46,500 worldwide plead for rights of 250 Jarawa tribal people

June 22, 2000

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The Indian Home Minister, whilst visiting London this week, will receive a petition calling for the Indian government to respect the rights of the recently contacted Jarawa tribe. The future of the Jarawa is presently hanging in the balance as their fate is decided by a committee of experts convened by the Calcutta High Court. Survival, the worldwide organisation supporting tribal peoples, will hand in the petition at the Indian High Commission in London on Friday 23rd of June, at 11am.

Survival has collected more than 46,500 signatures from people all over the world. Those expressing their concerns for the rights of the Jarawa of the Andaman Islands come from at least 61 countries, from the Andaman Islands themselves to the Arctic.

Little is known about the Jarawa, who number approximately 250. No one speaks their language and they have remained hostile to outside contact for thousands of years. The expert committee will advise the Indian government as to whether it should attempt to forcibly settle or assimilate the Jarawa or allow them to make their own decisions about how they live their life. Survival, and anthropologists around the world, have asked the court not to attempt to settle the Jarawa, fearing that this would lead to them being wiped out, as happened when the British colonists settled other tribes from the Islands.

Survival's Director, Stephen Corry said, 'The Indian government must recognise the Jarawa's right to decide their own future and own their own land. In many of the countries where people have signed the petition, tribal peoples, like the Jarawa, have been wiped out. These people are asking the Indian government not to let the same thing happen to the Jarawa.'

Click here to join Survival's letter writing campaign on behalf of the Jarawa.

Click here to add your name to the petition.