Non-profit tribal rights organisation Survival International today announceed a tourism boycott of India's Andaman Islands, until the degrading practice of 'human safaris' to exhibit the 400-strong Jarawa tribe is stopped.
|Survival has launched a tourism boycott of India's Andaman Islands until the 'human safaris' to the Jarawa are stopped. © Ariberto De Blasoni/Survival|
Survival is calling on the 200,000 tourists visiting the islands every year to stay away – until tourists are banned from the road through the Jarawa's forest and an alternative sea route is put in place.
Survival has written to over 200 travel companies and websites in eleven countries urging them to stop their tours to the Andaman Islands, and will place ads targeted at tourists to discourage them from visiting the popular travel destination. Survival is also asking members of the public to pledge not to travel to the islands until the 'human safaris' of the Jarawa are stopped.
Hundreds of tourists from India and around the world travel along the illegal Andaman Trunk Road every day to ogle at members of the Jarawa tribe – treating them like animals in a safari park.
Tour companies and cab drivers 'attract' the Jarawa with biscuits and sweets. Jarawa children are particularly attracted to food thrown from the vehicles. A number of Jarawa children have been involved in accidents on the road.
When asked how he felt when outsiders took pictures of him, Enmai, a young Jarawa, said, "Idon't feel good. I don't like it when they take photos from their vehicles."
Areport published by UNESCO has called for the immediate closure of the Andaman Trunk Road, which cuts illegally through the Jarawa tribal reserve. The report's recommendations also include protection of the Jarawa's territory from violation by poachers and other outsiders, and education of local Indian settlers and government officials about the Jarawa and their rights.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court banned tourists from the road for seven weeks, reducing the traffic along the Andaman Trunk Road by two thirds. (See: 'Human safari' row goes to India's Supreme Court )
But the ban was lifted after the Islands' authorities changed their own regulations in order to let the 'human safaris' continue.
The tours have been widely condemned both in India and around the world. India's minister for tribal affairs called them 'disgraceful' and 'an embarrassment', and last year, in response to a submission by Survival, the United Nations expressed their 'deep concern' about the 'human safaris' and called for the illegal road to be closed.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, "The Andaman government is arguing that the road is a necessary lifeline for the north of the islands. It's nonsense: in fact there's no reason for the road. The route by boat is faster, more convenient and cheaper for islanders, so providing an alternative sea route is better for locals, tourists, and the Jarawa alike. There will be no end to these degrading human safaris until tourists stop using the road, and we'll continue the boycott until that happens."
Survival has been campaigning against the exhibition of the Jarawas as object of tourist curiousity. (See: Survival launches tourist boycott of Andaman's 'human safari park') and (See: UK newspaper reports tourists still 'flock' to Andamans for 'human safaris').