IT’S TIME TO FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
Nowadays, Indigenous peoples in Brazil are experiencing a situation of important setbacks. It is not an overstatement to say that the lives of many of them are at risk. And this a loss that affects the whole society. Brazil openly violates the human rights of Indigenous peoples and at the same time jeopardizes one of its main identities, which is very worrying. From a broader point of view, we are all at risk of being left without their great contribution to the world debates on the socio-environmental issue. In the context of challenges surrounding climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources, for example, the participation of Indigenous peoples is indispensable.
By threatening the Indigenous peoples, the country perpetrates a violence of large proportion against several ethnic groups that have been in their lands for thousands of years and throws away the possibility of taking advantage of the great biodiversity kept by them to create sustainable development. This is because Indigenous peoples have much to teach us about the balanced use of natural resources and accumulate fundamental experience in this area.
We have much to learn from the diversity and the way of life of Indigenous peoples, who do not have a heritage relationship with their land, but rather a cultural relationship connected to their way of life. The biodiversity in territories occupied by Indigenous peoples is more protected than in places where they are not present.
Despite all this, we are experiencing the worst moment since the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution, a milestone for the achievement of social and environmental rights and advances. Among the threats we now face, here are some examples:
- The discussion of the so-called temporal framework, which attempts to limit the scope of territorial rights by establishing the date when the Constitution was promulgated (October 5, 1988) as the date after which Indigenous people would need to prove they have been living in their territory.
- As the date after which Indigenous people would need to prove they were in their territory.
- The CPI (parliamentary committee of inquiry) promoted by FUNAI (National Indian Foundation) and INCRA (National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCRA), which tried to criminalize Indigenous leaders, public servants and prosecutors who defend Indigenous rights;
- The strong performance of the ruralist group in the National Congress and also in the Executive and Judiciary powers;
- The political articulations meant to dismantle the country’s environmental legislation, with projects that aim to dissolve the decrees that demarcate Indigenous lands and amendments to the Constitution;
- Proposals to reduce the extension of conservation units and to change the environmental licensing legislation; and
- Paralyzed land demarcation processes.
Brazil is walking backwards: it is threatening rather than protecting and valuing its Indigenous people. It is violating their rights rather than defending them.
For all those reasons, this is the time to fight back.
This reaction is only possible through the strengthening of groups, organizations and collectives that fight for this cause. They fight first and foremost for territorial rights, which are fundamental to their survival. Problems such as violence, the struggle to survive and cultural disintegration are directly related to the territorial issue. Rights such as the autonomy to manage their territories are fundamental and are also at risk in this period of setbacks.
Brazil Human Rights Fund supports projects proposed by Indigenous peoples fighting to defend their lands, as well as their ways of life and traditions. Over 20 projects have been supported since the Fund’s creation focusing on guaranteeing their rights; the fight against prejudice; resistance to megaprojects; preservation of the environment; sociocultural strengthening; the fight against violence, including death threats and murder; providing support to the struggles endured by these peoples; cultural rescue and training in human rights.
Join us in this important mobilization now and in the future.
Help the Indigenous peoples tackle these threats and move forward in the achievement of their rights.
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“Brazil Fund’s project has strengthened our fight. It brought us knowledge about our rights and showed us ways to fight for them, especially for us, women. Now, we are able to hear the women’s voice. Now, we know what our women want, what they think of the future and we have all realized that this is our fight, too. Today we are fighting for our children and our grandchildren, and we must call young people to take part in this fight too to build self-confidence against the prejudices we suffer. In the past, we could not wear our body painting to school, our students were criticized, offended, but today we are stronger and they are able to say ‘I am a Tembé!’. They go wherever they want and they can travel to other cities knowing that people will not offend them. This is what empowerment means: to build self-confidence each and every day and fight for our rights. Today, they are in universities. Is it something difficult to achieve? IT IS. But they face it with their heads high.”
Nágila Tembé, Jeju Village, in Santa Maria do Pará, Brazil
“The support provided to our association by Brazil Fund has stimulated our community. When we have no resources to work, we can only meet once a month. In these meetings, the only activity we are able to promote is the exchange of official information and news. With the support of Brazil Human Rights Fund we managed, for example, to travel to Marabá (where FUNAI’s coordination is located) and to Brasília to discuss our rights. There is a village in the middle of our community. In this village there are houses of non-Indigenous people and we are in the middle of a fight to have our land demarcated and to defend our right to health and education.”
Alan Tembé, Jeju Village, em Santa Maria do Pará, Brazil