Friends of Peoples Close to Nature
Friends of Peoples Close to Nature (fPcN) is a non-governmental human rights organization that works in the field of indigenous rights. The organization is dedicated to the survival of tribal peoples, in particular hunter-gatherers. They believe that these people are "the first and the last societies on Earth to have a non-exploitative relationship with the natural world", and they define their task as an organization in helping them to "preserve their unique cultures from enforced assimilation, the ideologies of 'progress' and 'growth' and absorption in the global economy". The organization was founded in Germany, with several partner organizations having since then been established in different countries. The campaigns are carried out on a global level, giving support to tribes that go from East Africa to the Amazon to the Philippines. fPcN considers that, unlike other organizations working in this field, they oppose the pushing of any Western values and practices on indigenous cultures.
fPcN sees the afflictions of indigenous tribes lying in the imposition of alien interests and not in a deficiency of their way of living. They consider that the real struggle for these remote peoples is not in seeking equal opportunities for them in our own world, but in recognizing their autonomy and right to live in the way that they choose. Furthermore, they recognize the threat as a part of a culture of violence and standardization of the industrialized societies. fPcN considers these tribes as representing a successful way to live in a sustainable fashion, and see the lack of respect from states and economic entities as stemming from their very own distancing from nature in modern society. fPcN's mission is not in the field of reforming the poorer of those who live or have been assimilated by that system, but to assist those threatened by it in living their non-hierarchical ways in harmony with their environment. fPcN believes that the best we can do to help these peoples and respect their will is to let them be.
Origin and structure
fPcN was founded in Germany, in 1991. Since then, many of the same organisations have sprung from countries around the globe, working in connection with the German-based, FdN - Freunde der Naturvölker e.V. (friends of Peoples close to Nature). These branches, working in connection with the overall objectives of the fPcN, are associated with the struggles of tribes in specific parts of the world. fPcN has chapters in the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, West Papua, Thailand, Paraguay, DR Congo and Kenya.
Among the peoples they have worked with are:
- Asia: the Aeta, Ati, Agta, Batak, Mamanwa, Manik (Kenseu and Kintak), Lanoh, Kintah, Yahai, Tboli and the Mendrik. All of south east Asia (commonly referred to as Negritos) - the Wanniya-laeto (Veddah) (Sri Lanka)
- Oceania: the Tjapukai in Australasia, the tribes of West Papua - the Adivasis, Chenchu and Kurumba of the Indian subcontinent, the Kwaio and Landalanga on Malaita in the south west Pacific, (commonly referred to as Negritos)
- Africa: the Great Lakes Twa, Bahrwa, Baka, Aka and Bambuti of central Africa (commonly referred to as Pygmees), the Hadzabe, Hai//om, !Kung and Gǀwi of South Africa (commonly referred to as Bushmen)
- the Americas: the Jupaú ("Uru eu Wau Wau"), Ayoreos and Mequens (commonly referred to as Indians)
The fPcN has produced several field documentaries about tribal struggles. In 1998, fPcN produced a short film about the Aeta's tribe named Save the Savages, describing the story of the last free tribal people in the Philippines. The film praises the tribe's cooperative way of life and reports its destruction by logging and mining activities.
fPcN have been involved in making several documentaries about the struggle of the people of West Papua, New Guinea, which is annexed to Indonesia, to maintain their way of life in the face of the Indonesian government's industrialisation projects and exploitation of local resources. Blood On the Cross is a 1999 ABC documentary about the Red Cross' involvement in the World Wildlife Fund hostages saga in 1996 and their alleged connection to the resulting slaughter of the indigenous peoples of West Papua. Mark Davis investigates allegations about the role of the International Red Cross and the British military in a massacre in the Southern Highlands of West Papua in May 1996. The story of what happened had never been told before. The Red Cross subsequently set up an independent investigation of the claims, which found them to be erroneous.
In 2003, fPcN released the documentary Papua Merdeka. It talks about the continuous struggle of the West Papuan tribes for independence from Indonesian dominance. It includes historical footage of events showing the UN vote that allowed for the continuing colonization and exploitation of their natural resources. In 2007, fPcN released the documentary West Papua - The secret war in Asia about the war against tribal people on New Guinea. It describes the exploitation of West Papua by Indonesia in alliance with international companies and the violent suppression of dissent. At least 100.000 Papuans have lost their lives in this conflict. Forgotten Bird of Paradise is a documentary made with fPcN interCultural assistance and co-operation, released in 2009. Filmed undercover in West Papua 2008, this documentary reveals the efforts of the West Papuan tribes in resisting the occupation of their ancestral homeland.
Prisoners of a White God is a documentary about the Akhas, produced and distributed by Twin Star in September 2008. It won the Grand Prixes at RAFF Film Festival, at Ecofilm Festival, at Festival of the Mountain Films, at "It's Up To You" Film Festival and the Main Prize at Ekotopfilm in 2008. It is about a Czech researcher who goes to the Thail and Laosen mountains in order to search and document the causes of alleged wrongdoing and violence done to the indigenous peoples and their children by Christian missionaries.
- friends of Peoples close to Nature website - Our Ethos and statement of principles
- Levin, Adam (2003). The Wonder Safaris: African Journeys of Miracles and Surprises. Struik Publishers. ISBN 1-86872-885-4.
- German Information Centre New Delhi, German NGOs - making a difference
- Freunde der Naturvölker website
- P. Clark, John (2004). Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: The Radical Social Thought of Elisee Reclus. Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0805-0.
- Engage Media fPcN videos
- Paul Barber, TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, Irian Jaya: The Record, April 20-April 30, 2000.
- AKHA - Prisoners of a White God
- fPcN International: fPcN interCultural: friends of Peoples close to Nature
- fPcN Germany: Freunde der Naturvölker (de)
- Batwa: Statement at the WGIP