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Last April, the Ache indigenous people brought to court a historic lawsuit for the genocide they suffered during the 1950s and 1960s. The Aches were decimated after settlers organized hunting parties to assassinate, capture and sell them. Like slaves.
Brazil is home to approximately one hundred uncontacted indigenous peoples, the most vulnerable societies on the planet. Entire populations are being wiped out by the violence of outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases such as influenza and measles that they spread and against which indigenous people have no immunity.
The uncontacted Kawahiva Indians of central Brazil face extermination by loggers and ranchers invading their land. Following evidence suggesting that they may be being deliberately persecuted and harassed by loggers, forcing them to live in constant flight, an attorney general launched an investigation into their genocide.
Other cases of genocide include the brutal attack by gold prospectors on the Yanomami community of Haximú, in Venezuela, near the border with Brazil, in 1993. Sixteen Yanomami were killed, including the elderly, women and children. Four of the culprits were consistently convicted of genocide in an unprecedented sentence.
Five Akuntsu from the Brazilian state of Rondônia are the last survivors of the genocide that has wiped out most of their tribe. In 1985, government investigators discovered an entire longhouse that had been destroyed, evidence of the brutal massacre perpetrated by the gunmen.
The violent invasion and destruction of the forests of the Awá tribe of Brazil by armed loggers and ranchers has also been described as genocide by Brazilian experts. Following an intensive campaign by Survival, the invaders were driven out of key Awá territory in January this year. But to date the government has not implemented a permanent territorial protection program to prevent the invaders from returning.
Survival Director Stephen Corry declared today: “Industrialized societies subject indigenous and tribal peoples to genocidal violence, slavery and racism in order to take away their lands, resources and labor in the name of 'progress' and 'civilization'. Since the dawn of the 'Discovery' era, indigenous peoples have been the innocent victims of aggressive colonization of their lands. By portraying them as backward and primitive, the invaders have justified a cruel and systematic annihilation, which continues today. It is time for the genocide to end. "
* Survival International is the global movement for the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. We help them defend their lives, protect their lands and decide their own future. Founded in 1969, Survival celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.