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A death foretold in Brazil – UN expert condemns indigenous peoples killings and urges an end to violence

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GENEVA (22 June 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, today strongly condemned recent attacks on the Guarani Kaiowá indigenous community in Brazil. The expert urged the federal and state authorities to take urgent action to prevent further killings and to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable.

On June 14, public health worker Clodiodi Aquileu Rodrigues de Souza was shot dead and another six indigenous persons were wounded by gunfire, including a twelve year old child. The attack took place in the municipality of Caarapó, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, on ancestral land which has recently been claimed by the Guarani Kaiowá.

Paramilitaries acting on instructions of wealthy land owners (fazendeiros) allegedly carried out the attack as a reprisal against the indigenous community for seeking recognition of their land rights.

“This was a death foretold,” stressed Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, who visited Guarani Kaiowá indigenous communities in Mato Grosso do Sul in March 2016*, and raised alert about the high incidence of killings. “This state ranks the most deadly in Brazil, with the highest and rising number of indigenous peoples killed.”

“I deplore that despite my prior alerts, state and federal authorities have failed to take prompt measures to prevent violence against indigenous peoples,” she stated. “This failure is aggravated by the recurring high incidence of violence and the fears expressed by the community of being victims of further attacks.”

“I call on demarcation procedures to be expedited as a matter of priority in order to clarify indigenous land ownership and prevent further escalation of violence,” she said. “The pursuit of economic interests in a way that further subordinates the rights of indigenous peoples creates a potential risk of ethnocidal effects that cannot be overlooked nor underestimated.”

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on her official visit to Brazil (7-17 March 2016) to the Brazilian Government and the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

(*) Read the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations at the end of her visit to Brazil (7-17 March 2016): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=18498&LangID=E

ENDS

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 / hyoo@ohchr.org), Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / cevans@ohchr.org) or write to indigenous@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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