News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survivalinternational.org/news.rss 'Violent attacks' caused uncontacted Indians to emerge Seven uncontacted Indians made contact with a settled Ashaninka community near the Brazil-Peru border in June. Authorities have treated them after an outbreak of flu.
Seven uncontacted Indians made contact with a settled Ashaninka community near the Brazil-Peru border in June. Authorities have treated them after an outbreak of flu.
© FUNAI

Highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians who recently emerged in the Brazil-Peru border region have said that they were fleeing violent attacks in Peru.

FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, has announced that the group of uncontacted Indians has returned once more to their forest home. Seven Indians made peaceful contact with a settled indigenous Ashaninka community near the Envira River in the western Acre state, Brazil, three weeks ago.

A government health team was dispatched and has treated seven Indians for flu. FUNAI has announced it will reopen a monitoring post on the Envira River which it closed in 2011 when it was overrun by drug traffickers.

The emerging news has been condemned as “extremely worrying” by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, as epidemics of flu, to which uncontacted Indians lack immunity, have wiped out entire tribes in the past.

Brazilian experts believe that the Indians, who belong to the Panoan linguistic group, crossed over the border from Peru into Brazil due to pressures from illegal loggers and drug traffickers on their land.

Uncontacted Indians face pressures on their land due to illegal logging, drug trafficking and oil and gas exploration (picture taken in 2010).
Uncontacted Indians face pressures on their land due to illegal logging, drug trafficking and oil and gas exploration (picture taken in 2010).
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Indian from Acre state, said, “This news proves that my uncontacted relatives are threatened by violence and infectious diseases. We already know what can happen if the authorities don’t take action to protect them, they will simply disappear. They need time and space to decide when they want to make contact and their choices must be respected. They are heroes!”

Uncontacted Indians in Peru suffer multiple threats to their survival as the government has carved up 70 percent of the Amazon rainforest for oil and gas exploration, including the lands of uncontacted tribes.

Plans to expand the notorious Camisea gas project, located in the heart of the Nahua-Nanti reserve for uncontacted Indians, recently received the government’s go-ahead, and Canadian-Colombian oil giant Pacific Rubiales is carrying out exploration on land inhabited by the Matsés tribe and their uncontacted neighbors.

Both projects will bring hundreds of oil and gas workers into the lands of uncontacted tribes, introducing the risk of deadly diseases and violent encounters, and scaring away the animals the Indians hunt for their survival.

Survival has launched an urgent petition to the Brazilian and Peruvian governments to protect the land of uncontacted Indians, and called on the authorities to honor their commitments of cross-border cooperation.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, “This news could hardly be more worrying – not only have these people confirmed they suffered violent attacks from outsiders in Peru, but they have apparently already caught flu. The nightmare scenario is that they return to their former villages carrying flu with them. It’s a real test of Brazil’s ability to protect these vulnerable groups. Unless a proper and sustained medical program is immediately put in place, the result could be a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:56:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10361 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10361
Major investment in 'human safaris' road sparks fears for tribe Major building works are planned on the illegal road notorious for human safaris to the Jarawa tribe. 
Major building works are planned on the illegal road notorious for human safaris to the Jarawa tribe. 
© Ariberto De Blasoni/Survival

Plans for a major building project on an illegal road notorious for its “human safaris” to the vulnerable Jarawa tribe have been condemned by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, over fears that it will lead to a massive increase in travelers through the tribe’s protected reserve on India’s Andaman Islands.

Andaman MP Mr Bishnu Pada Ray, of the ruling BJP Party, recently announced the widening of the Andaman Trunk Road up to the Jarawa reserve, and the construction of two new road bridges.

The plans fly in the face of commitments by the Andaman administration to ease traffic along the controversial road by opening an alternative sea route by March 2015.

While the sea route would provide a cheaper, quicker and more comfortable journey, progress on its construction has stalled and officials recently revealed
that there are no boats available for the new route.

Both the United Nations and India’s Supreme Court have called for the closure of the Andaman Trunk Road, which brings hundreds of vehicles through the Jarawa reserve on a daily basis, treating the Jarawa like safari attractions and disturbing the animals which they hunt for their survival.

Andaman MP Bishnu Pada Ray has promised bridges and the widening of the Andaman Trunk Road, sparking fears for an increase in traffic through the Jarawa reserve.
Andaman MP Bishnu Pada Ray has promised bridges and the widening of the Andaman Trunk Road, sparking fears for an increase in traffic through the Jarawa reserve.
© Anon

The road project formed part of Mr Bishnu Pada Ray’s election pledges ahead of the Indian general election in May 2014, which further included controversial promises to bring the Jarawa “into the mainstream” and to remove a protective buffer zone around their Reserve.

“Mainstreaming” tribal peoples without their consent is illegal under international law. The Great Andamanese, the Jarawa’s neighbors, were decimated following forced settlement and only 53 survive.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Whole populations of Andaman tribes have been wiped out since outsiders stole their land – the Jarawa are just the latest victims of this colonization and they face catastrophe unless their land is protected. We can’t allow this self-sufficient tribe to suffer the same fate as their neighbors, who were decimated by disease and now depend on government handouts to stay alive. It’s time the illegal road was finally closed.”

Note to editors:

- Over 7,000 people have joined Survival’s call for a boycott of tourism to the Andaman Islands until the degrading “human safaris” are stopped.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 03:30:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10351 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10351
Berlin: Peru President urged to protect uncontacted tribes' land It is thought that the uncontacted Indians who recently emerged in Brazil have been fleeing illegal logging and drug trafficking in Peru (picture taken in 2010).
It is thought that the uncontacted Indians who recently emerged in Brazil have been fleeing illegal logging and drug trafficking in Peru (picture taken in 2010).
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

Ahead of the visit of Peru’s President Ollanta Humala to Germany for a climate conference this week, Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has written to the President urging him to protect the lands of highly vulnerable uncontacted tribes in the Amazon rainforest from illegal logging and drug trafficking.

The call follows alarming news that an uncontacted tribe has made contact with a settled indigenous community in Brazil. The Brazilian government believes that the Indians were pushed over the border from Peru due to the failure of the authorities to combat illegal logging and drug trafficking in their territory.

Uncontacted Indians in other areas of Peru’s Amazon also face threats from massive gas and oil projects on their land. Unless their lands are protected they face catastrophe from violence or deadly diseases to which they have no resistance.

In a letter to the President, Survival’s Director Stephen Corry wrote, “To ensure the survival and protection of uncontacted Indians, all legal and illegal work in their territories must stop immediately … I urge your government to act quickly to ensure the protection of the uncontacted Indians’ territories.”

Stephen Corry said today, “Satellite imagery proves that indigenous territories are the best barrier to Amazon deforestation. It’s why protecting tribal lands is key in the fight against climate change. We know tribal peoples are better at looking after the environment than anyone else. They are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. The best commitment Peru can make to the environment is therefore to ensure the borders of its indigenous territories are protected.”

Please support Survival’s petition for the urgent protection of uncontacted tribes’ land

Notes to editors:

- President Humala will attend a conference on international climate policy in Berlin (July 14-15) ahead of the UN climate conference in Peru in December 2014.
- Read the full letter to President Humala (233 KB, pdf, Spanish)

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:48:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10348 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10348
Brazil: where Indian lives are not worth a traffic sign Damiana Cavanha, Guarani leader. Five of her relatives have been run over and killed.
Damiana Cavanha, Guarani leader. Five of her relatives have been run over and killed.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

Public prosecutors in Brazil have called on the government to pay 1.4 million reais (US$ 630,000) in compensation to Guarani Indians and to install road signs, after eight Indians from one community were run over and killed.

For decades the Guarani of Apy Ka’y community were forced to camp on the side of a perilous main road after they were evicted from their land, which is now occupied by a vast sugar cane plantation. Last year they reoccupied a part of their territory, but the road remains a serious threat.

Five of the hit and run victims were relatives of the community’s leader, Damiana Cavanha, who has been campaigning for the Indians’ ancestral land to be returned to them. The youngest victim was four years old.

Damiana believes they are being deliberately targeted by vehicles belonging to the ranchers occupying their land.

Public prosecutor Marco Antonio Delfino de Almeida went to court to force the state to install road signs and speed warnings on the road near the Guarani. The court rejected his request and the government declared the road “safe”. “Indians in this state are not even worth a traffic sign”, Delfino told the UK’s Sunday Times.

Public prosecutors have also recommended that the Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Department, FUNAI, be fined 1.7 million reais (US$ 770,000) for its failure to map out and protect the land of Apy Ka’y and many other Guarani communities, as ordered by the constitution and an official agreement on Guarani land demarcation signed in 2007.

Forced to live in overcrowded reserves and roadside camps, the Guarani suffer alarming rates of malnutrition, disease and suicide, and their leaders are targeted and killed by gunmen employed by the ranchers occupying their land.

Delfino de Almeida said, “This is comparable to real human confinement… the Guarani live in terrible conditions, risking the most precious thing they have: life itself.”

Damiana Cavanha told a researcher from Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, “We are refugees in our own country… We have lost everything, except the hope we will return to our ancestral land.”

See Survival’s photographic gallery documenting Damiana’s community’s plight, and take action to help the Guarani.

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Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:51:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10342 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10342
Bushmen face 10 years of abuse despite landmark legal victory Despite winning a landmark court case in 2006, the Bushmen have faced harassment, intimidation and torture by the Botswana government.
Despite winning a landmark court case in 2006, the Bushmen have faced harassment, intimidation and torture by the Botswana government.
© Survival

Exactly 10 years ago – on July 5, 2004 – a landmark court case started which successfully challenged the illegal eviction of Botswana’s Bushmen from their ancestral land. But since then, the Botswana government has continued its persecution of the last hunting Bushmen, for which it has been condemned nationally and internationally.

In 2006, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the Bushmen’s eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve had been “unlawful and unconstitutional”, and that they had the right to live, hunt and gather inside the Reserve and did not have to apply for permits to enter it.

From the Kalahari to CourtThe extraordinary story of how the Bushmen of the Kalahari took their government to court and won.

But despite the ruling the Botswana government has:
- refused to provide water to the Bushmen in one of the driest places on Earth;
- prevented them from hunting for their survival by intimidation, torture and arrest;
- required most Bushmen to apply for restrictive permits to enter their Reserve;
- barred their long-standing lawyer, who successfully represented the Bushmen in three court cases, from entering the country and representing his clients;
- accused the Bushmen of harming the wildlife inside the Reserve (for which it has not produced any evidence), while allowing a diamond mine to go ahead and issuing licenses for fracking exploration.

Botswana’s High Court called the case “a harrowing story of human suffering and despair”; the UN’s former Water Advisor Maude Barlow said, “It’s hard to imagine a more cruel and inhuman way to treat people”; Botswana political activist and former Robben Island prisoner Michael Dingake said, “Without hunting, Basarwa [Bushmen} are literally being starved to surrender”; and the BBC’s John Simpson called the government’s policies “ethnic cleansing of the Kalahari.”

The Bushmen's lawyer Gordon Bennett with his clients in 2004. He has since been barred from entering the country.
The Bushmen's lawyer Gordon Bennett with his clients in 2004. He has since been barred from entering the country.
© Survival International

Botswana’s treatment of the Bushmen has further been condemned by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the US State Department, the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and local and international media.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has called for a tourism boycott of Botswana until the Bushmen are allowed to live freely and in peace on their land. Several travel companies and over 8,000 people have supported the boycott, and a global ad campaign has brought the message to hundreds of thousands of travelers.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “As if depriving the Bushmen of water and forcing them from their land wasn’t enough, now they’re accused of ‘poaching’ because they hunt their food. The Bushmen face arrest and beatings, torture and death, while fee-paying big game hunters are encouraged. All tourists who visit Botswana’s game parks should ask themselves, ‘How many tribal communities were destroyed in the making of this reserve?’”

Note to editors:

- Read more criticisms of the Botswana government over its treatment of the Bushmen (pdf, 639 KB)

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Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:12:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10336 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10336
Amazon Indians join forces to reject 'devastating' mining Yanomami man. The Yanomami and several other Amazonian tribes have joined forces to reject 'devastating' mining.
Yanomami man. The Yanomami and several other Amazonian tribes have joined forces to reject 'devastating' mining.
© Hutukara/ Survival

Amazon Indians have released a series of desperate statements calling on their governments to put a stop to mining which is destroying their land and threatening their existence.

COIAM – the Coalition of Indigenous Organizations of the Venezuelan Amazon – has expressed “extreme concern about the growing levels of illegal mining” and called on the Venezuelan government to review its mining policy which they see as a “clear contradiction of [Venezuela’s] aim to save the planet and the human race”, as stated in the Plan de la Patria (Country Plan for 2013-2019).

The government created a Presidential Commission in March to develop mining in the region, without consulting indigenous peoples who have warned of the “serious environmental damage” it will bring to their forest.

The Indians are calling for a moratorium on mining in the southern Orinoco region and the immediate recognition of their land ownership rights, which are guaranteed in the constitution.

Indigenous organization Kuyujani said in a recent statement that “it is a question… of exercising autonomy and the right to self determination.”

The Yanomami and the Yekuana tribes continue to see their rivers polluted with the miners’ mercury which contaminates drinking water and fish, and many communities have been devastated by diseases and prostitution introduced by the miners.

Research by Venezuelan scientists in 2013 showed that 92% of indigenous women in the region had levels of mercury contamination that exceeded the internationally accepted limit.

The uncontacted Yanomami, some of the most vulnerable people on the planet, stand to lose the most. Contact with the miners could wipe them out.

Indigenous organizations from Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana met in May to discuss their concerns about their governments’ current drive to encourage mining and the construction of hydroelectric dams in the border region known as the Guyana Shield.

They called for a mobilization against mining and dams in Amazonia and for the three governments to uphold and apply the international law on tribal and indigenous peoples’ rights.

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Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:07:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10333 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10333
CONTACT: uncontacted Indians emerge, illegal logging blamed Highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians have made contact with a settled indigenous community close to where these Indians were photographed from the air in 2010.
Highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians have made contact with a settled indigenous community close to where these Indians were photographed from the air in 2010.
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

A highly vulnerable group of uncontacted Amazon Indians has emerged from the rainforest in Brazil near the Peru border and made contact with a settled indigenous community.

The news comes just days after FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, warned of the serious risk of such an incident, in light of the failure of the Peruvian authorities to stop rampant illegal logging on its side of the border.

The Indians had been coming increasingly close to the settled Asháninka Indians who live along the Envira River.

News emerged on Tuesday from the remote region that the Indians had made contact on Sunday with the Asháninka, who had been reporting their presence for several weeks.

It is thought that uncontacted Indians in Peru have been pushed over the border into Brazil due to rampant illegal logging of their rainforest (photograph taken in 2008)
It is thought that uncontacted Indians in Peru have been pushed over the border into Brazil due to rampant illegal logging of their rainforest (photograph taken in 2008)
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI

A specialist FUNAI team is in the area to provide help to the newly-contacted group, and a medical unit has been flown in to treat possible epidemics of common respiratory and other diseases to which isolated indigenous groups lack immunity.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Indian from Brazil’s Acre state who joined Survival to speak out for indigenous rights said, “I am from the same area as they are. It is very worrying that my relatives are at risk of disappearing. It shows the injustice that we face today. They are even more vulnerable because they can’t communicate with the authorities. Both governments must act now to protect and to stop a disaster against my people.”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Both Peru and Brazil gave assurances to stop the illegal logging and drug trafficking which are pushing uncontacted Indians into new areas. They’ve failed. The traffickers even took over a government installation meant to monitor their behavior. The uncontacted Indians now face the same genocidal risk from disease and violence which has characterized the invasion and occupation of the Americas over the last five centuries. No one has the right to destroy these Indians.”

Please write to the Peruvian and Brazilian governments urging them to immediately implement measures to ensure the Indians’ lands and lives are protected.

Read Survival’s Q&A on the uncontacted Indians here

See Survival’s timeline of sightings of uncontacted Indians in this region and actions to protect their land here.

Note to editors:
- Survival’s Research Director Fiona Watson, a world expert on uncontacted Indians, is available for interview.

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Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:32:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10327 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10327
South American tribe sues over historic genocide An Aché woman shortly after she was captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
An Aché woman shortly after she was captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
© A. Kohmann/Survival

The survivors of a South American tribe which was decimated during the 1950s and 60s are taking Paraguay’s government to court over the genocide they suffered.

The case of the hunter-gatherer Aché tribe, who roamed the hilly forests of eastern Paraguay until being brutally forced out, became notorious in the 1970s.

As the agricultural expansion into eastern Paraguay gathered pace from the 1950s, the Aché found themselves forced to defend their land from an ever-increasing colonist population. These colonists soon started to mount raiding parties to kill the male Aché: women and children were usually captured and sold as slaves.

One of the most notorious hunters of the Aché was Manuel Jesús Pereira, a local landowner. He was an employee of Paraguay’s Native Affairs Department, and his farm was turned into an Aché “reservation”, to which captured Aché were transported. Beatings and rape were common. Countless others died of respiratory diseases. The Director of the Native Affairs Department was a frequent visitor, and also sold Aché slaves himself.

This situation was denounced by several anthropologists in Paraguay, many of whom were deported, or lost their jobs, as a result. It was brought to international attention by German anthropologist Mark Münzel. His 1973 report Genocide in Paraguay, published by the Danish organization IWGIA, documented many of the atrocities committed against the Aché.

Survival International publicized Münzel’s account, and sponsored an investigation by leading international lawyer Professor Richard Arens, who found the situation as bad as others had reported. Many other international organizations, academics and activists denounced the atrocities and called for Paraguay’s government to be held to account, which curbed some of the worst excesses.

However, Paraguay’s then-President, General Alfredo Stroessner, was viewed as a key Western ally in the region. The British, US and West German governments denied that genocide was taking place, and the US authorities sponsored the Harvard-based organization Cultural Survival (CS) to “review the status of indigenous peoples in Paraguay”. Their report to the government was confidential, but a copy was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. CS then published an amended version.

Relying partly on the testimony of Peace Corps volunteer, Kim Hill, it denied that genocide had taken place, and criticized many of those, such as Münzel and Arens, who had brought the Aché’s plight to global attention. US aid to Stroessner’s brutal regime continued.

Now, the survivors of the genocide and their descendants are seeking redress. An Aché organization, the National Aché Federation, has launched a court case in Argentina, with advice from leading human rights lawyer Baltasar Garzón. The Aché are using the legal principle of “universal jurisdiction”, under which the most serious crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity can be tried and punished in a different country to that in which they occurred, if the victims cannot secure justice in their own country.

Ceferino Kreigi, an Aché representative, said, “We’re asking for justice – there was torture, rape, beatings. We can no longer bear the pain we have suffered.”

The Aché’s lawyer, Juan Maira, said, “[The Aché] were hunted as though they were animals, because they wanted to confine them to a ghetto. Once in the reserve, they weren’t allowed to leave. They sold not only the children, but sometimes the women too, as slaves. Perhaps 60% of the population could have been wiped out.”

The Aché’s population is now increasing once more, though their forests have been stolen for cattle ranching and farming, and almost totally destroyed.

Read Survival’s report on the denial of the Aché genocide.


These pictures show the miserable conditions the Aché who were captured and brought out of the forest endured at the Aché “reservation”:

Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
Download hi-res image

Credit: © A. Kohmann/Survival
 
Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
Download hi-res image

Credit: © A. Kohmann/Survival
 
Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
Download hi-res image

Credit: © A. Kohmann/Survival
 
Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
Download hi-res image

Credit: © A. Kohmann/Survival
 
Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.Aché Indians shortly after they were captured and brought out of the forest to the Aché Reservation. Paraguay, 1972.
Download hi-res image

Credit: © A. Kohmann/Survival
 
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Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:40:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10264 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10264
Brazilian officials warn of 'imminent' death of uncontacted Indians Sightings of uncontacted Indians have been on the rise in the region where uncontacted Indians were famously photographed and filmed from the air four years ago.
Sightings of uncontacted Indians have been on the rise in the region where uncontacted Indians were famously photographed and filmed from the air four years ago.
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

Brazilian officials have warned that uncontacted Indians face imminent “tragedy” and "death" after a dramatic increase in the number of sightings in the Amazon rainforest near the Peru border. 

Experts believe that the Indians have fled over the border from Peru in a bid to escape waves of illegal loggers invading their territory. They are now entering the territory of other isolated Indian groups already living on the Brazil side – and some settled communities.

Ashaninka Indians in Acre state, Brazil, for example, say they recently encountered dozens of uncontacted Indians close to their community, and recent government investigations have revealed more frequent sightings of footprints, temporary camps and food remains left behind by the Indians.

These incidents are raising fears of violent clashes between the various groups, and decimation by contagious diseases to which the uncontacted Indians have no immunity.

José Carlos Meirelles, who monitored this region for the Brazilian government’s Indian Affairs Department FUNAI for over 20 years, said, “Something serious must have happened. It is not normal for such a large group of uncontacted Indians to approach in this way. This is a completely new and worrying situation and we currently do not know what has caused it.”

The Indians were spotted in the same region where uncontacted Indians were famously photographed and filmed from the air four years ago. But the area lacks protection since a government post was abandoned after it was overrun by drug smugglers and illegal loggers in 2011.

Uncontacted Indians aiming bows and arrows at a plane overhead (photographed in 2008)
Uncontacted Indians aiming bows and arrows at a plane overhead (photographed in 2008)
© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI

The uncontacted Indians are some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Although they appeared healthy, they have no immunity to common diseases such as flu and measles which have wiped out entire tribes in the past.

FUNAI investigated the Ashaninka’s alarming reports two weeks ago. It warned that “contact is imminent” and demanded that health teams must be sent to the area as a matter of urgency or “they risk catching diseases… which could kill them all.”

Prominent Amazon Indian leader Raoni Metuktire, who has led the fight for the Kayapó tribe’s land and against the destruction of the Amazon, said during his recent visit to Europe, “Where will the uncontacted Indians go? Without their lands protected, they will die.”

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, is calling on the Brazilian and Peruvian governments to protect all land inhabited by uncontacted tribes and to honor their promise to improve cross-border coordination to safeguard their welfare.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “International borders don’t exist for uncontacted tribes, which is why Peru and Brazil must work together to prevent lives being lost. Throughout history, uncontacted peoples have been destroyed when their land is invaded, and so it’s vital that these Indians’ territory is properly protected. Both governments must act now if their uncontacted citizens are to survive.”

Notes to editors:

- Survival has produced a long-form feature article on the uncontacted Indians around the Peru-Brazil border. Please get in touch if you are interested in publishing it.
- Audio clips of the account of one of the Ashaninka who encountered the uncontacted Indians are available on request
- See Survival’s new World Cup website on the “Dark Side of Brazil” for examples of Brazil’s assault on indigenous rights.
- The Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon are home to the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world. Survival’s Research Director Fiona Watson, world expert on uncontacted tribes, is available for interview. 

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Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:09:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10308 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10308
Australian TV station guilty of racism in “Freakshow TV” row The Federal Court of Australia has upheld a ruling against Channel 7 for breaching the “racism clause” in their Sunday Night program about the Suruwaha.
The Federal Court of Australia has upheld a ruling against Channel 7 for breaching the “racism clause” in their Sunday Night program about the Suruwaha.
© Channel 7

An Australian TV station has been found guilty of racism for broadcasting a report about an Amazon tribe so extreme it was labeled “Freakshow TV” by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights.

In September 2012 Australia’s press regulator ACMA, in a landmark decision, had found Channel 7 guilty of “provoking intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or group” and of broadcasting inaccurate material. Channel 7 sought judicial review, but the Federal Court has now upheld the ruling.

The report by “adventurer” Paul Raffaele and reporter Tim Noonan portrayed Brazil’s Suruwaha tribe as child murderers, “Stone Age” relics, and “one of the worst human rights violators in the world”.

A Suruwaha man told Survival that the program contained lies about the tribe. He said, “They’re lying about us, because we don’t kill children. Paul and Tim lied. They took the footage they filmed here far away, to show JOCUM (a fundamentalist, evangelical missionary organization) and to lie about us.”

He added, “He (Paul Raffaele) is a bad person; he has really made us suffer. How could he treat the Suruwaha so badly?”

The report portrayed the Suruwaha as the 'worst human rights violators in the world'.
The report portrayed the Suruwaha as the 'worst human rights violators in the world'.
© Armando Soares Filho/ FUNAI

Survival complained to ACMA after Channel 7 refused to issue a correction to its report. Channel 7 did not appeal the substance of the ruling, but rather asked the court to declare that various statements in the report were not factual in nature. A judge has now rejected this attempt to overturn ACMA’s ruling on a technicality, and the ruling stands.

The Suruwaha have been the target of fundamentalist missionaries who falsely claim that they regularly kill newborn babies. The missionaries had lobbied Brazil’s Congress to pass a law which would have allowed Indian children to be removed from their families.

Channel 7’s website openly fundraised for the evangelical organization associated with the campaign.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, “Tribal peoples have been accused of ‘savagery’ since the first European colonists arrived and sought justification for the brutalities of imperialism. Unfortunately the myth of the ‘Brutal Savage’ is rearing its ugly head once more – and it’s just as harmful now as it was then. It is right and proper that this ruling has been upheld. There is no excuse for such extreme prejudice in the media today.”

Notes to editors:

- Survival seeks to challenge public portrayals of tribal peoples as “primitive”, “violent”, or backwards. Survival believes that tribal peoples are neither more nor less violent than people in the West.
- Read more about the “Myth of the Brutal Savage” and Survival’s critique of “popular science” writers such as Steven Pinker, Napoleon Chagnon and Jared Diamond.
- Read the full judgment of the Federal Court of Australia

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Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:36:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10288 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10288
Aid donors announce investigation into tribal evictions in Ethiopia Bulldozers clearing Mursi land in Mago National Park, where communities are being evicted from their land to make way for sugar plantations.
Bulldozers clearing Mursi land in Mago National Park, where communities are being evicted from their land to make way for sugar plantations.
© E. Lafforgue/Survival

Representatives of some of Ethiopia’s biggest aid donors have announced that they will send a team to the southwest of the country to investigate persistent reports of human rights abuses amongst the tribes living there.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has exposed how the tribal people of the Lower Omo Valley are being persecuted and harassed to force them off their land to make way for cotton, oil palm and sugar cane plantations.

Many other organizations have published similar reports.

The plantations are made possible by the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, which is itself the subject of huge controversy.

The dam, which is nearing completion, will have a serious impact on the livelihoods of 500,000 tribal people, including those living around Kenya’s Lake Turkana.

It is also projected to have catastrophic environmental consequences for the region, which is home to renowned UNESCO World Heritage sites on both sides of the border.

Survival and other NGOs have repeatedly denounced the eviction of hundreds of Bodi and Kwegu and continue to receive reports that people are being intimidated into leaving their lands for resettlement camps.

Daasanach are being forced off their land to make way for infrastructure development such as this giant pump at Omorate, which will facilitate irrigation of the plantations.
Daasanach are being forced off their land to make way for infrastructure development such as this giant pump at Omorate, which will facilitate irrigation of the plantations.
© E. Lafforgue/Survival

The Ethiopian government has not sought or obtained the indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent to move from their lands, in breach of the guidelines for resettlement drawn up by the Development Assistance Group (DAG), a consortium of the largest donors to Ethiopia, including the US, the UK, Germany and the World Bank.

DAG provides significant financial assistance to the local administration responsible for the forced evictions.

DAG has decided to return to the Lower Omo later this year to investigate the situation, even though the evictions continue regardless of past donor visits, the findings of which have often not been published.

This decision follows mounting worldwide concerns. European parliamentarians from Italy, Germany and the UK have asked questions in the European Parliament, and MPs in the UK and Germany have raised their concerns with various ministries. Parliamentary questions have also been tabled in the UK.

In February the US Congress ruled that US taxpayers’ money not be used to fund forced resettlements in Lower Omo.

Following a lawsuit brought by Friends of Lake Turkana, the Kenyan courts have ruled that the Kenyan government must release all information about the deals it has made with Ethiopia about buying electricity generated by the Gibe III dam.

Earlier this year, a UNESCO report recommended that Lake Turkana be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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Mon, 23 Jun 2014 14:35:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10310 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10310
Peru’s largest mass grave reveals hundreds of murdered Asháninka Indians Bones and Asháninka Indian robes have been uncovered in several mass graves in Peru.
Bones and Asháninka Indian robes have been uncovered in several mass graves in Peru.
© Luis Vilcaromero, Ministerio Público Perú/AP

The largest mass grave in Peru has been uncovered by a team of government investigators, in the ancestral land of Asháninka Indians in the jungle in central Peru.

The grave contains the remains of around 800 people, the majority believed to be Asháninka and Matsigenka Indians.

The Indians were decimated in a violent conflict between Maoist guerrillas known as ‘The Shining Path’, and counter-insurgency forces in the 1980s.

Around 70,000 people are estimated to have died or disappeared during the insurgency.
Bodies from several other mass graves in Asháninka territory are currently being exhumed.

The Asháninka have survived centuries of intense conflict since their land was first invaded by the Spanish in the 16th century.

In 1742, the Indians successfully defeated the Spanish, in a revolt which closed off a large part of the Amazon for a century.

Today, their land is under threat from oil and gas projects, hydroelectric dams, drug trafficking and deforestation.

A few small groups of Shining Path rebels remain active, mostly confined to the Ene and Apurimac rivers (which form part of the Asháninka’s homeland).

Asháninka leader Ruth Buendía was this year presented with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work against the Pakitzapango Dam.

The dam was one of six hydroelectric projects planned under an energy agreement between Brazil and Peru, and would have forced thousands of Asháninka from their homes.

In 2011, Buendía and her organization CARE succeeded in getting the dam suspended through legal action.

See Survival’s picture gallery of the Asháninka tribe here.

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Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:18:44 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10302 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10302