Survival International - Human Rights Worldwide
Who is Survival International?
Survival International is a global human rights organization working for the protection and rights of indigenous cultures. It is not a development aid organization in the classic sense, because it is not in the least concerned with nudging a foreign culture in a direction we call development or progress. It is much more about protecting naturally living cultures from becoming victims of our so-called progress. Through education, advocacy, legal assistance and media campaigns, Survival International gives indigenous cultures a voice within our society, our media and our legal system,
to defend their rights, their traditions, their land and their lives. Survival International follows a clear philosophy in its dealings with indigenous peoples, which is the key to its success and ensures that the organization does not inadvertently become an instrument of destruction rather than protection:
Any problems that an indigenous people cause for themselves remain the responsibility of that people and must also be solved by them. On the other hand, all the problems that we cause them, whether through deforestation, resource extraction, discriminatory laws, or causing environmental disasters, must also be solved by us, since they require ways and means that are completely unknown to an indigenous culture. How, for example, should a people defend themselves in court against the expropriation of their land if something like a legal system is completely unknown to them, because all disputes are settled by consensus in a talking circle?
In a sense, Survival International is an advocate, lobbyist, spokesperson and ambassador for tribal peoples around the world, while at the same time providing them with a platform to speak for themselves and raise awareness of acute problems.
How it all began...
In 1969, a group of young men and women and London sat hunched over a newspaper, unable to believe what they were reading. Along with the latest news on sports, gossip and weather, the Sunday Times was reporting on an incident in the faraway Amazon. An area so far away that most readers didn't even pay attention to this article. After all, what did one care what was happening somewhere in the jungle on the other side of the world?
Here, however, it was different. In the small London apartment, there was an affected silence. Images burned themselves into the minds of the young people. Images so strong and intense that they would never forget them. Even more: images that would change the rest of their lives and those of countless other people all over the world.
The article they had on the table in front of them reported on a massacre in the Brazilian rainforest. For centuries, a native tribe had lived here, which until shortly before had had no contact with the white settlers. It was a people who lived in perfect symbiosis with nature. A people that belonged to the forest as much as the trees and the birds. A people who had a deeper knowledge of the rainforest, its inhabitants and the life in it than we could ever imagine. But then had come civilization man, who was not interested in the forest, the animals or the people in it. The only interest that drove him was the profit he could make from the raw materials when he seized the land.
The locals didn't stand a chance. Within a few hours, the invaders massacred them, killing men, women and children and leaving the lifeless bodies in their own blood. Not a single one remained alive. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years they had existed here in perfect harmony and now they had simply been wiped out.
Without any warning, without even asking a question. Slaughtered like cattle, as if they were not even human. And with the last breath of the last member of the tribe, the knowledge, the culture, the language, the traditions and all their secrets were lost forever.
Today this article was in the newspaper and made headlines, but tomorrow it would be forgotten again. And with it the
Tribe, who had been murdered in the most brutal way. Soon it was as if it had never existed. It had been a genocide on a par with that of the Jews in the Third Reich, and yet there was not even a memorial or a memorial stone here.
And the murderers? They were acting on behalf of a well-known company that could not be harmed. They did not even have to expect a real rebuke. Just like the motto: "That wasn't nice! Don't do that again! You listen!"
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