Amidst Violent Invasions of Indigenous Communities in Brazil, Haaland, Johnson Call on State Department to Take Action to Prevent Human Rights Violations

May 3, 2019
Press Release
54 Members of Congress sign onto letter to protect indigenous, Afro-Brazilian communities from human rights atrocities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amidst violent invasions of indigenous communities in Brazil, U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Hank Johnson (GA-04) sent a letter signed by 54 members of Congress calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take action to prevent further human rights violations of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been called the “Trump of the Tropics” has already begun taking steps to strip rights and authorities from indigenous peoples and the institutions that serve them. Brazil's indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities are protesting these actions facing great personal harm. As of yesterday, numerous organizations and businesses have backed out of participating in or sponsoring the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce’s Person of the Year Awards Gala Dinner honoring Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, at which Pompeo will also be receiving an award, following critics’ concerns with Bolsonaro’s racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments and policies.

In the letter, the Congressmembers wrote, “Human rights protection for indigenous peoples, Afro-Brazilians, and all other sectors of civil society must be at the forefront of the United States’ relationship with Brazil.”

Brazil is the deadliest country for activists and defenders of the land and environment. According to the NGO Global Witness, in 2017 alone there were 57 murders of indigenous leaders, community activists and environmentalists. Indigenous leaders and community members are similarly facing increased threats, attacks, and killings from miners, loggers, and land invaders.   

The Members continued, “Diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Brazil, including the U.S. ambassador and human rights officer, should voice support for threatened activists, including environmentalists, indigenous representatives, and Afro-Brazilians, and should express concerns about human rights defenders’ protections to the relevant agencies of the Brazilian government.”

The full letter is available here.

 
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