UK MPs call for end to Andaman 'human safaris'

By agency reporter
6 Feb 2012

The ‘human safaris’ scandal in the Andaman Islands has reached the UK Parliament, with MPs tabling a motion calling on India to close the illegal road that cuts through the Jarawa tribe’s reserve.

Presented to the House of Commons by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, it calls for an end to recently contacted Jarawa being treated like attractions in a "human safari park".

It also appeals to the Indian government "to take immediate action to close the Andaman Trunk Road", which has been operating illegally since the Supreme Court ordered it closed in 2002.

It comes as the Observer newspaper released new videos proving police and army officials have been involved in ‘human safaris’ – despite the denials of the Andamans’ police chief.

One clip shows half naked girls being ordered to dance for a seated Indian police officer. An off-camera voice tells the girls to "move back a little, a little more". They are then told to "Do it", and they start dancing.

Survival International, the NGO which campaigns for the rights of tribal people, first exposed the scandal of human safaris in 2010, but international condemnation has grown in recent months, prompting India’s Home Minister to order an investigation.

The outcry has also reached members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

MEP Sir Graham Watson, Chair of the Parliament’s Delegation to India, has described the Jarawa’s exploitation as a "disgrace", and vowed to keep pursuing the issue with Indian officials.

Similarly, MEP Julie Girling has made her position clear by tweeting, ‘@Survival campaign to end Human Safaris and close The Andaman Trunk Road which currently cuts through the Jarawa Reserve.’

Survival International today (6 February) called on the public to write emails through its website urging the Indian government to take immediate action to stop the human safaris.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, "This new video released by the Observer shows current precautions by the Andaman authorities are not working. It’s time the government got to the root of the problem, which is the road: it must be closed."

[Ekk/4]

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