“Hidden genocide”: the death of a native in Brazil arouses an outcry

“Hidden genocide”: the death of a native in Brazil arouses an outcry
“Hidden genocide”: the death of a native in Brazil arouses an outcry

The death of a man believed to be the last member of an uncontacted indigenous tribe in the western Brazilian Amazon has renewed calls for the Brazilian government to protect indigenous communities from escalating violence and encroachment on their land.

International rights group Survival International reported on Sunday that the man known only as ‘the man in the hole’ was found dead in the indigenous territory of Tanaru in the northeastern state of Rondonia. west. He died of apparently natural causes, according to Brazilian authorities.

The man, whose name is derived from his habit of digging deep holes, was the last surviving member of a tribe that saw its people ‘massacred in a series of attacks from the 1970s’ and lived in a total isolation for years, Survival says International.

Fiona Watson, the group’s research and advocacy director, said people knew very little about the man, including his name, the name of his tribe or the language he spoke.

“All we know about him, putting together the evidence, is that he was the sole survivor of several genocidal attacks,” she told Al Jazeera in an interview, describing him as the symbol of a “very hidden and secret genocide” as well as “extraordinary courage and resilience”.

‘The man in the hole’ survived multiple ‘genocidal attacks’, says Survival International’s Fiona Watson [FUNAI/Courtesy Survival International]

News of the man’s death sent an outpouring of grief for many, while putting renewed emphasis on the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government that indigenous leaders and activists say expose them to the risk of attacks and force them to leave their territories.

“Indigenous territories are invaded because people feel immense impunity, the invaders. With Bolsonaro… people feel very emboldened,” Watson said.

“I think it’s a wake-up call because … a very significant part of the rich human diversity is gone forever with the death of the man in the hole,” she added. “The Brazilian government needs to treat this as an emergency and put funds and put experienced field staff, more staff, on the ground to determine exactly where these people are and start demarcating and protecting their lands.”

“Increased brutality”

Brazil is home to more than 800,000 indigenous peoples from more than 300 distinct groups, according to data from the latest 2010 census cited by rights group Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

For years, indigenous leaders have sounded the alarm about the threats their communities face in the South American nation, especially in areas with little government oversight as farmers, miners, poachers and others seek to control and exploit.

Indigenous peoples have accused Bolsonaro and his allies of adopting policies aimed at displacing them in favor of groups illegally encroaching on their territories, while relaxing environmental protections in critical areas such as the Amazon rainforest. The far-right leader backed more mining in the Amazon, saying it would boost the economy.

The Indigenous Missionary Council, a group affiliated with the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, recorded 305 cases last year of “invasions with possession, illegal exploitation of resources and damage to property” in indigenous territories, affecting 226 indigenous lands in 22 Brazilian states. This represents an increase from 109 such incidents in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office, an increase of 180%.

“In addition to the quantitative increase in cases and lands affected by the illegal activities of miners, loggers, hunters, fishermen and land grabbers, among others, the invaders have intensified their presence and the brutality of their actions. in indigenous territories,” the council said in a statement. report this month (PDF). “These violent and criminal attacks, often with heavy weapons, have been repeatedly reported by Indigenous peoples and ignored by the federal government, which has continued to stimulate mining activities in these territories.

In August 2021, the APIB filed a lawsuit asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Bolsonaro for “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” amid deteriorating circumstances, accusing his government of publicly encouraging “the criminal invasion of [Indigenous] territories”.

State policies expose indigenous peoples “to death threats, murder, invasions, destruction of their territories and contamination of resources,” the group said in a report (PDF) last year. , while “Bolsonaro’s speech is a major driver of these attacks”.

Land protection

In a written statement to Al Jazeera, Brazil’s foreign ministry said the government was committed to “protecting the human rights of all Brazilians, including indigenous peoples.” The country’s indigenous affairs agency, known as FUNAI, invested $15.9 million (82.5 million Brazilian reals) for “indigenous land supervision” between 2019 and 2021, the ministry said. in an email.

FUNAI also uses satellite imagery to monitor illegal activities. “This information allows FUNAI to assess illegal events on indigenous lands and plan territorial protection actions, allowing for a rapid response,” the statement said.

But Andrea Carvalho, senior research assistant at Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Brazil, said there had been a marked escalation in attacks on indigenous peoples and their lands in recent years. “This is driven by disastrous policies related to the protection of the environment and indigenous rights in Brazil,” she told Al Jazeera.

The Bolsonaro administration has weakened Brazil’s environmental agencies and FUNAI, Carvalho said, explaining that one of the ways it has done this is by removing experienced officials from leadership positions. Today, more than 200 indigenous territories in Brazil await demarcation, legal protection of land, she added.

“Historically, it takes a long time to complete a demarcation, but this administration, even during the 2018 election campaign, made a commitment not to designate Indigenous territories, and that commitment has been kept. Since Bolsonaro took office, Brazil has not demarcated any new indigenous territory,” Carvalho said.

“We keep fighting”

Sonia Guajajara, an indigenous activist who is running as a federal deputy in Brazil’s upcoming elections, told Al Jazeera that while indigenous peoples have never been a priority for Brazilian governments, Bolsonaro’s administration is “blatantly anti -indigenous”.

Amid the worsening wave of attacks, Guajajara said the demarcation of indigenous territories is essential. “It is essential that our constitutional right to land is guaranteed, because only then can we preserve our culture, our ways of life and our life,” she said in an email.

“We keep fighting and resisting, that’s why I and so many others [Indigenous people] stand for public office in these elections. We want to occupy the spaces of power.

But as Bolsonaro takes on leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the October polls, Carvalho said indigenous issues have so far been largely excluded from the campaign trail. “Now it’s up to the candidates to tell voters, Brazilians, how they plan to really protect indigenous rights and how to strengthen federal agencies – and how they plan to dismantle the criminal networks that are destroying the environment,” a- she declared.

Watson, of Survival International, urged the international community to pressure Brazil to better protect indigenous lands after the death of the “man in the hole”, who she said could not “continue his way of life” only because of the protection of the Tanaru natives by the government. Territory.

“I think her story is the ultimate illustration of what can happen to indigenous peoples if we don’t protect their lands,” she said.

. Genocide hidden death dun indigenous Brazil sparks outcry news about rights of Indigenous

. Hidden genocide death native Brazil arouses outcry

PREV Chelsea: Brendan Rodgers defends Wesley Fofana after slamming Leicester
NEXT Elotuzumab Combination Significantly Improves Survival Compared to Pomalidomide/Dexamethasone in Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma