Brazil: Awá tribe’s desperate call to evict loggers

An Amazonian indigenous group said to be the Earth’s most threatened tribe has sent an urgent appeal to Brazil’s government to evict invaders from their forest homeland. Despite a federal judge’s ruling that ordered Brazilian authorities to remove all invaders on Awá land by the end of March, not a single person has yet been evicted. The Awá are becoming increasingly desperate as illegal loggers close in on them and settlers encroach on their territory. In a rare video appeal to Brazil’s Minister of Justice, an Awá man said: “I am angry, very angry… The loggers come here and chop down the trees…  The Minister of Justice in Brasília can help us here, now. He must help us now!”

Brazilian football fans have loaned their support for the tribe. At a March 3 soccer match with Russia in London, Brazilian fans demonstrated their support for the Awá by brandishing icons reading “Brazil: Save the Awá.” In a campaign led by UK-based Survival International, nearly 50,000 letters have been sent to the Brazilian government urging it to evict the invaders. Survival’s director Stephen Corry said: “It is a scandal that the Awá have been driven to such desperation. As they hear the chainsaws day and night in their forest, it seems to them that the judge’s ruling and the government’s promises have been forgotten. The Awá need action, now.” (Survival International, March 26)

In a similar case also in Maranhão state, the Pukobjê-Gavião in the indigenous reserve of Governador seized four trucks and a tractor as well as a large quantity of illegally felled timber to protest the enroachment of loggers on their territory. (Noticias Aliadas, March 7)