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'Shocking' footage shows uncontacted tribe confront a bulldozer near nickel mine

Poppy Bilderbeck

Published 
| Last updated 

'Shocking' footage shows uncontacted tribe confront a bulldozer near nickel mine

Featured Image Credit: Survival International

Survival International has spoken out after 'dramatic' footage reveals the moment an uncontacted tribe in Indonesia were met with bulldozers.

The uncontacted tribe live on Halmahera island, the largest island in the Maluku Islands, located in Indonesia.

Between 300 to 500 uncontacted Hongana Manyawa people are believed to live inside the forest on the island, but now the tribe's life is in danger, and according to Survival International, the island under threat from nickel mining companies.

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Large areas of the rainforest have been 'allocated to mining companies, and in many areas the excavators are already at work,' Survival International reports.

And the video acts as a stark indicator plans are already underway, showing two members of the tribe standing on the other side of an area of water, watching the bulldozer as it approaches.

The pair raise their sticks, however, as the bulldozer revs its engine, and they can be seen fleeing back into the forest.

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Two people from the uncontacted tribe can be seen staring at the bulldozer. Credit: Facebook/ Hongana Manyawa/ Survival International
Two people from the uncontacted tribe can be seen staring at the bulldozer. Credit: Facebook/ Hongana Manyawa/ Survival International

The disturbance is a result of Indonesia's plan to become 'a major nickel producer for the electric car battery market', and it's reported companies currently involved in mining operations on the island aren't just Indonesian, but Chinese, French and German.

Asia Research and Advocacy Officer at Survival International, Callum Russell, told IFL Science: "It's particularly shocking because we didn't know that that part of the forest had been penetrated already by the companies. It's happening much faster than we anticipated."

Survival International fear the mining could risk the Honaga Manyawa people's 'genocide'.

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When the bulldozer's engine revs, they run away. Credit: Facebook/ Hongana Manyawa/ Survival International
When the bulldozer's engine revs, they run away. Credit: Facebook/ Hongana Manyawa/ Survival International

Survival International's Director Caroline Pearce said, as per a release on the human rights organisation's website on 30 October, 2023: "Survival has been campaigning against this potential genocide since last year, and this video is unequivocal proof of what we’ve been saying – that the mining operations on Halmahera are now penetrating deep into the rainforest of the Hongana Manyawa.

"This video documents a human rights catastrophe unfolding. It shows that the logging and mining operations on Halmahera are invading deep into the rainforests of the Hongana Manyawa.

“For many months, Survival has been warning Eramet, BASF and the electric car companies which need nickel for their batteries that continued mining in this area will destroy the uncontacted Hongana Manyawa, just as similar projects have destroyed other uncontacted peoples in other parts of the world. If they continue after seeing this video, it would be an act of stunning and brutal disregard both for international law and for human life.

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"These mining companies should stay out of the Hongana Manyawa’s land, period. We call upon the Indonesian government to urgently recognize and protect the Hongana Manyawa’s territory."

UNILAD has contacted Eramet, BASF, Weda Bay Nickel and Tesla for comment.

Topics: News, Environment, Social Media, Charity, World News, Business

Poppy Bilderbeck
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