Prominent journalists and Survival launch new campaign against racism in the media

January 31, 2006

This page was created in 2006 and may contain language which is now outdated.

A new campaign launched today aims to end the portrayal of tribal people in the press as ‘primitive' and ‘Stone Age'. It is being supported by prominent journalists such as BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, the BBC's Caroline Hawley, George Monbiot, John Pilger, Sandy Gall and Christopher Booker.

Members of the public who see an article using these terms can send an eye-catching campaign postcard to the editor concerned.

BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson says, ‘There is nothing primitive about tribal peoples except our view of them. Their intricate societies, their extraordinary abilities to exist in and use the environment around them, are things for us to wonder at.'

Bushman Roy Sesana says, ‘We are not primitive. We live differently to you, but we do not live exactly like our grandparents did, nor do you.' The Bushmen of Botswana are being evicted from their ancestral land by a president who has called them ‘Stone Age creatures', who, ‘must change or otherwise, like the dodo, they will perish.'

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The argument that tribes are ‘backward' or ‘primitive' leads directly to their persecution, and is frequently used to justify dispossessing them of their land or forcing them to ‘develop', supposedly ‘for their own good'. When this happens they are almost always reduced to poverty and dependence, or wiped out completely.

‘We're delighted that so many prominent journalists have already backed our campaign, and we hope many more will do so. We're aiming to make it just as unacceptable to use these kinds of derogatory terms to describe today's tribal people as it would be to describe any other minority group.'

To view the campaign webpage and to download the postcard as a pdf click here

For more information call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]