News-Letter Nr. 490

CIR Denounces Military Maneuvers And Illegal Arrest in the Raposa/Serra do Sol Indigenous Land

The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) denunced two new military actions this week to try and intimidate the indigenous peoples of the Raposa/Serra do Sol area, located in the State of Roraima. The actions showed how the military have no respect for the indigenous peoples of the region.

According to reports provided by leaders of the Surumu and Uiramutã communities, since November 22 the 1st Infantry Brigade of the Army has sent a platoon of about 500 heavily armed soldiers to the indigenous land under the argument that they are carrying out training maneuvers on the border. The military maneuvers, which are called "Operation Hunter 2," cover the states of Roraima, Amazonas, Pará and Acre.

In the state of Roraima, the military maneuvers are being carried out in the municipality of Uiramutã, exactly in the area where the controversy over the establishment of the 6º Special Border Platoon (PEF) has taken place. The leaders report that the indigenous communities feel threatened and scared. CIR has protested against the initiative of the Army and describes it as a new modality of invasion, considering that the indigenous communities have not even been informed about the arrival of the troops to the region. According to CIR, the strong presence of the Army in the region is intended to intimidate the communities that resist the implementation of the 6th PEF. After CIR´s reaction, the 1st Brigade reported that the platoon would be moving around in the communities of Maturuca, Lage, Willimon and Uiramutã, "coincidentally" the villages that more strongly resist the implementation of the Platoon.

Illegal arrest

The illegal arrest of Romualdo Afonso, who lives in the Willimon village, on Tuesday, December 4, was another military action that shocked the indigenous peoples of Roraima. According to indigenous leaders, Romualdo was with other indigenous people trying to locate 7,500 buriti palm leaves they had gathered in a joint work that had been stolen from the indigenous community when they were approached by military police officers. They were then taken to a police station in the municipality of Uiramutã for a long and humiliating interrogation session, after which Romualdo was arrested. CIR reports that the indigenous man was beaten.

The entity sent a letter to the president of Funai, Glênio Alvarez, reporting the incident and requesting the interference of the agency and of the ministry of Justice to transfer the indigenous man to the capital of the State, Boa Vista, for a corpus delicti examination. CIR also reported to the president of Funai that the Federal Police refused to comply with the request made by the local Funai office to transfer the indigenous man from the village to the capital. For the indigenous community, the arrest of Romualdo Afonso is a shocking case of arbitrariness and abuse of authority, considering that he was arrested without any arrest warrant and had not been formally accused of any crime. CIR will request a strict investigation of the abuse of authority by the Military Police of Uiramutã.

Human Rights Report Provides an X-Ray Picture of Violence in Brazil

On Wednesday, December 5, the Social Justice and Human Rights Network launched in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro at the same time the "Report on Human Rights in Brazil - 2001". The research work, which was carried out jointly with 23 entities engaged in the social and popular movement in Brazil, including Cimi, provides an X-ray picture of the urban and rural violence in Brazil this year, in addition to addressing the terrorism of the State and prospects for global justice. The foreword of the report is signed by dom Paulo Evaristo Arns. Cimi´s executive secretary, Egon Heck, attended the ceremony in which the report was launched in São Paulo.

During this ceremony, the authors of the report said that violence had increased considerably in Brazil, particularly against indigenous peoples. They highlighted that the situation got worse as a result of the policy presently adopted by the federal administration and by its inaction to ensure respect for human rights. In the case of indigenous peoples, the aggression and violence continues to be caused by the failure of the federal administration to demarcate and ensure their lands and protect the natural resources contained in them.

The "Report on Human Rights - 2001" is divided into five sections. The first chapter addresses torture in the Armed Forces, spying activities of the Army and the death and disappearance of political activists. The second chapter, called "Urban Violence and Justice," focuses on the judgment of those responsible for the Carandiru Massacre, on the acquittal of the police officers involved in the slaughter of São Bernardo do Campo and on the violence with which protests against the creation of the Alca were repressed at the Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo.

The third chapter addresses the struggle for the land, acts of violence against rural workers in southern and southeastern Pará, slave labor, the judgment of the police officer accused of being responsible for the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás and the impunity that prevailed in the judgment of the murder of Margarida Alves, the leader of a rural workers´ union. This chapter focuses on acts of violence against indigenous peoples and on the consequences of large projects.

The fourth chapter, which deals with issues related to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, highlights the claims of Afro-Brazilian movements at the World Conference Against Racism, the struggle of communities of former slaves, racial inequalities and the status of working women.

The Report on Human Rights ends with a chapter called "The Era of rights in times of terror," where the national and international scenario is analyzed in relation to human rights in the globalization era.

Brasília, 6 December 2001
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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