Brazil: Bahia’s Elite Preventing Indians from Getting Land

Tupinambá Indians in Bahia, Brazil
The torture case of five Brazilian Tupinambá Indians in the state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, must be investigated by a commissioner of the PolÀ­cia Federal (PF) who is not part of or linked to the Federal Police in Bahia.

This is the recommendation of the Commissão Nacional de Polí­ticas Indí­genas (National Committee on Indigenous Policies) formed by representatives of indigenous organizations and the federal government.

The CNPI discussed the report of the investigation that members of the CNPI drew up in Ilhéus, following the accusation that the five Tupinambá Indians had been tortured by agents of Federal Police during the eviction of a Tupinambá community, June 2, 2008.

The group reviewed information from the PF, from the Federal Court and from the Federal Attorney General (MPF) in Ilhéus regarding the incident, in addition to hearing the depositions of the Tupinambá.

In closing, they recommended that the commissioner Cristiano Sampaio be substituted in the investigation of this case. The Federal Prosecutor for Citizen Rights (PFDC-MPF) also requested this substitution to the Directorate of the PF.

At present, all 11 caciques (chiefs) of the Tupinambá people are summoned to testify at the PF in Ilhéus. "This smells strongly like persecution." stated an indignant Luis Titia, Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe, representative of southern Bahia in the CNPI.

"While this is going on, in the south of Bahia rapes of little Pataxó girls occur by influential people, indigenous people are run over with vehicles, are murdered and the police do not investigate," he added.

Besides the torture case, the CNPI members also discussed the general safety of the Tupinambá. The Commission of Caciques of the Tupinambá people is in Brazilian capital Brasilia to deal with the security of the people, especially during the demarcation process of their land.

The tension in the region increased strongly following the publication of the land identification report on April 17 of 2009 (the first step in de demarcatory process).

According to the caciques, since then, the Tupinambá have been experiencing all types of threats and aggressions from political and economic elites in southern Bahia. They fear that the violence will intensify further on in the process.

The leadership has demanded that the National Foundation of the Indian (Funai) provide better legal assistance for the peoples in the southern region of Bahia.

In October a Federal Sectional Prosecutor will be installed in Ilhéus. With more prosecutors to wrestle with the indigenous question in the region, it is hoped that the state guarantees the adequate legal assistance.

The approximately 3,000 Tupinambás of Olivença live spread throughout the 47,376 hectares identified in the municipalities of Ilhéus, Una and Buerarema.

Cimi

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