Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Missionary film leads to people 'hating Indians and wishing them dead'

19 March 2009

Screenshot from the fundamentalist film Hakani.
Screenshot from the fundamentalist film Hakani.
©

To mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21, Survival is accusing the makers of a controversial film of inciting racial hatred against Brazilian Indians.

The film, ‘Hakani’, has been watched by more than 350,000 people on YouTube and claims to be the true story of a Brazilian Indian child buried alive by her tribe. Survival argues the film is faked, that the earth covering the children’s faces is ‘actually chocolate cake’, and that the film’s claim that infanticide among Brazilian Indians is widespread is false.

‘People are being taught to hate Indians, even wish them dead,’ says Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, in an exclusive interview about ‘Hakani’. ‘Look at the comments on the Youtube site, things like, ‘So get rid of these native tribes. They suck’, and, ‘Those amazon mother f***ers burrying (sic) little kids, kill them all.’

‘The film focuses on what they claim happens routinely in Indian communities, but it doesn’t,’ Corry says. ‘Amazonian infanticide is rare. When it does happen. . . it is the mother’s decision and isn’t taken lightly. It’s made privately and secretly and is often thought shameful, certainly tragic.’

‘Hakani’ was directed by David Cunningham, the son of the founder of an American fundamentalist missionary organisation called ‘Youth with a Mission’, which has a branch in Brazil known as Jocum. Corry argues that the missionaries try to downplay their involvement in the film.

‘You’re invited to give money to UNKF, but you aren’t told what the initials mean (it’s part of the mission),’ Corry says. ‘The evangelical involvement is not mentioned at all. Even if you download the full film, the credits are unreadable, so you can’t tell who is behind it.’

Corry says the film is part of the missionaries’ campaign to pressure Brazil’s government to pass a controversial bill, known as ‘Muwaji’s law’. This would force Brazilian citizens to report to the authorities anything they think is a ‘harmful traditional practice’ – a law which would ‘foster witch-hunts’, ‘roll Brazil back centuries’ and ‘could bring catastrophic social breakdown’.

Survival believes that cultural practices should be based on the free and informed consent of all participants and that infanticide is wrong.

Read an exclusive interview with Survival's director Stephen Corry.

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504 543 367 or email mr@survival-international.org

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