Brazil: United Nations representative speaks of indigenous genocide
United Nations (UN) envoy Alice Wairimu Nderitu completed her mission in Brazil Friday after 11 days during which she investigated cases of violence committed against indigenous people, Afro-descendants, and other vulnerable groups, Agencia Brasil reported.
The UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide visited the Yanomami and Guarani Kaiowá communities and met with indigenous and quilombola communities, in addition to members of the civil society and government authorities. A quilombola is an Afro-Brazilian resident of a quilombo, a settlement of former escaped slaves in Brazil.
Based on the information she gathered, she asked that genocide against indigenous populations be investigated and that those responsible be punished. The Under-Secretary-General said that only national and international courts can characterize the violations against these groups as genocide. The UN mission aimed to map the occurrences, and suggest ways to prevent and contain the problems identified.
The crime of genocide should be investigated. My role is to point out the problems related to genocide. We have several risk factors. But the decisions regarding the investigations are up to Brazil, which signed the Convention for the Prevention and Repression of the Crime of Genocide. My role is only to show the risks, but not to solve them, she said.
Wairimu understands that the lives of indigenous and quilombola communities have worsened in the last four years when the country was under the government of former president Jair Bolsonaro. But she preferred to focus on the issue from a broader point of view by pointing out that these populations are historically victims of violence and neglect.
”I know that in the last administration, some policies were accelerated. And the lives of indigenous populations have become more precarious than they were before. But let’s not forget how structural and deep this problem is. Brazil must deal with the problems of the indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. And find a leadership that can ensure that these people have a more dignified life.
During her visit to the country, Alice Wairimu Nderitu met with representatives of federal institutions, such as the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), the Office of the Attorney General (AGU), the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) and the Federal Public Ministry (MPF). She also met with Ministers Sônia Guajajara (Indigenous Peoples), Anielle Franco (Racial Equality), and Ana Moser (Sports).
The UN envoy visited the Yanomami territories, in Roraima, and the Guarani Kaiowá, in Mato Grosso do Sul, and met with the governors of the two states. About the Yanomami people, she said she heard testimonies of abuses and violations. She reinforced that the main aggressors are involved in illegal mining. And she found that local populations have been affected in their rights of access to and use of land, health, and education. In addition, there have been murders of local leaders and defenders of human rights and the environment. Impacts were registered in water contamination, malaria dissemination, and diseases aggravated by malnutrition in children. Reports of rapes of women and girls and other forms of gender violence were also cited.
About the Guarani Kaiowá people, the undersecretary said she was shocked by the extreme poverty. She highlighted the problems of demarcating indigenous territories and the conflicts with large farmers. She cited the violent expulsion of indigenous people from their lands and the fact that many live on the margins of highways in degrading conditions. She recalled discrimination in access to basic goods and services, such as drinking water, food, health, and education for their children, and said the use of force by state security agencies against unarmed civilians is excessive, resulting in murders and arbitrary arrests. The undersecretary demanded investigations into the complaints received.
Alice Nderitu said she had met leaders of Afro-descendant and quilombola communities in Brasilia, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Rio de Janeiro. She highlighted stories of police violence, motivated by structural racism, and said that these groups are victims of insecurity and generalized violence, which hinders the right to education, and impacts health, nutrition, and job opportunities.
The under-secretary said that the Brazilian State has been failing in guaranteeing assistance to the sexual and reproductive health of black girls and women. And she showed concern about the data on incarceration in the country, which affects mostly black men.
(Source: Agencia Brasil)