The United Nations (UN) have been urged to put pressure on India to bring an end to “human safaris” in the Andaman Islands.
Survival International made the call today (16 February), five years after the UN first called on India to close the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR), which is used for the 'safaris'.
The organisation says that India ignored the UN's call in 2007 to “implement the 2002 order of the Indian Supreme Court to close sections of the Andaman Trunk Road”. They say this allowed the exploitation of the Jarawa people to continue.
However, in recent months, a series of media articles in Britain have put the issue under international scrutiny.
Officials in India and the Andamans now face domestic and international pressure to stop the Jarawa falling victim to abuse on the road that runs through their reserve.
The importance of closing parts of the Andaman Trunk Road has received cross-party support from fifteen members of Parliament in the UK. Members of the European Parliament are also raising the issue with the European Union's Foreign Affairs Representative.
“As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, issues like this are very important to me,” said UK politician Mike Crockart, “This is a matter of basic human rights. It is not right for anyone, anywhere to be treated like this. They are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.”
Survival has now written to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), as it meets in Geneva.
They have urged the UN to reiterate their call for the road to be closed, ten years after it was officially ordered to be shut by the Supreme Court.
“All eyes are on India and what it will do next,” said Survival's director, Stepehn Corry, “Closing the road is not about isolating the Jarawa, but upholding their right to control their own land and choose if, and how, they interact with outsiders.”
He added, “Far from meddling in India’s affairs, Britain, Europe and the UN’s concern shows the gravity of the situation, and the need to respect human rights by closing the road".
The public have been encouraged to use the Survival International website to send emails urging the Indian government to take immediate action to stop the “human safaris”.