|Apache children before being taken from their families and sent to a white-run school. USA, 19th Century. © Agfa foto-Historama|
An Indian MP’s call for the children of a recently-contacted Andaman Island tribe to be removed from their parents and sent to residential schools has sparked worldwide outrage.
Indigenous people around the world have reacted furiously to the move, which echoes the much-criticised policy of the ‘Stolen Generation’ in Australia, and similar policies in North America.
|Apache children after being taken from their families and sent to a white-run school. USA, 19th Century. © Agfa foto-Historama|
Michael Cachagee, Executive Director of the National Residential School Survivors’ Society (NRSSS) in Canada, said, ‘The NRSSS cannot comprehend or fathom that any nation in today’s world would consider interning any of their citizens, especially children, in a ‘residential school’, given the horrific history associated with these types of schools in Canada and other parts of the world.’
From Brazil, Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami said, ‘This plan is very bad. The forest is the Jarawa’s home. They are in their own land. They have their own traditions and their own culture. If the government takes their children away and puts them in a school, they will lose their culture. If they are made to leave and live in a town, in a school, it would be a crime.’
MP (Member of Parliament) Bishnu Pada Ray wants to ‘wean’ Jarawa children away from the tribe in order to ‘drastically mainstream’ them.
He will propose to India’s Island Development Authority in July that ‘quick and drastic steps be taken to bring the Jarawa up to the basic mainstream characteristics’. He describes the Jarawa as being ‘in a primitive stage of development’ and ‘stuck in time somewhere between the stone and iron age’.
Similar schemes in the US, Canada and Australia are now acknowledged to have been disastrous, and to have left hundreds of thousands of indigenous people traumatized.
Mr Ray is also demanding that restrictions on developments in the Jarawa reserve be lifted, so that a highway running through the reserve can be upgraded, and a railway built. India’s Supreme Court ordered in 2002 that the existing Andaman Trunk Road must be closed to protect the Jarawa, but it remains open.
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘These scandalous proposals are contemptuous both of indigenous peoples’ rights and the UN’s standards for their protection. Attempts to force the Jarawa to abandon their way of life will simply destroy them.’
Read in full the Andamans MP’s proposals regarding the Jarawa
Note to Editors: For more information on the devastating impact of imposing development on tribal people read Survival’s ground-breaking report, Progress Can Kill