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SAO PAULO – (AFP) – A London-based rights group used Human Rights Day Monday to coordinate a global drive in support of the Awa of the Brazilian Amazon, describing them as “Earth’s most threatened tribe”.
Survival International, a leading advocate for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, sponsored protests in London, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Berlin, The Hague and San Francisco to pressure Brazil to honor its pledge to remove loggers, ranchers and settlers from demarcated Awa territories.
In letters to Brazilian diplomatic missions in those cities, Survival supporters warned that “if the invasion and destruction are not halted now, we believe that the Awa have little chance of surviving,” the group said.
Survival Director Stephen Corry urged Brasilia to “remove all invaders from the Awa indigenous territory as a matter of urgency, and put in place a permanent land protection plan which will enable them to live in peace and security on their land.”
Last April, Survival launched a campaign spearheaded by Britain’s Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth to focus world attention on the plight of the Awa, warning they were threatened with “genocide” and “extinction.”
The campaign also aimed to persuade Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo to send in federal police to evict loggers, ranchers and settlers from Awa lands.
According to Survival, there are roughly 360 Awa who have been contacted by outsiders, many of them survivors of brutal massacres, along with another 100 believed to be hiding in the rapidly-shrinking forest.
Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) FUNAI estimates that there are 77 isolated indigenous tribes scattered across the Amazon. Only 30 such groups have been located.
Indigenous peoples represent less than one percent of Brazil’s 192 million people and occupy 12 percent of the national territory, mainly in the Amazon.