An indigenous organization in Peru is suing the government for failing to protect uncontacted tribes from invasion and oil exploration.
AIDESEP, Peru’s national indigenous organization, is taking Peru’s Ministry of Culture to court for failing to meet its legal obligation to map out and create five new indigenous reserves and to protect the highly vulnerable uncontacted peoples that live inside.
In 2007, Peru awarded Canadian oil company Pacific E&P the right to explore in Yavari Tapiche, a proposed indigenous reserve in the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier. AIDESEP has been calling for the creation of the reserve for 14 years, and Survival International has been leading the global campaign for uncontacted peoples’ right to determine their own futures.
Campaigners fear that uncontacted Indians in the area could be wiped out by violence from outsiders and diseases to which they have no resistance. Oil workers run the risk of coming into contact with uncontacted people, and the exploration process involves thousands of underground detonations which scare away the Indians’ game.
The Matsés tribe, who live near the proposed reserve, have been protesting against the government’s failure to bar oil exploration. At a recent tribal meeting, one man said: “I don’t want my children to be destroyed by oil… That’s why we’re defending ourselves… and why we Matsés have come together. The oil companies… are insulting us and we won’t stay silent as they exploit us on our homeland. If it’s necessary, we’ll die in the war against oil.”
Another indigenous organization, ORPIO, is bringing another lawsuit over the threat of oil exploration.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet, but Peru’s authorities seem to consider oil company profits more important than peoples’ land, lives and human rights. This failure to create indigenous reserves is not just an environmental catastrophe, it could also lead to entire peoples being wiped out forever.”
This article was published on Survival International's website on February 9, 2017.