Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

The Importance of the Sarayaku Case Sentence for Indigenous Rights in the Americas

Mario Melo, lawyer of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku shares some initial reflections

July 27, 2012 | Mario Melo

Mario Melo, Sarayaku Attorney, Fundación Pachamama

From my point of view, the following issues, among others entailed in the ruling, add relevance to the rights of indigenous peoples because:

  1. After almost a decade of litigation (from 2003 to 2010 in the Inter-American Commission, and from 2010 to 2012 in the Inter-American Court), the international justice system has ruled in favor and agreed with an indigenous nation from the Amazon, who like other indigenous peoples of the world, saw its territory, life and culture threatened because the State imposed an oil project in their habitat without having previously informed or consulted, let alone reached a consent. The imposed oil activity meant for Sarayaku the militarization of their territory, environmental destruction, violence, persecution, aggressions, and even the deterioration of sacred elements of their culture and cosmology.

    The wisdom of Sarayaku was in understanding that what happened to them in 2002, 2003 and 2004, was happening in response to a network of powerful transnational interests that could not be confronted solely through local resistance; in order to show the abuses and generate discussions locally and internationally, it required instead new strategies founded on International Human Rights Instruments.

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It's Not Too Late to Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

July 13, 2012 | Atossa Soltani

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I write to you from the frontlines of the battle to defend Brazil's Xingu River. The indigenous peoples of the Middle Xingu are still fighting for their survival and need your help today.

Earlier this week 60 leaders from 16 indigenous communities signed a letter to the Brazilian authorities, calling for the immediate suspension of the Belo Monte dam's construction license due to callous disregard for basic social and environmental requirements and violations of the rights of indigenous communities to free, prior, and informed consent.

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Day 16: Reflections from the Belo Monte Occupation

July 6, 2012 | Atossa Soltani

Photo: Rafael Salazar

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The indigenous-led occupation of Pimental Island on the Xingu River is now in its 16th day. I see this occupation of the main Belo Monte dam construction site as a key battleground for the future of the entire Amazon rainforest.

It is powerful to be here on the ground supporting indigenous peoples in amplifying their voices.

Steadily growing groups of indigenous inhabitants of the Xingu are continuing to denounce the failure by the dam builders to adhere to the so-called "safeguards" and "mitigation" programs designed to reduce the significant impacts of the project on local communities and their environment. They are demanding that construction of the Belo Monte dam be halted until the dam-building consortium Norte Energia and the government can put in place effective programs and measures to address the effects of the dam such as loss of fishing and hunting resources, loss of river navigation, and increased incidence of diseases.

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Day 11: Parakana Leaders Join the Belo Monte Occupation

July 1, 2012 | Atossa Soltani

Parakana Warrior (Credit: Atossa Soltani / Amazon Watch)

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Support the indigenous peoples of the Xingu and social movement leaders in the fight for the right to a healthy environment!

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Sunday, the 11th day of occupation of the Belo Monte Pimental dam site, was a special day marked by the arrival of nearly 30 Parakana leaders who are a full day of boat travel upriver to get here. In all, 17 indigenous villages from six different ethnicities are currently represented at the occupation. They are demanding that construction of the Belo Monte dam be stopped until Norte Energia and the government can adequately mitigate the disastrous impacts of the dam on local indigenous communities.

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Day 10 of the Indigenous Occupation of the Belo Monte Pimental Dam Site

June 30, 2012 | Atossa Soltani

Photo Credit: Rafael Salazar

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Support the indigenous peoples of the Xingu and social movement leaders in the fight for the right to a healthy environment!

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Statement by Mukuka Xikrin, Spokesperson for the Occupation, as given to Atossa Soltani.
Audio available upon request.

Today we are in day 10 of the occupation. We had the meeting on Thursday with Norte Energia but did not reach any agreement. Construction on the coffer dam and in the work camp is still paralyzed. The Xikrin, the Arara and the Juruna of the Big Bend are still occupying the site. Many more of our relatives are asking for rides to get here. For this reason we are calling for support, for more resources to arrive as soon as possible to allow us to bring more of our people to join the occupation.

Today there are more our relatives arriving, the Parakana people are on their way to the occupation in the next few hours.

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