Guarani demand justice in 'Great Assembly'

"Guarani children"
"Guarani children"
© João Ripper/Survival

Two hundred and fifty Guarani-Kaiowá Indians and their supporters participated in an 'Aty Guasu' or 'Great Assembly' last weekend, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Land demarcation and violence were the main themes of the meeting. On the last day of the assembly, the Guarani delivered their demands to FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian Affairs Department, and the Federal Public Ministry.

The assembly marked 25 years since the assassination of indigenous leader Marçal Tupã-i, killed on his doorstep in November 1983. It also celebrated 10 years since the Guarani re-occupied one of their traditional territories, Ñanderu Marangatu, where the assembly was held.

The assembly demanded that the authorities speed up the recognition of indigenous lands, and bring the murderers of the many indigenous leaders killed in the last 25 years to justice.

The Guarani territory Ñanderu Marangatu was signed into law in 2005, but most of it is still occupied by ranchers who are contesting its recognition in the courts. The Guarani are forced to live in a tiny part of their original land and are constantly threatened by the farmers’ gunmen.

On 25 October, gunmen shot at a group of Guarani youths and children. Although some managed to run back to the village, many were forced to flee to the forest and were missing for eight hours. Adults who tried to look for the children were also shot at.

Survival International has opened a fund to support the Guarani, in association with the the film ‘Birdwatchers’, which stars Guarani-Kaiowá Indians. All donations will go towards helping them defend their rights, lands and futures.