© Fiona Watson/Survival
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Americas’ leading human rights body, has demanded answers from the Brazilian government about the plight of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe, which is being driven towards extinction by the country’s failure to protect its forest.
Following an urgent petition sent to the IACHR by Survival International and Brazilian NGO CIMI in May 2013, the human rights watchdog has pressurized Brazil’s authorities to provide details of the measures being taken to guarantee the survival of the Awá.
The Commission’s demand draws attention to the uncontacted Awá, who number only around 100 and are living on the run in their dwindling forest which is being destroyed by an ever-advancing wave of illegal loggers.
The IACHR has also questioned the government about a court ruling which demanded that the illegal loggers, settlers and ranchers be evicted from the Awá indigenous territory. The authorities failed to even begin to evict the invaders by the ruling’s deadline, which passed six months ago. Survival is calling on Brazil to conduct the evictions operation as a matter of urgency.
The Awá are warning that they are becoming increasingly desperate and unable to hunt and feed their families, as their forest is being destroyed at an alarming pace, threatening their existence as one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples of the Amazon rainforest.
One Awá man said in an appeal to Brazil’s Minister of Justice, ‘I am angry, very angry… The loggers come here and chop down the trees … The Minister of Justice in Brasília can help us here, now. He must help us now!’
Over 53,000 people worldwide have written to the Minister urging him to save the Awá, since film-star Colin Firth launched Survival’s campaign in April 2012.
Last month, the Awá’s plight received attention all over Brazil, as media giant O Globo published a front page spread about the tribe and the threats it faces, illustrated by photos by internationally renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado.
The Commission is expected to make a final decision on the Awá case later this month.