'Dalai Lama of the rainforest' brings climate change warning to Britain

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Brazil, 2002.
Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Brazil, 2002.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

A Yanomami Indian shaman from the Brazilian Amazon, dubbed ‘the Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’, will journey to Europe in June to give a message to world leaders in advance of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami will tell MPs at the British Houses of Parliament that the world’s rainforests cannot be bought, and can only be saved if indigenous peoples’ land rights are recognized.

•    Press conference: Wednesday 10 June, 10.30 am, Survival International, 6 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7ET (For journalists only – please contact Survival if you wish to attend)
•    Photo opportunity: Wednesday 10 June, 3.00 pm, Westminster Green, Houses of Parliament
•    Royal Commonwealth Society panel discussion on indigenous peoples, Thursday 11 June, 6.15 pm at the Commonwealth Club. Details on www.thercs.org

Davi says, ‘We must listen to the cry of the earth which is asking for help. The earth has no price. It can’t be bought, or sold or exchanged. It is very important that white people, black people and indigenous peoples fight together to save the life of the forest and the earth. If we don’t fight together what will our future be? Your children need land and nature alive and standing. We Indians want respect for our rights. You can learn with us and with our shamans. That is important not only for the Yanomami but for the future of the whole world.’

He will also speak at a panel discussion on indigenous rights organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society. He will take his message to Spain, where he is to be honoured by the Spanish government’s Bartolomé de las Casas prize, and to Norway where he will meet with other indigenous representatives at a climate change conference.

Davi led his people, the Yanomami, from the brink of extinction by spearheading the campaign to establish the Yanomami Park, created in 1992. A fifth of the Yanomami died in just seven years due to the invasion of their land by illegal goldminers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since 1992 their numbers have recovered, but goldminers have returned in recent years, posing new threats to their health and security.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival, says, ‘The German press was right when it called Davi Yanomami the ‘Dalai Lama of the rainforest’. What he has to say goes far beyond national frontiers; it’s for all peoples and all times. Survival has been giving a platform to Davi’s prophetic message for over 20 years. It’s now more urgent than ever that we all listen.’

Dr Mike Edwards, climate change advisor at CAFOD, says, ‘We need to listen to people such as Davi who are warning us that our resource consuming behaviour is destroying the biophysical systems upon which all life depends. Climate change is a clear indication that we in Western industrialised societies are living beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth.  If we choose not to heed Davi's words, then we will be facing a very bleak future.’

ENDS

Davi Yanomami will be available for interview. For more information, images and footage please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email mr@survival-international.org

Davi’s visit to the UK is sponsored by Survival and CAFOD