With no access to their legitimate territory, the members of the Guarani and Kaiowá Apyka`i community will be prevented from exercising their fundamental rights as indigenous peoples, including feeding themselves adequately.
Despite intensive and coordinated international action, the sentence by the 1st Federal Court of Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul has followed its course. Mid-May, the Court issued the provisional enforcement to evict the Guarani and Kaiowá Apyka`i community from a piece of land they recovered (known as “retomada”) in 2014, as part their legitimate territory. On June 9, the order was officially communicated to the leader of the community, Damiana, and a representative of FUNAI (the Brazilian governmental protection agency for indigenous issues). The community could be forcibly evicted at any time this week.
As echoed in a recent statement by national civil society groups and social movements, the struggle of Guarani and Kaiowá indigenous peoples to exercise their legitimate right to land has been long-lasting and widespread in Mato Grosso do Sul. In particular, the Apyka´i community has been repeatedly evicted from their territory in 1990 and again in 1999, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2014, leaving them with but a tiny piece of land. The current territory, which is far from enough to produce food, lies between a sugar-cane field and streams of water contaminated with agrochemicals on one side and a highway on the other. Regular attempts at repossession, death threats, attacks, lack of access to health and education and an unfulfilled right to food and nutrition have been part of daily life for this community.
FIAN International condemns the eviction and recalls that the order infringes upon article 231 of Brazil`s Constitution, in its main objective and paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, which recognize and determine the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and prohibit their eviction. Also, it implies a breach vis-a-vis the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, International Labor Organization Convention 169 and more generally the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In view of past records and understanding that a forced eviction might take place imminently, FIAN International also calls on the European Union and its Member States to send observers to monitor that national authorities respect UN principles on displacement when executing the eviction. In addition, the EU and its Member States should follow up on the case, in line with the EU guidelines on human rights defenders.
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Guarani and Kaiowá Apyka`i community risks imminent eviction (19 May 2016)
Photo: Damiana, leader of the Guarani and Kaiowá Apyka`i community. Photo: Alex M. del Rey / FIAN International.