Photographs that were commissioned by the Irish patriot and revolutionary Roger Casement have been discovered in Britain.
A university researcher recently discovered the long lost photographs of two Amazonians that Casement brought to Britain in 1911 to highlight ongoing human rights abuses in the region.
The images, which were presumed lost forever, were unearthed in Cambridge University by Lesley Wylie, a lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester. Wylie believes the images of a man and a boy were commissioned by Casement and that he shipped them and the two subjects to Britain.
Casement, who was later hanged by the British for treason in 1916, planned to alert British authorities to the human rights abuses made by the rubber plant companies in the region, and to raise awareness of the atrocities committed there.
Casement wrote in his journal: 'My hope is that by getting some of these unknown Indians to Europe I may get powerful people interested in them and so in the fate of the whole race out here in the toils.'
He also hoped his efforts would save the Putumayo people from the plight of slavery to the rubber company: 'Is it too late to hope that by means of humane and brotherly agency something of the good-will and kindliness of Christian life may be imparted to the remote, friendless, and lost children of the forest still waiting the true white man’s coming into the region of the Putumayo?'
Casement made trips to the Amazon in 1910 and 1911 on behalf of the British government to investigate alleged abuses against the indigenous population by a rubber company.
He later arranged to have the man and boy photographed and then shipped back to Britain to introduce them to the influential figures of the British establishment in the hope of prompting government action.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”