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Hollywood Actors Protect Tribes From Losing Their Land

Actress Gillian Anderson attends a news conference to promote the movie 'Viceroy' s House' at the 67th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi - RTSYA95

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Actors Gillian Anderson and Mark Rylance on Thursday threw their celebrity clout behind a drive to help protect tribes with no contact to the outside world from logging prospectors eyeing their land.

More than 100 such uncontacted indigenous tribes, from South America’s Amazon to Indonesia’s West Papua, are increasingly at risk of dangers from losing their land to dying in violent takeover conflicts, the actors said.

Anderson and Rylance joined ranks with a campaign by Survival International, an advocacy group for tribal rights, which says governments should protect the tribes’ land from commercial development.

Granting formal land rights to indigenous people living in the world’s tropical forests not only can protect them but is among the most effective ways to stop illegal deforestation that fuels global warming, according to various studies.

“I’m helping to defend uncontacted tribes’ rights for their future, for nature and for all humanity,” said Anderson, best known for her starring role in television’s “The X-Files,” in a campaign film.

Rylance, a highly regarded theater actor, won an Academy Award for his role in the 2015 movie thriller “Bridge of Spies”.

“It’s vital that we protect the rights of uncontacted tribes,” he said in a statement. “No only are they the most vulnerable people on the planet, but they’re also a vital part of humankind’s diversity.”

Both actors appear in the campaign short film “Let Them Live,” newly produced by Survival International.

Experts are divided over the merits of keeping uncontacted tribes from mainstream society. Some argue for controlled contact with such people to avert the potential threat of diseases to which they have no resistance.

Earlier this month, a congressional panel in Brazil backed by the nation’s powerful farm lobby recommended dismantling the country’s Indian affairs agency, a move critics said would leave indigenous tribes unprotected from an advancing agricultural frontier.

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