News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survivalinternational.org/news.rss Five things the BBC didn’t tell you about Kaziranga Armed park guard in Kaziranga national park in India, as seen on the BBC's Planet Earth II
Armed park guard in Kaziranga national park in India, as seen on the BBC's Planet Earth II
© BBC

The BBC’s “Planet Earth II” recently featured an Indian national park, Kaziranga, known for its one-horned rhinos, tigers, and for hosting Prince William and Princess Kate earlier this year. What the show didn’t tell you about however, were the brutal conservation policies park guards use against local people, many of them tribal.

In the interests of balance, we thought we’d reveal a few additional facts about the national park:

#1: Guards shoot people on sight
Kaziranga park guards are armed and shoot intruders on sight. There are no arrests, no trial, no judge or jury, no opportunities for appeal – an armed guard sees an “intruder” – and kills them. This can have devastating consequences for people who live around the park. Some have been shot for wandering over park boundaries to collect firewood or retrieve cattle. In July this year, a seven-year old boy was shot and subsequently spent several months in hospital. 62 people were killed there in nine years, and another 42 people were killed between 2014 and 2015 alone.

#2: Guards are motivated to kill
Not only are guards permitted to commit summary executions, they are positively encouraged to do so. A 2014 report by the park’s director literally spelled it out – two of the maxims they use in training are “never allow any unauthorized entry – kill the unwanted” and “must obey or get killed.” These are terrible human rights violations, committed in the name of conservation. They’re also against international law.

Akash Orang, a tribal boy, was shot by a park guard in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India
Akash Orang, a tribal boy, was shot by a park guard in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India
© JEEPAL

#3: The guards are getting involved in poaching themselves
All of this brutality is justified on the grounds that it deters poachers. Yet the armed guards who are there to protect the animals are often profiting by killing them themselves. In May this year, four members of the park’s staff were arrested for involvement in poaching, and another senior official is facing charges after a tiger skin and ivory were found in his office. Shoot on sight is a con – and it’s harming conservation.

#4: Tribal peoples are facing evictions from the area
Around India, tribal peoples are being illegally evicted in the name of conservation. The authorities used brutal tactics to evict non-tribal settlers in September, when two people were killed and about twenty wounded, and tribal people are being threatened with the same treatment. A local contact told Survival that “everyone is very frightened” about the prospect of eviction. A 2015 court ruling ordered the evictions, citing the needs of wildlife, stating “there should be no human habitation,” despite the fact that people have coexisted with the animals there for generations.

Two people were killed during the evictions on the edge of Kaziranga.
Two people were killed during the evictions on the edge of Kaziranga.
© The Wire

#5: Tribal peoples are better at looking after their environment than anyone else
Tribal peoples have been dependent on and managed their environments for millennia. Their lands are not wilderness. They are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. They should be at the forefront of the environmental movement, yet the Indian authorities prefer to put their faith in corrupt officials and armed guards.

Tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation. The big conservation organizations are guilty of supporting this. They never speak out against evictions. WWF even offers commercial tours of Kaziranga on its website. Tourists are welcome in the reserve – but tribal peoples are not.

In another tiger reserve in southern India, tribal peoples have been allowed to stay, and tiger numbers have increased at above the national average. The policy of threatening tribal peoples with arrest and beatings, torture and even death is inhumane and unnecessary. It’s a shame such a high-profile wildlife documentary decided not to acknowledge this.

]]>
Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:22:58 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11522 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11522
Brazil: Six Indians murdered as land conflict deepens "José Dias Guajajara (right) was one of the Guajajara men murdered in late 2016"
"José Dias Guajajara (right) was one of the Guajajara men murdered in late 2016"
© CIMI Regional Maranhão

Six Amazonian Indians have been murdered in the latest wave of violence against Brazil’s indigenous population.

The men, of the Guajajara tribe in the north-eastern Amazon, were killed between September and November 2016. Their bodies were then brutally dismembered.

The six men are the latest victims of the land conflict which has engulfed the area. Several groups of Guajajara are at the forefront of efforts to evict illegal loggers from their forests.

The Brazilian NGO CIMI said of one of the men: “He was fighting to defend the indigenous territory against illegal logging, and he made those who live off this activity angry.”

The Guajajara have reported a constant stream of death threats from outsiders who are stealing their land and resources. A powerful and violent logging mafia operates in the region, supported by some local politicians.

Five Guajajara were murdered earlier this year. They were from Arariboia indigenous territory, where Indians known as the “Guajajara Guardians” are putting their lives on the line to expel loggers and save their uncontacted Awá neighbors from extinction.

"The 'Guajajara Guardians' conduct expeditions to evict illegal loggers and save their uncontacted Awá neighbors from extinction."
"The 'Guajajara Guardians' conduct expeditions to evict illegal loggers and save their uncontacted Awá neighbors from extinction."
© Survival

Olimpio Guajajara, one of the Guardians, told Survival: “The Awá face genocide. Nobody has the right to take their land from them. Please help us protect it!”

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet and face catastrophe unless their land is protected.

Plans to drastically weaken indigenous land rights and cut and freeze funding to FUNAI, the body charged with protecting tribal lands, are currently being debated by Brazilian politicians. If approved, they would further worsen the plight of the Guajajara and tribes nationwide.

Brazilian Indians and their allies around the world are protesting against these dangerous proposals.

]]>
Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:14:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11523 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11523
Peru: Priest’s notorious “death road” set to cut uncontacted tribes in two "A recently contacted Mastanahua man. If the plans go ahead, many more tribal people in the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier will face the catastrophe of first contact."
"A recently contacted Mastanahua man. If the plans go ahead, many more tribal people in the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier will face the catastrophe of first contact."
© David Hill/Survival

A new “death road” advocated by a notorious Italian priest is set to cut in two the land of several uncontacted tribes in the heartland of the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier.

The road is expected to be approved by Peru’s congress soon, and will run through 270 km of the Amazon’s most biodiverse and sensitive protected areas.

The project has been supported for years by Father Miguel Piovesan, a Catholic priest who has described the local tribal peoples as “prehistoric,” and slammed international NGOs for raising concerns about the plan.

The road was rejected by Peru’s Congress in 2012. Despite this, work continued illegally for many years, and now the project has been proposed again by Congressman Carlos Tubino.

Fr. Miguel Piovesan, the main backer of the Purus road, alongside former President Ollanta Humala.
Fr. Miguel Piovesan, the main backer of the Purus road, alongside former President Ollanta Humala.
© Anon

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. There are estimated to be around 15 uncontacted peoples in Peru, many of them in the region where the road will be built.

Survival International has lodged a complaint with the United Nations, citing the catastrophic impact on the uncontacted Indians and urging the Peruvian government to veto the plan.

Of the 3-4,000 people in the area, around 80% are indigenous. Most of them are opposed to the road.

Emilio Montes, president of the indigenous organization FECONAPU, which is based in Puerto Esperanza said: “We flatly reject this road. We indigenous people won’t benefit from it, only the loggers, miners, oil companies and narcotraffickers. It threatens the lives of our isolated relatives, like the Mashco Piro. It will destroy our animals and plants. They should, instead, respect our ancestral territories. We’ve always lived here, and our children must carry on doing so. We need another type of development which looks after our resources sustainably: so that we can live properly, and secure our future.”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “If this road goes ahead, it will destroy the uncontacted tribes, and their “development” will be terminated for ever. Survival has fought roads in this part of Amazonia for decades. Who are they supposed to help? If Peru has any respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law, it must stop these plans now.”

Uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians on a riverbank near the Manú National Park. 2011.
Uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians on a riverbank near the Manú National Park. 2011.
© Jean-Paul Van Belle

Background briefing
- The road will connect Puerto Esperanza to the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which runs through Peru and Brazil. The area is part of the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier, the region along the Peru-Brazil border with the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world.
- Uncontacted peoples who could be wiped out if the road is built include the Mashco Piro, Chitonahua, Mastanahua and Sapanawa, who have all lived nomadically in the region for generations. Outsiders such as missionaries and loggers have forced several groups to make contact in recent years.
- Elsewhere in the Amazon, road “development” projects have allowed an influx of colonists to access remote areas and threaten the lives and lands of uncontacted peoples.
- Several indigenous organizations in Peru have made a statement rejecting the road.
- Fr. Piovesan has repeatedly denied the existence of uncontacted peoples. His parish newsletter stated that: “Isolation is not a natural wish. We can’t prove that isolated people exist. They are dreamt up by those who barely know indigenous people, or base their investigations on unproven theories.”
- Uncontacted Indians have clearly expressed their desire to remain uncontacted. The project cannot be carried out with their consent and will violate their right to determine their own futures.

The Amazon Uncontacted Frontier, a large area on the Peru-Brazil border that is home to the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world.
The Amazon Uncontacted Frontier, a large area on the Peru-Brazil border that is home to the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world.
© Survival International

We know very little about uncontacted tribes. But we do know there are more than a hundred around the world. And we know whole populations are being wiped out by genocidal violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

Uncontacted tribes are not backward and primitive relics of a remote past. They are our contemporaries and a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity. Where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive.

All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected. Survival International are doing everything we can to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.

]]>
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:22:39 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11519 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11519
India: Mining company targets Dongria’s sacred hills - AGAIN The Dongria have repeatedly expressed opposition to efforts to mine in Niyamgiri
The Dongria have repeatedly expressed opposition to efforts to mine in Niyamgiri
© Survival

A mining company in India has renewed its efforts to start mining on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh people, despite previous defeat in the Supreme Court, and determined opposition by the tribe.

The Dongria Kondh consider the Niyamgiri Hills to be sacred and have been dependent on and managed them for millennia. Despite this the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), which previously partnered with British-owned Vedanta Resources, is once again attempting to open a bauxite mine there.

In February this year, OMC sought permission from India’s Supreme court to re-run a ground breaking referendum, in which the Dongria tribe had resolutely rejected large-scale mining in their hills. This petition was thrown out by the Supreme Court in May.

India’s Business Standard reported recently that OMC is gearing up for yet another attempt to mine, after getting the go-ahead from the government of Odisha state.

Dongria leader Lodu Sikaka has said: ”We would rather sacrifice our lives for Mother Earth, we shall not let her down. Let the government, businessmen, and the company argue and repress us as much as they can, we are not going to leave Niyamgiri, our Mother Earth. Niyamgiri, Niyam Raja, is our god, our Mother Earth. We are her children.”

For tribal peoples like the Dongria, land is life. It fulfills all their material and spiritual needs. Land provides food, housing and clothing. It’s also the foundation of tribal peoples’ identity and sense of belonging.

The theft of tribal land destroys self-sufficient peoples and their diverse ways of life. It causes disease, destitution and suicide.

The Dongria’s rejection of mining at 12 village meetings in 2013, led the Indian government to refuse the necessary clearances to mining giant Vedanta Resources. This was viewed as a heroic David and Goliath victory over London-listed Vedanta and the state-run OMC.

Only the Dongria’s courageous defence of their sacred hills has stopped a mine which would have devastated the area: more evidence that tribal peoples are better at looking after their environment than anyone else. They are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. Protecting their territory is an effective barrier against deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation.

]]>
Tue, 22 Nov 2016 12:49:46 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11510 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11510
Incredible new photos of uncontacted Amazon tribe – that could be wiped out Uncontacted Yanomami yano (communal house) in the Brazilian Amazon, photographed from the air in 2016
Uncontacted Yanomami yano (communal house) in the Brazilian Amazon, photographed from the air in 2016
© Guilherme Gnipper Trevisan/FUNAI/Hutukara

Extraordinary new aerial photos show a contemporary uncontacted tribal community estimated to be home to 100 people in the Amazon.

The village is in the Yanomami indigenous territory in the north of Brazil, close to the Venezuelan border. About 22,000 Yanomami live on the Brazilian side of the border, and at least 3 groups of them have no contact with outsiders. They are extremely vulnerable to violence and disease from outsiders.

When their land is protected, uncontacted tribes can thrive. However, this area is currently being over-run by over 5,000 illegal gold miners raising serious fears that some of the most vulnerable people on the planet could be wiped out.

Uncontacted Indians' yano in the Yanomami indigenous reserve. At least 3 groups of them are known to be uncontacted.
Uncontacted Indians' yano in the Yanomami indigenous reserve. At least 3 groups of them are known to be uncontacted.
© Guilherme Gnipper Trevisan/FUNAI/Hutukara

Miners have brought diseases like malaria to the region and polluted Yanomami food and water sources with mercury, leading to a serious health crisis.

Yanomami shaman and activist Davi Kopenawa Yanomami said: “The place where the uncontacted Indians live, fish, hunt and plant must be protected. The whole world must know that they are there in their forest and that the authorities must respect their right to live there.” Davi is president of the Yanomami association Hutukara and has been called “The Dalai Lama of the Rainforest.”

Of the miners he said: “They are like termites – they keep coming back and they don’t leave us in peace.”

Brazilian government agents are charged with protecting the Yanomami territory. But they are currently facing severe budget cuts amid politicians’ plans to drastically weaken indigenous land protection and rights.

Without continued support, the team responsible for the Yanomami region will be unable to protect the territory from invaders, and might even be closed down completely. This would leave the uncontacted Yanomami at risk of annihilation.

Uncontacted Yanomami Indians photographed from the air near the Venezuelan border. They appear to be in good health, and their population appears to have grown.
Uncontacted Yanomami Indians photographed from the air near the Venezuelan border. They appear to be in good health, and their population appears to have grown.
© Guilherme Gnipper Trevisan/FUNAI/Hutukara

Background briefing
- The Yanomami Indigenous territory was created in 1992 after years of campaigning by Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Survival International, and the Pro-Yanomami Commission (CCPY).

- Before the reserve’s creation the Yanomami were being wiped out by violence from outsiders and by diseases like flu and measles to which they had little resistance, brought to the territory by illegal gold miners and other invaders. The territory has given them the chance to determine their own futures and the tribe has now largely recovered after decades of chaos.

- However, FUNAI, the Brazilian Indian Affairs department responsible for protecting territories like this one, is facing severe budget cuts. There are fears that six out of 12 uncontacted tribes teams could be shut down – including the one dedicated to protecting the Yanomami.

- Uncontacted Yanomami have clearly indicated their desire to be left alone – fleeing from outsiders and avoiding contacted members of the tribe.

- These photos show a typical Yanomami yano, a large communal house for several families. Each of the square sections of the yano is home to a different family, where they hang their hammocks, maintain fires, and keep food stores.

- The Yanomami have a huge botanical knowledge and use about 500 plants for food, medicine, and house building. They provide for themselves partly by hunting, gathering and fishing, but crops such as manioc and bananas are also grown in large gardens cleared from the forest.

- Yanomami shamans are the spiritual leaders of their community. They inhale a hallucinogenic snuff called yakoana, which they believe allows them to communicate with the spirit world.

Uncontacted Yanomami seen from the air in the center of their yano, estimated to be home to around 100 individuals.
Uncontacted Yanomami seen from the air in the center of their yano, estimated to be home to around 100 individuals.
© Guilherme Gnipper Trevisan/FUNAI/Hutukara

Uncontacted tribes are not backward and primitive relics of a remote past. They are our contemporaries and a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity. Where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive.

Their knowledge is irreplaceable and has been developed over thousands of years. They are the best guardians of their environment. And evidence proves that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation.

Survival International opposes attempts by outsiders to contact them. It’s always fatal and initiating contact must be their choice alone. Those who enter uncontacted tribes’ territories deny them that choice.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “These extraordinary images are further proof of the existence of still more uncontacted tribes. They’re not savages but complex and contemporary societies whose rights must be respected. It’s obvious that they’re perfectly capable of living successfully without the need for outside notions of “progress” and “development.” All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected. We’re doing everything we can to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.”

]]>
Thu, 17 Nov 2016 10:42:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11503 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11503
Bolivia covers up evidence of uncontacted Indians The Tacana have long warned against oil exploration in the area, because of the threat to their uncontacted neighbors
The Tacana have long warned against oil exploration in the area, because of the threat to their uncontacted neighbors
© El Diario

The Bolivian state oil company has denied reports that workers prospecting near the Peruvian border have had several encounters with a group of uncontacted Indians.

The company, YPFB, had sub-contracted the exploration work to BGP Bolivia, a subsidiary of a Chinese oil corporation.

Eyewitnesses have reported that in August and September, workers clearing tracks through the forest came across footprints, broken branches and empty tortoise shells. Then, on the 17th September, workers were surprised by shouts from people nearby. BGP postponed work in the area and withdrew the workers. One worker reported that: “We heard men shouting 80 to 100 metres from the track.”

On the night of the 18th, workers were surrounded in their camp by Indians, presumably from the same group.

The Tacana, an indigenous tribe who live in the area, have long warned YPFB against oil exploration in the area, because of the threat to their uncontacted neighbors. On the 14th September the Tacana wrote to the government stating that: “The situation is extremely serious and the authorities must intervene immediately.”

Despite the mounting evidence of uncontacted Indians, the President of YPFB has since denied their existence: “There’s no proof of any uncontacted Indians. The facts have been twisted – we will carry on with our work.”

If it continues, it could be catastrophic for the uncontacted tribe, sometimes referred to as the Toromonas. The plans for the two oil exploration blocks in the area involve hundreds of tracks to be cut through the forest, and more than 61,000 small underground explosions.

The noise and disruption, and the influx of workers deep in the jungle, brings a serious risk of unplanned or forced contact. Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet, and this will increase the risk of the Indians contacting diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

The work takes place in the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier, home to the highest concentration of uncontacted peoples in the world. They face catastrophe unless their land is protected.

Chronology

20-23rd August, 12th, 15th September: Evidence of uncontacted Toromona found by BGP workers

17th September: Workers are surprised by shouts from people nearby. BGP withdraws the workers and suspends activities in the area

18th September: At night, workers are surrounded in their camp by uncontacted Indians. BGP sends a report to YPFB

17th October: The President of YPFB denies the existence of uncontacted people

]]>
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 10:51:18 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11499 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11499
Indigenous protestors acquitted over the Bagua Massacre in Peru "Police attack protesters on June 5th 2009"
"Police attack protesters on June 5th 2009"
© Thomas Quirynen

52 protestors have been acquitted of charges relating to the Bagua Massacre, one of the bloodiest episodes in recent Peruvian history.

The protestors, many of whom were indigenous, were accused of killing 12 policemen in June 2009. The massacre, which began as a peaceful demonstration, ended with at least twenty-three police officers, five Indians and five civilians dead, and more than 200 people injured. Unofficial reports suggest that the death toll was much higher.

The protest began when several thousand Awajún and Wampis Indians blockaded a highway at the ‘Devil’s Bend’ in the Peruvian Amazon. They were demonstrating against the Peruvian government’s plans to strip the Indians of their rights and open up the Amazon to oil drilling and mining. The plans were a product of a 2006 free trade agreement between Peru and the U.S.

Peruvian security forces were sent to the blockade to break it up. The subsequent violent confrontation has been the subject of a Survival report, and a recent film.

Peru’s national indigenous organisation AIDESEP is now calling for the true perpetrators of the violence, including ex-president Alan García, to be brought to justice.

Since the massacre, several of the controversial decrees that were being protested have been repealed. Peru now has a law designed to guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent to any projects affecting them and their lands.

However, more than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has been allocated to oil companies.

]]>
Fri, 04 Nov 2016 10:39:28 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11493 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11493
Billionaire's elephant-hunting safaris implicated in "Pygmy” abuses WWF trustee Peter Flack with dead forest elephant
WWF trustee Peter Flack with dead forest elephant
© Peter Flack

Survival International has learned that an elephant-hunting safari operation jointly owned by a French billionaire has been implicated in human rights abuses against local Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbors, including illegal evictions and torture.

The operation is based in two “protected areas” in Cameroon, leased by Benjamin de Rothschild. It offers tourists the chance to pay €55,000 to shoot a forest elephant.

Baka were evicted from their ancestral land to create the trophy hunting operation, contrary to international law. It is patrolled by soldiers, police and armed guards, and Baka have now been told they will be shot on sight if they cross it to hunt to feed their families, gather plants, or visit religious sites.

The Baka report that three of their forest camps have been burnt by wildlife guards and safari camp employees in the last year alone. Baka men hunting for food in this forest have been beaten by local police, soldiers and wildlife guards.

Benjamin de Rothschild, joint owner of a luxury elephant-hunting operation on Baka land.
Benjamin de Rothschild, joint owner of a luxury elephant-hunting operation on Baka land.
© JeuneAfrique

One Baka man told Survival: ”They told me to carry my father on my back. I started walking, [the guard] beat me, he beat my father. For three hours, every time I cried out they would beat me, until I fainted and fell to the ground with my father."

Another Baka man said: “When the trophy-hunting company finds us here they burn the camps. They beat us, they search for us, they set their dogs on you, their guns on you.”

A third Baka said: “The trophy-hunting company said that if they see anyone [in the forest] bullets will fly. Now those who have family there have gone to get them out. How will we live now?”

Survival contacted Mr. de Rothschild informing him of reports of serious human rights abuses having been committed to maintain the trophy-hunting operation, but has received no reply.

The Baka use the Cameroonian rainforest for food, medicine, and religious rituals. They are now excluded from it by force.
The Baka use the Cameroonian rainforest for food, medicine, and religious rituals. They are now excluded from it by force.
© Selcen Kucukustel/Atlas

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) is very active in Cameroon, and the trophy-hunting “protected areas” form part of one of their key “conservation landscapes.” WWF has yet to comment on the allegations, or say whether it proposes to take any action.

One booking operator told Survival that: “All our luxurious fully equipped forest camps are solid construction, air conditioned with private chalets with full bathrooms and dressing parlors. Delicious multi-course cuisine is served with top shelf European wines and beverages… Our newest forest camp has a large screened in swimming pool.”

Human rights abuse and trophy hunting in CameroonAn elephant-hunting safari operation jointly owned by French billionaire Benjamin de Rothschild has been implicated in human rights abuses – including illegal evictions and torture – against local Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbors.

Click here to find out more and take action.

This is not an isolated incident. Across Africa, tribal people 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. Survival International is leading the fight against these abuses.

Across the region, Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbors are being evicted from their ancestral homelands and face arrest and beatings, torture and even death while big game trophy-hunting is encouraged. WWF trustee Peter Flack has also hunted elephants in the region.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Across Africa, rich trophy hunters are welcomed into the same areas where tribal hunters are illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands and brutalized for hunting to feed their families. This has to stop. Conservation in the Congo Basin is land theft, a continuation of colonialism. It leads to widespread and horrific human rights violations, including extrajudicial killing. Why are so few people speaking out? Survival is leading the fight against these abuses. Conservationists must respect human rights like everyone else is supposed to.”

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.

]]>
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:25:15 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11487 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11487
Brazil: “Wave after wave” of loggers invade uncontacted tribe’s rainforest "The Kawahiva are forced to live on the run, moving from camp to camp to evade intruders on their land (image taken in a chance encounter with a FUNAI team.)"
"The Kawahiva are forced to live on the run, moving from camp to camp to evade intruders on their land (image taken in a chance encounter with a FUNAI team.)"
© FUNAI 2011

Waves of loggers are invading the territory of one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. The Indians, known as the Last of the Kawahiva, are the survivors of a larger tribe who have been killed or died of disease.

One group of loggers was recently caught by agents from FUNAI, Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs department. However, as the loggers have local political support, and FUNAI agents do not have the power to arrest suspects, the men were released. Further waves of loggers have since entered the territory.

The crisis has raised concerns among campaigners that the tribe and their rainforest home could be destroyed entirely.

"FUNAI agents work in many parts of Brazil to protect indigenous territories from loggers and other threats."
"FUNAI agents work in many parts of Brazil to protect indigenous territories from loggers and other threats."
© Mário Vilela/FUNAI

In April 2016, the Brazilian Minister of Justice signed a decree to create a protected indigenous territory on the tribe’s land to keep loggers and other intruders out. This was a big step forward for the Kawahiva’s lands and lives, and followed pressure from Survival’s supporters around the world. However, the decree has yet to be properly enacted and now the small team who are working to protect the land are facing severe budget cuts.

Jair Candor, an experienced FUNAI agent, said: ”The Kawahiva are trapped. If any contact happens, it will be devastating for them. The only way to ensure their survival is to map out the land and put in place a permanent land protection team. Otherwise, they will be relegated to the history books, just like so many other tribal peoples of this region."

Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance has narrated a film to highlight the tribe’s plight.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Brazil committed to protecting the Kawahiva’s land in April, but with the government dragging its heels an urgent and horrific humanitarian crisis is unfolding. The Kawahiva’s land is still being invaded and their forest is still being destroyed. It’s time for Brazil to take action as it promised, before the genocide of an entire people is complete."

]]>
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 10:20:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11482 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11482
Brazil: “Harpy Eagle” tribe and uncontacted neighbors in Amazon face annihilation The Uru Eu Wau Wau are famous for tattooing around their mouths with genipapo, a black dye made from an Amazonian fruit.
The Uru Eu Wau Wau are famous for tattooing around their mouths with genipapo, a black dye made from an Amazonian fruit.
© Fiona Watson/Survival (1991)

Waves of ranchers and other settlers are overrunning the territory of a recently-contacted Brazilian tribe with the support of local politicians. It is being described in the region as “the worst land invasion in decades” and could wipe out nearby uncontacted people.

The Uru Eu Wau Wau Indians are known as the “Harpy Eagle” people, as they use the bird’s huge feathers to make hunting arrows and headdresses. They call their uncontacted neighbors the Jururei, meaning “brave ones.”

We know very little about uncontacted peoples, but we do know that whole populations are being wiped out by genocidal violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance. The Uru Eu Wau Wau were decimated following first contact in the 1980s.

Clear felling and burning of forest in Rôndonia photographed from the air by Brazilian NGO Kaninde, close to uncontacted Indians and the Uru Eu Wau Wau
Clear felling and burning of forest in Rôndonia photographed from the air by Brazilian NGO Kaninde, close to uncontacted Indians and the Uru Eu Wau Wau
© Kaninde

The Rôndonia state government operates a long-standing colonization scheme next to the tribe’s territory. Settlers are now entering the territory, despite the fact part of it is a national park, and three groups of uncontacted Indians live inside it. Local landowners and politicians are now promoting a new wave of invasion.

Aerial photos show large areas of the tribe’s territory being burned down by settlers clearing the land. As well as several tribal peoples, the region is also home to unique Amazonian pine trees as well as a distinctive landscape of waterfalls, cave formations and plateaus. Endangered species like the black shouldered opossum, giant armadillo, and razor billed curassow depend on these environments for their survival.

Members of the tribe wrote to federal police on August 8, but the authorities have yet to act. In the letter, the Indians said: “We are very worried because the invasions are close to our villages and putting the lives of women, old people, children and men at risk…. The situation is extremely serious and the invaders must be removed quickly before Indians and invaders die in confrontations inside the indigenous territory.”

"Isolated Uru Eu Wau Wau villages seen from the air, Brazil"
"Isolated Uru Eu Wau Wau villages seen from the air, Brazil"
© Fiona Watson/Survival

The Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe was contacted by Brazilian government agents in 1981. Official policy at the time was to forcibly contact uncontacted tribal peoples. This led to them being exposed to infectious diseases.

Although the tribe’s land rights were officially recognized in 1991, campaigners are concerned that not enough is being done to protect their hugely biodiverse homeland. Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet, and face catastrophe unless their land rights are respected.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Land theft is the biggest problem tribal peoples face. Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit. What’s happening in Brazil is simply a continuation of the invasion and genocide which characterized the European colonization of the Americas and it’s time this land theft was recognized for the serious and deadly crime it is. Uncontacted peoples’ right to their land is protected in Brazilian and international law and government should respect this.”

]]>
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 10:04:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11476 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11476
Xukuru-Kariri indigenous leader assassinated in Brazil "João Natalício Xukuru-Kariri (center), a Brazilian Indian leader, has been assassinated."
"João Natalício Xukuru-Kariri (center), a Brazilian Indian leader, has been assassinated."
© José Hélio Pereira da Silva/CIMI

A Brazilian Indian leader at the forefront of his people’s struggle to reclaim their ancestral land has been assassinated.

João Natalício Xukuru-Kariri was reportedly stabbed to death outside his home. Reports suggest that two men killed João, but their identities have not been confirmed.

Seu João, as he was known, was heavily involved in the Xukuru-Kariri tribe’s campaign to live on their ancestral land, a right enshrined in Brazilian and international law.

Another Xukuru-Kariri leader told the Brazilian support group CIMI: “The region has a history of violence resulting from the land struggle. Seu João was a respected leader of our people.”

Land theft is the biggest problem the Xukuru-Kariri and other tribal peoples face. Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit. But for tribal peoples, land is life. It fulfills all their material and spiritual needs.

Brazil’s Congress is currently debating a proposal to drastically weaken indigenous peoples’ land rights, which, if implemented, would be catastrophic for tribes nationwide and would further worsen their plight.

"Tribes across Brazil are protesting to maintain their hard-won land rights."
"Tribes across Brazil are protesting to maintain their hard-won land rights."
© Fabio Nascimento / Mobilização Nacional Indígena

The key to indigenous peoples’ prosperity is to ensure their land remains under their control. The Xukuru-Kariri, alongside dozens of other tribes and their allies, are calling for the proposal to be scrapped.

Survival’s global call against the proposal, known as “PEC 215,” has so far generated over 13,000 protest emails to Brazil’s Congress.


]]>
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 16:52:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11472 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11472
Tribal Voice: Pataxó Indians send desperate appeal "The Pataxó tribe has sent a desperate appeal to the world"
"The Pataxó tribe has sent a desperate appeal to the world"
© Pataxó

A tribe of Brazilian Indians have sent a desperate appeal to the world, recorded in their community as they were evicted from their land and thrown onto the side of a main road.

In the short clip released by Survival’s Tribal Voice project, a spokeswoman of the Pataxó tribe says: “We Pataxó people are subjected to so much violence. They are killing us! You can see what’s happening here today.”

Watch: Desperate appeal from the Pataxó.

The Pataxó of Brazil’s Bahia state, and other tribes around the country, depend on their land for their survival. But it is being stolen from them in the pursuit of profit.

Brazil’s Congress is debating a plan to change the constitution which, if implemented, would give anti-Indian landowners the chance to block the recognition of new indigenous territories – and it might even enable them to break up existing ones.

"Pataxó Indians were evicted from their land and thrown onto the side of a main road."
"Pataxó Indians were evicted from their land and thrown onto the side of a main road."
© Pataxó

The key to tribal peoples’ survival and prosperity is to ensure their land remains under their control. Alongside tribes across Brazil, Survival is campaigning for indigenous peoples’ land rights to be upheld.

Survival’s groundbreaking Tribal Voice project gives tribal people a platform to speak to the world, allowing them to reach large audiences in real time.

This is the Pataxó’s first Tribal Voice message, sent from the scene of the eviction to the Guarani tribe and from them, directly to thousands of people around the world.

The Guarani, whose land has been stolen and destroyed by plantations and ranches, are sending regular Tribal Voice updates about their lives, and their struggle to survive.

Sign up to receive Tribal Voice video messages from tribal peoples.

]]>
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:24:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11468 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11468