Protecting the Protectors

Jane Fonda, Carlos Santana, Morgan Freeman and Peter Gabriel to headline global livestream event supporting COVID-19 relief in the Amazon

Artists United for Amazonia is livestream event for the benefit of the Amazon Emergency Fund, an  indigenous-led effort providing rapid response grants across the Amazon to address the pandemic 

Hollywood, CA​ – On May 28, 2020, Jane Fonda, Morgan Freeman, Carlos Santana, Peter Gabriel, and numerous  other artists will join indigenous leaders, scientists, and a broad coalition of NGOs in hosting ​Artists United for  Amazonia: Protecting the Protectors​, a global livestream event. The event is being produced by Artists for  Amazonia. The two-hour event, to run from 8pm to 10pm ET, will be hosted by activist, actress, and “Game of  Thrones” co-star Oona Chaplin. The livestream will be available via ​Facebook​ and ​artistsforamazonia.org.

The program will promote the ​Amazon Emergency Fund​, launched last month by a coalition of indigenous  organizations, NGOs, and allies to respond to the urgent needs of indigenous peoples of the Amazon  threatened by COVID-19. Funds raised will be used for: immediate prevention and care; food and medical  supplies; emergency communications and evacuation; protection and security for indigenous territories; & food  sovereignty and community resilience. The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $5 million over the next 60  days for Forest Guardians to protect themselves against the pandemic in all nine Amazonian countries.

The Artists United for Amazonia global livestream event will feature an inspiring mix of living-room musical  performances, informative interviews, indigenous wisdom, and calls to action. Apart from Fonda, Santana,  Freeman, and Gabriel, performers include Herbie Hancock, Rocky Dawuni, Butterscotch Clinton, Xiuhtezcatl  Martinez, Cary Elwes, Alfre Woodard, Wade Davis, Wagner Moura, and Brazilian Grammy winners Ivan Lins and  Luciana Souza.

Right now, there are over ​92,000 known COVID-19 cases and over 5,000 confirmed deaths​ across the Amazon.  As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, indigenous peoples are increasingly at risk and could face a potential ethnocide. The Achuar indigenous peoples in Ecuador ​have reported a dozen cases,​ the Shipibo of  Peru have ​reported 45 deaths​, and in Brazil there have been ​121 deaths and 846 cases​. Due to a lack of  healthcare resources across the region, cases are likely underreported and illegal deforestation and extraction  activities on indigenous lands further heighten the risk of exposure. In April, hundreds of organizations across  the globe signed on for a ​moratorium​ against incursions into the Amazon and called to end all destructive  activity that further degrades and deforests the Amazon. Indigenous peoples are the best stewards and  protectors of the Amazon rainforest and so their protection is vital for the health of our planet.

Many scientists, including George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy, have warned that a tipping  point in the Amazon has already been reached. ​Lovejoy warns​ that this could cause the release of massive  amounts of carbon into the atmosphere at a time when the world desperately needs carbon reductions.

“We cannot wait any longer for our government…we are in danger of extinction,” said ​Jose Gregorio Diaz  Mirabel, general coordinator of COICA​ (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin)  and member of the Wakeunai Kurripaco people of Venezuela.

The line-up of artists, celebrities, influencers indigenous and NGO leaders participating in the event includes:  Jane Goodall, Peter Gabriel, Jane Fonda, Herbie Hancock, Cary Elwes, Alfre Woodard, Tom Bergeron, Morgan  Freeman, Ed Begley Jr., Frances Fisher, Wagner Moura, Carlos Santana, Ivan Lins, Matti Caspi, Suyan Caspi,  Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Wendie Malick, Scottie Thompson, Kali Uchis, Oona Chaplin, Rocky Dawuni, Celine  Cousteau, Matthew Modine, Q’orianka Kilcher, Chloe Smith from Rising Appalachia, Lizardo Cauper, Luciana  Souza, Sonia Guajajara, Angela Kaxuyana, Nina Gualinga, Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, Mapu Huni Kuin, Lizardo  Cauper, Thomas Lovejoy, Carlos Nobre, Atossa Soltani, Leila Salazar-López, Christina Miller, and Wade Davis.

“This event is part of an extraordinary alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving the  most biodiverse region on Earth,” comments ​Sarah duPont, founder of Amazon Aid Foundation and 
Co-Director of ​River of Gold​.​ “Illicit and unregulated gold mining is one of the most dangerous forms of  deforestation in the Amazon Basin and releases toxic mercury into the ecosystem. Since the pandemic, gold  mining has exploded across the Amazon and into indigenous territories bringing with it violence and COVID-19.  Now, the Amazon is at the tipping point and the protectors of the Amazon are under dire threat. What happens  in the Amazon affects us all.”

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch,​ added: “The Amazon and its peoples are in a state  of emergency due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a crime against nature and a crime  against humanity. It is a time for all to unite and act in defense of the forest and in solidarity with the  indigenous and traditional peoples across the Amazon who are protecting this great rainforest and our climate  for all of humanity and life on Earth.”

About the Amazon Emergency Fund:  
The ​Amazon Emergency Fund​ is a newly-formed collaborative working in close coordination with COICA
(Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin) and its 9 national organizations, as well as  NGO partners and allies across the Amazon and around the world, to support emergency Covid-19 response. It  is housed at the Rainforest Foundation-US and directly supports rapid response grants for urgent and  immediate prevention and care; food and medical supplies; emergency communications and evacuation;  protection and security for forest guardians; & food sovereignty and community resilience.

About Artists for Amazonia:  
The​ Artists for Amazonia​ Campaign is harnessing the power of creative and entertainment influencers to  catalyze global action in response to the crisis in the Amazon rainforest and threats to indigenous earth  defenders. Together, we are advocating for Amazon’s permanent protection.

About Amazon Aid Foundation: 
Amazon Aid Foundation ​(AAF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization harnessing the power of multimedia to  educate about the importance of the Amazon and the implications of its destruction. AAF’s award-winning  projects affect global policy change and activate audiences worldwide to engage in sustainable approaches to  protect the Amazon and demand responsibly sourced products.​ AAF supports and promotes advocacy efforts  related to human and indigenous rights, clean water, the protection of species and habitat, and the regulation  of illicit and unregulated gold mining and mercury usage.

About Amazon Watch: 
Amazon Watch​ is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of  indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in  campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological  systems.