Brazilian Indian Avelino Nunes Macedo, 35, from the Xakriabá tribe was brutally beaten by three boys in the wee hours of Sunday (September 16) in the VirgÀnio community, located in the municipality of Miravânia, Minas Gerais state, which borders on the Xakriabá area.
Costa was sleeping on a square bench after attending a party, and could not defend himself when the male youngsters – a 18-year-old and two minors (12 and 13) – began to kick him in the head.
According to the team of the Brazilian Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi) office, which follows up on activities in the region, this violent action cannot be considered as an isolated fact. It took place within the context of the fight of the Xakriabá people for reoccupying their territory.
Avelino was directly engaged in the struggle for the land. He was a member of the group that reoccupied an area in the region of Dizimeiro, located in the Peruaçu valley, in April 2007. This murder shows how the Xakriabá people are neglected and discriminated against. In the 1980s, three of their members were killed because of land conflicts.
Since they began to reoccupy their territories, the Xakriabá people are being threatened. Several police reports were filed in the police stations of São João das Missões, Manga and Itacarambi. All these police reports were also communicated to the Federal Prosecutor's Office and to FUNAI, but no action was taken.
The leaders feel threatened by the lack of protection from the State. Santo Xakriabá, from the Morro Vermelho village, agrees and stresses, "If this neglect on the part of Funai (National Indian Foundation), which abandoned us, continues, more people can die."
After Avelino's murder, three assaulters were arrested in the city of Manga (state of Minas Gerais). Edson Gonçalves is 18 years old. The assaulters told the police that they did not mean to kill Avelino. They just wanted to scare him. "We only wanted to beat him, take off his clothes and then leave," they said.
The team of the East Cimi office is following up on this case together with the indigenous community and the legal authorities. "We intend to follow up on each step taken by the courts, so that society and its institutions may know that people cannot do something like this and get away with it," stressed Wilson Mário Santana, the coordinator of the East Cimi office.