Tupinambá Indians imprisoned after return to ancestral land

Tupinambá man shot by police in a previous attack in 2008
Tupinambá man shot by police in a previous attack in 2008
© CIMI/Survival

Babau, a Tupinambá Indian leader in Bahia state, Brazil, and his brother, sister and nephew, have been imprisoned after a group of Tupinambá returned to live on their ancestral land.

Police violently beat Babau at his home, in the early hours of March 10th, before they arrested and imprisoned him. His brother, Givaldo Ferreira da Silva, was imprisoned ten days later.

Babau’s sister Glicéria Tupinambá and her two month old baby were imprisoned on June 3rd, after she met with Brazil’s President Lula and told him about the violence suffered by the Tupinambá.

Brazilian human rights organizations have denounced this to the UN, saying that it is a case of ‘unfair imprisonment’ resulting from the opposition of ranchers in the area to the protection of the Tupinambá’s land.

Babau has been at the forefront of his tribe’s fight for their rights, in particular their right to live on their ancestral land.

The imprisonment of the Indians comes just after several Tupinambá reoccupied their ancestral lands, which had been stolen from them by non-indigenous ranchers and land-owners.

The Vice-President of Bahia state’s Human Rights Commission, Yulo Oiticica, said, after the Commission visited Babau’s community, ‘The weapons found prove that it is the gunmen who should be imprisoned, not chief Babau’.

This is not the first attack suffered by the Tupinambá. In 2008, the Police invaded a Tupinambá village and shot at the Indians with rubber bullets.

The Brazilian authorities’ failure to allow the Tupinambá to live undisturbed on their ancestral land is a violation of Brazilian and international law.

Survival International is campaigning for the Brazilian government to map out and protect the lands of indigenous peoples as a matter of urgency.