[Image: Portrait photo of Xoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration after the Bushmen’s water borehole was disabled.]
© Survival International
Ten hidden abuses against indigenous peoples
Survival is releasing ten tribal rights abuses ahead of UN Human Rights Day this Saturday, to expose violations that still pass largely unnoticed.
Signed 63 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global expression of the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.
Yet despite its creation in 1948, systematic abuses against the rights of tribal peoples have remained hidden, or continue to occur far from the public eye.
- Aboriginal Australians only gained voting rights at both federal and state level in 1965. It took another two years to include them in the national census.
- Australia’s ‘Stolen Generation; children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent were forcibly removed from their families by authorities, until as recently as the 1970s.
- In 2010 tourists in Botswana relaxed around a swimming pool in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, whilst Bushmen were refused access to water, despite having secured historic rights to their land.
- Uganda’s Batwa pygmies never hunted gorillas, but were evicted from their forest in 1991, under the pretense of protecting the primates. The pygmies are now refugees.
- The stuffed body of a Bushman, known as ‘El Negro of Banyoles’, was displayed in a Spanish museum until 1997, when widespread protests led to its removal. The remains were buried in Botswana in 2000.
- Gunmen with hit lists are executing high-profile Indian leaders in Brazil. Cattle ranchers employ them to stop the Guarani returning to their land.
- Massacre and disease killed one in every five Yanomami in Brazil during the 1980s, until international pressure forced Brazil to evict gold miners.
- In what are now recognized as ‘Human Safaris’, tourists treat the indigenous Jarawa of India’s Andaman Islands like animals by throwing them food.
- ‘Potlatch’, a gift-giving custom practised by indigenous peoples in Canada and US, was outlawed as ‘contrary to civilised values’ in 1884. It took until 1951 for the law to be repealed.
- Under Stalin’s Soviet rule, Siberian shamans were actively persecuted. By 1980, some believed they had disappeared altogether.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘One of the reasons for the continuing human rights abuses of tribal peoples is that the UN’s Declaration is not legally enforceable. That’s why all those who oppose these crimes against humanity should vigorously campaign for the worldwide ratification of the international law ILO 169, which is binding.’
[image: a portrait photo of Marcus Veron, a Guarani leader who was killed in 2003 during an attempt to return to his land.]
Brazilian gunmen brandish tribal hit list in wake of leader’s murder
© Survival International
Gunmen in Brazil are brazenly intimidating indigenous communities with a hit list of prominent leaders, following the high profile murder of Nísio Gomes last month.
Reportedly employed by powerful landowners in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the gunmen are creating a climate of fear to prevent Guarani Indians from returning to their ancestral land.
The tactics employed in recent incidents have been almost identical. Gunmen encircle vehicles transporting Guarani, force them to stop, and then verbally abuse and interrogate passengers about the names on the hit list.
One Guarani leader told Survival, ’They’ve pinpointed us and they’re set to kill us. We’re at great risk. Here in Brazil, we have no justice. We have nowhere left to run.’
On Sunday, around 100 Guarani returning from a meeting in the district of Iguatemi were targeted. Guarani witnesses told Survival one of the four men involved was a local mayor.
The Guarani said the men shouted insults such as, ‘We’re going to burn these buses full of Indians!’ Members of a government team were also present at the scene.
Continued threats have also forced the son of an assassinated leader to flee his community. Ranchers killed Marcos Veron in 2003 after he repeatedly tried to recover a small piece of his community’s ancestral land – his son Ladio is now being targeted.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is yet another tragedy in a determined campaign to exterminate all Guaraní opposition to the theft of their land. The ranchers will stop at nothing to protect their interests, and it’s utterly shameful that the Brazilian government can’t stop these gunmen from acting outside the law.’
Gomes’ killers have yet to be arrested, but last week Brazil’s Public Ministry said six men had been charged with the murder of two Guarani teachers in 2009.
The accused include a notorious Brazilian rancher who held the teachers’ community hostage, and local politicians.