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Empire Online, 27/04/2001: Firth's Mad Dash
"A predominantly female crowd gathered in London last night for a special charity screening of Bridget Jones's Diary which offered the promise of a foreword by Bridget star Colin Firth. Appearing slightly late and frazzled, Firth explained to the crowd that he'd been delayed by extended filming on The Importance of Being Earnest; 'I've just had a singularly exciting ride through London on the back of a motorcycle, to get me here in time.'

The event was in aid of the charity Survival International which works to protect the rights of tribal peoples - a cause Firth has espoused for many years. But even Firth had problems linking the cause to the evening's main event; 'Let me tell you I've got myself into knots trying to find any conceivable link between the plight of the bushmen of Botswana and Bridget Jones's Diary...take my word for it - it's not there.'

Click on this picture for the latest tribal survival news

Colin Firth is an active supporter of many human rights movements such as Amnesty International (The Wembley Stadium concert) and other well worth causes.

From Empire Online, 15/11/1999: Pride and Prejudice actor Colin Firth was among Friday's protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, campaigning against the government's decision to extend the use of detention for asylum seekers. Last week the immigration bill received its royal assent, a move which Home Secretary Jack Straw ensured would make positive changes to the the present system. But figures from The Refugee Council reveal that the UK detains more asylum seekers than any other country in Europe without judicial review. "It is shameful that a country calling itself civilized detains hundreds of people a year coming here in search of liberty," said Firth, who helped to extend a paper chain - made from 800 pledges of support - around the grounds [below].

Firth was involved in the controversial British immigration and asylum debate; as a protest against the planned withdrawal of benefits for asylum-seekers and their replacement with a voucher scheme, Colin Firth joined Tony Booth (the Prime Minister's father-in-law) and comedian Mark Thomas, to test the voucher scheme in a London supermarket on June 9 [pictures below]. They concluded it would restrict the freedom of refugees. The protest, organized by the Big Issue, aimed to persuade MPs to vote against the third reading of the immigration and asylum bill. Read more about it at The Guardian online site here.

From Empire Online 10/04/2001: Be still the palpitating hearts of the female half of the nation - Empire Online has just received news that Mark Darcy (aka Mr Colin Firth) will be attending a charity screening of Bridget Jones's Diary in London in just under a fortnight. The kindly Mr Firth has offered his services to the charity Survival International, and will be introducing a special screening of Bridget Jones's Diary at the Odeon West End in London's Leicester Square on 26 April 2001. All profits from the screening will go to Survival's urgent work with threatened tribal peoples.

Colin Firth is also the patron of Friend of Out of the Blue - a non-profit young peoples theatre company in Dorset. Colin writes online: "We at Out of the Blue believe theatre to be one of the most important and useful mediums for the development and unification of a community. We are therefore dedicated to bringing opportunity to all members of our society, especially those who previously would never have considered performance a possibility." Read the full text here.


Last isolated Indians south of the Amazon make contact

A group of previously uncontacted Ayoreo Indians has emerged from the forests of Paraguay, under pressure from deforestation all around them. The 17 people (five men, seven women and five children) are in excellent health, but acutely short of water. Colonists who have settled in their territory have taken possession of the permanent water holes for cattle ranching, leaving the Indians unable to get water in the dry season.

The Indians made contact with fellow Ayoreo who were planning to establish a new community in the last sizeable area of forest in the region. For ten years the Ayoreo and their supporters have been trying to protect the zone from accelerating invasion. Now, ranchers and farmers occupy large parts of the Ayoreo's forest.

Under national and international law, the Paraguayan government should have titled the area (some 550,000 hectares) to the Indians. But after ten years, only around a quarter has been titled. Some landowners continue to send in bulldozers to clear the forest, defying court orders which were supposed to halt all work in the area.

The newly-contacted Ayoreo (who belong to the Totobiegosode sub-group) have requested access to water, and a halt to the incursions into their territory. In a message to the outside world they said, 'Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life. Please stop the bulldozers.'

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival said today, 'This contact means it is more imperative than ever that the Paraguayan government properly protects the Indians' territory. It is now a question of the physical survival of this group, who are extremely vulnerable to outside diseases. The government must put a halt to the landowners' illegal activity in the area, and title the land to the Indians, as a matter of great urgency.'

For more information, call Kali Mercier on 020 7687 8731, email km@survival-international.org or visit http://www.survival-international.org/ayoreo.htm. Photos of the contacted group are available.

Survival's Research Coordinator Jonathan Mazower has visited the location of the contact, and is available for interview.

Note to Editors: the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode are the last group of uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon basin. Some small groups of Totobiegosode remain isolated in the forest.

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