Government breaks promise on uncontacted tribes report

September 4, 2008

One of the photos of uncontacted Indians, published in late May. A report from the Peruvian government is still pending. © G. Miranda/FUNAI/Survival, 2008

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One hundred days after photos of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes made world headlines, a report promised by the Peruvian government in response has still not been made public.

The photos sparked an international media frenzy and spurred the government into sending an investigating team into the remote jungle. A report on the investigation was promised in June, but to date nothing has been released.

The tribe photographed is from Brazil, near the Peruvian border, but illegal loggers on the Peruvian side are devastating the forest and have forced other uncontacted Indians from Peru into Brazil.

‘What is happening in this region [of Peru] is a monumental crime against the environment, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the ‘civilised’ ones, treat the world,’ said José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Júnior, a Brazilian government expert on uncontacted tribes, who was in the plane from which the photos were taken.

Peru’s President Garcia publicly suggested uncontacted tribes have been ‘invented’ by ‘environmentalists’ opposed to oil exploration in the Amazon, while another spokesperson compared them to the Loch Ness monster. In fact, there are fifteen uncontacted tribes in Peru, all of them under threat from logging and oil and gas exploration.

The Peruvian Amazon has recently seen thousands of Indigenous Peruvians protesting against new laws that they say make it easier for outsiders to seize control of their territories. The protests led to the repeal of two laws by Peru’s Congress.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Peruvian government must not be allowed to bury this issue, or to turn their backs on the uncontacted tribes. What exactly is the government doing? These are some of Peru’s most vulnerable citizens and they are fleeing the country – calling them ‘uncontacted refugees’ would be no exaggeration.’

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru