Protect the isolated tribe of Jarawa against urbanization and exploitation
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Deep in the Indian Ocean, a few hundred kilometres from India, the Andaman Islands archipelago has become the El Dorado of the Indian middle class. Each year, thousands of tourists enjoy the coral beaches of this little corner of paradise on Earth with its stunning landscape. It is also a strategic location, where the government has chosen to build the Indian Ocean’s largest port. But this spectacular economic development comes at the expense of the Afro-Asian peoples who live in the archipelago and who are among the last primitive tribes on the planet.
The Jarawa are pygmies. They left Africa 70,000 years ago with the first human migrations. They have been established on the Andaman Islands for more than 35,000 years. These people, who live by hunting and gathering, have always fiercely refused to mix with the powers that have successively colonized its territory, from Great Britain to Japan through India, whose Andaman Islands have been an integral part since 1947. But for twenty years, including the tsunami of December 2004, tourism has exploded on their archipelago and contacts with the tribe have multiplied ... Quite often for the worst.
More than 420 members
The road that runs through their forest, the Andaman Trunk Road, originally intended for local transport, has become the theater of photo safaris organized for tourists with the complicity of the local police. The Jarawa have repeatedly tried to complain to the local authorities, to no avail.
Poachers also come to hunt game on their land with impunity and are accused of introducing alcohol and tobacco on the archipelago. The Jarawa also claim that women have been kidnapped and raped by foreigners, and that children have been killed by swallowing outdated medicines ... Not to mention new diseases contracted by intruders, like the outbreak of measles and pneumonia, which decimated 10% of their population in 1999.
Apart from the Andaman road and its hordes of tourists, access to the Jarawa reserve is strictly forbidden. It's a fortress. One hundred and fifteen kilometers of coastal strip planted with dense jungle that is permanently patrolled by the Indian Army and the rangers of the AAJVS, the public body in charge of the protection of the ethnic minorities. The media blackout is total.
Nevertheless, we went to meet this people threatened with extinction. The Jarawa, which has only 420 members, speak a language of their own. Our guides are among the few foreigners to master it. They agreed to take significant risks to drive us through the jungle. Some Jarawa agreed to meet us and spoke freely about the seriousness of their situation.
Please help me keep the Jarawa population safe by signing this petition. Thank you.
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