Amazon Indians Protest in London as Judge Blocks Brazil Dam

“These projects will force my people from their land and end our way of life.” – Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, Ashaninka leader

Three Amazon Indians protested in London today against dams which threaten to destroy the lands and lives of thousands of tribal people.

Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, an Ashaninka Indian from Peru, Sheyla Juruna, a Juruna Indian from the Xingu region and Almir Surui of the Surui tribe in Brazil, are calling for three controversial dam projects in the Amazon to be halted.

The Indians protested, with Survival supporters, outside the office of the Brazilian state development bank BNDES, which is providing much of the funding for the dams.

Meanwhile a Brazilian judge has blocked progress on one of the dams – the huge Belo Monte project – over environmental concerns. The ruling will certainly be challenged by the government.

The Belo Monte mega-dam planned for the Xingu river would be the world’s third largest dam. If constructed it will devastate a huge area of forest. There are reports of uncontacted Indians near the dam site.

Belo Monte and the other schemes – the Madeira dams in Brazil and Pakitzapango in Peru, are themselves just a part of Brazil’s ambitious plans to harness hydro-power in Brazil and Peru to fuel the next stage in the country’s rapid economic growth.

Sheyla Juruna has said, “The dams will bring irreversible cultural, social and environmental damage. BNDES, by investing in the dams, is investing in the destruction of the Amazon. We are being treated like animals – all our rights are being violated.”