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 It took until 1951 for the law to be repealed.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.’