A leader of the nomadic Nukak tribe has committed suicide after
drinking a poison usually used by his people to kill fish.
The Nukak man, Mao-be, killed himself after trying to help his
people return to the rainforest. The Nukak were forced to flee their
homes after becoming caught up in Colombia's drugs war involving the
army, paramilitaries and guerrillas. Now living on the outskirts of
a town, they are pleading to return.
'He felt desperate because he couldn't find the resources for the
Nukak to return to their land, which they love and to which they
want to return,' said a statement from Colombia's national
indigenous organization, ONIC.
The suicide comes after the recent death of a nine year old boy and
a flu epidemic in which almost a quarter of the tribe were taken
ill. Since first contact with outside society in 1988 over half the
tribe have died, and many continue to suffer from malnutrition,
diarrhoea, flu and respiratory infections.
Survival's Director, Stephen Corry, said today, 'Mao-be's death
serves as a tragic illustration of the Nukak's experience of contact
with Western society. The Colombian government must now act to make
sure the Nukak are allowed to return safely to their homes, which is
what Mao-be died fighting for. If they don't, one of Colombia's last
nomadic tribes will become extinct.'
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