|Damiana, religious leader of Apyka'y, by one of the burned out shacks |
In the early hours of 18 September, the Guarani Kaiowá community of Apyka´y in Brazil was attacked by ten gunmen, who fired shots in to their camp, wounding one Indian.
The gunmen also beat up and injured other Indians with knives and then set fire to the Indians’ shelters, which were destroyed along with their possessions.
The gunmen threatened the Indians and said if they did not abandon their camp on the roadside they would die. The community has no material with which to rebuild their camp and is living in fear of more attacks.
Survival has received reports that the local rancher’s security guards have denied the Indians access to water on the ranch. It is believed the rancher set the gunmen on the community to stop them collecting water.
The Guarani-Kaiowá of Apyka’y have lived intermittently on the road side for six years and have tried several times to return to their tekoha or ancestral land, which they were forced to leave a decade ago when it was occupied by ranchers.
After the Indians’ latest attempt to reoccupy their land, the rancher got an eviction order from the courts, and the community was evicted in April 2009.
In June 2009 the community of Apyka’y wrote a desperate letter to FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian affairs department, urging it to comply with an agreement to demarcate all Guarani lands, ‘Will you demarcate land for the Indian?… We need to know what is happening about our land. Have we lost our land or not? … Will you resolve the land issue or not? It really has to be resolved for the sake of our community.’
This latest attack comes four days after another Guarani-Kaiowá community camped along a highway was burned down by a rancher’s security guards.