Indigenous Journey organized by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB in Europe, in 2019, is honored with the International Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award 2020.

The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB (Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil—APIB) received the International Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, from the Institute of Political Studies in Washington, DC for its work in defense of the rights of the indigenous peoples of Brazil. The organization of the first delegation of indigenous leaders to Europe for the Journey Indigenous Blood: Not A Single Drop More in 2019 was the hallmark for the entity’s recognition.

The Letelier-Moffitt International Human Rights Award was created in 1978 to honor outstanding performances in the field of human rights in memory of two former members of the Institute for Political Studies, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, killed by the Chilean dictatorship in 1976. Each year, a committee composed of prestigious leaders from the human rights community elects the laureates. Lisa Haugaard, from the Latin America Working Group, appointed APIB for its outstanding work in defense of the rights of Brazil’s indigenous peoples.

The award-winning Canadian journalist and writer Naomi Klein, icon of global activism, will hand the award to APIB, which will be represented by its executive coordinator, Sônia Guajajara. The event will be held remotely due to the pandemic on October 15. APIB will broadcast the ceremony on its online channels.

“APIB, the Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation, unites the struggle of the indigenous peoples, which are the roots of this country. With the strength of our ancestors, APIB has been fighting for over 15 years for indigenous rights across all regions of Brazil. In our struggle to protect our forests, we work for an inclusive culture and for indigenous public health. We have resisted for more than 500 years and will keep on working tirelessly towards justice. We are honored for the recognition, by the Institute of Political Studies, of our work in defense of Brazil and the indigenous peoples against environmental and cultural destruction. Our struggle includes every individual living on this planet during this time of climate crisis,” says Sonia Guajajara.

After 31 years, APIB receives the same recognition given to the Union of Indigenous Nations (União das Nações Indígenas—UNI) in 1989 for its vital contribution to the chapter on indigenous rights in the 1988 Constitution. Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns was the first Brazilian to be honored with the award in 1982.

The group of indigenous leaders representing APIB—composed of Alberto Terena, Angela Kaxuyana, Célia Xakriabá, Dinaman Tuxá, Elizeu Guarani Kaiowá, Sonia Guajajara and Kretã Kaingang—visited 12 European countries over 35 days, in October and November 2019, to denounce the serious violations perpetrated by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro against indigenous peoples. After almost a year, attacks on our rights and our territories have mounted.

Invasions into indigenous lands, illegal exploitation of natural resources and other damage more than doubled in the first year of Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, rising from 109 cases in 2018 to 256 last year—a 135% increase. This was pointed out by the 216-page annual report Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, published yesterday by the Indigenist Missionary Council (Conselho Indigenista Missionário—CIMI). There was also an increase in cases in 16 of the 19 categories of violence against indigenous people compiled by the publication, including “deaths due to lack of assistance,” which rose from 11 in 2018 to 31 in 2019; death threats, which grew from 8 to 33; intentional bodily injuries, which rose from 5 to 13; and deaths of children aged zero to five, which rose from 591 in 2018 to 825 last year.

In addition to the hostility that indigenous peoples have dealt with from all types of criminals in their territories, now the Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation has received direct attacks from the Brazilian government. On September 22, APIB filed with the Supreme Federal Court (STF) a notification for the Brazilian government to explain, in court, the lies it has been spreading, and reported the aggressions against indigenous peoples to the United Nations.

“We will continue to make the sound of our maracás be heard everywhere, with the help of our Brazilian and international allies. We will keep on fighting in our territories and communities, in the Brazilian Congress, in the Supreme Federal Court, in international courts, and on networks, for our right to exist,” said Sônia Guajajara.

Currently, APIB, together with grassroots organizations, has coordinated efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic among indigenous peoples. One of the work fronts is the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory, which surveys and disseminates the numbers of indigenous people contaminated and killed by the novel coronavirus, as well as impacted peoples. This monitoring is in stark contrast to the official narrative promoted by federal government agencies, whose data indicate underreporting. The Committee has already counted 829 indigenous people killed by Covid-19 and 34,402 infected in 158 indigenous peoples.

Fact Sheet – Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award
Date: Thursday, October 15
Where: streamed by APIB’s networks @ApibOficial

Press contact
Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB: comunicacao@apiboficial.org
Institute for Policy Studies – Letelier-Moffitt Award: olivia@ips-dc.org