Open Letter regarding alarming Rights Law”Ordinance 303 : Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil

Open Letter of the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) APIB

Translated from Portuguese by EARTH PEOPLES

Open Letter from APIB about the suspension of the Ordinance 303 and the government’s proposal to create a working group (WG) to discuss the constraints to demarcations of indigenous lands

The National Directorate of APIB met this week in Brasilia and issued an open letter which expresses once more its position on the suspension of Ordinance 303 and the government’s proposal to create a working group (GT) to discuss the conditions imposed on Raposa Serra do Sol, and that the AGU has unconstitutional plans regarding the extention of remaining Indian lands.

Read the letter below:

Circular APIB/005/2012

Brasília-DF, September 5, 2012.

APIB position on the suspension of Ordinance 303 and the government’s proposal to create GT to discuss the constraints/conditions

Dear relatives,

As is known to all and all, the Federal Government, through the Attorney General’s Office (AGU), published on July 17 of this year the Ordinance 303, whose purpose would be to regulate the activity of the Attorney General’s Office units in relation to institutional safeguards indigenous lands. The Ordinance is almost literally a transcription of the constraints imposed by the Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal -STF) on Petition 3388-Roraima (the Raposa Serra do Sol case).

The immediate reaction of APIB was publicly express their outrage and demand the immediate and complete repeal of this authoritarian act, misguided and unconstitutional of the government because it blatantly disregards the original rights of our people, that are guaranteed by the Constitution and international instruments such as the ILO Convention 169, which is law in Brazil since 2004, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Several institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, personalities, organizations and social movements manifested themselves in the same direction. Special repercussions had the distinct manifestations and demonstrations from indigenous peoples and organizations in different regions of the country (Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Amapá, Pará, Amazonas, Maranhão etc.), Including in Brasilia, where delegations coming from Bahia , Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins and Goias occupied the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office, events that forced the government to talk with the indigenous movement at various times. All these delegations also mobilized along the following governmental organs: Ministry of Justice, Funai, Ministry of Health, Senate, House of Representatives and STF.

At these events totaled up manifestos of leaders who make up the Executive Committee of the Environmental Management Project on Indigenous Lands (GATI), former Indigenous Gef, the Forum of Chairs of the District Councils (CONDISIs) and the indigenous arm of the National Indigenous Policy ( CNPI). The plenary of the Committee, which included the governmental arm, approved a resolution that recommends to the AGU the repeal of Ordinance 303.

All demonstrations demanded the repeal of the Ordinance, ignoring the AGU’s proposal to temporarily suspend it until the 24th of September.

The fights, however, continue. Many other movements and manifestos must happen even in the south, northeast and north.

In response to actions of outrage and pressure of our people and communities requesting the repeal – the Government proposes;

1) Suspension of Ordinance 303 “until trial motion for clarification of positions against the judgment of the Supreme Court which dismissed the lawsuit on the Raposa Serra do Sol”

2) “The creation of a Working Group composed of the Ministry of Justice, AGU, Funai, and representatives of indigenous peoples, in order to discuss the conditions set out in Ordinance 303/2012 and other enabling processes dealing with land demarcation of indigenous peoples “

These proposals were formalized in writing by the Minister of Justice to a delegation of leaders from Mato Grosso on Friday, August 31.

The position APIB, that met in Brasilia from 03 to 06 September is deeply opposed to these proposals for the following reasons:

1) Just a suspension of the Ordinance 303 does not solve anything, because it maintains the latent risks of widespread land conflicts in the country. That is, it won’t end the legal political and social insecurity caused and sponsored by the landowners, agribusiness and other industries (mining, construction companies, energy sector) that are interested in our territories and their riches. The suspension won’t lead to lower the expectations of invaders that continue invading, nor will it encourage them to return our lands, including those already approved (as our lands) but are invaded.

APIB understands that the suspension only favors the government, which seeks to preserve the image of the AGU Minister Luis Inacio Adams, who is a strong candidate to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court (STF).

2) The creation of a working group (GT) to discuss the reduction of our rights, especially land rights, is absurd. To discuss constraints, away from that they have been created for the specific case of Raposa Serra do Sol, that are clearly harmful and can not be generalized to all Indigenous lands in the country. Moreover, the Supreme Court, to judge the motion of the Raposa Serra do Sol, can yet clarify and even change the conditions.

Moreover, the creation of a working group (GT) is a total inconsistency of this government, for how does it intend to consult us, if the very Ordinance 303 provides that neither our own communities nor Funai must be consulted about the occupation of our territories by (entities)units, stations and other military interventions, roads, hydroelectric dams and minerals of strategic importance.

At this stage, even the process of discussing the regulation of consultation mechanisms established by the ILO Convention 169 makes sense now.

Thus, dear relatives, APIB believes that we should follow up in mobilizing and fighting for the repeal of Ordinance 303 of the AGU. We hope and trust in the good will of all to keep us united around this common cause.

For the defense of the territorial rights of our people!

Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB


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