News-Letter Nr. 559

The national meeting of the indigenous peoples and organizations of Brazil

The National Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil will take place in Brasília, from 25 to 30 April. This meeting is sponsored by the Association of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo (APOINME), The Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Post-Conference 2000 Indigenous Commission.

For six days, the leaders of around 110 peoples from all over the country will gather together in the capital to talk about, amongst other things, the indigenist policies of the Lula government; The Indigenist Policy Council; the Indigenist Peoples Statute: strategies for the National Congress, consensuses, proposals of the indigenous peoples; evaluation and planning of the indigenist movement in Brazil and its continental and worldwide links; The indigenous people's Parliament and an Indigenous People's National Assembly.

Ministerial representatives, indigenist organizations, indigenous people and members of parliament will take part in the debates. On 29 and 30 April, the final document will be delivered to the ministries and the National Congress. Audiences are being set up where the indigenous people's leaders will meet with ministers, deputies and senators and President Lula. The object of these audiences is, as well as to hand over the final document, to demand urgent actions from the government's representatives concerning the questions of demarcation, homologation, the Indigenist Peoples Statute and other issues.

On 30 April, the families of those indigenous people's leaders, who were assassinated this year, will gather together in Galdino Square (704 South) in a manifestation in favor of peace and against violence.

Solemn Session

On 24 April, at 9:30, in the Plenary Session of the Chamber of Deputies, there will be a solemn session in honor of the indigenous peoples. The idea for this session came from the deputies Perpétua Almeida (PCdoB-AC), Eduardo Valverde (PT-RO) and Janete Capiberibe (PSB-AP). Representatives of indigenous peoples and indigenist organizations will be present, including Cimi, Coiab, Apoinme and the Post-Conference Commission. At 11:30, in the Salão Verde "Green Room" of the Chamber, there will be a public event, where the Parliamentary Front for the defense of Indigenous People's Rights will be launched.

Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe people receive minister for human rights

Last Wednesday, 15 April, as a result of the recent history of violent acts committed against the Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe People, the minister of the Special Secretariat for Human Rights, Nilmário Miranda, visited the Caramuru Caratarina Paraguassu indigenous people's area in Pau Brasil, in the South of Bahia.

The minister was accompanied by a committee made up of deputies from the Workers' Party (PT) of Bahia, the indigenous councilor Agnaldo Pataxó, and the representative of the Ministry of Justice responsible for indigenous affairs, Cláudio Beirão.

The tribal chief Gerson Melo received the committee with a speech which recalled the conquest of 54,100 hectares and the deaths of those who were killed in the fight for this land - in 22 years of struggle, 14 indigenous people were assassinated. The chief concluded his speech by asking the authorities present for immediate action on the part of the Federal Government, Legal System and Federal Police to solve crimes against indigenous people and for the defense of their rights.

Another elder, the tribal chief Marilene de Jesus, also spoke out about the criminal acts committed against the Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe and pointed to the latest legal decisions as being responsible for the most recent acts of violence against indigenous people. In agreement with the chief, the councilor Agnaldo Pataxó concluded that, in this situation, when indigenous people are expelled from their lands, there are only two possible alternatives "leave the land and die of hunger or resist and become fertilizer for the land".

When it was his turn to speak, Nilmário Miranda emphasized the importance of the indigenous people's struggle in that region, but without ever abandoning the use of dialog. The minister also promised to ask for reinforcements to guarantee the safety of the settlements with the effective presence of the Federal Police and to talk to the Federal Judge for Ilhéus, Pedro Hollyday, and to the Ministers of the Federal Supreme Court about the need to judge the lawsuit to declare title deeds null and void.

Bras¡lia, 16 April 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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