Survival International has announced four nominees for its notorious “Racist of the Year” award, given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples. This year’s nominees are:
• Australian cartoonist Bill Leak, who was widely criticized for a cartoon depicting an Aboriginal man as a drunken and irresponsible father. Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said: “I would urge The Australian [newspaper] to be more aware of the impact cartoons like the one published today can have on Indigenous communities… There is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes.” Mr. Leak refused to apologise for the cartoon.
• The organisers of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, for accusing Brazilian tribal peoples of infanticide, sexual abuse, rape, slavery and torture and describing them as “traditional practices." The organisers also backed “Muwaji’s Law,” a proposed law in Brazil being promoted by evangelical missionaries as a means of breaking up tribal families. In a consultation on the law organised by UNICEF, a Brazilian Indian said: “The white people kill us and they are not detained. We face a racist law: our assassins are not incriminated by a specific law, but we are.”
• Botswana’s President, General Ian Khama, who said that the Kalahari Bushmen live lives “of backwardness,” “a primitive life of deprivation” and “a primeval life of a bygone era.” General Khama’s government has continually denied the Bushmen access to their ancestral land after they were forcibly evicted in 2002. Most of them still live in poverty in government eviction camps despite a 2006 High Court ruling which said they had the right to their land. They are accused of “poaching” when they hunt to feed their families, and have been shot on sight for hunting antelope for food.
• Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, an Indian film-maker who made “MSG-2 the Messenger,” a film which described Indian tribal peoples (known as “Adivasis”) as “evil” and advocated their forced integration into mainstream Indian society. Tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung said: "I strongly condemn the movie and demand a ban on it. The film portrays Adivasis as devils. This also clearly exposes the mindset of non-tribals who have a racist outlook for Adivasis. We must stop this humiliation and degradation.” Tribal peoples are portrayed as backward and primitive simply because their communal ways are different. Industrialised societies subject them to genocidal violence, slavery and racism so they can steal their lands, resources and labor in the name of “progress” and “civilization.”
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “The sort of views on display among this year’s nominees would not have been out of place in the colonial era. The idea that entire peoples are “backwards,” “miserable” or “morally degenerate” has always been used as an excuse for stealing their land and forcing them into the mainstream against their will.” [survivalinternational.org]