News-Letter Nr. 550

The Xukuru case chief Marcos issues note about new facts

Chief Marcos Luidson de Araújo issued a note today describing new facts about the attempted murder he suffered last Friday, when two 2 indigenous persons were killed and the chief was wounded in an ambush in Pesqueira, state of Pernambuco. The note is as follows.

This morning, chief Marcos Luidson received two cassette tapes, which were found in the rubble of the home of Expedito Cabral, known as Bi .

The tapes portray a trip of Bi and Louro Frazão, a gunsman who is a fugitive from justice, to Brasília, on January 22, 2003. The contents of the tapes confirm that people linked to Funai encourage conflicts among indigenous people and that Bi asked for help from federal agencies. The trip took place 15 days before the Xukuru chief was ambushed.

Today, the tapes were sent to the Special Commission of the Human Rights Defense Council, a body linked to the National Human Rights Secretariat in Brasília, which is in charge of following up on the Xukuru case.

Entities request measures in connection with the Xukuru case

Given the serious acts of aggression suffered by chief Marcos Luidson de Araújo and the Xukuru indigenous people, organizations, parliamentarians, and human rights militants sent a letter to the minister of Justice, to the National Secretary for Human Rights, and to the Attorney General with the following contents:

"Considering the request made by chief Marcos Luidson de Araújo for the Federal Police to protect his life, the chief and the undersigned organizations are hereby expressing the following positions publicly:

I - we think that the Federal Police in the state of Pernambuco lack the necessary political will and the operational capacity to protect the life of chief Marcos and the Xukuru community, considering the past record of the Federal Police in this connection, as summarized below;

II - we also think that the Office of the Attorney General in the state of Pernambuco has not been carrying out its constitutional duties in relation to indigenous issues as it should through the filing of penal actions in connection with the cases related to the Xukuru people."

In the note, the organizations report the situation faced by the Xukuru people and the position of the competent agencies in the state of Pernambuco in relation to the case.

"The past record of the activities of the Federal Police in the state of Pernambuco does not allow us to have the indispensable confidence in their action to protect the chief's life, as the institution has been ineffective, controversial, and partial in previous investigations and inquiries carried out in the state of Pernambuco.(...)

The death of many Xukuru leaders and of a lawyer who supported the indigenous cause could have been avoided if the action of the Federal Police had been more efficient and if the murderers had been identified and arrested. The murderers of Jos‚ Everaldo Bispo, who was killed in 1992, and of lawyer Geraldo Rolim, killed in 1995, are still at large. Regarding the murder of Chief Chicão, in 1998 by various farmers and gunmen hired by them, only one of them was identified and found dead in the jail facilities of the Federal Police, which were not able to protect the life of a person under their custody in their own facilities. As for the murder of Chico Quel‚ in 2001, the investigations carried out by the police were clearly biased and aimed at incriminating and arresting leaders of the Xukuru community itself, as the Federal Police failed to carry out detailed investigations and to hear key witnesses to identify the true murderers."

The entities working to defend human rights and the indigenous peoples report that the murders, threats, and ambushes are mostly due to the shortcomings, inaction and, at times, partialness of federal institutions in the state of Pernambuco. As a result, the 9,000 members of the Xukuru people are constantly harassed and violently attacked by a small minority acting in behalf of spurious economic interests that intends to eternize its greed and control over the Xukuru land.

In the document sent to the authorities, the following is requested:

  1. the designation of a Special Police Officer and of a team to support him or her in the investigation of the recent crimes that led up to the death of two indigenous persons in the ambush aimed at killing chief Marcos Luidson. This Special Police Officer should be a person with a sound professional record capable of ensuring the required reliability, efficiency, and impartialness in the investigations;
  2. The Special Police Officer should not restrict the investigations to the recent serious case only, but rather reopen the investigations of other important cases, as the new investigations could produce elucidative and/or complementary information about the people responsible for the deaths of Chief Chicão, of warrior Chico Quel‚ and of the farmer found dead in the jail facilities of the Federal Police;
  3. the designation of a police team, with the same profile as the one described above, to protect the life of Chief Marcos effectively and appropriately;
  4. an administrative investigation of the harmful actions and inaction of Funai in the state of Pernambuco and of its senior managers, so that appropriate measures can be taken immediately for the institution to carry out its functions appropriately;
  5. the designation of a special federal attorney to follow up on the investigations and adopt appropriate legal and procedural measures to preserve, defend, and safeguard the constitutional and land rights of the Xukuru indigenous community.

At the end of the document, the entities demand urgent measures to ensure the officially demarcated bounds of the Xukuru indigenous territory and to expel its invaders, whose illegitimate and spurious economic interests are at the root of the violence against the Xukuru people and of the death of their leaders.

Bras¡lia, 13 February 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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