Editor’s note: the following statement was presented by Almir Surui Narayamoga of the Surui tribe to the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 21, 2011. Translation by Rhett Butler.
Amazonian indigenous peoples and their traditional territories are living under constant threat.
Illegal deforestation — carried out by loggers, ranchers, miners and intruders on indigenous territories — destroys the forest trees, kills birds by destroying their nests, kills animals that live off the fruits that grow there, and threatens indigenous peoples that live in forests and depend on them.
My people, the Surui Paiter, are living proof of what I say. We have long suffered the wrongful acts of loggers that steal our forests and threaten to kill our leaders.
These invaders on indigenous territories expelled our people from their land and put our lives in danger.
Every Indian leader who faces this model — beneficial only to those who destroy nature — receives death threats, attacks, slurs and suffers all kinds of threats.
Image courtesy of Vasco van Roosmalen of the Amazon Conservation Team, which works with Chief Almir.
The territories and indigenous peoples of Brazil are threatened by large-scale development projects carried out under the PAC (Growth Acceleration Program, an initiative of the Brazilian government). Large hydropower plants like San Antonio and Jirau on the Madeira River in Rondônia state, and Belo Monte on the Xingu River in the state of Pará, are threatening the lives of indigenous peoples living in isolation on a voluntary basis.
The paving of BR-319, even before starting, had already begun to attract to the region a large number of people who destroy the forest and have a marked impact on indigenous territories. Conflicts between indigenous and those invading their territories has resulted in deaths of indigenous and non-indigenous individuals.
Urgent steps must be taken to provide security and peace in Brazil.
We can not remain silent to such destruction. We need the UN observe what is happening and help protect the lives of indigenous peoples in Brazil.
I come here to seek their help to protect the Amazon and indigenous peoples, especially those who live isolated on a voluntary basis.