In an open letter to Brazilian society and right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, a group of experts warned that a “genocide is underway” against uncontacted tribes because of Bolsonaro’s efforts to strip away Indigenous peoples’ rights and lands and open up more of the Amazon rainforest to agribusiness and mining.
The letter (pdf), released in Portuguese on Friday, came after Bruno Pereira was dismissed last week as the coordinator for uncontacted tribes at FUNAI, the Brazilian government agency for policies relating to Indigenous peoples. Signatories include previous coordinators at FUNAI, Indigenous people, and field workers.
The human rights group Survival International translated some of the letter into English and circulated it online Monday:
The experts are “extremely worried” that Pereira has been sacked “for no apparent technical reason,” and that his dismissal “represents yet another backwards step in the policy to protect uncontacted tribes.” They note that “this upheaval will provoke the genocide of uncontacted and recently contacted Indigenous peoples.”
Survival International’s advocacy director, Fiona Watson, pointed out that “for decades, Brazil has led the way in the protection of uncontacted tribes’ lands, recognizing that they’re the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.”
“But President Bolsonaro is clearly intent on completely dismantling this work, and wants to open up indigenous territories across Brazil to loggers, miners, and ranchers,” she said. “He doesn’t care how many Indigenous people die in the process, and has openly expressed his racist contempt for them on many occasions.”
“This is a pivotal moment for the future of uncontacted tribes, and therefore for all humanity,” Watson concluded. “Either people around the world stand shoulder to shoulder with the Indigenous peoples fighting for their very survival, or we watch as genocide is committed in front of our eyes.”