NGOs hand over appeal to Brazilian embassy
Stop the illegal deforestation of the Amazon (Press Release)
Never before since records began has so much Brazilian Amazon rainforest been destroyed as in the first half of 2020. Thus, the Brazilian indigenous umbrella organization APIB (Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil) – together with the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and other organizations – sent an appeal to the Brazilian government to take long-term measures to protect the Amazon and the rights of the indigenous communities.
"The Brazilian government should know that the world is watching. We are not indifferent to the destruction of the Amazon," stated Julia Büsser, campaign manager at the STP Switzerland. To emphasize this, the STP presented the Brazilian embassy with an appeal and a large picture of the rainforest. The picture consists of countless photos of people who participated in the social media campaign #HandsOffTheAmazon over the last few weeks and posted their photo with a tree.
"Never before since records began has so much Brazilian Amazon rainforest been destroyed as in the first half of 2020," Büsser stated. This summer alone, an area equivalent to more than 120 soccer fields was destroyed every hour – and the fires and the deforestation continued unhindered this summer, after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree in July to stop the fires for four months. In their appeal, the APIB, the STP, and other organizations made the following demands to the Brazilian government:
- The Brazilian government must define clear goals regarding the long-term fight against illegal deforestation in the Amazon and regarding the protection of the rights of indigenous communities!
- The territories of the indigenous communities must be protected by means of demarcations, as governed by the Brazilian constitution!
- The Brazilian environmental authorities must be strengthened!
- Products such as beef, soy, timber, and minerals must labelled with regard to their origin – to ensure that they do not come from illegally deforested areas!
The destruction of the rainforest due to fires and deforestation has increased dramatically since President Bolsonaro took office: between August 2018 and July 2019, deforestation increased by 34.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier – and by 34.6 percent (compared to the year before) in the period from August 2019 to July 2020. The fires are not only a threat to the Amazon rainforest, but also to the Pantanal swamp area, which is burning like never before.
The indigenous communities in the Amazon are particularly affected by the destruction. Their habitat is disappearing due to illegal deforestation for cattle breeding, for crops, or for mining. This development is fueled by the worldwide demand for palm oil, meat, gold, and animal feed. Therefore, the STP and its partners are calling on the international community to exert political and economic pressure on Brazil to put an end to the massive environmental destruction and the violations of indigenous rights. A free trade agreement with Brazil is only acceptable if it involves strict regulations regarding indigenous rights and the protection of the environment.