Violent threats against Nukak photographer

September 19, 2011

A Nukak child wearing a necklace made from monkey teeth. © Juan Pablo Gutierrez

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A Colombian photographer whose photos of the Nukak tribe have helped publicize their plight has received violent threats warning him to stay away from the Indians.

Juan Pablo Gutierrez had been working in the southern Colombian Amazon documenting the Nukak, whose lives have been devastated by the loss of their lands at the hands of violent armed groups and coca growing colonists.

Last week, Gutierrez received an email, which read:

‘Stop f****** around with your photos and your undesirable position as a human rights defender. You’re a left-wing guerrilla dressed up as a photographer. We want you to know… that we are following your footsteps, we know where you live and where you’re going, and if you continue to f*** around, next time it won’t be a letter. We will come and find you in person.

’Stop f****** about with your photos and be quiet because we will find you and shut you up ourselves. Neither the Indians nor the country needs you. Stay away, son of a b****.’

The sender, ‘Callon001,’ has not yet been uncovered.

Both paramilitary forces and guerrilla insurgents are active in the region where Gutierrez was working. Death threats and violence against human rights defenders are commonplace in Colombia.

Last month the nomadic Nukak were directly caught up in the violence when a hospital boat sent to supply them with much needed medical supplies was hijacked by FARC guerrillas (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

The Nukak are under serious threat of extinction if the violence on their land continues.

Gutierrez told Survival that he won’t let the threats prevent him from documenting the Nukak’s struggle.