| 19-09-2017

Talks on indigenous Tekohá on both sides of the Atlantic

Increasingly unprotected amidst a context of political turmoil and rising racism in Brazil, Guarani and Kaiowá leaders bring to the table the realities facing their communities, which account for 45.000 indigenous people.

A delegation, which will include Aty Guasu* representative Voninho Benites Pedro, will travel across the European policy capitals of Geneva and Brussels to shed light on the threatening situation facing indigenous communities in Mato Grosso do Sul, due to increasing land grabbing and business activities across the region. Meanwhile, Guarani and Kaiowá (GK) women leaders from the Brazilian region will gather to discuss their main challenges as indigenous women.

Aty Kuña, the political space for GK women

Female leaders from across the region will meet at their annual Aty Kuña, the Great Assembly of the Guarani Kaiowá Women, on September 18-22 in Kurusu Ambá (municipality of Coronel Sapucaia).

The main platform they have to bring their voices and diagnose the reality they live in, GK female leaders will convene to discuss the rights of indigenous women in the Brazilian southern State of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Held for the first time in 2006, this is the 4th occasion that this significant gathering takes place.     Announcing the assembly, GK leaders recall they have been expelled from their traditional territories (Tekohá) since the 1920s. “We were placed in indigenous reserves, with limited space and in confinement, and today we struggle relentlessly to get our Tekohá back. This generates intense conflicts in Mato Grosso do Sul and with the federal government, which has been depriving all our indigenous rights, especially [when it comes to] the demarcation of our lands.”

Recalling precarious indigenous rights at UN UPR

During the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) a coalition of Brazilian human rights organizations will report on the systematic attack against human rights at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Brazil. Under the current political instability, the situation of the indigenous peoples is becoming more and more precarious. The GK, who are often confined to small areas of their original territories, are indeed the most affected by the expansion of agribusiness in the region and the neglect of the Brazilian State. The GK leader Voninho Benites Pedro, who will be accompanied by members of Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), will give an account of how the grabbing of their lands and business activities are threatening their livelihoods and their very existence.

Several activities will complement the delegation’s visit, including their participation in an open dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who will present her annual report. Already a year ago,     she raised concerns over growing acts of violence against the communities and the stagnation of the homologation of the land.

Historic EP resolution: keeping track of implementation

Almost a year ago, the European Parliament     passed a resolution that urged the Brazilian State to take immediate action to protect indigenous peoples’ security and ensure their rights to ancestral lands are fulfilled. Considered historic, the resolution also called on the State to ensure that independent investigations are carried out into the murder and assault of indigenous people in their attempts to defend their human and territorial rights. The delegation, supported by FIAN International, will visit Brussels to follow up implementation and present the latest developments on the ground to MEPs.

In addition, the delegation will meet other European officials, in the framework of the Free Trade Agreement being negotiated with MERCOSUR (which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay). Brazil is a big exporter of ‘forest risk commodities’, including soya, to the EU. The production of these commodities has often come at huge human and environmental costs for local and indigenous communities.

Follow all activities via #TekohaisLife & #TekohaéVida

For further information about the European tour, please contact     castaneda-flores[at]fian.org and     bley-folly[at]fian.org 

For media enquiries, please contact     delrey[at]fian.org 

* The Aty Guasu is the Great Assembly of the Guarani and Kaiowá, represented by leaders across communities.

ABOUT #TekohaisLife

 ‘Tekohá is Life’ is launched as an initiative to shed light on the struggles of the Guarani and Kaiowá to regain access to and control over their ancestral lands. In a world increasingly alienated and disconnected from nature, it is key to boost the understanding of non-dominant and sustainable approaches to mother earth. Learn more about #TekohaisLife     here.