News-Letter Nr. 563

Indigenous people hold First National Meeting of Reemerged Peoples

From today until May 20, about 90 indigenous leaders belonging to 40 different indigenous peoples will attend the 1st National Meeting of Indigenous Peoples Fighting for Ethnic and Territorial Recognition in Olinda, state of Pernambuco. The meeting will be opened today at 8:00 p.m.

Topics such as "Disappearance and Reemergence": A historical and anthropological approach to peoples fighting for recognition today; Breaking the Silence and Repression: An approach to rights historically ensured by indigenous peoples and the challenge of ethnic and territorial recognition will be discussed during the meeting.

This unprecedented initiative is aimed at providing an opportunity for the participants to share information on difficulties faced by indigenous peoples, identify common challenges, and develop a list of claims at national level for the purpose of fostering concerted actions and exchanging experiences on different mechanisms for furthering the indigenous cause. By the end of the meeting, the indigenous people will have prepared a document with proposals to be delivered in hearings with the minister of Justice and Funai's president.

Relying on the advisory provided by the Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi), anthropologist João Pacheco, and historian Edson Hely, the meeting will be attended by representatives of the Office of the Attorney General - 6th Coordination and Review Chamber, of the Brazilian Anthropological Association, of the Ministry of Justice, of Funai, of the National Indianist Action - ANAI - state of Bahia, of the Luiz Freire Cultural Center, and of the Eloy Ferreira da Silva Documentation Center - state of Minas Gerais.

5,000 people invade indigenous land in Rondônia

A mass invasion of the Uru-I-wau-wau indigenous land, located in the municipality of Montenegro, in the Ariquemes region, state of Rondônia, put 300 indigenous people who live in the area in a state of alert.

The invasion, involving 3,000 people initially, took place on April 20. Today, 5,000 people are living in the area and it has become more difficult to remove them from it. In addition to the increasing number of invaders, there is an additional difficulty to solve the situation, namely, the local authorities say that the invading group, which calls itself the League of Poor Peasants of Rondônia, is strongly armed.

Because of these facts, Martim Mund, an IBAMA staff member, and his wife, an ex-lay judge of the Regional Labor Court of the state of Acre, Marines Aut, were arrested last Friday under charges of having led the invasion following the orders of a group of storeowners, businesspersons, woodcutters, and farmers of the Ariquemes and Monte Negro region and with funds provided by them. Land grabber José Domingos was also indicted in connection with the case, but he is hiding from justice.

Fátima Cleide, a senator of the Workers' Party of Rondônia, condemned "the systematic and criminal invasion of indigenous areas" in a speech. In her opinion, urgent measures should be taken to put an end to these invasions and to the illegal trade of land areas.

In recent years, the Uru-I-wau-wau indigenous land has been repeatedly invaded, but no invasion has been as serious as this one. The large number of invaders poses serious risks to the survival of this recently contacted people.

It is important to remember that an agreement was signed between the indigenous peoples of Rondônia and the local Landless Movement under which the latter took on the commitment to respect indigenous territories and cooperate with them in avoiding invasions like this one.

Therefore, as requested by the indigenous organizations of Rondônia and of the Amazon, the federal government should act immediately to remove the invaders from this indigenous land and to protect it.

Bras¡lia, 15 May 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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