International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

9 August 2018

Hundreds of indigenous leaders attended a peaceful demonstration to demand their rights are respected and protest the bloodshed of indigenous people who died defending their lives and land.

Hundreds of indigenous leaders attended a peaceful demonstration to demand their rights are respected and protest the bloodshed of indigenous people who died defending their lives and land. Credit: National Indigenous Mobilisation

On International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, CAFOD calls for action.

Earlier this year, 3,000 indigenous leaders from 100 Brazilian indigenous ethnicities demonstrated peacefully in front of the Brazilian Congress to demand their rights are respected by the Brazilian government.

Red paint drenched the pavement and indigenous leader’s hands- a symbolic representation of the bloodshed of indigenous people who have been killed in Brazil.

Defenders of their land

Over 1,000 indigenous people have died defending their lands since 2003, and many have been criminalised in their struggle to protect the precious Amazon rainforest that we all depend on to survive.  

According to Global Witness, over the past 10 years Brazil has been the most dangerous country in the world for land and environmental defenders. 2017 was the deadliest year on record, with 57 murders – over 25% of these murders were of indigenous people. In 2017 alone, a brutal assault on Gamela indigenous people by Brazilian farmers left 22 severely injured, some with their hands cut off.  

Since the 1980s, many indigenous communities have been targeted as corporate businesses try to exploit the Amazon rainforest for profit, while indigenous peoples act as courageous defenders of their land. 

Pray for those who struggle to make their voices heard

Now, the Brazilian government is implementing laws to restrict indigenous constitutional rights to land, and budget cuts to limit their access to healthcare and education.

Spiritual Connection to land

Esther Gillingham, CAFOD’s Brazil Programme Officer, said:

“Land for indigenous peoples is more than a commodity to serve their needs and interests – it has a deeper spiritual meaning and represents life itself. By depriving access to land, indigenous peoples’ cultures and identities are being annihilated.”

How is CAFOD responding?

As part of a European Union and CAFOD funded project, 150 indigenous leaders from 27 communities are being supported to defend their rights to land, healthcare, education and protect their diverse cultures.

Support our projects by donating today

This International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, CAFOD calls for the Brazilian government to protect the lives and lands of these courageous indigenous communities.

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