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Five corporations top hall of shame

 InDepth News 18 October 2019

Five key corporations from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are known to be violating tribal peoples' rights worldwide, have been uplifted into the dubious category of 'Top 5 Hall of Shame'. This questionable status has been awarded by Survival, an international organization supporting tribal peoples around the globe. (825 Words) - By Eva Weil


The five companies are: GDF Suez, Perenco/ Repsol, Samling, Wilderness Safaris and Yaguarete Pora.

Partly owned by the French government, energy giant GDF Suez is heavily involved in the construction of the Jirau dam, which will be the largest dam in Brazil. The company is proceeding with work on the dam despite warnings from Survival International and others that "uncontacted" Indians live near the area affected by the dam.

A series of mega dams is being planned as a central part of Brazil's Accelerated Growth Programme, which aims to stimulate the country's economic growth by building a huge infrastructure of roads and dams, mainly in the Amazon region.

Survival is of the view that the size of these projects threatens to harm or destroy vast areas of land, upon which numerous tribal peoples, including several groups of highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians, depend for their survival. The Jirau and Santo Antonio dams are prominent examples.

The uncontacted Indians of Brazil are at risk of extinction from disease and land loss. They live in the
depths of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and have no contact with the outside world. Illegal loggers and cattle ranchers are invading their land and bringing disease. "They won't survive unless this stops," warns London-based Survival, which has supporters in 82 countries.

The second Top 5 Hall of Shame is the Anglo-French oil company Perenco, and Spanish-Argentine oil giant Repsol-YPF. They are exploiting the territory of uncontacted Indians in northern Peru. Both are operating in an area where uncontacted Indians live. Perenco's suggestions to its workers if they are attacked included, 'Scare and repel them, or tell them to go home'.

One of the groups of uncontacted Indians is believed to be a sub-group of the Waorani and another is known as the Pananujuri. How many they are, is not known.

This Malaysian logging company Samling is destroying the forests of the hunter-gatherer Penan tribe in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Many Penan have been arrested and imprisoned for mounting blockades against the company. James Ho, Chief Operating Officer of Samling, is reported to have said: "The Penan have no rights to the forest."

Accoording to Survival, the Penan's land rights are not recognized, and their forests are being cleared for logging, oil palm plantations and hydroelectric dams, robbing them of their means of survival.

This tour operator Wilderness Safaris recently opened a luxury safari lodge in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana. The lodge boasts a bar and swimming pool, while the Bushmen on whose land the lodge sits are banned by the government from accessing food or water. Andy Payne, Wilderness Safaris' CEO, responded to criticism of his lodge by saying: "Any Bushman who wants a glass of water can have one."

The Brazilian ranching company Yaguarete Pora is intent on clearing a large area of forest in the Paraguayan Chaco, even though uncontacted Ayoreo Indians are known to live there, says Survival. Other members of the tribe have been claiming title to the area since 1993.

Survival marked Columbus Day (October 12th/ October 11th in U.S.) by publishing its Top 5 Hall of Shame.

Survival's Director Stephen Corry said: "These companies really do symbolize everything Columbus signifies today - the quest for money and profit at the expense of people who simply want to be left in peace, on their own land. Surely, 518 years after Columbus's arrival in the Americas and the decimation of the indigenous inhabitants, it's time we treated the world's tribal peoples with a little respect?"
Meanwhile, preliminary work has started on a controversial gas project on the Western Australian coast. The state's premier has aroused fury by announcing that land for the development will be compulsorily purchased from its Aboriginal owners.

The Aus$30 billion project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at James Price Point has become one of the most contentious issues affecting Aborigines. Unable to reach agreement with the Kimberley Land Council, the Aboriginal organization that represents the site's traditional owners, Premier Colin Barnett announced recently that he plans to compulsorily purchase the land necessary to construct the plant.

The Director of the Kimberley Land Council, Wayne Bergmann, told the Australian press: "This is colonialisation all over again -- of taking an interest away from some of the most disadvantaged Aboriginal people for the benefit of the stronger party."

The Kimberley Land Council says that more than 20,000 hectares will be acquired, five times the amount that Barnett had said were needed.

The operator of the planned project is Woodside Petroleum, with Shell, BHP Billiton, Chevron and BP also involved as minority partners.

Originally published by InDepth News. ©


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