Supreme Court unanimously orders immediate protection for Munduruku and Yanomami peoples

The judgment of ADPF Case 709 lasted seven days and accepted the petition made by APIB, given the escalation of violence in indigenous territories

Fotos: Eric Terena/Mídia Índia Fotos: Eric Terena/Mídia Índia

The Supreme Court has unanimously ordered the protection of the Munduruku and Yanomami indigenous peoples to prevent further massacres. The court gave its ruling in the petition filed by APIB (Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) for the urgent removal of intruders, especially from the Munduruku and Yanomami Indigenous Lands in the states of Pará and Roraima, respectively, and for guaranteeing the physical integrity of the threatened people in these locations. The judgment lasted seven days and, on the evening of June 18, the court made its decision in what was a victory for the affected peoples.

Intrusions into indigenous territories increased during the Covid-19 pandemic and have compounded the violence against communities and leaders, causing outbreaks of diseases besides the novel coronavirus, such as malaria, and worsening the environmental degradation. APIB’s petition to the Supreme Court for the protection of the territories was made in the form of ADPF (Action of Violation of a Fundamental Precept) Case No. 709.

The rapporteur of the case, Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, partially accepted APIB’s petition and on May 24 issued a preliminary injunction requiring the federal government to immediately adopt “all the necessary measures to protect the life, health and safety of the indigenous populations that inhabit the Yanomami and Munduruku Indigenous Lands from violent attacks and the presence of intruders, and to deploy all the necessary personnel for this purpose, who shall remain in place while the risk persists.”

The Supreme Court justices started to vote on the case on June 11. The judgment took place virtually, without live broadcasts, and unanimously confirmed Justice Barroso’s decision.

On the Yanomami Indigenous Land, threats and attacks with firearms have become routine. On June 17 and 18, the Hutukara Association denounced new attacks by groups of hooded illegal miners who attacked indigenous people in the communities of Korekorema and Tipolei, in the state of Roraima. See the complaints here and also at this link

On June 26, two days after the preliminary injunction issued by Justice Barroso, the home of the coordinator of the Wakoborũn Women’s Association, Maria Leusa Kabá, was burned by illegal miners in retaliation for the efforts to protect the Munduruku Indigenous Land, in the municipality of Jacareacanga, state of Pará. In the weeks that followed, during the judgment in the Supreme Court, leaders of the Munduruku people reported fresh attacks. On June 9, a bus taking indigenous leaders and tribal chiefs to Brasília was attacked by illegal miners and they were only able to continue their journey days later with the support of a police escort. On June 14, the village of Maria Leusa was attacked again in yet another act of intimidation, in which animals raised at the site were killed.

“I express with dismay the fact that the Brazilian Armed Forces do not have the resources to support an operation ordered by the Judicial Branch to prevent the massacre of indigenous populations,” said Justice Barroso on June 1, when he asked the Ministry of Defense to take urgent measures and requested information from the Federal Police and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

“What is happening in the region is, in fact, due to an operation without investigative intelligence that was inefficient from the outset and that was halted prematurely, at the height of the conflict. The criminal organizations and paramilitary groups operating in the region have not been restrained, making the indigenous leaders more vulnerable. If there are conflicts, they are occurring on account of the non-compliance with the measures necessary to protect the lives of the Mundurukú,” said Luiz Eloy Terena, the legal coordinator at APIB.

Watch the Oral Statement given by Júlia Neiva, coordinator of the Defense of Socioenvironmental Rights program at Conectas, in the ADPF 709 case:

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