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Brazil's indigenous groups condemn the escalating Bolsonaro Brazil news attacks

Sao Paulo, Brazil – Brazilian indigenous groups say right-wing extremist President Jair Bolsonaro has increased land grab, intimidation and even killings in his short term.

On Wednesday, several indigenous organizations issued a grim joint report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Bolivia.

The report, received by Al Jazeera, describes a significant increase in attacks on indigenous peoples since Bolsonaro won the presidency in October 2018.

In less than three months, the report documents at least 16 attacks on indigenous communities in Brazil. In addition to four homicides, the report also shows stoning, deforestation, threats and arson.

The document submitted to the Commission was linked to the coordination of the indigenous organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB). the articulation of the indigenous peoples of Brazi (APIB) l; Articulation of indigenous peoples in the northeast, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo (APOINME); and the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC).

According to the report, health centers in indigenous communities have gone up in flames, attacked by incendiary bombs and shot at with rubber bullets. Many were injured and some were killed.

"For 519 years, the indigenous people have known what violence is," said Angela Amanakwa Kaxuyana, Coordinator at COIAB.

"The difference is that these attacks are now institutionalized as the president himself is causing hate," she told Al Jazeera of Bolivia.

As the attacks intensify, Bolsonaro has begun to demolish many of the authorities responsible for protecting the rights of indigenous people and pave the way for further land grabbing, according to Indigenous Peoples.

Before the rise of Bolsonaro to the government, the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), part of the Ministry of Justice, oversaw issues of indigenous rights.

After Bolsonaro took office, he shared FUNAI's responsibilities between the Department of Human Rights and the Department of Agriculture, which now controls the land designation.

"Opening the door for enemies"

Bolsonaro's selection of both ministries sparked another controversy.

Bolsonaro opted for Damares Alves heads the Ministry of Human Rights. The magazine Epoca accuses Alves of abducting her indigenous adoptive child, a claim Alves denies.

The head of the Ministry of Agriculture is Tereza Cristina, who calls for the re-appropriation of indigenous areas for commercial agriculture.

Cristina is also chair of the so-called rural bank, one of the most influential parliamentary groups and the interests of the agrarian industry.

"We felt that the new minister could subordinate the rights of indigenous countries to the enlargement needs of agriculture," the report said on Wednesday.

COAIB coordinator Angela Amanakwa Kaxuyana added, "It's like opening the door of indigenous lands to our enemies."

Al Jazeera's efforts to respond to allegations by the Brazilian officials showed how fragmented the new system is under Bolsonaro.

The Department of Justice said the matter is now at the Ministry of Human Rights. The Ministry of Human Rights said the petition must be directed to FUNAI, which was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture said it was just "new land-marking cases" and it was unclear who was dealing with the allegations of land-grabbing.

"Unfortunately, we see no action from the relevant authorities [regarding the attacks]"said Cleber Buzzato, executive secretary at CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council).

"We consider this change to the Brazilian government as very negative as the Ministry of Agriculture has always been in favor of agribusiness interests," Buzzato told Al Jazeera.

"These are organizations with intense activities against indigenous peoples, and in our view, assigning responsibility for the land designation of this structure means that the government is violating the Constitution."

Brazilian Attorney General Raquel Dodge said at a January conference "that there can be no relapse in public policy towards indigenous people".

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, urged Bolsonaro to abide by the international agreements signed by Brazil, which ensure the protection of indigenous groups.

"Now it's okay to kill"

Luiz Eloy Terena, an APIB attorney, said Bolsonaro's ideas are like "to say it's alright to kill [the indigenous]".

In a telephone conversation with Al Jazeera from Bolivia Terena insisted that the indigenous rights groups "continue to bring the indigenous struggle on the international stage."

During an election campaign, Bolsonaro appealed to a large proportion of farmers by promising to sell "no further centimeter of indigenous land" for the protected status.

However, right-wing groups insist on policies that threaten the safety of indigenous people and harm the country's enormous environmental wealth.

From now on, the reserve areas untouched by agriculture account for 12 percent of the Brazilian territory.

But of the 700 nationwide territories, at least a third still await official recognition and protection. With Bolsonaro in office, indigenous peoples and right-wing groups fear that these countries are even more at risk.

Even before Bolsonaro took office, things deteriorated rapidly. According to the CIMI Group, deforestation increased by 124% and deposits by 62% between 2017 and 2018.

Meanwhile, indigenous communities have experienced a record high of 110 killings and 128 suicides.


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