De duistere kant van Brazilië: proefboringen grote bedreiging voor geïsoleerde Indianen

Ook de geïsoleerde Suruwaha zijn zeer kwetsbaar voor ziektes van buitenaf. De aanwezigheid van oliewerkers en andere indringers in hun leefgebied is voor hen een grote bedreiging.
Ook de geïsoleerde Suruwaha zijn zeer kwetsbaar voor ziektes van buitenaf. De aanwezigheid van oliewerkers en andere indringers in hun leefgebied is voor hen een grote bedreiging.

© Adriana Huber/Survival

Samenvatting: Het Braziliaanse staatsoliebedrijf Petrobas is begonnen met proefboringen in een van de meest afgelegen delen van het Amazone regenwoud. In dit gebied leven meerdere geïsoleerde indianenstammen, die hierdoor ernstig worden bedreigd.

Voor een stam als de Hi Merimã, bijvoorbeeld, kan dit soort activiteit in hun leefgebied fataal uitpakken. De stam heeft geen contact met de buitenwereld en is daardoor zeer kwetsbaar voor ziektes van buiten, die bij hen een vernietigende epidemie kunnen veroorzaken.

Met haar campagne The Dark side of Brazil wil Survival International de duistere kant van Brazilië bespreekbaar maken, juist nu de aandacht op Brazilië is gevestigd vanwege de WK. Vijf honderd jaar na de kolonisatie van Brazilië wordt de inheemse bevolking nog steeds uitgemoord voor hun land en de natuurlijke hulpbronnen die hun land rijk is. Nu zijn de regering en de grootgrondeigenaren de overgebleven inheemse gebieden nog verder aan het uitbuiten voor economisch gewin.
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Lees het volledige nieuwsbericht in het Engels:

Brazilian state oil company Petrobras has started exploring for oil and gas in one of the most isolated parts of the Amazon, endangering several isolated Indian tribes.

Local sources report that Petrobras has installed 15 barges with high-capacity generators, pipelines and mining machinery on the Tapauá River in Amazonas state. The exploration is taking place close to seven indigenous territories including the lands of the Suruwaha, Banawa, Deni and Paumari Indians.

Although Brazil’s constitution stipulates that indigenous people must be consulted about all projects that will affect their land, Petrobras has failed to consult the indigenous peoples in the area. FUNAI, the government’s Indian affairs department, was not informed about the exploration either, despite the fact some tribes in the area are very isolated and contacted relatively recently.

When asked about Petrobras’s recent exploration in the Tapauá River basin, Brazil’s National Oil Agency stated that ‘no exploration for oil and gas has been called for, or authorized, by this agency in that region.’

Indians of Brazil's Javari Valley suffered when Petrobras explored for oil on their territory in the 1970s and 1980s. (Picture taken in 1996)
Indians of Brazil's Javari Valley suffered when Petrobras explored for oil on their territory in the 1970s and 1980s. (Picture taken in 1996)

© Fiona Watson/Survival

In a letter to Public Prosecutors, Brazilian experts emphasized the Indians’ right, enshrined in international law, to be consulted about this activity and warned, that ‘over 1,300 people could suffer irreversible impacts’. A Congresswoman and a Senator have raised the issue in government.

The exploration could prove fatal for the Hi Merimã, an uncontacted tribe living close to the exploration site. Uncontacted Indians are extremely vulnerable to any contact with outsiders as they have no immunity to common diseases.

In the 1970s and 1980s Petrobras explored for oil in the Javari Valley, home to the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world. Several uncontacted Indians, as well as FUNAI and Petrobras employees, died in conflicts sparked by the exploration activities.

Last year the indigenous peoples of the Javari Valley re-stated their opposition to any oil exploration on or near their lands. In a letter they warned that they do not want to see a repetition of the tragedy they suffered when Petrobras ‘destroyed our homes and gardens, blew up our lakes and streams polluting the springs and leading to the death of several Indians.’ They ’brought disease to our communities and malaria to the region, and brought an accumulation of equipment to our territory, damaging the flora and fauna’.

Petrobras has started exploring for oil and gas (red circle) in one of the most isolated parts of the Amazon.
Petrobras has started exploring for oil and gas (red circle) in one of the most isolated parts of the Amazon.

© Survival International

Survival International has written to Petrobras urging it to immediately halt its work in the area.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Brazil is ready and willing to sacrifice innocent Indian lives in its greedy scramble for profit. Its economic growth is coming at immense human cost: the lives and livelihoods of the country’s indigenous people. Make no mistake – when the lands of uncontacted Indians are invaded, disease, death and destruction inevitably follow. This is the dark side of Brazil.’

Note to editors:

- In the run-up to the FIFA World Cup, Survival International is highlighting ‘The dark side of Brazil’. Five hundred years after colonization, Brazilian Indians are still being killed for their lands and resources. Now the government and landowners plan to open up Indian territories for massive industrial projects.

- Download Survival’s letter to Petrobras (Pdf, xx MB)

- Download a letter by the Indians of the Javari Valley rejecting all oil exploration on or near their lands (Pdf, 3.9 MB) (In Portuguese)

- The Suruwaha whose territory is close to the exploration site have been under attack by fundamentalist missionaries for years. The missionaries falsely claim they regularly kill newborn babies. In 2012 the tribe became the target of an Australian Channel 7 TV report that called the Suruwaha a ‘suicide cult’ from the ‘Stone Age’; and the ‘worst human rights violators in the world’. Survival complained to Australia’s regulator ACMA, which ruled that the Channel was guilty of breaking its racism clause.