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Rare footage shows uncontacted Amazon tribe who activists say are threatened by loggers

Since taking office, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon rainforest.

Source: Survival International/Vimeo

RARE FOOTAGE OF purportedly uncontacted members of a Brazilian indigenous tribe hunting in the Amazon rainforest has been released by activists who warn the group could be wiped out by logging. 

The 58-second clip filmed in the northern state of Maranhao shows members of the Awa tribe, which Survival International says has been frequently attacked by loggers who have been emboldened by pro-business President Jair Bolsonaro. 

“Only a global outcry stands between them and genocide,” said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which published the video that had been shot by a member of neighboring indigenous tribe Guajajara. 

The footage was shot in August, the NGO said.

Loggers have already killed many of their relatives and forced others out of the forest.

“President Bolsonaro and his friends in the logging industry would like nothing more than for those who still survive to be eliminated.”

In the footage, a young man holding a machete in the rainforest appears to sniff the blade before he looks towards the person filming him. Seconds later he and other members of the tribe carrying spears run away. 

“We didn’t have the Awa’s permission to film, but we know that it’s important to use these images because if we don’t show them around the world, the Awa will be killed by loggers,” said Erisvan Guajajara of Midia India, an indigenous filmmaking association. 

Members of the Guajajara tribe belong to the Guardians of the Amazon group, which aims to protect isolated indigenous people. 

While most Awa have been contacted, some are known to still live uncontacted in an area of rainforest that is being “rapidly destroyed”, Survival International said.

Bolsonaro criticism

Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon rainforest and indigenous peoples in order to benefit loggers, miners and farmers who helped get him elected. 

Bolsonaro, whose anti-environment rhetoric has included a pledge to end “Shiite ecologist activism”, has questioned the latest official figures showing deforestation increased 88% in June compared with the same period last year.

He uses the word “Shiite” as a synonym for radicalism rather than denoting a branch of Islam. 

“We are experiencing a real environmental psychosis,” Bolsonaro said on Sunday. 

Bolsonaro also accused foreign journalists on Friday of wanting Brazil’s estimated 800,000 indigenous people to remain in a “prehistoric state, without access to technology, science and the thousand wonders of modernity”.

© AFP 2019  

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