Indians invade press office at World Social Forum

12 FEBRUARY 2009

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Indians from the Javari Valley, one the largest indigenous territories in Brazil, invaded the press office at the World Social Forum held in Brazil at the end of January.

They were protesting about the dire health situation in the Javari Valley and the Brazilian authorities' failure to resolve the escalating crisis.

The Javari Valley is the home of the Matis tribe, whom BBC TV presenter Bruce Parry visited in his recent 'Tribe' and 'Amazon' series.

A member of the European Parliament attending the World Social Forum, Vittorio Agnoletto, was given documents by the Indians and promised to lobby the European Parliament and the Brazilian government.

The Javari Valley, in the state of Amazonas, has been affected by epidemics of hepatitis and malaria. More than 80% are infected with hepatitis. The latest death was that of indigenous leader Edilson Kanamari, who died on 26 January of hepatitis D.

Waki Mayoruna, an Indian from the Javari Valley, criticised FUNAI, the Brazilian government's Indian affairs department and FUNASA, the National Health Foundation, for their lack of solutions.

Leader Jorge Marubo said, 'We want to call to your attention the fact that we are dying and if no one takes measures these indigenous peoples will be extinct in 20 or 30 years.'

The Javari Valley is a large indigenous area near the Peruvian border. It is home to the Korubo, Marubo, Matis, Mayoruna, Kanamari and Kulina, as well as several groups ofuncontacted Indians.