Today, August 4, a military police officer charged with murdering Raimundo Silvino, an indigenous person from the Shanenawá people, in July 1996, will be judged in the city of Feijó, in the state of Acre, Brazil.
Silvino was killed by the police officer, who shot him in the head at close range after saying that he was beating an eight-year-old boy and refusing to hear Silvino’s explanations and those of two other indigenous people who witnessed the incident.
Silvino died in the spot and the two other indigenous people were injured.
The boy, who was nine years old then, was the son of a missionary and, for this reason, knew the indigenous people and used to keep company with them.
Although they were not on duty, the military police officers were armed and had consumed alcohol. The incident took place on a Sunday afternoon on the banks of the Envira River, about 150 meters from the village of the Shanenawá people.
When the murder took place, the Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi) commented that the situation revealed how indigenous people are discriminated against.
“The coldness of the crime shows that, in Brazil, indigenous people continue to be victims of a sort of prejudice that marginalizes and kills them,” said the entity in its weekly newsletter.
This kind of prejudice still prevails in the region and, for this reason, Cimi is once again expressing how concerned it is with the possibility that the police officers may be acquitted in the jury trial tomorrow.
The Feijó region is known for systematic acts of violence against indigenous people. Their villages are located close to the city and the indigenous people have contacts with the urban world on a daily basis.
The indigenous people and their lawyers requested that the police officers be judged by a federal court. The Higher Court of Justice issued no reply to their request for years and, in April 2004, it decided that the trial should be carried out in a common court in Feijó.
Two military police officers – Rossini José de Moura and José Nivaldo Araújo – were charged with murder and double murder attempt. None of them were kept in prison not even for one day. Rossini José de Moura will stand jury trial and has been kept in a military police fort carrying out services in it internally in the city of Feijó while waiting for his trial.
The crime had domestic and international repercussions. In 1996, human rights-supporting organizations such as FASE, Survival International and the NGO Health Without Limits, besides the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Representatives, repudiated the crime and demanded that the guilty ones be punished.
About the People
The Shanenawá people are made up of about 300 members. They live on the banks of the Envira River in the municipality of Feijó, state of Acre, in the Katukina/Kaxinawá indigenous land, where the Kaxinawá people also live.
The land was not named after the Shanenawá because the surrounding society initially “identified” the group as belonging to the Katukina people. In their language, Shanenawá means “blue bird people.”
They used to live in the region of the Tarauacá municipality in the state of Acre. As more people settled in their area and rubber extraction activities grew, the Shanenawá migrated and have been living in a territory located in Feijó for decades.
Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br