Attack on Brazilian Indigenous Women's Association Signals Dangerous Escalation

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Camila Rossi at crossi@amazonwatch.org or +55.11.98152.8476 (Brazil)
Ada Recinos at ada@amazonwatch.org or +1.510.473.7542 (U.S.)


Jacareacanga, Pará, Brazil – The Munduruku people of the Amazon's upper Tapajós valley are facing escalating threats by armed illegal "wildcat" miners, known as garimpeiros. Yesterday, the Wakoborun Association office in Jacareacanga, Pará state, was attacked, burned, and defaced. The violence occurred shortly after a protest organized by garimpeiros, who also made death threats to Indigenous women who are opposed to mining.

"We have been shouting for days, asking the police to act on this group of criminals who want to devastate our territory and who threaten our own lives and well-being. We urgently demand that something is done. Everyone knows who is involved. We denounce all the entities that should be assisting Indigenous peoples," says the statement from three regional Munduruku associations. Under the condition of anonymity, Munduruku reported to the Folha newspaper that leaders opposed to mining are in hiding amid death threats.

During their monitoring expeditions, the Munduruku Movement Ipereg Ayu found expensive mining equipment along their rivers. The illegal miners are well-funded by organized criminal organizations, which is facilitating an increasing presence of mining in Munduruku territory itself. The risk of imminent violence was also highlighted in an AP article, Brazil officials warn clash looms between Indigenous, miners, published on Saturday, March 20.

Amazon Watch stands in solidarity with the Munduruku Wakoborun Women's Association and Munduruku leadership and representative organizations, which are autonomous and democratically-elected structures, during this dangerous moment.

Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch Program Director said, "In light of yesterday's attack, and with a proposed bill authorizing mining on Indigenous territories on the verge of passing in Brazil's congress, there is reason to believe that this perilous situation will continue to escalate. Amazon Watch is concerned for the safety of numerous Munduruku leaders' who are associated with representative organizations such as the Ipereg Ayu Munduruku Movement and the Wakoborun Women's Association. These incidents are part of a longer-term pattern of threats to Munduruku leaders and could be the precursors for politically-targeted violence, which has resulted in the deaths of many other community leaders and activists across the Brazilian Amazon.

The Indigenous organizations are demanding to know why the Brazilian police stood by as their office was attacked yesterday. Will they do the same when the violence escalates? We call on U.S. leaders, such as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman, to take quick and decisive action to pressure the Brazilian government to act now to guarantee the safety of the Munduruku and immediately expel the illegal miners from their territory."

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