By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Indigenous rights experts, including the United Nation Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, stated on Thursday (June 8th) that the rights of the indigenous are being attacked in Brazil.

Brazil, Brasilia,ndigenous representatives protested against government policies in Brasilia last month,
Indigenous representatives protested against government policies in Brasilia last month, photo by Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

Corpuz added that the current government has approved measures that reduce the legal protection of these traditional communities.

“Brazil should be strengthening institutional and legal protection for indigenous peoples,” the experts stated the press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “It is highly troubling that instead, Brazil is considering weakening those protections.”

According to Corpuz and the other experts Brazil has registered the highest number of killings of environmental and land defenders of any country over the last fifteen years, with an average of about one killing every week.

The international experts’ main criticism is aimed at a report of the Congressional Commission of Inquiry (CPI), approved last month and in which 96 people including community leaders, anthropologists and civil servants are accused of fraudulent processes of demarcation of indigenous lands and rural settlements for agrarian reform.

The report also calls for the restructuring of FUNAI (Brazilian Indian Foundation) and the revision of already demarked indigenous land.

According to one of the leaders of the Kaingang tribe, the Congressional report allows for the extinction of FUNAI as a strategy to end the process of demarcation of the indigenous lands pushed forth by the Foundation.

“We, as indigenous people, repudiate the way in which lawmakers are intervening on this issue, especially the rural and agribusiness communities,” said Francisco Kaingang during a protest in front of Brazil’s Congress in May.

“The CPI is a way of intervening in FUNAI to end the demarcation process of our traditional lands,” added the indigenous leader.

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