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How Brazilian politicians and loggers killed Indigenous Chief Eusébio Ka’apor

How Brazilian politicians and loggers killed Indigenous Chief Eusébio Ka’apor

Source :
Brazil - The assaults and threats initiated more than two months ago by loggers and tradesmen from the region of Centro do Guilherme related to illegal timber trafficking on indigenous Turiaçu territory and aimed at Ka’apor Indians, culminated on the 26th of April with the murder of Eusébio Ka'apor.

Eusébio was one of the indigenous land defenders. He was also a fierce opponent of local loggers and politicians who make a living on the daily extraction of fine wood from indigenous territory.

Eusébio used to reside in the village of Ximborendà, under the jurisdiction of the city of Santa Luzia du Parua. He was shot in the back twice in a small town close to Centro do Guilherme.

The Indian leader, together with a friend, was riding a motorbike back from a small village that had just been erected at the heart of Alto Turiaçu, an indigenous territory. As they were passing an assortment of dwellings, several armed individuals emerged, as if they had been waiting for them. The tribesmen continued their way when, suddenly, several shots were fired in their direction, hitting Eusébio twice in the back.

Carried away by his companion into a nearby village, he was rescued by some people who tried to take him by car to Santa Inès hospital. Unfortunately, he did not make it and passed away as he arrived in the town of Nova Olinda.
Many of those who have witnessed the tense and violent atmosphere pervading in the area of Centro do Guilherme were expecting such a tragedy. They knew that the Ka’apors, for the last few years, had decided to take a hard line towards the illegal trade occurring within their territory and resulting in so much damage. They had recently organised several eviction raids against the loggers, setting fire to their trucks after catching some of them in the act. Retaliation, however, swiftly ensued.

Since January, the Ka’apors have lived under house arrest, unable to leave their villages due to constant assaults and threats. During the last few months, four motorbikes were snatched from the natives and at least ten locals were beaten up and humiliated in retaliation to the Indians’ actions, in order to deter them from engaging in any further ejection measures. Natives explain that they did not even try to file a complaint for these actions as loggers benefit from the protection of the military police in the region, not to mention the previous direct support and participation of regional mayors and councillors, some of whom were even incarcerated a few days after the federal police intervened just over a year ago.

The Human Rights Secretary, the Federal Public Prosecutor and the OAB/MA witnessed the situation without, so far, being able to lay down a strategy to maintain a permanent institutional presence on the territory with an aim to disarm and pacify loggers previously resisted by the Indians for their unsustainable and illegal exploitation of rainforest timber.

We are presently expecting the federal police and other institutions to make an inquiry and prosecute criminals. We also expect to see an institutional presence from now on in Centro do Guilherme given that the law of the jungle has prevailed for a long time, although the State has yet to enforce it.

NB: Claudio Bombieri, the author of this article, is a Comboni Missionary.

© - translated by Mahault Duboullay / original article

Date : 14/05/2015

Author : Diana ARGENTA