This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.
The murder of an eight year old child from the Awa-Gwajá indigenous community, allegedly burnt alive [pt] by loggers in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, has caused outrage throughout the Internet, as well as disbelief by many in the face of such cruelty.
The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) confirmed [pt] that “suspicions indicate that an attack has occurred between September and October against the camp of isolated indigenous” of the Araribóia reserve, and added more information:
According [pt] to Rosimeire Diniz, CIMI's coordinator in Maranhão state, “the situation has been reported for a long time. It has become a frequent occurrence, the presence of these logging groups, putting the isolated indigenous in danger. No concrete measure has been taken to protect this population”.
“The world needs to know”
Journalist Eliano Jorge interviewed [pt] a Guajajara Indian who said:
Journalist Luis Carlos Azenha, on the other hand, urged caution [pt]:
To which journalist Niara de Oliveira replied [pt], raising the issue of reported unofficial coallitions between “FUNAI officials in the region of Arame [and] local ranchers and loggers”:
Rogério Tomaz Jr, born in Maranhão, was the first to report the case in the blogosphere; he ironically posted the various hypotheses about the case that have emerged, especially those that accuse the indigenous and social organizations of lying and fabricating a story. He criticizes the expected media silence about the case, and affirms [pt] with disgust that if an Indian slapped a logger or a farmer in the face there would be plenty of editorials.
Anthropologist Uirá Garcia, quoted by ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute) on its Facebook page, said [pt] that “there are indications that a Guajá Awa child of the group living in seclusion at the indigenous reserve of Araribóia, has vanished from her small group that encountered a group of loggers, months ago”:
Doctor, Diana Serra, has urged [pt] revolt in reaction to the news:
Look how far the violence is going in our state of Maranhão. And the government does nothing, representatives of the Justice do nothing. The representatives of the people do nothing. […] We must let the world know what happens in Maranhão. Land without law to holders of money and power. Some, true marginal, where still resists the coronelismo [the rule of hereditary elites].
Persecution of indigenous peoples
The Awá, a term meaning “man” or “person”, are, according to the organization Survival International, “one of only two nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes remaining in Brazil”:
Some are uncontacted, ranging from tiny family groups who are on the run, living in the last fragments of Maranhão’s rapidly dwindling rainforest outside legally recognized territories, to approximately 60 individuals living in the Araribóia reserve which is heavily invaded by illegal loggers.
In 2008, a seven year old Guajajara child was killed [pt] with a shot by a motorcyclist in the town of Arame and other indigenous ethnic groups were also victims of similar violence, and rape, in the region. Violence against the indigenous population in Brazil has spread and taken on alarming proportions.
The ongoing genocide against the Guarani-Kaiowá in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul has been receiving increasing attention in the alternative media, especially in the blogosphere, but it is still a forbidden subject in the mainstream media. The Brazilian federal government, too, has taken no steps to publicize the crimes, and especially to prevent further deaths.
Other traditional populations are also victims [pt] of the violence [pt], committed largely by the federal government - or through its silence, which uses the military to intimidate Quilombolas traditional black populations and expel them from their lands. The construction of the Belo Monte Dam is another serious threat to the survival of entire indigenous communities in the Amazon region.
Another danger that presents itself to the indigenous and traditional populations of Brazil is the possible approval of the new Forestry Code, presented by Communist politician Aldo Rebelo, in conjunction with the ruralist leader Katia Abreu, and that is being contested by environmentalists and activists from different areas.
Journalist Lucão, recalling the recent case in which two activists of the state of Para, José Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva were “cowardly killed by loggers”, as reported by Global Voices in May 2011, is another one to show revolt [pt] over the atrocity against the Awá:
Journalist Carlos Hermes, astonished, asks himself [pt] how long such atrocities will be tolerated:
By Raphael Tsavvko Garcia in Global Voices.