Brazil: Supreme Court Upholds Indigenous Land Rights
The Supreme Court in Brazil has upheld the land rights of the Indigenous people, who have been fighting off business interests destroying their rainforests and ancestral property. Emotions ran high at the ruling, there were tears of joys and happy cries, and some Indigenous leaders even danced in celebration.
Justice Luiz Fuz said areas occupied by Indigenous people and areas that are linked to the ancestry and tradition of Indigenous peoples have constitutional protection, even if they are not demarcated.
Trial of the Century for Brazil Indigenous People
Some Indigenous activists dubbed this case as the “trial of the century”. Joenia Wapichana, the head of Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs agency FUNAI, said justice is on the side of the Indigenous peoples.
“Today is the day to celebrate the death of the time-frame argument. Sonia Guajajara, Brazil’s minister for Indigenous Peoples, said this was a great achievement, fruit of years of struggle and protest.
Survival International, an Indigenous Rights group, commended the ruling and described it as a defeat for those who had tried to legalize the theft of huge areas of Indigenous lands. “Dozens of uncontacted tribes could have been wiped out had such efforts prospered. This is a momentous, historic victory for Brazil’s Indigenous peoples and a massive defeat for the agribusiness lobby.”
Indigenous People Are Entitled to their Lands
Francisco Cali Tzay, the UN special investigator on the rights of Indigenous peoples, had said in a 2021 statement that under the constitution, Indigenous peoples are entitled to the permanent possession of the lands they traditionally occupy. He highlighted that a ruling in favor of business interests could legitimize violence against Indigenous peoples and intensifies conflicts in the Amazon forest and other areas.
Despite the top court upholding the Indigenous peoples’ land rights, Dinamam Tuxa – the executive coordinator of Apib – believes the war is not yet over. “We will continue to fight for Indigenous territories to be demarcated, so that the rights of Indigenous peoples are safeguarded and protected.”