News from Survival International News items about tribal peoples from across the world http://www.survival.it/news.rss Brazilian politicians push for shutdown of Indian Affairs Department Major indigenous protests in Brasilia, April 2017
Major indigenous protests in Brasilia, April 2017
© VOA

WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS

An inquiry established by Brazilian parliamentarians who represent the powerful agribusiness lobby has just published a report calling for the closure of the Indian Affairs Department, FUNAI.

Its findings have been met with outrage and incredulity in Brazil and beyond. Francisco Runja, a Kaingang spokesman said: “Killing off FUNAI is tantamount to killing us, the indigenous peoples. FUNAI is a crucial institution for us; our survival; our resistance; and it’s a guarantee of the demarcation of our traditional territories.”

The report attacks indigenous leaders, anthropologists, public prosecutors and NGOs, including Survival International.

It alleges that FUNAI has become a “hostage to external interests” and calls for dozens of its officials to be prosecuted for backing what it calls “illegal demarcations” of tribal territories.

Yesterday a group of 50 Indians was barred from attending the session in congress discussing the inquiry.

The inquiry took 500 days and the report is over 3,300 pages long. It is a blatant attack on indigenous peoples and a crude and biased attempt to destroy their hard-won constitutional rights.

Mutilated indigenous victim of ranchers' attack in May 2017.
Mutilated indigenous victim of ranchers' attack in May 2017.
© Anon

It was headed by politicians representing Brazil’s powerful agri-businesses who have long coveted indigenous territories for their own financial gain.

One member, congressman Luis Carlos Heinze, received Survival’s Racist of the Year award in 2014 following his deeply offensive remarks about Brazilian Indians, homosexuals, and black people.

Another member, congressman Alceu Moreira, called for the eviction of tribal people attempting to reoccupy their ancestral lands.

The increasingly hostile, anti-indigenous climate in many sectors in congress is fuelling violence against indigenous peoples. Last month, 22 Gamela Indians were injured following a brutal attack at the hands of local landowners’ gunmen.

FUNAI has suffered severe budget cuts, which have resulted in the grounding of several teams responsible for protecting uncontacted tribes’ territories. This effectively leaves some of the most vulnerable people on the planet to the mercy of armed loggers and land grabbers.

The organization has been greatly weakened. Many staff have been made redundant, and political appointees now run key departments.

In the last five months, it has had three presidents. Earlier this month the second president, Antonio Costa was dismissed. In a press conference he strongly criticized President Temer and Osmar Serraglio, the Minister of Justice, stating that they “not only want to finish off FUNAI, but also public policies such as demarcation of [indigenous] land… This is very serious.”

Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa said: “FUNAI is broken… it is already dead. They killed it. It only exists in name. A nice name, but it doesn’t have the power to help us.”

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Wed, 17 May 2017 16:16:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11693 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11693
Indian authorities harass tribal leaders The Dongria have resisted attempts to mine in their hills for years, but are facing serious pressure to give in
The Dongria have resisted attempts to mine in their hills for years, but are facing serious pressure to give in
© Survival

The Indian government is harassing and attempting to silence the leaders of the Dongria Kondh tribe, famous for winning a “David and Goliath” court battle against a British mining giant.

The Dongria’s resistance to mining on their lands has continued since their landmark victory in 2014. Leaders including Dodi Pusika feel that the risk of mining remains as long as a refinery is operational at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills, an area which the tribe have been dependent on and managed for generations. A recent protest at the refinery was met with a baton-charge from police.

Pusika’s daughter-in-law, Kuni Sikaka, was arrested in the middle of the night of May 3 and accused of links with armed Maoist rebels. In exchange for her release, Dodi Pusika and other members of his family were made to “surrender” as Maoists and paraded in front of the media.

There has been an alarming increase in arbitrary, politically motivated arrests of tribal people who are resisting mining operations or government policies which endanger their lands and communities. Typically, those arrested are accused of Maoist links – usually without evidence.

Human rights activist and doctor Binayak Sen and tribal teacher Soni Sori have both been imprisoned for alleged Maoist connections and only subsequently released after national and international campaigns.

In April, the Home Ministry issued a report claiming that Maoists were “guiding the activities” of the Dongria’s organization, the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS). On the contrary, Maoists instructed the Dongria to boycott the very meetings at which they delivered their decisive “no” to mining.

Lingaraj Azad, a member of the NSS, stated, ‘We have always opposed violence – either state violence or Maoist violence. We will not bow down, but continue our struggle to protect Niyamgiri from being mined.’

Survival is calling on the government to drop these fabricated charges, stop this persecution of the Dongria Kondh, respect their decision about the Niyamgiri mine, and to uphold their right to protect their lands and determine their own futures.

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Wed, 10 May 2017 13:56:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11682 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11682
Twentieth anniversary of eviction from Kalahari highlights Bushmen plight Many Bushmen were moved to a government resettlement camp called New Xade in 1997
Many Bushmen were moved to a government resettlement camp called New Xade in 1997
© Noam Schimmel/Survival

Twenty years ago today, hundreds of Bushmen were ordered to abandon their homes deep in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

This was the first in a wave of evictions by the government, determined to open up their ancestral homes to diamond mining and tourism.

The Bushmen of Xade community were given no warning and were ordered to leave their homes immediately. They were herded onto trucks and those who refused to go were told they would be shot by the army.

Along with force, underhand tactics were employed: some Bushman children and their teachers were moved earlier, forcing anxious parents to follow them to the eviction camp, New Xade, which they soon dubbed “the Place of Death”.

Life here, as witnessed by Survival campaigners and much of the world’s media, was bleak. Bushmen were housed in tents like refugees and were totally reliant on handouts from the government.

Many succumbed to HIV/AIDS and alcoholism introduced by outsiders, who flocked to the camp to profit from the Bushmen’s meager compensation money.

From resilient hunters and gatherers with a strong sense of independence and identity, the Bushmen were reduced to a life of boredom, depression and hopelessness which continues to this day.

For many observers, the government’s inhumane treatment of Botswana’s first people echoed neighboring South Africa’s apartheid regime, where black communities were systemically evicted from their homes and dumped into crowded slums on the outskirts of the cities.

This was the latest chapter in centuries of persecution of southern Africa’s Bushman peoples by white colonists and Bantu peoples.

Bushmen celebrate the landmark court ruling in 2006. More than a decade on, many still languish in govenrment camps.
Bushmen celebrate the landmark court ruling in 2006. More than a decade on, many still languish in govenrment camps.
© Survival International

Twenty years on, however, there have been some positive changes. Bushmen evicted from the reserve in 2002 won a landmark case with support from Survival International in 2006 in Botswana’s high court. The court ruled that they had been illegally evicted and had the right to live and hunt in the reserve.

Today, hundreds of Bushmen have left the hated eviction camps and returned home. However, they continue to face harassment, beatings, and torture by wildlife scouts when they exercise their legal right to hunt.

As Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone explains: “Bushmen are not poachers. We hunt to survive, we don’t kill animals in large quantities. We get what we want to survive.”

Families are still being broken up, as the government says that only individuals who were applicants in the high court ruling are allowed to return to the CKGR. When their children turn 18, they have to get permits to visit their families in the reserve. This is causing enormous distress and hardship.

Bushmen are worried that their land may be opened up to more exploration without their consent. Although the diamond mine in the Bushman community of Gope in the reserve has been scaled back recently, last month the government gave new diamond prospecting licenses to a joint Russian-British mining venture.

In the last few years, the government has also given out fracking licenses in the CKGR.

As one Bushman told Survival: “Giving companies clearance to extract natural resources is at our expense and is against our human rights.”

Survival is continuing to campaign for the rights of the Bushmen, having launched a global push in 2016, to coincide with the country’s fiftieth anniversary.

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Mon, 08 May 2017 11:56:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11690 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11690
Horrific: Ranchers attack and mutilate Indians who demanded their land back This cellphone photo shows the ranchers on their way to attack the Gamela. A police car accompanies them.
This cellphone photo shows the ranchers on their way to attack the Gamela. A police car accompanies them.
© CIMI

WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO

Thirteen Brazilian Indians have been hospitalized after a brutally violent attack by men armed with machetes in the Amazon.

One man appears to have had his arms severed in disturbing photos released to Survival International.

The attack was in retaliation for the Gamela Indians’ campaign to recover a small part of their ancestral territory. Their land has been invaded and destroyed by ranchers, loggers and land grabbers, forcing the Gamela to live squeezed on a tiny patch of land. The Gamela are indigenous to the area in Maranhão state in northern Brazil.  

Powerful agribusiness interests – reportedly including the Sarney landowning family – have been in conflict with the tribe for some time. The family includes a former president of Brazil and a former governor of Maranhão state.

Photo of a Gamela victim of the attack.
Photo of a Gamela victim of the attack.
© Anon

Eyewitnesses say that the ranchers gathered at a barbecue to get drunk, before surrounding the Gamela camp, firing guns, and then attacking with machetes, causing grievous injuries. Local police are reported to have stood by and allowed the attack to happen.

The Gamela have received death threats in response to their attempts to return to their land. In a declaration released by Brazilian NGO CIMI, they said: “People are mistaken if they think that by killing us they’ll put a stop to our fight. If they kill us, we will just grow again, like seeds… Neither fear nor the ranchers’ bullets can stop us.”

The attack came just days after massive indigenous protests in Brazil’s capital against proposed changes to Brazil’s indigenous laws, which could have disastrous consequences for tribal peoples.

Land theft is the biggest problem tribal peoples face. Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit.

Campaigners fear that the close ties between Brazil’s agribusiness lobby and the Temer government installed after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016 could lead to further genocidal violence and racism against Brazilian tribal peoples.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Right now, we’re witnessing the biggest assault on Brazilian Indians for the last two generations. This truly horrific attack is symptomatic of a sustained and brutal onslaught which is annihilating indigenous communities across the country. Heinous acts like this won’t end until the perpetrators are prosecuted and Brazil starts enforcing tribal land rights as it should do under national and international law.”

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Thu, 04 May 2017 11:46:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11684 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11684
WWF wins Survival’s “Greenwashing of the Year” award Widespread logging has been an acute problem for rainforest tribes for many years.
Widespread logging has been an acute problem for rainforest tribes for many years.
© Margaret Wilson/Survival

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has won Survival International’s “Greenwashing of the Year” award for partnering with seven companies logging nearly 4 million hectares of forests belonging to the Baka and Bayaka “Pygmies” in central Africa.

The award is given to companies or organizations who dress up the destruction of tribal peoples’ forests as conservation.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based at the Bronx Zoo in New York, has been named as runner-up, also for its activities in the Congo Basin. It has partnered with two logging companies, neither of which have obtained the consent of the tribal peoples in the areas in which they work.

WWF describes logging companies as “forest operators.” According to WWF, its partnerships with these companies are intended to “advance sustainable forest management."

In reality, however, all of WWF’s partners have been accused of illegal logging and none have received the consent of the Baka and Bayaka “Pygmies.” A recent study found that approaches like WWF’s have failed to slow the break-up of the Congo Basin rainforest.

This picture was taken by Baka “Pygmies” in late 2016 when they reported finding Rougier employees logging illegally on their land.
This picture was taken by Baka “Pygmies” in late 2016 when they reported finding Rougier employees logging illegally on their land.
© Survival

In a 2011 report, the environmental NGO Global Witness said that the partnerships “allow some… member companies to reap the benefits of association with WWF and its iconic Panda brand while continuing unsustainable logging, conversion of forests to plantations, or trading in illegally sourced timber.”

The partnerships also violate WWF’s own policy on indigenous peoples, which requires all projects to be undertaken with the full consent of tribal communities.

Baka and other tribes have been forcibly removed from much of their ancestral land, and forced to live on roadsides.
Baka and other tribes have been forcibly removed from much of their ancestral land, and forced to live on roadsides.
© Survival International

A Baka man said: “It’s the Baka’s forest, which we’ve conserved for a long time. It’s the loggers who bring guns and their brothers who hunt all the animals.”

A Baka woman added that “we need to fight against this because our forest is being finished off completely.”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “WWF’s supporters might be surprised to learn that it’s working so closely with the loggers who are destroying one of Earth’s great rainforests. Congo Basin tribes, the original guardians, are being pushed aside and their societies wrecked. Across Africa and Asia, the big conservation organizations partner with industry and tourism and destroy the environment’s best allies. It’s a con, and it’s harming conservation. Perhaps this “award” might encourage people inside WWF and WCS to put pressure on their organizations for reform. It’s time to listen to tribal conservationists.”

Baka “Pygmy” speaks out against destructive loggersSome of the world’s largest logging groups are destroying the Baka’s ancestral forests in the Congo Basin.

This Baka man lives near logging concessions run by the French giant Rougier, one of the World Wildlife Fund’s main partners.

Despite claiming it never partners with logging companies without the Baka’s consent, it has done precisely that for over 15 years.

Note to editors: WWF has partnered with: Bolloré Group, Danzer Group, Decolvenaere Group, Pasquet Group, Rougier Group, SEFAC Group and Vicwood Group. WCS has partnered with Danzer Group and the Olam Group. Full report here.

“Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves.

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Tue, 02 May 2017 10:20:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11677 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11677
Brazil: Government abandons uncontacted tribes to loggers and ranchers Uncontacted tribes, like this one pictured in aerial footage seen around the world in 2011, now face genocidal attacks as Brazil’s government slashes funding for protection of their land.
Uncontacted tribes, like this one pictured in aerial footage seen around the world in 2011, now face genocidal attacks as Brazil’s government slashes funding for protection of their land.
© G.Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

All the government units currently protecting Brazil’s uncontacted tribes from invasion by loggers and ranchers could be withdrawn, according to information leaked to Survival International. The move would constitute the biggest threat to uncontacted Amazon tribes for a generation.

Agents from FUNAI, the country’s indigenous affairs department, perform a vital role in protecting uncontacted territories from loggers, ranchers, miners and other invaders. Some teams are already being withdrawn, and further withdrawals are planned for the near future.

Thousands of invaders are likely to rush into the territories once protection is removed.

There are estimated to be over 100 uncontacted tribes in Brazil, well over two-thirds of the global population of uncontacted people. Many of them live in indigenous territories, which total over 54.3 million hectares of protected rainforest, an area about the size of France.

These territories are guarded by just 19 dedicated FUNAI teams. It is possible that all 19 teams could be eliminated from the Brazilian state budget, despite the fact that money spent maintaining these teams is equal to the average salaries and benefits paid to just two Brazilian congressmen per year.

FUNAI agents in Brazil. Ground teams work full-time to keep invaders out of uncontacted tribal territory, but this vital protection could be withdrawn.
FUNAI agents in Brazil. Ground teams work full-time to keep invaders out of uncontacted tribal territory, but this vital protection could be withdrawn.
© Mário Vilela/FUNAI

The proposals are the latest in a long list of actions from the Temer government, which came to power in 2016 after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, that could have catastrophic consequences for indigenous peoples.

Indigenous activist Sonia Guajajara said: “By cutting down the FUNAI budget, the government is declaring the extinction of indigenous people.”

Paulo Marubo, an indigenous man from the Javari Valley in Brazil’s Amazon said: “If the protection teams are withdrawn, it will be like before, when many Indians were massacred and died as a result of disease… If the loggers come here, they will want to contact the uncontacted, they will spread diseases and even kill them.”

Indigenous protestors in Brasilia, Brazil.
Indigenous protestors in Brasilia, Brazil.
© Fabio Nascimento / Mobilização Nacional Indígena

Campaigners have suggested that the government’s close ties to Brazil’s powerful ranching and agribusiness lobbies – which consider indigenous territories to be a barrier to their own expansion – could be part of the reason for the proposal.

Major indigenous protests are taking place this week in Brasilia against government proposals to water down protection for indigenous rights.

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

Survival International is leading the global fight for uncontacted tribes’ right to their land, and to determine their own futures.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Cuts in government budgets to protect uncontacted tribes are clearly nothing to do with money – the sums involved are tiny. It’s a political move from agribusiness which sees uncontacted tribes as a barrier to profit and is targeting rainforest which has been off-limits to development. The reality is these cuts could sanction genocide.”

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Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:23:00 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11671 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11671
Simon McBurney partners with Survival International for theatrical special in San Francisco Survival ambassador Simon McBurney
Survival ambassador Simon McBurney
© BBC

Survival International is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Curran Theater in San Francisco, which is set to host Survival International ambassador Simon McBurney’s hit one-man play “The Encounter”.

Survival will hold a special evening on April 27 for supporters at the Curran from 6.30 pm PST. This will include a private drinks reception and a discussion with Simon McBurney and Survival USA co-ordinator Tesia Bobrycki after the show, about tribal peoples’ rights.

Simon McBurney is an acclaimed actor, writer, and director, and founder of the multi-award winning Complicite theater company. He became a Survival International ambassador in 2017.

Simon is a long-standing Survival supporter with an interest in indigenous rights and environmental causes. He devised “The Encounter,” based on a book by Petru Popescu, after spending time in the Amazon with indigenous peoples. This experience developed his interest in Survival’s work.

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil seen from the air during a Brazilian government expedition in 2010.
Uncontacted Indians in Brazil seen from the air during a Brazilian government expedition in 2010.
© G.Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

“The Encounter” addresses many of the issues affecting the Matsés people from the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier, many of whom were forcibly contacted by missionaries in 1969. Some members of the tribe are still uncontacted.

The play traces a journey into the depths of the Amazon rainforest, using 3D audio technology to build an intimate and shifting world of sound.

Details can be found on the Curran theater website.

Simon McBurney performs in experimental one-man show 'The Encounter' about the tribal peoples of the Javari Valley.
Simon McBurney performs in experimental one-man show 'The Encounter' about the tribal peoples of the Javari Valley.
© Gianmarco Bresadola

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. We know very little about them. But we do know there are more than a hundred around the world. And we know whole populations are being wiped out by genocidal violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.

Survival International is leading the global fight for uncontacted tribes’ right to determine their own futures.

Survival Director Stephen Corry said: “The Encounter is a bravura piece of story-telling which plunges you deep into the Amazon. It’s an experience that brings the Amazon and its people – usually so remote from us – vividly to life, and we’re delighted to join up with the Curran Theater and Simon McBurney to bring our urgent message to a new audience.”

Note: Survival supporters get 20% off tickets to THE ENCOUNTER and a free tote bag by using the offer code SURVIVALINTL at this link

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Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:03:18 +0100 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11670 http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11670