The collective voice of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil can be heard loudly and clearly: Stop the Amazon destruction and violence against the Guardians of the Forest!
The 18th Free Land Camp is underway in Brasilia, with thousands of Indigenous People coming together for 10 days of non-violent, mass demonstrations to denounce the ongoing violations of their rights and to foster solidarity across Brazilian society. With the theme “Retaking Brazil: Demarcating Territories and Indigenize the Politics” helping define the 2022 agenda, more than 5,000 leaders, from 120 different Indigenous Peoples, are concentrated in the federal capital to demand the immediate demarcation of Indigenous territories as well to discuss issues ranging from Indigenous health and education.
“There are countless threats we receive, due to the non-demarcation of our lands, in addition to deforestation and invasion of our territories,” said Sônia Guajajara, a member of the Executive Coordination of Apib. “When it is not the persecutions against our representatives that oppose this misrule by Jair Bolsonaro, it is Congress that tries to massacre us with the ink of the pen.”
Standing against destruction
From the continued expansion of mining into Indigenous Lands to the record-setting deforestation catalyzed by the Brazilian government’s anti-environment policies to the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, Indigenous Peoples throughout Brazil face intersecting threats to their homes and health.
Denouncing the infamous #PacotedaDestruição — the Destruction Package — is especially urgent during the 2022 Free Land Camp. This series of Executive and Legislative initiatives jeopardizes the physical and cultural survival of Indigenous People throughout Brazil as well as the thousands of square kilometers of native vegetation, especially forests from the Amazon.
WIthin the #PacotedaDestruição, Indigenous leaders have called attention to PL 191/2020, a bill which tramples on the Federal Constitution and allows mining in Indigenous lands in Brazil. An open letter against the bill was launched during the first week of the camp, with members of the Joint Parliamentary Front in Defense of Indigenous Peoples in the main plenary of the event.
A group of Indigenous leaders, together with activists from Greenpeace Brazil and celebrities, delivered a petition to the Ministry of Justice “Enough of Violence against Indigenous Peoples!”. Opened in 2021, at the height of the attacks against Munduruku leaders in May last year, the petition gathered more than 517,000 signatures and took a strong and blunt message: Attacks on Indigenous peoples are no longer tolerated by Brazilian society.
According to data from the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), the escalation against Brazilian native peoples has never been so serious and so intense. In 2020, the data recorded by the institution was the highest in the last five years. Murders have increased by 61%, with 182 cases reported in 2020. Territorial conflicts have also increased, with 96 cases – 174% more than the year before. Invasions on Indigenous lands increased to 263 occurrences.
The delivery of the petition was preceded by a walk in Brasilia that included Indigenous leaders such as Marcos Xukuru of the Xukuru people; Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) Executive Coordinator Sônia Guajajara; activists from Greenpeace Brazil; and Brazilian celebrities sympathetic to the cause.
A special component of the walk was a totem pole, made of gigantic red letters, which carried the message “Enough with Violence!”. The totem was decorated with more than 20,000 ribbons, each bearing the first name of people who signed the petition. The ribbons were tied by participants of the Free Land Camp, reinforcing the message of peace and connection.
Protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their lands means protecting everyone’s future. It’s crucial to protect the Guardians of the Forest and to ensure that the Brazilian government knows the world will be watching.