot and killed in the name of conservation. Why are the big conservation organizations complicit in these lethal policies which are useless at tackling the true poachers – criminals conspiring with corrupt officials? It’s no good pretending this is an isolated accident, it’s an integral part of the murderous regime running this tiger reserve.”

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Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:36:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11362 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11362
Indian government makes dramatic U-turn after outcry over forest rights Millions of tribal people live in India's forests. The Forest Rights Act protects many of their fundamental rights.
Millions of tribal people live in India's forests. The Forest Rights Act protects many of their fundamental rights.
© Harshit Charles/ Survival

A proposed new forests policy in India has been hastily withdrawn after an outcry that it made no mention of tribal peoples’ existing rights to live in their forests, and would have led to more tribes being evicted from their homes.

On June 16th the Indian environment ministry published what it announced was the “draft national forest policy 2016”, along with a call for comments. However, a few days days later the “policy” was removed, and a statement was issued claiming that the document was merely a study by the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), which had been “inadvertently uploaded.”

Indian news website Live Mint quoted an anonymous ministry official: “[The] U-turn came after intense criticism of the draft policy from civil society.”

The draft policy proposed that: “Voluntary and attractive relocation packages of villages from within national parks, other wildlife rich areas and corridors should be developed.” The proposal to evict people from the vaguely described “other wildlife rich areas” and “corridors” as well as National Parks and Tiger Reserves would cover a huge area affecting millions of tribal people who have have been dependent on and managed their environments for millennia.

Across India tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation. Most so-called “voluntary relocations” are far from voluntary, with tribal people often given no choice – they face arrest and beatings, harassment, threats and trickery and feel forced to “agree” to leave their forest homes.

Evidence proves that tribal peoples are better at looking after their environment than anyone else. In BRT Tiger reserve in southern India where tribal people have been allowed to stay, tiger numbers have increased at above the national average. There is no reason to believe that evicting tribes helps tigers. In fact, it’s harming conservation.

The speedy withdrawal of this “draft policy” has been welcomed, but huge concern remains at what lies ahead for the tens of millions of India’s tribal people who live in forests, and other forest dwellers.

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Fri, 15 Jul 2016 12:03:03 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11360 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11360
Oscar winner Mark Rylance makes plea to prevent annihilation of tribal peoples Survival ambassador Mark Rylance during the recording of the film in Survival's London office
Survival ambassador Mark Rylance during the recording of the film in Survival's London office
© Survival

Oscar winning actor Mark Rylance has made a film for Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, urging the public to help prevent the annihilation of tribal peoples around the world.

Mark Rylance said: “Tribal peoples need to be respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. Together we can prevent the annihilation of tribal peoples. That is why I am an Ambassador for Survival International and I urge people to join the movement today.”

Mark Rylance became an Ambassador for Survival International in 2010 having been involved with the organization for many years. He recently narrated a film, “Last of the Kawahiva,” highlighting the plight of the Kawahiva tribe, a tiny group of uncontacted Indians in the Brazilian Amazon who teeter on the brink of extinction.

The campaign saw a dramatic response from the Brazilian government, which agreed to map out and protect the Kawahiva’s land in April 2016.

All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected. 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 success of Survival’s global campaign has given the Kawahiva the chance to determine their own futures.

Please join the movement todayOscar-winning actor & Survival Ambassador Mark Rylance makes an urgent appeal for Survival International.

Rylance has also joined Survival’s tourism boycott of Botswana until the country’s government allows the Bushmen to return to their ancestral lands after they were illegally evicted.

The Bushmen are accused of “poaching” because they hunt to feed their families. And they face arrest and beatings, torture and death, while big game trophy hunters are encouraged.

As well as campaigning Rylance has helped raise much needed funds for Survival International, putting on several fundraising events including creating and directing “We Are One – a celebration of tribal peoples” at the Apollo Theatre (2010), and a play about Bartolomé de las Casas at Middle Temple Hall (2014).

Survival International is the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. Survival is the only organization that champions tribal peoples around the world, helping them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “We’re delighted that Mark Rylance, who’s supported Survival for so many years, has made a film which will inspire people to join the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. We depend on supporters like Mark to help us fight one of the most urgent and horrific humanitarian crises of our time. We won’t give up until we all have a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected.”

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Wed, 13 Jul 2016 10:30:29 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11346 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11346
Brazil: Outrage as Indians' homes bulldozed, community evicted Guarani leader Damiana Cavanha after the eviction from Apy Ka'y
Guarani leader Damiana Cavanha after the eviction from Apy Ka'y
© Aty Guasu

A video showing a tribal community’s homes being bulldozed, condemning families to live by the side of a major highway, has caused outrage in Brazil.

Almost 100 heavily-armed police officers evicted the Apy Ka’y Guarani community, whose ancestral lands have been destroyed for industrial-scale farming.

Watch: Brutal eviction from Apy Ka’y

The Indians had been forced to live by the side of a highway for ten years, during which eight people were run over and killed, and another died from pesticide poisoning.

In 2013 the community re-occupied a small patch of their ancestral land. They have now been evicted from it again, after a judge granted the landowner’s request for an eviction order, despite having received appeals from the Guarani, from their allies in Brazil, and from thousands of Survival supporters around the world.

The Guarani of Apy Ka’y are now back on the side of the highway.

Another video shows armed police overseeing the eviction of the nine Guarani Kaiowá families. Tribal leader Damiana Cavanha is shown denouncing the eviction, insisting on her people’s right to defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

Watch: Damiana denounces eviction

Around 100 federal and military police evicted the Apy Ka’y Guarani community, whose ancestral lands have been destroyed for industrial-scale farming.
Around 100 federal and military police evicted the Apy Ka’y Guarani community, whose ancestral lands have been destroyed for industrial-scale farming.
© Aty Guasu

She said: “We do not accept this. I will stay here, this is my right. We have our rights. It’s not only the white people that have rights, the Guarani Kaiowá and the indigenous peoples also have rights. So many of us have died, so many people have been killed by the gunmen… Let us stay here, we have our Tekoha [ancestral land] and I will return to my Tekoha.”

In June 2016, ranchers’ gunmen attacked another Guarani community at Tey’i Jusu. One man was killed and several others, including a twelve year old boy, severely injured.

Most of the Guarani’s land has been stolen from them. Brazil’s agri-business industry has been trying to keep tribal people away from their territories for decades. They subject them to genocidal violence and racism so they can steal their lands, resources and labor in the name of “progress” and “civilization.”

The situation facing the Guarani is one of the most urgent and horrific humanitarian crises of our time. In April 2016, Survival International launched its “Stop Brazil’s Genocide” campaign to draw the crisis to global attention in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “This is terrible news, and it is tragically all too typical of the appalling situation facing the Guarani in Brazil. We cannot sit idly by and watch the destruction of an entire people. If the Guarani’s legal right to live on their land is not respected and upheld, they will be destroyed."

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Fri, 08 Jul 2016 12:58:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11353 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11353
Brazilian experts blast US academics’ call for uncontacted tribes to be forcibly contacted There are around 100 uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. We know very little about them, but many have expressed a clear desire to remain uncontacted
There are around 100 uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. We know very little about them, but many have expressed a clear desire to remain uncontacted
© G. Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

The Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Department (FUNAI) has severely criticized the authors of a controversial editorial in Science magazine who called for forced contact with uncontacted tribes.

In an open letter criticizing controversial anthropologists Kim Hill and Robert Walker, uncontacted tribes experts at FUNAI stress the threats facing uncontacted peoples. These include violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance. They reject what Hill and Walker call “controlled contact” as “a severe violation of these peoples’ right to determine their own lives."

They added: ”We feel compelled to express our disagreement with the ideas of some anthropologists… that ‘controlled contact’ is the only possible strategy for protecting these peoples.

“There is never absolute control in contact situations, even in cases when the teams have all the resources they need to operate efficiently.”

In the editorial Hill and Walker acknowledged the devastating impact first contact can have, but claimed that “controlled contact” is “a better option than a no-contact policy” and should be initiated after “conceiving a well-organized plan.”

FUNAI agents on a patrol, Brazil
FUNAI agents on a patrol, Brazil
© FUNAI

FUNAI has joined the international call, led by tribal peoples, to protect uncontacted tribes’ land rights and to give them the chance to determine their own futures. Several Brazilian NGOs, including CIMI, ISA and CTI, as well as Survival International, are campaigning for this right to be upheld.

Speaking as part of Survival’s Tribal Voice project, Olimpio Guajajara, an indigenous man from the eastern Amazon, rejected forced contact, saying: “We are aware that some anthropologists have been calling for ‘controlled contact’ with the uncontacted Indians… We will not allow this to happen because it will be another genocide of a people… of an indigenous group which doesn’t want contact.”

Earlier this year, Survival’s global campaign for the Kawahiva, an uncontacted tribe in Mato Grosso state, helped secure a protected territory for the tribe. Campaigners are now hoping that this statement from FUNAI will keep pressure on the interim Brazilian government to effectively protect uncontacted peoples.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: "Claiming that missions to forcibly contact uncontacted tribes, even when “well-planned”, can save lives is naive, and flies in the face of history: first contacts across South America have almost always resulted in death, disease or destruction for the tribe involved. Why should it be any different in the future? The short answer is that it won’t be. Let’s be clear, forced contact is likely to be a death sentence for uncontacted tribes. Uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected and we’re doing everything we can to secure it for them."

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Thu, 07 Jul 2016 10:32:26 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11347 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11347
Indonesia: Tribe attacked in palm oil plantation The Orang Rimba have lived in the forests of Sumatra for generations, but now they are under threat
The Orang Rimba have lived in the forests of Sumatra for generations, but now they are under threat
© Survival

Members of the nomadic Orang Rimba tribe in Indonesia have been attacked and their possessions burned as part of an eviction from a palm oil plantation on their ancestral land.

The Orang Rimba are a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe who have been dependent on and managed their forest home in Sumatra for generations. Although a national park was created to protect local wildlife and – unprecedented in Indonesia – the tribe, the Indonesian government has signed over most of their ancestral lands to palm oil, timber and other plantation companies.

As a result many Orang Rimba are forced to live in plantations, collecting palm oil seeds and hunting wild boar. For collecting the seeds, the tribe have been accused of theft by the company operating in the area, even though the oil palm is on Orang Rimba ancestral land and the tribe do not regard such foraging as theft.

One Orang Rimba man said: “That is our ancestral land. Our life and death are in that land. How can it be that we are forbidden? It’s forbidden for children to take the seeds which have fallen from the palm oil trees. How can it be forbidden? They planted palm oil trees all over our land.”

The palm oil company PT Bahana Karya Semestra (BKS), which is owned by Sinar Mas, has recently ordered the Orang Rimba to leave. Members of the tribe have reported that they were already preparing to go when they were attacked, beaten and stabbed by security staff from BKS.

Security staff then set fire to their shelters, vehicles and hundreds of loin cloths. According to custom, these are regarded as the tribespeople’s most precious possessions. They represent wealth and prestige and are used to pay fines in Orang Rimba customary law.

The Orang Rimba’s land and resources are being stolen, and they are being subjected to violence in the name of ‘’progress.’’ Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples rights, is calling for the Orang Rimba’s right to their ancestral lands to be recognized.

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Fri, 24 Jun 2016 11:53:53 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11340 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11340
Olympics: Torch reaches land of tribe facing “genocide” The Guarani feel a deep sense of connection to their land and have protested against its theft and destruction
The Guarani feel a deep sense of connection to their land and have protested against its theft and destruction
© CIMI/Survival

The Olympic torch is set to arrive on June 25 in a state where the Guarani tribe is widely feared to be facing annihilation due to systematic land theft, malnutrition, suicide and violence.

The torch’s arrival in Mato Grosso do Sul in the southwest of Brazil comes as part of a nationwide tour before the start of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August. It is set to be carried by Rocleiton Ribeiro Flores, an indigenous man from the Terena people, in the city of Dourados which is close to Guarani territory.

Last week, one Guarani man was killed and several others – including a twelve year old boy – were seriously injured in an attack by ranchers’ gunmen on Tey’i Jusu community.

The previous day, Survival received audio through its Tribal Voice project documenting a separate armed attack on Pyelito Kuê community. Elsewhere, another community, Apy Ka’y, is facing eviction after a land reoccupation in 2013.

With the eyes of the world on Brazil, many campaigners are hoping that the Olympics will raise global awareness of the genocidal violence, slavery and racism that have been inflicted on indigenous Brazilians past and present in the name of “progress” and “civilization.”

Over the past few decades, most of the Guarani’s land has been stolen by destructive agribusiness, and they have been forced to live on roadsides and in overcrowded reservations. Guarani children starve and many of their leaders have been assassinated. Hundreds of Guarani men, women and children have killed themselves and the Guarani Kaiowá group suffer the highest suicide rate in the world.

Damiana, a Guarani woman, performs a ceremony on her land. What used to be forest is now a vast farm.
Damiana, a Guarani woman, performs a ceremony on her land. What used to be forest is now a vast farm.
© Paul Patrick Borhaug/Survival

Tonico Benites Guarani, a spokesman for the tribe, recently visited Europe to urge international action on his people’s plight and told Survival: “A slow genocide is taking place. There is a war being waged against us. We are scared. They kill our leaders, hide their bodies, intimidate and threaten us… If nothing changes many more young people will kill themselves, and others will die of malnutrition. The impunity of the ranchers will continue and the Brazilian government will be able to continue killing us.”

The Guarani have made numerous attempts to reoccupy their lands, but have been harassed, intimidated and attacked by ranchers’ gunmen.

Under international and Brazilian law, the tribe has a right to their land. If the government returns it to them, they will have a chance to defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

In April, Survival International launched its “Stop Brazil’s Genocide” campaign to draw attention to the threats facing the Guarani, the plight of Brazil’s uncontacted tribes – who are among the most vulnerable peoples on the planet – and PEC 215, a proposed change to Brazilian law which would undermine tribal land rights and lead to the break up and exploitation of existing indigenous territories.

As the Olympics approach, Survival supporters around the world are pushing Brazil to return the Guarani’s land and stop PEC 215, and to map out the territory of the uncontacted Kawahiva people to prevent their annihilation.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “This is undoubtedly the most serious and sustained attack on indigenous rights that Brazil has seen since the end of the military dictatorship, and it’s picking up pace. The media has focused on Brazil’s political turmoil in the run up to the Olympics, but very little has been said about the systematic annihilation of Brazilian indigenous peoples through the violation of their land rights. It was the genocide of Brazilian tribal peoples that prompted the foundation of Survival in 1969, and enormous progress has been made since. Now, almost half a century later, genocide is back on the table.”

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Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:38:30 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11314 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11314
Dongria celebrate recent court victory over mining company The Dongria are pleased at the court's verdict, but still concerned about ongoing pressure and possible future efforts to mine in their hills
The Dongria are pleased at the court's verdict, but still concerned about ongoing pressure and possible future efforts to mine in their hills
© Lewis Davies/Survival

Hundreds of Dongria Kondh and their neighbors came together to celebrate their latest victory against the mining of their sacred hills and to speak out against state-sponsored violence.

In May this year India’s Supreme Court threw out the latest attempt by the Odisha state government to start large-scale mining in the Niyamgiri hills. In 2013 the Dongria unanimously rejected plans by British mining company Vedanta Resources to mine their hills for bauxite. They took part in a historic referendum in which all consulted villages voted against the mine.

To celebrate their victory, the Dongria organized a series of marches that passed through 54 villages, culminating in a huge rally in Lanjigarh, home to Vedanta’s controversial bauxite refinery. Guests included lawyer Sanjay Parikh, who had represented the Dongria in the Supreme Court and social activist Medha Patkar.

The mood of the meeting was clear. Speaking at the rally one Dongria Kondh said: “We will continue our struggle for the protection of Niyam Raja [the Dongria’s mountain god]. We would rather sacrifice our lives than allow mining in Niyamgiri. We will continue our struggle till Vedanta moves out from here,” while others chanted: "Even if death comes, let Niyamgiri live.”

The Dongria are the best conservationists of their hills, which they have been dependent on and managed for generations. Dongria spokesperson Lodu Sikaka explained that during the marches in each village they had discussed the need to protect the environment at any cost. He also warned of the violence the Dongria will continue to face for resisting the government’s mining plans.

Sikaka said: “The government wants the tribals to vacate their land by instilling fear…Our colleagues are being tortured by police without any reason. Police pick up innocent men from marketplace and their homes. They are often branded as Maoists [armed-insurgents] and tortured in the name of interrogation.”

A 20­ year old student, Manda Kadraka, was shot dead by police during an anti­insurgent operation in the Niyamgiri hills in February. A three member team from India’s Supreme Court is currently investigating allegations that the killing was a fake encounter’ designed to intimidate the Dongria Kondh into accepting mining in their hills.

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Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:05:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11334 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11334
Amazon tribe blockade railroad in protest against Brazilian mining giant This is the first time the Awá have initiated a protest of this kind on their own.
This is the first time the Awá have initiated a protest of this kind on their own.
© Survival

Members of Brazil’s Awá tribe have blockaded a railroad owned by Vale mining company in the eastern Amazon.

The company has moved to expand the railroad, but the Awá say the expansion will increase the number and size of trains which transport iron ore from the Carajás mine to the port of São Luis – and that this will make it harder for them to hunt for food.

Carajás is the world’s largest open pit iron ore mine. To transport the iron ore, trains that are over 3 kilometers in length regularly hurtle through close to Awá territory.

The tribe are calling for a meeting with the company and FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, so that their wishes can be heard and their rights respected.

On June 11 a large group of Awá families occupied a section of the railroad which runs alongside their land.

At over 300 carriages in length, the Carajás train is among the longest in the world, and seriously disrupts the animals the Awá depend on for food
At over 300 carriages in length, the Carajás train is among the longest in the world, and seriously disrupts the animals the Awá depend on for food
© Screenshot

Following a meeting with Vale representatives last week (June 15), the Awá agreed to suspend the blockade on condition that the company upholds its agreement to mitigate the impacts on the Indians’ forest.

This is the first time that the Awá have blockaded the railroad on their own initiative and reflects their determination to hold Vale to account.

In April 2014 Survival’s international campaign succeeded in pushing the Brazilian government to evict illegal loggers and settlers who had destroyed over 30% of their central territory.

However, the Awá are still one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Around 100 remain uncontacted and are very vulnerable to diseases brought in by outsiders, to which they have no resistance.

Last year fires, possibly started by loggers, ravaged one Awá territory, home to the largest group of uncontacted members of the tribe.

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Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:55:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11328 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11328
Father’s Day: Meet the tribe where fathers suckle infants Research has suggested that 'Pygmy' fathers form exceptionally close bonds with their children
Research has suggested that 'Pygmy' fathers form exceptionally close bonds with their children
© C. Fornellino Romero/Survival

To mark Father’s Day (June 19) Survival International is celebrating the extraordinarily close parenting of rainforest tribes in central Africa, including some “Pygmy” tribes where fathers spend more time with their children than most parents in industrialized societies – and some have even been known to suckle infants.

A study has suggested that fathers from the Bayaka “Pygmy” tribe in the northern Congo hold their children for up to 20% of the day, and are far more likely to kiss or cuddle their children than the women.

The same study also found that Bayaka fathers were far less likely to engage in “rough and tumble” style play to create bonds with their children than their farming neighbors, instead preferring to communicate gently. This was shown to produce extremely nuanced understanding and communication between parent and child, even with children under 18 months old.

Hunter gatherers have developed ways of life which are largely self-sufficient and extraordinarily diverse. They are also widely known to foster close ties within families and communities and to afford more leisure time than pastoral, farming, or industrial working patterns.

Statistics like these suggest that rather than being considered backward or primitive, tribal peoples should be respected as contemporary societies who enjoy high qualities of life, especially if their right to determine their own futures is respected.

Despite this, many tribal peoples in central Africa are under threat. Their lands and resources are being stolen in the name of “progress” and “conservation.”

Tribal peoples can flourish when their right to determine their own futures is respected, living sustainable and fulfilling lives
Tribal peoples can flourish when their right to determine their own futures is respected, living sustainable and fulfilling lives
© Survival International

Tribal peoples like the closely related Baka people have been dependent on and managed their environment for generations. But big conservation organizations like WWF are instead partnering with industry and destroying the environment’s best allies in the name of conservation.

Ngoko Madeleine, a Baka parent said: “Before when a woman gave birth we took her to the forest to help her regain her strength and weight, now we can’t do this. We would take our children to the forest to avoid epidemics. Now we know illnesses we never knew before, like malaria, tetanus.”

Another Baka, Ango, said: “We don’t understand, they told us not to go into the forest. But we don’t know how to live otherwise. They beat us and they kill us. They force us to flee to Congo. We want our children to know about the leaves and barks and rites and everything. But now they don’t know.”

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said: “This study is further confirmation that those who think tribal peoples ignorant and backward are simply wrong. They are of course highly developed and sophisticated societies with a lot to teach us, not just about the natural world, but also about living in human society. We know that many of the world’s staple crops and drugs used in Western medicine originate with tribespeople, perhaps the world could also draw inspiration from the Baka and Bayaka’s approach to parenting, especially now, a time when the West still hasn’t evolved much clarity on the issue and childhood depression and bullying are on the increase. Rather than stealing these people’s land or forcing our ideas of “progress” onto them simply because their communal ways are different, we should be respecting them as contemporary societies and protecting their rights.”

Some names have been changed to protect tribal peoples’ identity

Note: "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.

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Thu, 16 Jun 2016 12:08:04 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11313 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11313
BREAKING: One Indian killed in Brazil, five wounded as tribal community attacked The body of Clodiodi Aquileu, a Guarani community health worker killed by ranchers' gunmen, lies in the grass. Brazil, 2016
The body of Clodiodi Aquileu, a Guarani community health worker killed by ranchers' gunmen, lies in the grass. Brazil, 2016
© CIMI

A group of gunmen has attacked a tribal community in southern Brazil, killing one man and wounding at least five others, including a child. It is the latest in a series of violent assaults on the Guarani tribe.

The attack took place yesterday (June 14) in Tey’i Jusu community. Guarani Kaiowá villagers were able to film the attack from a distance. Gunshots and screams are audible in the footage, and fires appear to have been lit in nearby fields.

Video: Gunmen attack Tey’i Jusu community

The man who was killed has been named as Clodiodi Aquileu, a community health worker in his twenties.

The attack is highly likely to be part of escalating attempts by the powerful local agri-business and ranching interests – closely linked to the recently established interim government – to illegally evict the Guarani from their ancestral land and to intimidate them with genocidal violence and racism.

Earlier this week, Survival received audio through its Tribal Voice project from the Guarani of Pyelito Kue community, documenting a separate attack by gunmen on their village.

Video: Guarani families react to attack Pyelito Kue village

News has also broken about another Guarani community in the same region, known as Apy Ka’y, which is facing eviction after a land reoccupation led by indigenous leader Damiana Cavanha in 2013. It is not yet known whether the nine families living there have been able to hold onto the land – which is rightfully theirs under Brazilian and international law – after an eviction order was served last week.

Attacks against Guarani communities have increased in frequency since a large territory was approved for the tribe by the outgoing Dilma Rousseff administration
Attacks against Guarani communities have increased in frequency since a large territory was approved for the tribe by the outgoing Dilma Rousseff administration
© Campanha Guarani

Speaking last month on a visit to Europe to appeal for support for his people, Tonico Benites Guarani, a Guarani leader said: “A slow genocide is taking place. There is a war being waged against us. We are scared. They kill our leaders, hide their bodies, intimidate and threaten us.

“We are fighting always for our land. Our culture does not allow violence but the ranchers will kill us rather than give it back. Most of the land was taken in the 1960s and 70s. The ranchers arrived and pushed us out. The land is good quality, with rivers and forest. Now it is very valuable.”

Over the past few decades, the Guarani have been subjected to genocidal violence, slavery and racism so that their lands, resources and labor can be stolen. In April, Survival launched its “Stop Brazil’s Genocide” campaign to bring this urgent and horrific crisis to global attention and give Brazilian tribes a platform to speak to the world in this historic Olympic year.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “We’re witnessing a sustained and brutal attack on the Guarani, and its intensity is increasing. Powerful people in Brazil are trying to silence the Guarani, terrorizing them until they give up on their land claim. But the Guarani still don’t give up. They know they risk death for wanting to return to their ancestral homelands, but the alternative is so dire that they have no choice but to face the gunmen and their bullets. Brazil’s interim government has to do more to end this wave of violence. It’s leading to murder.”

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Wed, 15 Jun 2016 14:57:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11323 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11323
UN report confirms corruption is biggest threat to ivory, as wildlife officials arrested across Africa and Asia Cameroonian ecoguard Mpaé Désiré, who in 2015 was accused of beating Baka and in 2016 was arrested for involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.
Cameroonian ecoguard Mpaé Désiré, who in 2015 was accused of beating Baka and in 2016 was arrested for involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.
© Facebook

A new UN report has confirmed that corrupt officials are at the heart of wildlife crime in many parts of the world, rather than terrorist groups or tribal peoples who hunt to feed their families.

The reports’ findings have coincided with a wave of arrests of wildlife officials across Africa and Asia, raising concerns of a global “epidemic” of poaching and corruption among armed wildlife guards who are supposed to be protecting endangered species.

Recent conservation corruption arrests include:

-A wildlife guard in Cameroon, Mpaé Désiré, and a local police chief who were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the illegal ivory trade on the ancestral land of the Baka “Pygmies" and other rainforest tribes. Mr Mpaé has been accused by Baka of beating up tribespeople and torching one of their forest camps after accusing them of poaching.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been funding wildlife guards in this part of Cameroon since at least 2000, despite reports of guards arresting, beating and torturing tribal hunters.

One Baka man told Survival in 2013: “Ecoguards used to open tins of sardines and leave them as bait to attract leopards, so they could hunt them for their skins."

Another said: “The ecoguards don’t want anyone in the forest at all so that no one hears the gunshots as they poach.”

Elsewhere:

- Four park employees in India have been arrested for involvement in poaching endangered one-horned rhinos in the notorious Kaziranga reserve, where wildlife guards are encouraged to shoot on sight anyone they suspect of poaching. 62 people have been killed there in just nine years.

- A forest officer has been arrested near Kaziranga after police found a tiger skin and ivory in his house.

- In the Pench tiger reserve in central India, a guard, named in reports as Vipin Varmiya, has been arrested for killing a tiger and her two cubs.

A tiger was allegedly killed by a park guard in Pench tiger reserve, India
A tiger was allegedly killed by a park guard in Pench tiger reserve, India
© Survival

A recent Brookings Institution Report confirmed that the big conservation organizations are failing to tackle the true poachers – criminals conspiring with corrupt officials. The link between corruption and wildlife crime has also been reported in Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Indonesia.

The involvement of armed guards in poaching, in countries where militarized conservation tactics are employed, raises questions over the advisability of using violence and intimidation to protect flora and fauna. In many parts of the world, armed conservation has led to violence against local tribal peoples, including in Cameroon, and in India where summary execution in the name of conservation is in danger of becoming more widespread.

In February 2016, Survival filed an OECD complaint against the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for its involvement in funding repressive and often violent conservation projects in southeast Cameroon, rather than tackling the real poachers. Persecuting the environment’s best allies in place of real action to tackle these systemic problems is harming conservation.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Conservation’s response to poaching has been to accuse local tribespeople when they hunt to feed their families, to support the use of shoot-to-kill policies and to blame terrorists. None of it works; it’s harming conservation. The true poachers are the criminals, including ecoguards, who conspire with corrupt officials. As the big conservation organizations partner with industry and tourism, they’re harming the environment’s best allies, the tribal peoples who have been dependent on and managed their environments for millennia. Tribespeople should be at the forefront of the environmental movement, they know who the poachers actually are, they can protect their land from logging, they protect biodiversity, and are better at looking after their environment than anyone else.”

Note: Latest reports indicate Mr Mpaé has been released from custody and is awaiting trial.

“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.

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Tue, 14 Jun 2016 10:46:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11312 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11312