A NEW BILL being considered in Peru’s Congress, described by Survival International as “a naked land grab by the oil and gas industry”, could wipe out the country’s uncontacted tribes, Indigenous organisations and experts have warned. They have labelled it the ‘Genocide Bill’ for its catastrophic consequences if approved.

The bill has been drafted by Congresspeople with ties to huge oil and gas companies. The controversial Anglo-French oil company Perenco, which is operating inside uncontacted tribes’ lands in northern Peru, is believed to be one of the companies backing the bill.

Among the bill’s provisions:

  • The 25 uncontacted and recently-contacted Indigenous peoples in the country who have been officially recognised could, at a stroke, lose that recognition, and with it, all their rights as Indigenous people.
  • Indigenous Reserves already established for these peoples could be revoked.
  • Their lands could be further opened up to oil and gas drilling, logging and mining.
  • It would block the creation of desperately-needed reserves for uncontacted tribes whose territories currently have no protection.

Julio Cusurichi of Peru’s Amazon Indigenous organisation AIDESEP said: “If this bill is approved, regional governments will be able to extinguish existing Indigenous reserves and undo the official recognition of the existence of uncontacted and recently contacted tribes. This would mean genocide. We are calling on Congress to scrap this bill.”

Apu Miguel Manihuari Tamani of Indigenous organisation ORPIO, within whose region live several uncontacted tribes, said today: “We categorically reject this bill. We know that our uncontacted relatives live in the most distant parts of the forest, fleeing from outsiders. This attack on uncontacted tribes is in response to the economic interests of politicians and others who want to extract oil and timber in these areas. We are defending our uncontacted relatives and for that we have received death threats.”

Indigenous organisations and their allies are campaigning against the bill. Thousands of Survival International supporters around the world have emailed Peruvian Congresspeople voicing their alarm and calling for the proposal to be scrapped.

Teresa Mayo of Survival International said: “This bill is a naked land grab by the oil and gas industry and their cronies, which could completely destroy Peru’s uncontacted tribes. Nothing like it has ever been attempted, anywhere in the world. It would be genocidal – the Indigenous peoples concerned simply cannot survive this wholesale destruction of their rights. Their territories would be further opened up to industrial exploitation, and since they are utterly dependent on their lands for survival, they could be wiped out. It is a shockingly brazen assault on the human rights of Peru’s Indigenous peoples, and cannot be allowed to pass into law.”

* Send an email to Peruvian Congresspeople here.

* Source: Survival International