World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


South American tribe sues over historic genocide

South American tribe sues over historic genocide

July 1, 2014

The survivors of a South American tribe which was decimated during the 1950s and 60s are taking Paraguay’s government to court over the genocide they suffered.

The case of the hunter-gatherer Aché tribe, who roamed the hilly forests of eastern Paraguay until being brutally forced out, became notorious in the 1970s.
As the agricultural expansion into eastern Paraguay gathered pace from the 1950s, the Aché found themselves forced to defend their land from an ever-increasing colonist population. These colonists soon started to mount raiding parties to kill the male Aché: women and children were usually captured and sold as slaves.

One of the most notorious hunters of the Aché was Manuel Jesús Pereira, a local landowner. He was an employee of Paraguay’s Native Affairs Department, and his farm was turned into an Aché “reservation”, to which captured Aché were transported. Beatings and rape were common. Countless others died of respiratory diseases. The Director of the Native Affairs Department was a frequent visitor, and also sold Aché slaves himself.

This situation was denounced by several anthropologists in Paraguay, many of whom were deported, or lost their jobs, as a result. It was brought to international attention by German anthropologist Mark Münzel. His 1973 report Genocide in Paraguay, published by the Danish organization IWGIA, documented many of the atrocities committed against the Aché.

Survival International publicized Münzel’s account, and sponsored an investigation by leading international lawyer Professor Richard Arens, who found the situation as bad as others had reported. Many other international organizations, academics and activists denounced the atrocities and called for Paraguay’s government to be held to account, which curbed some of the worst excesses.

However, Paraguay’s then-President, General Alfredo Stroessner, was viewed as a key Western ally in the region. The British, US and West German governments denied that genocide was taking place, and the US authorities sponsored the Harvard-based organization Cultural Survival (CS) to “review the status of indigenous peoples in Paraguay”. Their report to the government was confidential, but a copy was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. CS then published an amended version.

Relying partly on the testimony of Peace Corps volunteer, Kim Hill, it denied that genocide had taken place, and criticized many of those, such as Münzel and Arens, who had brought the Aché’s plight to global attention. US aid to Stroessner’s brutal regime continued.

Now, the survivors of the genocide and their descendants are seeking redress. An Aché organization, the National Aché Federation, has launched a court case in Argentina, with advice from leading human rights lawyer Baltasar Garzón. The Aché are using the legal principle of “universal jurisdiction”, under which the most serious crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity can be tried and punished in a different country to that in which they occurred, if the victims cannot secure justice in their own country.

Ceferino Kreigi, an Aché representative, said, “We’re asking for justice – there was torture, rape, beatings. We can no longer bear the pain we have suffered.”

The Aché’s lawyer, Juan Maira, said, “[The Aché] were hunted as though they were animals, because they wanted to confine them to a ghetto. Once in the reserve, they weren’t allowed to leave. They sold not only the children, but sometimes the women too, as slaves. Perhaps 60% of the population could have been wiped out.”

The Aché’s population is now increasing once more, though their forests have been stolen for cattle ranching and farming, and almost totally destroyed.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On How Obama’s Supreme Court Choice Says Everything (Bad) About His Presidency

Nothing has epitomised the presidency of Barack Obama quite like his Supreme Court nominees. Time and again, Republican presidents will blithely nominate right wing ideological extremists (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas) who only sometimes misfire and turn out to be liberals in disguise (David Souter). Yet Obama has consistently skipped over the judicially qualified liberals and gone for a succession of centrists... More>>

ALSO:

Turkey: UN Secretary-General On The Terrorist Bombing In Ankara

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack in Ankara earlier today. According to the latest reports, the explosion in the Kizilay district killed and wounded dozens of people. More>>

ALSO:

Five Years On: Fukushima And New Zealand

Science Media Centre: It was the worst nuclear event since Chernobyl. In the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a crippled Japanese nuclear powerplant went into meltdown, and the world watched as emergency workers scrambled to shut down and contain the reactors. More>>

ALSO:

UNICEF: 1 In 3 Syrian Children Has Grown Up Knowing Only Crisis

An estimated 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children - have been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement, according to a UNICEF report. This figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011. More>>

ALSO:

Franklin Lamb: Syria’s Truce Bodes Well For Salvaging Our Cultural Heritage

The tentative cessation of hostilities in Syria, which came into effect on 2/28/2016, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is only in its second week... It is well documented that there have been daily incidents of artillery shelling, airstrikes and clashes. Yet, for the nearly 12 million displaced civilians, half of Syria’s population, it’s a much welcomed respite. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Rubio’s Last Stand (And Sleater-Kinney)

Well, it certainly was entertaining to watch Rubio succeed in getting under Donald Trump’s skin the other day, in the last debate before tomorrow’s Super Tuesday multi-state sweepstakes... The real killer for Rubio was that the most recent poll from Florida which shows him losing his home state to Trump by a huge margin in the primary due on March 15. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news