Brazil police use teargas and rubber bullets against indigenous protesters

• Three protesters injured and three police hit by arrows

• Congress mulls diluting protection for indigenous territories

Riot police have fired teargas and rubber bullets at indigenous activists protesting outside Brazil’s congress against new legislation that would undermine legal protections for indigenous territories, and open them up to commercial agriculture and mining.

Thick clouds of teargas enveloped the demonstrators, including children and the elderly, as police attempted to clear the camp in Brasília on Tuesday where they have been protesting for the past two weeks.

“We were surprised from behind with gas bombs and rubber bullets. People were hurt in the confrontation,” said indigenous leader Dinamam Tuxá. “It was an abuse of power, with violence from the police.”

Footage of the episode showed protesters running and shouting amid the clouds of gas. Tuxá said that police officers continued to shoot gas and rubber bullets even after one of the protester had collapsed on the ground. Protesters fought back with bows and arrows.

Three protesters were injured, as were three policemen who were hit by arrows, the police said.

Despite the confrontations, hundreds of protesters returned to the streets on Wednesday, and indigenous women handed flowers to police officers.

“We came back with more people and became stronger. This is our fight, of resistance, of singing and spirituality, and we join forces to prevent the voting,” Sônia Guajajara, the head of the Association of Indigenous Peoples (Apib), said.

The bill, known as PL 490/2007, has been under consideration since 2007 when it was proposed by Brazil’s powerful farming lobby, but it has received fresh impetus under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly called for looser regulations in the Brazilian Amazon.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly disparaged Brazil’s indigenous people – comparing them to animals in zoos and “prehistoric men” – and overseen efforts to dismantle Funai, the already underfunded agency supposed to protect Brazil’s more than 300 tribes.

If approved, the legislation would throw up fresh barriers to the official recognition of new indigenous territories, and open up the land for use by non-indigenous peoples to develop extractive activities, including mining commercial agriculture and large-scale infrastructure projects.

“The bill may hurt indigenous peoples to death,” the congresswoman and indigenous leader Joenia Wapichana said.

Contributor

Flávia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Brazil aerial photos show miners’ devastation of indigenous people’s land
Impact of thousands of wildcat goldminers shown as president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of trying to promote their illegal work

Tom Phillips and Flávia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro

27, May, 2021 @12:16 PM

Article image
‘Best a human can be’: indigenous Amazonian Karapiru dies of Covid
Karapiru Awá Guajá, among the last of the hunter-gatherer Awá tribe, survived a massacre and a decade alone in the forest, inspiring others with his resilience and ‘extraordinary warmth’

Saeed Kamali Dehghan

30, Jul, 2021 @6:30 AM

Article image
Shock in Colombia over murder of 14-year-old indigenous activist
Breiner David Cucuñame was shot dead while on patrol with the unarmed group Indigenous Guard

Joe Parkin Daniels

18, Jan, 2022 @8:35 PM

Article image
‘We are facing extermination’: Brazil losing a generation of indigenous leaders to Covid-19
Coronavirus has swept through tribes, killing elders – and inflicting irreparable damage on tribal history, culture and medicine

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

21, Jun, 2020 @3:27 PM

Article image
‘Makes you sick’: fury in Rio as pregnant 24-year-old killed amid police raid
Kathlen Romeu’s death marks latest fatality among Black favela residents as police clash with drug gangs

Flávia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro

10, Jun, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Fears for Chilean indigenous leader’s safety after police shooting
Alberto Curamil, an award-winning environmental activist, was seriously injured during a protest against the burning of a Mapuche home

Liam Miller

30, Jun, 2021 @9:52 AM

Article image
Yanomami beset by violent land-grabs, hunger and disease in Brazil
Indigenous people in the grip of a humanitarian crisis as Bolsonaro gives encouragement to wildcat miners with designs on their rainforest territory

Flávia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro

17, May, 2021 @4:00 AM

Article image
Trudeau says Canadians ‘horrified and ashamed’ of forced assimilation
PM responds to discovery of graves at Indigenous schools but stops short of ordering national investigation

Leyland Cecco in Toronto

25, Jun, 2021 @7:14 PM

Article image
Canada: at least 160 more unmarked graves found in British Columbia
Penelakut Tribe says graves found close to Kuper Island school, which was run by the Catholic church and closed in 1975

Leyland Cecco in Toronto

13, Jul, 2021 @3:02 PM

Article image
First Nation calls for release of school records to identify residential victims
Indigenous community’s report on finding of 215 unmarked graves in May calls for wider search and seeks Canada state and church records

Leyland Cecco in Toronto

15, Jul, 2021 @6:55 PM