Fifteen Tupinikim and Guarani indigenous people and seven non-indigenous people were arrested on August 9 in the city of Aracruz, state of EspÀrito Santo.
According to the information available so far, they were arrested because the indigenous people were removing eucalyptus from an area under dispute with the Aracruz Celulose corporation.
However, the individuals who were arrested and some military police officers said to the representative of the National Human Rights Movement that they were not in the area under dispute and that they had been attracted to it by military police officers.
Because of a dispute for the possession of a 11,000-hectare area between the Tupinikim and Guarani indigenous peoples and the Aracruz Celulose transnational company, an agreement was reached that none of the parties would be allowed to exploit the area until the regular administrative procedure for demarcating it is completed.
Lawyer Isaias Santana of the Human Rights Council of the State of Espírito Santo visited the location where the group is in prison and was informed – by indigenous people and police officers involved in the arrest – that the group was set up to be arrested in flagrante delicto.
"The indigenous people said that on the day they were arrested they were in an area they could be in and police officers induced them then go to the area under dispute telling them that a military police captain was waiting for them there for a meeting.
When they arrived there, there were staff of Visel carrying cameras to take pictures of them committing the supposedly illegal act. Visel employees actually helped to arrest them. They reported that private security guards were carrying weapons," said Santana in an interview to Cimi, the Indigenist Missionary Council.
Visel – Vigilância e Segurança Ltda. – is a private security company hired by Aracruz.
The lawyer also mentioned irregularities in the arrest: the individuals who were arrested were taken to a fort of the Military Police in Aracruz and not to the local police station (judiciary police), where they should have been taken.
The indigenous people also reported that when arrived to the fort, a team of reporters and cameramen of the Norte TV station was waiting for them there, raising suspicions on the true purpose of the police action.