New footage shows the moment that members of an uncontacted tribe were met with bulldozers close to a nickel mine in Indonesia.
The uncontacted tribe — known as the Hongana Manyawa (meaning “The People of The Forest”) live on Halmahera island, the largest island in the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Between 300 to 500 uncontacted Hongana Manyawa people are believed to live inside the forest on the island.
However, according to human rights organization Survival International, the tribe’s life is in danger as Halmahera island is under threat from nickel mining companies. Manufacturing companies have announced plans to use Halmahera island to source nickel for electric car batteries in the future.
Fleeing in Fear
The video footage, which was shared by Survival International on Tuesday, reveals how the logging and mining operations on the Indonesian island are now penetrating the rainforest of the uncontacted Hongana Manyawa people.
The shocking clip shows two men from the uncontacted tribe carrying spear-like objects and wearing loin cloths as they attempt to confront the developers. The two members of the tribe stand on the other side of an area of water, watching the bulldozer as it approaches.
The Hongana Manyawa men cautiously approach the digger from afar. They wave their weapons to express that their presence is not welcome and make it clear that they want the outsiders to leave the area where they live.
In response, the bulldozer drivers rev up their engines, causing the tribe members to flee in fear into the forest.
A Human Rights Catastrophe
Survival International has already dubbed the footage — which was recently shot by a worker who was part of a team logging the land ahead of it being mined for nickel — a “human rights catastrophe.”
“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,” Callum Russell, Asia Research and Advocacy Officer at Survival International tells IFLScience.
The tribe’s home Halmahera island happens to sit on one of the world’s largest reserves of nickel. In recent years, the demand for nickel has skyrocketed due to its use in electric car batteries, bringing this once-quiet island to the attention of international mining corporations.
“It’s a deep irony that these people literally call themselves Hongana Manyawa — ‘People of the Forest’ — and yet they’re the ones being destroyed in the name of the green transition,” Russell tells the publication.
According to IFLScience, the tribe has a deeply profound relationship with the forest they live within and rely upon. When a baby is born, their umbilical cord is planted in the ground alongside seeds. The resulting birth tree becomes rooted to the person’s life, acting as a physical embodiment of the person’s soul.
Image credits: Header photo via Facebook/Survival International.