February 9, 2010
Dongria Kondh tribe of Orissa (India), in an advertisement in the prestigious Variety magazine, asked Oscar winner "Avatar" director James Cameron for help in their struggle to defend their sacred mountain.
The ad says: "Appeal to James Cameron...AVATAR is fantasy ...and real. The Dongria Kondh tribe in India is struggling to defend their land against a mining company hell-bent on destroying their sacred mountain. Please help the Dongria. We've watched your film...Now watch ours... www.survivalinternational.org/mine".
Survival, who put this ad on behalf of the tribe, says that their "story is uncannily similar to that of the Na'vi in Avatar". Survival's ten-minute film "Mine: story of a sacred mountain", narrated by actress Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), exposes the Dongria's plight.
Survival's director Stephen Corry says in a release: Just as the Na'vi describes the forest of Pandora as 'their everything', for the Dongria Kondh, life and land have always been deeply connected. The fundamental story of Avatar - if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids - is being played out today in the hills of Niyamgiri in Orissa, India. Like the Na'vi of 'Avatar', the Dongria Kondh are also at risk, as their lands are set to be mined by Vedanta Resources who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. The mine will destroy the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area. I do hope that James Cameron will join the Dongria's struggle to save their sacred mountain and secure their future.
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, asked for a thorough investigation by a United Nations body into this issue taking into consideration the concerns of the tribes living in the area, issues raised by environmentalists involved, and claims of the mining company. Zed, who is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, added that besides the financial interests of the miner, various other issues were also involved here, like sacredness of the mountain, disturbance of lifestyle and tradition of the tribes, affect on ecosystems- water sources-wildlife-water pollution-displacement-deforestation-endangered species, etc.
Vedanta Resources, headquartered in London (United Kingdom), is a diversified metals and mining group with wide-ranging interests in aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, iron ore and commercial energy, whose principal operations are in India, Zambia and Australia. Anil Agarwal is Executive Chairman. Survival, founded in 1969 and also headquartered in London, is international organization with supporters in 82 countries, working for tribal peoples' rights through education, advocacy and campaigns. "Avatar", nominated for nine Oscars, stars Sam Worthington (Somersault) and Zoe Saldana (Guess Who).