Violence against Brazil's indigenous peoples

New report confirms fears (Press Release)

Yesterday, the annual report on violence against Brazil's indigenous peoples was presented in an online event. The figures refer to 2019, Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office. According to the report, there has been a massive increase in violence, invasions, and expropriation of indigenous territories – leading to an "extremely perverse and worrying reality of the indigenous peoples in Brazil." With regard to this statement, Juliana Miyazaki, expert on indigenous peoples at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), said: "What we had already observed over the past year is confirmed by the new figures. Violence against indigenous people has increased alarmingly – in almost all categories of the report."

In 16 of the 19 violence categories in the report, there has been a significant increase compared to the previous year. There were 276 registered cases of physical violence against indigenous people, two and a half times as many as in 2018 (110 cases). Of these acts of violence, 113 were murders. "Especially the indigenous population of Mato Grosso do Sul has suffered from constant attacks. In this state alone, there were 40 murders – and numerous cases of torture, even of children," Miyazaki stated.

In the year under review, 256 invasions were registered in at least 151 indigenous territories in almost all states – an increase of 135 percent. "These invasions not only mean disenfranchisement of the indigenous people; they are almost always associated with massive environmental destruction," Miyazaki explained. "The main drivers of the invasions are illegal deforestation and land theft by the agribusiness – measures to settle cattle herds there and to plants corn and soya, often for export. Illegal gold mining is another common reason for invasions. As a result, rivers are contaminated with toxic chemicals.

The invasion of indigenous territories can be directly linked to the Bolsonaro government: "It wants to take away the rights and land of the indigenous people in order to assimilate them into the non-indigenous society. At the same time, he can leave these territories, which are actually public land, to his powerful allies for private exploitation," Miyazaki criticized. "He had already announced this strategy in his election campaign and has been pursuing it ever since: he has disempowered the environmental and indigenous protection authorities, refuses to grant land rights to the indigenous communities, lets environmental crimes and human rights violations go unpunished, spreads lies and, thus, through his policy, encourages further invasions that bring even more violence". Unfortunately, we have to fear that the figures for 2020 will turn out even worse.