Colombian leaders in London to launch ‘campaign against extinction’

March 9, 2010

Young Nukak girl and her sister © David Hill/Survival

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Two Indigenous Colombian leaders are on a European tour to launch an international campaign aimed at protecting at least eighteen tribes facing the ‘imminent risk of extinction’.

The campaign is being launched as Indigenous peoples in Colombia suffer ‘massive violations of their rights’, says ONIC, the country’s national Indigenous peoples’ organisation. These violations are caused by ‘the internal armed conflict in Colombia, the lack of social and differential policies on the part of the Colombian state for Indigenous peoples, and the imposition of a devastating development model in Indigenous territories.’

The two leaders, Luis Fernando Arias Arias and Neida Janeth Yepes Rodriguez, are due to speak at a public event at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in London on Tuesday 16 March.

One of the aims of the campaign, coordinated by ONIC and other Indigenous organisations, is to raise ‘awareness in Colombian society and in the international community of the high risk of extinction suffered by Indigenous peoples. . . Of these peoples, eighteen have a population of less than 200, and 10 have a population of less than 100.’

ONIC ‘considers that the critical situation for the Indigenous peoples of Colombia is the responsibility of all of humanity. When an Indigenous people disappears, a whole world is gone, with its respective culture, spiritual vision, language, ancestral knowledge, and traditional practices.’

One of the tribes at risk is the Nukak, many of whom have been driven from their land by Colombia’s civil war.

The launch of the campaign comes shortly after the death of the last member of a tribe in India, a tragedy that made global headlines.

Spokespeople from Survival, Amnesty and ABColombia are also due to speak at the event in London.

Where: Amnesty International UK, The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, EC2 3EA

When: Tuesday 16 March 18:30-20:30

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