Over the past few weeks, staff at the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) in the state of Acre have faced a series of threats and intimidation. The office has been broken into twice, the room ransacked, a computer taken, files burned, and internet wiring destroyed.
CIMI is one of the key organisations in Brazil demanding the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights. In Acre, CIMI works to support indigenous peoples who are faced with ranching and logging companies taking their land and destroying the forests.
In an attempt to publicise and to stop the violence and threats, CIMI is holding a public gathering outside its office in Rio Branco today.
Since 2012, the state of Acre has received funding from the German government, through its “REDD Early Movers” programme. On its website the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), which is managing the REDD Early Movers programme, describes Acre as one of the “pioneers” in forest protection, “not just in Brazil but also beyond”.
World Rainforest Movement has written to the German Development Minister, Gerd Müller, and the Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, appealing for them to denounce the violence against CIMI and to demand that the government of Acre take immediate action to investigate and hold to account those responsible for threatening CIMI and breaking in to its office.
The letter was signed by more than 50 organisations, from 19 countries, including Germany and Brazil. The English version of the letter is posted below and is also available in German (pdf file, 343.7 kB) and Portuguese (pdf file, 341.3 kB).
Minister Dr. Gerd Müller
Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)
Minister Dr. Barbara Hendricks
Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BMUB)
By fax and email and in copy to KfW
17 October 2014
Re: Appeal to denounce violence against CIMI, the indigenous peoples’ support group in Acre, Brazil. Acre is the primary recipient of REDD Early Movers funding.
Dear Minister Hendricks,
Dear Minister Müller,
it is out of concern for safety of colleagues at CIMI-AO in Acre, the Conselho Indigenista Missionário, an organisation linked with the Brazilian Bishop’s Conference, that we write to you. CIMI in Acre has become the target of threats and intimidation that have already resulted in two attacks on their Regional Headquarters in Rio Branco in less than one month. Staff have received continuous threats and face intimidation. Since its creation in 1972, CIMI has not only become a very well-respected organization in Brazil and internationally; it has also become one of the main organizations in Brazil dedicated to demanding the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights across the country.
The Western Amazon regional office of CIMI (CIMI-AO) in Rio Branco, Acre, is one of the 11 regional CIMI offices in Brazil. It has supported indigenous peoples in Acre who are faced with ranching and logging interests entering their territories and leaving behind devastation and forest destruction. Thoese same peoples also witness indifference against this deforestation and the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights on the part of the government institiutions.
In 2013, similar methods and acts of violence as now perpetrated against CIMI-AO were used against the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT). CPT supports peasants defending the right to their land and livelihoods, with many conflicts also here revolving around forest destruction for cattle ranching and logging. To date nothing has been done by government institutions to meaningfully investigate and hold to account those responsible, neither for the acts of violence against the CPT in 2013 nor for the break-ins and threats against CIMI-AO during the last weeks.
We request you demand that the government of Acre take immediate action. The government must be unequivocal that it will not tolerate such violence against civil society organisations and those standing up for their rights to the land. Its institutions must investigate and hold those responsible for those acts of violence to account.
We appeal to you in particular because the German government, through the REDD Early Movers programme managed by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), is supporting the state of Acre with more than €15 million, with additional funding from the ministry of economic co-operation, BMZ, to the state of Acre. REDD Early Movers funding for 2014 is meant to support programmes that benefit indigenous peoples in particular. We ask: How can indigenous peoples feel safe in taking action that really tackles deforestation and the destruction of their territories when they and their most important support organisation are facing such threats and violence against them?
Worse yet, when such violence takes place and those affected cannot trust that the state authorities will take action to prevent further violence against those working to halt deforestation through demanding that the rights of indigenous peoples be respected and their lands demarcated. REDD, and the German government`s REDD Early Movers programme, turn into a farce into such a context.
We urge you to join us demanding immediate action on the part of the government of Acre. It must publicly denounce such violence against defenders of forests in Acre. The respective state institutions must promptly initiate a thorough investigation of the break-ins and threats against CIMI-AO.
Minister Ideli Salvatti, of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic also must take urgent measures through the national Programme for the Protection of Defenders of Human Rights, to ensure the safety of CIMI staff in Acre. Such measures must not delay or
substitute the investigation into the acts of violence that have already occurred. Investigating those crimes, too, is urgent.
Please keep us informed about action you will take to ensure these acts of violence against CIMI and the indigenous peoples the organisation supports in their struggle for justice and demarcation of their territories in Acre will be fully investigated. Those responsible must be held accountable for their acts of violence and intimidation.
We will share this Open Letter to you with CIMI and the organisations that will gather in solidarity with CIMI-AO in front of the CIMI office on Friday, 17 October 2014.
We pledge to keep the staff at CIMI informed about your response.
Contact details for minister Ideli Salvatti, Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic Tel: +55 (61) 2027-3106 / 3536 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Winfridus Overbeek, World Rainforest Movement
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Artenschutz (ARA)
Infoe – Institut für Ökologie und Aktions-Ethnologie e.V.
Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung
Rettet den Regenwald
Aliança RECOs – Redes de Cooperação Comunitária Sem Fronteiras
Coordenação da Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB)
Centro de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento do Extremo Sul da Bahia (CEPEDES)
Conselho de Leigos da Arquidiocese de São Paulo (CLASP)
Conselho Pastoral dos Pescadores (CPP)
Conselho de Missão Entre Povos Indígenas (COMIN) -Assessoria Acre Sul do
Fórum da Amazônia Oriental (FAOR)
Instituto Politicas Alternativas para o Cone Sul (PACS)
Jubileu Sul Brasil
Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA)
Movimento Mulheres pela P@Z!
Movimento de Luta pela Terra (MLT)
Núcleo de Pesquisa Estado, Sociedade e Desenvolvimento na Amazônia Ocidental (NUPESDAO-UFAC)
Programa de Extensão Centro de Referência em Direitos Humanos e territoriais na tríplice Fronteira Brasil, Peru /Bolívia (UFAC)
Terra de Direitos
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)
Carbon Trade Watch
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero
No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN)
Diálogo 2000 – Jubileo Sur (Argentina)
Instituto de Estudios sobre Desarrollo y Cooperación Internacional (Basque)
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE) (Cameroon)
Common frontiers (Canada)
Colectivo VientoSur (Chile)
Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz (Colombia)
Coecoceiba – Amigos de la Tierra (Costa Rica)
Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
Ecuador decide (Ecuador)
Escuela de Pensamiento Ecologista -Savia (Guatemala)
Coordinadora Guatemalteca por la Defensa de los Manglares y la Vida –
Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) (Liberia)
Red Mexicano de Acción Frente al Libre Comércio (RMALC) (Mexico)
Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique)
Landless Peoples Movement (South Africa)
Stichting Indianen in Brasil (The Netherlands)
Transnational Institute (TNI) (The Netherlands)
Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)
Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalizacion (ODG) (Spain)
Global Justice Ecology Project (USA)
Friends of the Earth-US (USA)