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Brazil: more than 6,000 indigenous people demonstrate for their land – archyde


They demonstrate ahead of a long-awaited judgment of the Supreme Court of Brazil on their right to dispose of their ancestral lands. Some 6,000 indigenous people, members of 170 tribes, demonstrated on Wednesday, August 25, in traditional dress – wearing feathered headdresses and brandishing bows and arrows – in the heart of Brasilia. This is the largest demonstration of indigenous people ever organized in Brazil, according to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), which coordinates the mobilization.

Since Sunday, thousands of indigenous people have pitched tents, sing and dance near the modernist buildings of the Presidential Palace, the Supreme Court and the Parliament. These gatherings are held in peace, under the vigilance of riot police. In June, demonstrations for the same reasons had escalated. Three demonstrators were injured, along with three police officers, by arrows.

A demonstration in front of the Supreme Court building in Brasilia on August 24, 2021.

The “temporal thesis”

The eleven judges of the Supreme Court will look, from Wednesday, on the “temporal thesis”, which recognizes as ancestral only the lands which were occupied by the natives when the Constitution was promulgated in 1988. However, many tribes were displaced during the upheavals of Brazilian history, especially under the military dictatorship (1964-1985). Back on their lands, these tribes demand the protection of the status granted to the reserves, which is opposed by the powerful Brazilian lobby of agribusiness.

It is by deciding on the specific case of a reserve in the State of Santa Catarina (south) – deciding whether the temporal thesis applies to it or not – that the Supreme Court will render a judgment which will concern, by extension, dozens of other reservations that have been the subject of litigation for years. His decision will not be known a priori during the day, or even this week.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that would occur ” chaos “ if the temporal thesis, also favorable to the activities of deforestation and illegal mining prospecting, was not confirmed by the high court. “If the Supreme Court accepts the temporal thesis, it could legitimize violence against indigenous peoples and exacerbate conflicts in the Amazon rainforest and other regions”, warned Francisco Cali Tzay, UN Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Brazil, the dismantling of the Foundation for the Indian, symbol of Bolsonaro’s offensive against the natives

Defense of the Amazon rainforest

Demonstrators are also protesting what they believe to be systematic violations of their rights since the far-right president took office in January 2019. “This government is attacking the indigenous peoples”, says Syrata Pataxo, a 32-year-old chief of the Pataxo tribe of the state of Bahia (northeast). “Today, all of humanity calls for the protection of the Amazon rainforest. But the government wants our forest, the lungs of the planet, to be replaced by soybean crops and gold mining ”, explains the native chief.

Mr Bolsonaro supports a bill that would open up indigenous lands to the exploitation of natural resources. Two other bills are criticized by the tribes, who see them as an encouragement to “The invasion” of their land. One advocates the regularization of illegal occupations of land by gold washers, loggers or breeders. The approximately 900,000 indigenous people of Brazil represent 0.5% of the 212 million inhabitants and their lands cover 13% of the territory of this immense country.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Brazil, the territory of the Yanomami Indians endangered by the explosion of gold panning

The World with AFP


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