Brazil indigenous group accuses Bolsonaro of ‘genocide’ and ‘ecocide’

An activist said the Brazil president “needs to pay for all the violence and destruction”

Samuel Webb
Wednesday 11 August 2021 12:44 BST
Mudslide in Brazil

An indigenous organisation in Brazil has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro for “genocide” and “ecocide”.

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) accuse the 66-year-old of persecuting native peoples and destroying their homelands.

The group filed a case alleging that the far-right president has led “an explicit, systematic and intentional anti-Indigenous policy” since taking office in 2019.

“We believe there are acts in progress in Brazil that constitute crimes against humanity, genocide and ecocide,” Eloy Terena, the group’s legal coordinator, said in a statement.

“Given the inability of the justice system in Brazil to investigate, prosecute and judge these [crimes], we denounce them to the international community,” Terena added.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor must now decide whether to pursue the cases.

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has reached near-record levels
Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has reached near-record levels (Getty Images)

Bolsonaro, 66, has presided over a surge of destruction in the Amazon rainforest, slashed environmental protection programmes, and pushed to open indigenous reservations and other protected lands to agribusiness and mining.

Indigenous rights activists further accuse him of exacerbating the devastation that COVID-19 has wrought on their communities with his stance against stay-at-home policies.

The estimated 900,000 Indigenous people in Brazil are particularly vulnerable to outside diseases, including COVID-19, which has killed at least 1,166 of them, according to the APIB.

APIB executive coordinator Sonia Guajajara added: “We have been fighting every day for hundreds of years to ensure our existence and today our fight for rights is global.

“The solutions for this sick world come from indigenous peoples and we will never remain silent in the face of the violence we are suffering. We sent this communiqué to the International Criminal Court because we cannot fail to denounce Bolsonaro’s anti-indigenous policy.

“He needs to pay for all the violence and destruction he is committing.”

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon reached near-record levels for the 12 months through July, according to recently released figures.

A total of 8,712 square kilometres (3,364 square miles) of forest cover – an area nearly the size of Puerto Rico – was destroyed from August 2020 to July 2021, according to satellite data from Brazilian space agency INPE’s DETER monitoring programme.

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