Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch condemns attacks by groups involved in illegal mining against indigenous Munduruku leaders in Pará state on May 26, 2021. According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF), armed miners operating in the area looted the village of Fazenda Tapajós in Jacareacanga and set fire to several houses. One of them belonged to Maria Leusa Munduruku, a leading opponent of illegal mining and coordinator of the Wakoborũn Munduruku Women’s Association. Local indigenous leaders informed the MPF that a group of miners were preparing to attack other villages. Several leaders have also received threats, a local source told Human Rights Watch.

the attacks against Indigenous leaders perform as miners also seek to obstruct a major deployment of police, federal environmental law enforcement agency Ibama and the National Force to Combat Illegal Mining in Munduruku territories and Sai Cinza. Local authorities have reportedly supported the miners’ efforts to undermine law enforcement. The operation follows a decision by Brazil’s highest court calling on the government to immediately protect the indigenous Yanomami and Munduruku peoples, after a petition presented by the civil society organization Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

It is of great concern that groups involved in illegal mining are being encouraged to resort to violence even with a major deployment of law enforcement in the region. Since taking office in January 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has sabotaged environmental law enforcement, allowing widespread impunity for environmental offenses. His actions and words have effectively given the green light to the criminal groups that lead illegal logging and deforestation in the Amazon. President Bolsonaro should publicly and categorically denounce illegal invasions of indigenous territories and acts of violence and intimidation against forest defenders. He should publicly express his full support for the efforts of police and environmental officials to enforce the law, including ensuring that they have adequate resources to continue operating in the region.

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