Recommended Resources – The Stringer – Independent News, Investigative Journalism
“Kill us all and bury us here,” the Guarani people of the Amazon
“Kill us all, then bury us here” is the breaking point desperation of the Amazon’s Aboriginal peoples who are being pilloried out of their country – lands, rivers and forests, from their whole way of life – by multinational giants rapaciously profiting from the mining of their lands. Not only is the Amazon’s forest rapidly diminishing but so are the numbers of its Aboriginal peoples.
The Government is seeking to remove them to impoverished reserves and missions.
Aboriginal leaders and rights advocates Australia-wide have sent messages of solidarity – Goolarabooloo Law Boss, Phillip Roe in his own battle with multinationals to save Walmandan (James Price Point) said of the Amazon tragedy that it is “racism and the rape of a people who have done no one any harm.”
“For thousands of years, just like us, they have lived peacefully and managed Country beautifully.”
The Guarani peoples are tormented and there has been no legitimate effort at mediation. Much of the Amazon has been destroyed by mega-damming of its rivers and extensive mining of its lands – and by pastoralists who are extending their reach at the expense of the Aboriginal peoples. Many of the Amazon’s peoples are forcibly removed to missions near big cities which in turn become ‘favellas’ (slums).
Some of the Guarani Indians of the Amazon who were at first corralled on their lands to deprive them of food and who have endured violence and witnessed the death of many of their peoples have made a dramatic appeal to the Brazilian Government following the ‘eviction order’ thumped on them – they are pleading for the Government to kill them and bury them on their Country.
One of Western Australia’s Aboriginal leaders, Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Michael Woodley who himself leads a campaign on Yindjibarndi Country against mining giant Fortescue Metals to protect sacred sites, cultural integrity and to secure a rightful deal from the mining giant for his peoples said what is happening to the Guarani is “Indigenous bashing by multinationals” and he is pained by their plight.
“This is just another example of dispossession and abuse by exploiting and destroying our rights as Indigenous people of the globe – all actions of this nature are always tied to profits and greed,” said Mr Woodley.
“This is an international disgrace and it should be stopped, but the question remains by whom.”
The Guarani peoples are nearly 50,000 strong however nearly 200 of them have returned to stronghold their Country known as Pyelito Kue-M’barakai which is now being subsumed by pastoralists and developers. The pastoralists have surrounded them with gunmen.
In a letter to the Brazilian Government the Aboriginal conscientious objectors have written, “This ruling (the eviction) is part of the historic extermination of the Indigenous peoples of Brazil. We have lost hope of surviving with dignity, and without violence, on our ancestral land. We will all die soon. We want to die and be buried with our ancestors right here, so we ask the Government and the justice system not to order our eviction, but to order our collective death and our burial here. We ask, once and for all, for our slaughter to be ordered, and for tractors to dig a big hole for our bodies. We have decided, all together, not to leave here, dead or alive.”
Two of the Guarani who have reclaimed Country have been killed by the gunmen and two have committed suicide. The Brazilian Government’s Indigenous Affairs Department is lobbying to have the eviction order overturned.
The mental meltdown of the Guarani peoples is as a result of them being forcibly removed from their Country. The impacts upon them from them being forcibly removed has led them to becoming victim to the one of the world’s highest suicide rates.
Western Australian Aboriginal Elder Hume Davies said, “This phenomena exists the world over for Indigenous peoples and here in Western Australia our people also suffer from some of the world’s highest suicide rates. You disenfranchise and disconnect people from Country you destroy identity. We see today in the Amazon what our peoples went through at the hands of colonialists for a century and a half in Australia.”
Another WA Aboriginal rights advocate Rex Bellotti said that Aboriginal peoples worldwide have to stand together, and without this there is little hope for any justice. “I have been following this criminal tragedy in Brazil and we know the almost impossible battle they face and sadly we know the future intergenerational trauma and poverty they face from disenfranchisement, they only have to see what has happened to us in Western Australia, in Australia. The Guarani face incarceration rates, suicide rates, racism and poverty that many of us Nyoongars face in the backwater redneck racism that is WA, and the same still goes nationwide for our peoples.”
Guarani anthropologist Tonico Benites said that suicide among the Guarani “is happening and increasing.”
Aboriginal groups Australia wide are sending their support to Survival International which is calling upon the Brazilian Government to return the Guarani to their ancestral lands. Many Aboriginal groups from Australia have petitioned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, James Anaya, who recently visited Australia, to intervene on behalf of the Guarani.
Sydney based Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) president Ray Jackson said that the ISJA are supporting the Guarani people and their right to live and determine their way of life on their Country. “We stand alongside them, it is the same tragedy the world over, time and time again, with multinationals and Governments smashing the lives of Traditional Owners, destroying their lives for nothing more than ugly greed.”
“My heart goes out to their plea to die on Country and in light of the tragic circumstances I completely understand it,” said Mr Jackson.