UN notes: Brazil's Awá Indians losing forest and hope

April 17, 2002

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19th April is Brazil's Indian Day, yet the Brazilian government may end up with egg on its face when the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, now in session in Geneva, discusses Indigenous issues on 22 and 23 April.

Following a report by Survival International, the UN special rapporteur on Indigenous issues, Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, has chosen to highlight the case of the Awá Indians as one of a 'small selection' of cases 'of current concern'.

The Awá are one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples in Brazil. About 100 of them are uncontacted and move in small, mobile groups. One vital area of their land in Maranhão state, Brazil, has not been officially demarcated because of powerful economic and political interests in Maranhão. The Brazilian constitution stated that Indigenous lands should be demarcated (mapped out) and ratified by 1993.

An Awá man recently said, 'I love the forest but I see the whites hunting everything and setting fire to everything. I think why do they do this? Everything's gone. They will finish this place off… This is our area and we are the owners.'

Explore Related Material  and the other links to the left to find out more about the Awá.

Photos and footage available to the press. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8700 or email [email protected]