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Indigenous leaders from Brazil call on Prime Minister to “stand with us” in face of attacks

4 February 2020

4 February 2020

Davi Yanomami and other renowned indigenous leaders from Brazil have made an urgent appeal to the British Prime Minister to “ensure that no gold, other minerals or agricultural products from our lands come to the UK.”

Davi Kopenawa, whose organisation is supported by the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, is a spokesperson for the Yanomami people, who live in an area of the Amazon rainforest on the Brazil-Venezuela border. Davi Yanomami was recently awarded the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, alongside Greta Thunberg.

In the leaders’ joint letter they call on the UK government to use its hosting of the UN Climate Conference in November to “put tribal peoples centre stage and recognise our key role in conserving some of the most biodiverse and threatened regions of the world for the benefit of humanity.”

They also denounce plans of the Brazilian Government to open up indigenous territories to mining.

“We are the true guardians of the forest – we have cared for the animals, the birds, the fish, the rivers, the mountains since time immemorial. Our knowledge is not only essential for the future of our children and grandchildren, but for yours too because the Amazon plays a vital role in mitigating climate change” say the leaders in the letter to the Prime Minister.

Davi Kopenawa and his son, Dario Kopenawa, are visiting CAFOD this week to raise awareness of the urgent need protect the Amazon forest, and the rights of the indigenous people who live there.

CAFOD has been supporting indigenous organisations in Brazil for over 30 years, empowering indigenous communities to demand their rights to land, education, and health, as enshrined in Brazil’s constitution. CAFOD works with the Hutukara Yanomami Association to promote the protection of Yanomami and Ye’kuana indigenous rights. In 2014 Davi Kopenawa came to the UK to raise awareness of the threats their communities face, and to launch CAFOD’s One Climate, One World Campaign.

Notes to editors:

  • The full letter handed in to Number 10 Downing Street on 3 February 2020 can be read here on Survival International’s website.

  • In 2004 Davi Kopenawa founded Hutukara Yanomami Association, which advocates for Yanomami rights and runs land protection, education and health care projects. He is currently its President. CAFOD have supported the Hutukara Yanomami Association since 2007.

  • CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It works with communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (

  • CAFOD has worked in Brazil for over 50 years. Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Brazil:

  • For media enquiries please contact Laura Ouseley,, +44(0)207 095 5479, +44(0)7909 875 956. CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429.