BRAZIL’S indigenous population issued an urgent appeal for international solidarity today to avert a genocide as they try to assert their social and cultural rights.
Community leaders warned that far-right racists have stepped up attacks on indigenous groups following the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has claimed that Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement and other minority rights organisations are “terrorists.”
At least 11 indigenous groups have demanded assurances from the Brazilian government over their economic, social and cultural rights in the midwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
They warned that authorities have sought to drive them from their land to make way for big business to exploit its resources.
However, such efforts have met organised resistance, with the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil calling last month for a nationwide campaign of demonstrations, under the banner Red January, Indigenous Blood, against Mr Bolsonaro’s land demarcation initiative.
Indigenous leader Daiara Tukano explained that an open letter urged the international community to support those threatened by the onslaught of racism and neoliberalism, fearing for their future under Mr Bolsonaro’s far-right regime.
Speaking in a video message she said: “I am sending this message to my friends at the social movements, landless movement, feminist movements, black movements. Right now we are facing a harsh moment.
“Like in the old times of the dictatorship, the [Bolsonaro] administration sent the military, the federal policy, the border police, the national police, all of which are acting as militias seeking the genocide of indigenous peoples, something which favours landlords and agribusiness.”
Ms Tukano warned that “a massacre could happen next week,” adding that although her people are organised and will resist, they “are few, very few.”
The groups have urged the international community to support them by spreading “images, videos and words” and keeping up the pressure on Mr Bolsonaro’s government.