News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survivalinternational.org/news.rss Six Colombian Indians killed as armed groups invade The body of one of six Colombian Indians shot dead near their homes in Cauca
The body of one of six Colombian Indians shot dead near their homes in Cauca
© Anon

At least six Colombian Indians have been shot dead near their homes in western Colombia.

The shootings took place in the communities of Agua Bonita and Agua Clara in Cauca province on Thursday 16 April. The perpetrators remain unknown.

Indigenous peoples in Cauca have been some of the worst affected by Colombia’s internal war. Scores of indigenous leaders have been killed in the cross-fire between the army, FARC guerrillas, and paramilitaries.

This week, President Manuel Santos scrapped a previous order to suspend army operations against the FARC in the region. The order came after eleven soldiers were killed, allegedly by FARC forces.

A statement signed by Cauca Indian organization ACIN has labelled the situation a ‘humanitarian crisis.’

The region is a hot-spot for mining, which has brought more violence to local indigenous peoples, many of whom are resisting the destruction of their ancestral lands.

According to ACIN, two paramilitary groups, the Black Eagles of the Cauca Valley and Rastrojos Urban Command, have sent death threats to communities who oppose mining.

One of the victims was just 18. He was shot dead with two other members of his family. A further two people have ‘disappeared.’

Survival International the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, is calling on the Colombian government to immediately investigate the cases and bring the killers to justice. Survival also calls on the government to prevent the invasion of indigenous lands.

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Sat, 18 Apr 2015 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10745 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10745
Brazil: Mass Indian protests against assault on land rights 1,500 Brazilian Indians protested in Brasilia against a proposed amendment in the constitution (PEC 215)
1,500 Brazilian Indians protested in Brasilia against a proposed amendment in the constitution (PEC 215)
© Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Apib)

Ahead of Brazil’s “Day of the Indian” on April 19, 1,500 Indians from 200 tribes are protesting all week in the nation’s capital against an assault on their rights by Brazil’s Congress.

The Indians are incensed by a proposal to amend the constitution to give Congress the power to decide on the demarcation (or mapping out) of indigenous territories. This is currently the responsibility of FUNAI, the government’s indigenous affairs department.

If approved, the proposal is likely to cause huge delays in the recognition of indigenous lands; many Indian territories will probably be reduced in size; and violent clashes over land are almost certain to increase.

Tupã Karaí, a Guarani Indian attending the protest said, “The group of non-indigenous politicians want to kill all the indigenous people of Brazil. That’s why we are here.”

A powerful block of anti-indigenous politicians with links to Brazil’s huge agri-business, mining and hydro-electrics sectors is behind this latest attack on indigenous rights, while the Ministry of Justice and FUNAI are opposed to the amendment.

Lindomar Ferreira, a Terena Indian and coordinator of the Network of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) warned, “From the moment the legislative body decides on the demarcation of indigenous lands, we know there will no more demarcations.

“It’s the same as throwing petrol on the fire. The ranchers will get emboldened and we will defend our territory. There will be conflict, violence and death.”

The Indians are camping outside ministry buildings to publicize their protests.

On Tuesday, many Indians held a peaceful vigil at the Supreme Court in protest at its recent anti-indigenous decisions, which include annulling official orders declaring the limits of three indigenous territories.

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Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:16:40 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10742 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10742
Health disaster strikes recently contacted Indians in Brazil Jakarewyj's health has deteriorated dramatically since her group was contacted last December.
Jakarewyj's health has deteriorated dramatically since her group was contacted last December.
© Madalena Borges/CIMI-MA/Survival

An Indian woman from Earth’s most threatened tribe is fighting for her life after being contacted in Brazil’s north-eastern Amazon rainforest.

Jakarewyj, a member of the Awá tribe, has contracted flu and a severe respiratory disease after her group was “surrounded by loggers” and contacted in late December 2014. Since then, her health has deteriorated rapidly and she is now emaciated and desperately ill.

According to other settled Awá in the village where Jakarewyj and Amakaria – the leader of the group – are living, Jakarewyj’s husband and other relatives previously died of flu in the forest.

“They were surrounded by loggers. We heard lots of noise from the chainsaws nearby and the tractors carving roads to transport the wood, and there were many trees marked for felling," a settled Awá told CIMI, a Brazilian NGO.

The Awá’s forest has been heavily invaded by loggers, ranchers and settlers since the Great Carajás Project – funded by the European Union and World Bank – was implemented in the 1980s.

After a two-year campaign by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, the Brazilian authorities removed illegal invaders from one of the Awá’s territories in January 2014. According to media reports, 173 sawmills were recently closed near the Awá area. 

Following Survival's campaign, a government operation has removed most loggers and settlers from the key Awá territory, but logging continues in other territories where they live. 
Following Survival's campaign, a government operation has removed most loggers and settlers from the key Awá territory, but logging continues in other territories where they live. 
© Sarah Shenker/Survival

Earlier this week, mining giant Vale started work to expand its railway line which runs directly past the Awá’s forest. The Awá are opposed to the expansion, which they say will scare away the game they hunt, create more noise and result in further invasion of their land.

But the authorities still have to put in place a long-term protection plan to stop the loggers from returning – and other Awá territories continue to be invaded.

Carlos Travassos, head of Brazil’s isolated Indians department, warned that the Awá were threatened with “genocide” because of illegal logging on their land.  

The Awá and Survival International have called on the Brazilian authorities to send a specialist health team to treat Jakarewyj’s illness as a matter of urgency.

Uncontacted tribal peoples are the most vulnerable societies on the planet. First contact often results in the outbreak of devastating epidemics, which can lead to the decimation of entire tribes.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “This horrific situation shows it’s vital for government to put a proper health plan in place for uncontacted Indians. Of course, these tragedies need never happen if the law was upheld and uncontacted tribes’ land protected. Brazil needs to act quickly to stop the deaths of yet more innocent Awá.”

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Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:16:12 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10730 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10730
Brazil: Blood samples returned to Yanomami after nearly 50 years Davi Kopenawa and other Yanomami burying recently returned blood samples in a funerary ceremony, April 2015.
Davi Kopenawa and other Yanomami burying recently returned blood samples in a funerary ceremony, April 2015.
© Estêvão Benfica – ISA

Thousands of blood samples have been returned to the Yanomami tribe in Brazil, after they were taken by American scientists in the 1960s and held in U.S. academic institutions without the tribe’s consent. The Yanomami have been fighting for their return for over a decade.

The Yanomami buried the 2,693 samples during a special funerary ceremony presided over by shamans in the Yanomami community where many of the samples were collected.

Only 15 Yanomami whose blood was taken in the late 1960s were able to attend the ritual. Shamans performed funerary rites for those who gave blood and have since died.

Keen to collect blood samples from a very isolated community, U.S. scientists collected thousands of samples from the Indians in Brazil and Venezuela without obtaining their informed consent. The Yanomami only discovered years later that their blood was being stored in research institutes – in violation of their beliefs and funerary customs of cremating those who have passed away and destroying their possessions.

Controversial anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon assisted the scientists and arranged the exchange of goods such as machetes and cooking pots for the blood. Chagnon has been criticized for his portrayal of the Yanomami as “fierce” and living in a “state of chronic warfare.”

Without obtaining the Yanomami’s consent, some institutions extracted DNA from the blood for genetic tests in the 1990s.

Yanomami spokesman Davi Kopenawa said, “These Americans robbed our blood. They did not say anything in our language about the tests they were going to do. Nobody knew that they were going to use our blood to do research.

“Nobody thought that the blood would be kept in their refrigerators, as if it were food! I only found out in 2000 that the blood has been kept and was being used in research…. Then the old people remembered that our blood was taken. Everybody was very sad knowing that our blood and the blood of our dead relatives was still being kept.”

The samples were stored in Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, Emory University, the National Cancer Institute, and the University of Illinois. The samples recently returned were from Pennsylvania State University.

Visit ISA’s website (in Portuguese) for more information and photos of the ceremony

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Mon, 13 Apr 2015 18:18:33 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10727 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10727
Brazil: Guarani communities win eviction reprieve Three Guarani Indian communities have had eviction orders suspended or overturned.
Three Guarani Indian communities have had eviction orders suspended or overturned.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

Three Guarani Indian communities in central Brazil have been given a glimmer of hope that they can remain on their ancestral lands, after legal rulings overturned or suspended orders to evict them.

The three communities in Mato Grosso do Sul state – Kurusu Mba, Passo Piraju and Pacurity – had reoccupied small parts of their ancestral territory after their lands were taken over by ranchers.

The Supreme Federal Court has now ruled that the Kurusu Mba community should not be evicted because the land could one day be declared indigenous. Four of the community’s leaders have been assassinated by gunmen since they reoccupied part of their ancestral land in 2007.

In a letter to Brazil’s President last October, the Kurusu Mba Guarani wrote, “We have been surviving and resisting here for 10 years and we are all going to resist until death. We’ve decided we’ll all die together and that we shall not leave or be evicted from our old land.”

Ranchers regularly employ private militias to patrol farms and use eviction orders to harass and intimidate the Indians.

The order to evict the Paso Piraju community was overturned in recognition of the fact that the area is under dispute; and a judge suspended the eviction order of Pacurity, citing the risk of conflict, and the lack of security and water if they were evicted.

Successive Brazilian governments have failed to resolve the severe land conflict in Mato Grosso do Sul. As a result of the large-scale loss of their land, the Guarani continue to suffer from malnutrition, violence, death threats, and one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.

A powerful farming lobby in Brazil’s Congress is pushing for a constitutional amendment (“PEC 215”) which would give Congress power to decide on the recognition of indigenous territories. PEC 215 would deal a major blow to the Guarani and other Indians’ struggle to regain their lands.

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Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10716 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10716
Venezuelan Indians denounce military abuses and illegal mining Gold miners work illegally on the Yanomami’s land, Brazil, 2003.
Gold miners work illegally on the Yanomami’s land, Brazil, 2003.
© Colin Jones/Survival

Amazon Indians in Venezuela have condemned the army for failing to tackle illegal gold and diamond mining on their land. The military has been accused of creating a “climate of terror and fear,” and of “taunting and humiliating” the indigenous population.

Some officers are known to be involved in the illegal gold trade themselves, renting mining equipment and controlling access to illegal mines.

The Indians have also denounced one officer who burned down the homes of Indians who had criticized the military.

Kuyujani, an organization representing Yekuana and Sanema Indians living along the Caura river in the Amazon, has filed a complaint with the public prosecutor over the army’s failure to tackle the rampant illegal mining.

According to Kuyujani, mining has devastated the Indians’ health. The Caura river is contaminated by mercury, which has entered the Indians’ food chain and water supply. In 2013, researchers found that 92% of indigenous women living along the Caura river had levels of mercury higher than the internationally accepted limit, and a third of women had a high risk of their newborn children suffering from neurological disorders.

The boom in illegal mining has increased dramatically since 2006, and last year the government announced that it planned to open up large swathes of land to legal mining, including on Indian land. Mining encampments have exposed young Indians to alcohol, drugs and prostitution.

Despite the fact that Venezuela’s constitution recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands, very few Indians have received collective title to their territories.

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Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:23:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10715 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10715
One year on: WWF fails to act against abuse of 'Pygmies' Baka 'Pygmies' have faced harassment, beatings and torture by anti-poaching squads supported and funded by WWF. 
Baka 'Pygmies' have faced harassment, beatings and torture by anti-poaching squads supported and funded by WWF. 
© Survival International

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers – and sometimes soldiers and police – who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

Nearly 9,000 people have written to WWF, urging it to take action to ensure that its funds are not used to violate the rights of the Baka and their neighbors. Last year, villagers urged WWF to suspend its funding.

Baka call on WWF to stop funding anti-poaching squadsIn this film, recorded in November 2014, Baka from Ndongo, a village where WWF has a regional base, call upon WWF to stop funding the anti-poaching squads that have persecuted them for years.

Many Baka refer to both WWF and the anti-poaching squads it funds as “dobi-dobi” or ‘dobi-dobiyu’ (WWF). Here, they are referring to WWF itself.

WWF initially reacted angrily to letters from Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, reporting the abuses, denouncing the campaign as “absurd”, “finger-pointing” and “self-serving”. More recently, WWF admitted that “we are aware that the general disadvantage suffered by the Baka is also prevalent in their dealings with ecoguards, police and courts.”

WWF stated it would wait for the results of an enquiry by Cameroon’s Human Rights Commission into this abuse. However, more than five months after the complaint was first filed with the commission, the investigation has still not begun. The Commission has said it only intends to visit a handful of villages, and will only publish its findings at the end of the year. Survival, as well as many Baka, have urged WWF to take steps now to ensure it is not funding abuse in the meantime.

This violent persecution at the hands of anti-poaching squads is only one aspect of the systematic human rights abuse the Baka are enduring. WWF have committed to a set of principles concerning indigenous peoples in order to prevent such abuse, but Baka complain that they are not applying any of them to their work in Cameroon.

For instance, WWF has pledged to only support the creation of "protected areas," or restrictions on subsistence hunting and gathering, if the Baka have given their free, prior and informed consent.

The Baka fear going into their forest which has been turned into 'protected areas'.
The Baka fear going into their forest which has been turned into 'protected areas'.
© Selcen Kucukustel/Atlas

Yet the Baka have not consented to the creation of “protected areas” on their lands, nor to the laws that often criminalize them as "poachers" because they hunt their food. They face harassment, beatings and torture, and many report that their friends and relatives have died as a result of the beatings.

The rights of tribal peoples around the world are being violated in the name of “conservation” – even though they are better at looking after their environments than anyone else. Survival is fighting these abuses with its "Parks Need Peoples" campaign.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “So far the commission’s enquiry has got nowhere, and it will take several months more for it to visit a handful of villages. WWF needs to act now, before more people’s lives are ruined or lost. It’s also time for WWF to honor its own commitments to indigenous peoples, as Baka have been urging it to. If WWF were properly dealing with this crisis, it would both stop funding the ecoguards, and abide by its own principles.”

Notes to editors:

- Read Survival’s latest letter to WWF’s Director General (pdf, 53 KB)
- "Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves. Read more.

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Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:29:32 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10708 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10708
Tribal leader targeted for resisting eviction from tiger reserve Munda man Telenga Hassa is fearing for his safety after a wildlife warden incited attacks on him for resisting eviction.
Munda man Telenga Hassa is fearing for his safety after a wildlife warden incited attacks on him for resisting eviction.
© Survival International

A tribal leader in one of India’s tiger reserves is fearing for his safety after a wildlife official urged his community to beat him and drive him out for defending their right to remain on their land.

Telenga Hassa, a Munda man from Jamunagarh community inside what is now Similipal Tiger Reserve, has been leading his village’s struggle against official moves to evict them in the name of tiger “conservation.”

During a village meeting in January, during which Telenga was absent, an honorary wildlife warden reportedly urged Telenga’s fellow villagers to attack him or drive him out of the reserve if he didn’t agree to their relocation. Telenga told Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, that during previous meetings, the same warden had shouted abuse at him and his tribe, and ripped up a statement detailing their opposition to the evictions.

According to Indian and international law, tribal peoples’ free, prior and informed consent is required before moving them off their ancestral homelands, but villagers at Jamunagarh have faced years of harassment. Last September, they reported being “threatened” and “cheated” into agreeing to leave.

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

Thousands of Baiga have been forcibly evicted from Kanha Tiger Reserve, home of the 'Jungle Book.'
Thousands of Baiga have been forcibly evicted from Kanha Tiger Reserve, home of the 'Jungle Book.'
© Survival International

Across India, tribal peoples are being illegally and forcibly evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of tiger conservation. In December 2013, 32 families of the Khadia tribe were evicted from Similipal and forced to live in dire conditions under plastic sheeting. Thousands of Baiga have been evicted from Kanha Tiger Reserve – home of the “Jungle Book.”

Telenga has submitted a complaint to the district police detailing the verbal abuse, threats and incitement to attack. Survival has made two submissions to the Odisha Human Rights Commission but has received no reply.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “This is just one more example of how tribal people in India are being bullied and threatened into ‘agreeing’ to leave their lands in India’s Tiger Reserves. Those, like Telenga, who are brave enough to resist these so-called ‘voluntary’ evictions, are facing appalling harassment and threats. Tribal peoples are the best conservationists; they have managed their lands sustainably for generations. Forcing them off their land is a violation of human rights and doesn’t save the tiger.”

Notes to editors:

- The Government of India appoints private citizens as Honorary Wildlife Wardens (HWWs), on the basis of their commitment to the cause of conservation. These Wardens liaise with the State’s Forest Departments and contribute their expertise to the government’s conservation efforts.
- The Jamunagarh villagers have been told that their rehabilitation package would not include any agricultural land, as no such land is available. This means that if they are evicted they will have no livelihood and no means to feed their families.

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Fri, 27 Mar 2015 04:00:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10704 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10704
Tribes call on world leaders to recognize their right to hunt Tribal peoples hunt to feed their families, yet they are often criminalized as 'poachers.'
Tribal peoples hunt to feed their families, yet they are often criminalized as 'poachers.'
© Fiona Watson/Survival

Indigenous organizations and thousands of people from around the world have called on delegates attending a major conference on the illegal wildlife trade to recognize tribal peoples’ right to hunt for their survival.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, indigenous organizations from Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya and many other countries, and over 80 experts on hunter-gatherers, have urged delegates attending an intergovernmental conference in Kasane, Botswana, on March 25, to recognize that tribal people should not be treated as criminals when they hunt to feed their families.

Thousands of supporters of Survival sent a similar message to representatives of the EU, USA and UK, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Indigenous organizations around the world and over 80 experts on hunter-gatherers have called on world leaders to recognize tribal peoples' right to hunt for subsistence.
Indigenous organizations around the world and over 80 experts on hunter-gatherers have called on world leaders to recognize tribal peoples' right to hunt for subsistence.
© Survival

The Kasane conference follows a similar event in London in February 2014, attended by heads of state, Prince Charles and Prince William, who called for stronger enforcement of wildlife laws. But they failed to recognize that these laws often criminalize tribal peoples as “poachers” because they hunt their food.

Tribal peoples face arrest and beatings, torture and even death for hunting to feed their families, while fee-paying big-game hunters are encouraged.

Baka “Pygmies” in Cameroon and Bayaka “Pygmies” in the Republic of Congo have been beaten and tortured by anti-poaching squads, and fear going into the forest to hunt. And despite winning a major legal victory which confirmed their right to hunt inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Bushmen in Botswana are routinely arrested and beaten when found hunting.

During a symposium organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and others on “wildlife crime” in February, human rights lawyer Gordon Bennett issued a damning legal analysis of the negative impacts of wildlife law enforcement on tribal peoples.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “It’s utterly irresponsible for conservationists and politicians to call for tougher law enforcement against ‘poaching’ without clearly acknowledging that tribal subsistence hunters are not, in fact, ‘poachers.’ It’s not a matter of semantics – tribal hunters are being systematically arrested, beaten and tortured for ‘poaching,’ and it is happening because conservationists are not standing up for tribal peoples’ rights. If delegates at the Kasane conference cared even the slightest about the lives of the indigenous communities their policies affect most, they would acknowledge that tribal people should not be treated as criminals when they hunt to feed their families.”

Notes to editors:

- Read the letter to the delegates attending the Kasane intergovernmental conference on the illegal wildlife trade (pdf, 726 KB)
- The statement “Tribal peoples should not be treated as criminals when they hunt to feed their families” has been signed by the following organizations: ADPPA (l’Association de défense et de promotion des peuples autochtones, Republic of Congo), AHHBN (Associação Huni Kui da Terra Indígena Henê Bariá Namakiá, Brazil), Batwa Development Program (Uganda), COPORWA (Communauté des Potiers du Rwanda), FENAMAD (Federación Nativa de Madre de Dios, Peru), FEPAHC (Federação do Povo Huni Kui do Acre, Brazil), FPK (First People of the Kalahari, Botswana), Hutukara (Yanomami Association, Brazil), Okani (Cameroon), OPIARA (Organização dos Povos Indígenas do Acre, Noroeste de Rondônia e Sul do Amazonas, Brazil), OPDP (Ogiek Peoples Development Program, Kenya), PIDP (Programme d’Intégration et de Développement du Peuple Pygmée, DRC), Survival International, Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust (Zimbabwe), and over 80 world experts on hunter-gatherer societies. Download the list here.
- “Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves. Read more.

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Tue, 24 Mar 2015 08:45:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10699 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10699
Ethiopia: tribe starves as dam and land grabs dry up river The Kwegu in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley are starving because of the destruction of their forest and the slow death of the Omo river.
The Kwegu in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley are starving because of the destruction of their forest and the slow death of the Omo river.
© Survival International

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has received disturbing reports that the smallest and most vulnerable tribe in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley is starving, as a result of the destruction of their forest and the slow death of the river on which they depend.

The Kwegu, who number just 1,000, hunt, fish and grow crops along the banks of the Omo River. But the massive Gibe III dam and associated large-scale irrigation for commercial plantations on tribal land will stop the Omo River’s floods, and destroy the fish stocks on which the Kwegu depend. Recent satellite images show that the Ethiopian government has started to fill the Gibe III dam reservoir.

In disturbing video testimonies filmed in 2012 during the clearing of their land, a Kwegu man said, “Maybe we will die. The river keeps us alive. If they take the water out of the riverbed where will we live? If the fish are gone what will we feed the children?”

Watch the full video testimonies here (the identity of the tribespeople has been disguised to avoid persecution)


Maybe we will dieKwegu tribespeople in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley report in 2015 that they are starving as a result of being forced from their land and of the irrigated plantations that are drying up the river on which they depend. These interviews were filmed in 2012, during the clearing of their land for a government sugar plantation.

Many now report that their beehives have been destroyed by the government’s Kuraz sugar plantations and that their sorghum crops along the Omo riverbank have failed because there has been no flood. The Kwegu have become dependent on food from neighboring tribes to survive. 

There has been almost no consultation of the indigenous peoples of the Lower Omo Valley about these projects on their land, and resistance is met with brutal force and intimidation. Several tribes are being forcibly settled by the government in a process known as “villagization.”

A member of the Suri, a neighboring people to the Kwegu, told Survival earlier this week, “The government has told us to live in new houses but we don’t want to… They did not try to explain what they were doing or ask us what we wanted."

Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of USA, UK and German aid. DfID, the UK’s donor agency, recently announced it will stop funding a program which has been linked to the forced resettlement of tribes. However, it has not reduced the amount of its aid to Ethiopia and makes no reference to the resettlement program.

A Kwegu boy outside his hut. The Omo Valley tribes are finding it hard to feed their children in these times of drought. This photo was taken in 2010.
A Kwegu boy outside his hut. The Omo Valley tribes are finding it hard to feed their children in these times of drought. This photo was taken in 2010.
© Survival

A report of a donor mission to the area in August 2014 by the Development Assistance Group – a consortium of the largest donors to Ethiopia including USA, the UK, Germany and the World Bank – has not been released, despite the growing humanitarian crisis in the Lower Omo.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, said today, "Donor agencies need to reform to ensure taxpayers’ money is not spent propping up governments responsible for evicting tribal peoples from their lands. DfID says its aid supports the poorest – yet it turns a blind eye to the many reports of human rights abuses in the Lower Omo, and continues to support an oppressive government hell bent on turning self-sufficient tribes into aid-dependent internal refugees.”

Notes to editors:

- DfID’s total aid budget for Ethiopia is £368,424,853 for 2014/2015
- The interviews were filmed in 2012 when the Kuraz Sugar project started clearing Kwegu land.

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Tue, 10 Mar 2015 04:45:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10691 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10691
Explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison celebrates 80 years with 8 challenges Survival's President Robin Hanbury-Tenison is marking his 80th year with 8 challenges, starting with the London Marathon.
Survival's President Robin Hanbury-Tenison is marking his 80th year with 8 challenges, starting with the London Marathon.
© Survival International

Explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison is undertaking a series of eight challenges ahead of his 80th birthday – one for each decade.

Starting with the London Marathon on April 26, 2015, he will raise much-needed funds for Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, which he co-founded in 1969.

The seven other challenges are: 

- Climbing the four highest mountains in the British Isles: Ben Nevis (1344m), Snowdon (1085m), Carrauntoohil (1038m), and Sca Fell (964m);
- Skydiving from about 4,000 metres;
- Cave abseiling down the Titan shaft (141m), the deepest pitch in Britain and out of Peak Cavern in the Derbyshire Peak District, England’s deepest cave;
- Waterskiing across the English Channel.

Hanbury-Tension said: “It is a ridiculous age, which has crept up on me unawares and I do not intend to go gentle into that good night. Instead, I shall do my bit of ‘raging’ by raising lots of money for the cause closest to my heart.”

Robin Hanbury-Tenison training for his challenge to waterski across the English Channel.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison training for his challenge to waterski across the English Channel.
© Survival International

Robin Hanbury-Tenison, OBE, (b. 1936) is one of the founders and President of Survival International. In 1982, the Sunday Times named him “the greatest explorer of the past 20 years” and in 1991 as one of the 1,000 “Makers of the 20th Century”.

Hanbury-Tenison has been on more than 30 expeditions, including Survival’s first ever field visit in 1971 to dozens of Indian peoples at the invitation of the Brazilian government. His conclusions laid the groundwork for Survival’s international campaign for Brazilian Indians. He led the Royal Geographical Society’s largest expedition of 115 scientists to study the rainforest of Sarawak and was awarded the RGS Gold Medal.

Hanbury-Tenison is aiming to raise £80,000. Visit his fundraising page here.

Robin Hanbury-Tenison is available for interview. Please contact Ghislain Pascal: +44 (0)7778-788735 or gp@survivalinternational.org

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Sun, 08 Mar 2015 09:30:00 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10688 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10688
Jummas banned from speaking to foreigners without ‘supervison’ Jumma women and girls are often attacked when they are alone in the forest, or when they go to the river to collect water or bathe.
Jumma women and girls are often attacked when they are alone in the forest, or when they go to the river to collect water or bathe.
© GMB Akash/Survival

The Bangladeshi government has sparked outrage by ordering that Jumma tribal people cannot speak to foreigners, or Bangladesh citizens from outside the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), except in the presence of a soldier or government official. The restriction does not apply to Bengalis – the non-indigenous residents of the CHT.

The CHT, in southeastern Bangladesh, are home to eleven tribes, known collectively as Jummas. Land disputes between Bangladesh’s indigenous Jummas and hundreds of thousands of settlers brought to the region by the government are commonplace, often resulting in violence against the Jummas.

The Home Ministry has also imposed strict restrictions on foreigners getting permission to enter the CHT. They will only be allowed to visit after submitting their applications a month in advance, and if they receive the go-ahead from the intelligence agencies.

The order effectively gags Jummas from speaking to outsiders about the theft of their land and the violence meted out against them. It has sparked outrage in the Hill Tracts where it has been described as racist and discriminatory.

Survival International has condemned this silencing of the Jumma people and is calling on the government of Bangladesh to cancel the directive immediately.

Despite the signing of a Peace Accord between Jummas and the Bangladesh government in 1997, human rights violations against the Jumma peoples continue to be rife.

Attacks against Jumma women and girls are a growing problem. In the first few weeks of 2015 there have been at least three reported cases of rape, including the rape of an eight-year old Jumma girl from the Marma tribe, and four reported attempted rapes.

Jumma women and girls continue to be raped and sexually assaulted with impunity in the CHT, despite numerous military checkposts, which are supposed to bring security to the area. The majority of attacks against Jummas and incidents of sexual violence take place close to, and often in sight of, the checkposts.

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Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:34:49 +0000 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10677 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10677