|News-Letter Nr. 558|
In the current political scenario, where sectors opposed to the indigenous people are forming groups based on what seems to be political bargaining with the intention of making the homologation of the indigenous lands in Roraima unfeasible, indigenous organizations have, together with national and international support groups, come out and asked the government to take urgent and efficient steps so that the rights of the indigenous people in Brazil are respected.
We describe below, some of the actions that are intended to counter the threats to the rights of the indigenous people in Roraima:
The "We Exist" Campaign
In a previously unheard of campaign, rural and urban workers together with the indigenous people of the state of Roraima have joined forces to fight for the regulation of the situation of all urban and rural lands; the approval of the new Indigenous Peoples Statute; the legal recognition of all the lands belonging to indigenous people in the state; immediate homologation of Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land and the fight against violence, impunity and corruption at all levels.
With the support of nine organizations, the "We Exist" campaign tries to make the state and federal authorities and civilian society aware of the serious problems that affect the local population and which require urgent action. Signatures are being collected in a petition where the proposals and demands of the indigenous people, rural workers and socially excluded people from the cities are laid out.
The fight against impunity
Leaders of the indigenous people and tribal chiefs from the mountain regions have met with representatives of the Federal Prosecuting Counsel and the Federal Police to ask for the inquest into the death of Aldo Macuxi, assassinated at the beginning of January, to be processed quickly. After a lot of pressure had been applied, Aldo's body, which had been in Bras¡lia for more than 40 days, was finally liberated on 3 April and could be returned for burial in accordance with his tribal traditions. In a note issued by the Counsel for the Indigenous People of Roraima (CIR), they ask for the investigation procedure to be conducted quickly and for Aldo Mota's killers to be punished.
Note of criticism
Last Tuesday (9 April), the CIR issued a note criticizing the opinion of the Federal Senate's Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Commission which approved, on 2 April, the report of Senator Romero Juc (PSDB/RR), opposing the homologation of five indigenous lands in the state, alleging that more detailed studies needed to be undertaken by the Federal Government. This decision, according to the organization, favors the interests of those who are against the indigenous people and their right to live. "Over the years, the indigenous communities have been campaigning for the organization of their land rights. However, even with the advances made in recognizing indigenous peoples rights in the Federal Constitution, there are still continuous attacks from state politicians who stop at nothing to oppose them", the note claims.
The CIR, the organization which represents the Ingaricó, Macuxi, Taurepang, Patamona, Sapar, Wai Wai, Wapichana and Yanomami indigenous peoples, demands respect for the Constitution and recognition of the long-standing rights that these people have to their lands. "We demand that the Legislative Power contributes towards protecting and respecting all the rights supported by the Brazilian Constitution", it concludes.
On 2 April, Survival International, a worldwide organization headquartered in London, which supports indigenous people, sent a letter to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, expressing its concern for the situation in which the people of the state of Roraima are living. In this document, this body which has supported the people in Brazil since 1969, demands that the federal government takes a stand against the political events that interfere with guaranteeing the rights of the indigenous people. "We hope that your Government will not tolerate this behavior which violates the most fundamental rights of the indigenous people", the document reports, remembering that the Governor of Roraima, Flamarion Portela, joined the President's party in exchange for the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land not being homologated.
The organization also reinforced its concerns about the so-called "progress" that these politicians have been citing as an excuse for delaying homologation processes. "Something which represents progress for the non-indigenous people is not necessarily progress for the indigenous people. The invasion of Raposa/Serra do Sol by rice planters does not bring any benefits to the indigenous people who own the land. On the contrary, they are polluting the rivers with agrochemicals and destroying the savannah", they report.
At the end of the letter, Survival International asks for the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land to be urgently homologated as a guarantee for the future of the 12 thousand indigenous people. "Survival International understands that in your new role as President of the Republic, you have many challenges and priorities, however we insist that you do not forget those of the people that were the first inhabitants of Brazil. The measure of a fair and human society is, without doubt, found in the way it treats its minorities", they conclude.
Bras¡lia, 10 April 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council
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