World Rainforest Movement

Manifesto sent to Brazilian authorities for the immediate release of Chief Babau and Teity Tupinambá


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We inform that on April 11, the arbitrary imprisonment of Cacique Babau and his brother Teity Tupinamba was replaced by home arrest. But the state of both remains in “prison”, therefore we continue with the action for the integral freedom of Babau and his brother. We would like to request your support to this action and its dissemination.

Arrest of Rosivaldo Ferreira da Silva (Chief Babau) and his brother José Aelson Jesus da Silva (Teity Tupinambá) (*)

Yours Excellencies in Brazil:

We, organizations and people from and outside Brazil, request that Rosivaldo Ferreira da Silva and his brother, José Aelson Jesus da Sila (Teity Tupinambá), arbitrarily arrested by the end of the morning of April 7 by the Military Police (PM) of Bahia in the Olivença District, municipality of Ilhéus, for denouncing the illegal extraction of sand in and around a water spring, a protected area in the village of Gravatá, be IMMEDIATELY RELEASED because they did not commit any crime.

The brothers were victims of an ambuscade conducted by the Military Police (PM) of the Bahia state, after they denounced the environmental crime, that already resulted in an embargo by IBAMA (Brazilian Federal Environmental Agency). Besides, the Southern region of Bahia faces nowadays one of its worst water crises of its history where in towns such as Itabuna water for basic consumption, such as drinking and cooking is scarce.

According to the commander of the Police (PM), the two Tupinambá brothers were impeding the way-out of trucks , called caçambeiras, full with sand extracted inside the village. The judge Lincoln Pinheiro da Costa, of the Federal Court of Ilhéus, who conceded the decision in favor of displacing the Tupinambás from the Gravatá village on January 12. This decision, implemented on April 6, had already determined that the PM would escort the trucks. About one week ago, these escorts were being done by the PM; nevertheless the Tupinambas maintained the denunciation of environmental crime and counted on the embargo of IBAMA.

In spite of the fact that one day earlier, on April 5, a suspension of the judge decision of displacement of the Tupinambás had been negotiated, the PM used all its force to displace the inhabitants of the village of Gravatá, forcing them to hide themselves in the forest and in neighboring villages. The same Military Police that had been giving support to the environmental crime arrested, later on, Chief Babao and his brother at the Federal Police office, alleging that they were carrying a revolver caliber 38 for exclusive use of the police. Chief Babau and Teitê denied that the armed guns were theirs, what indicates that the weaponry was forged with the intention to incriminate and criminalize the Tupinambá leaders.

Already for some time, Judge Lincoln Pinheiro da Costa of the Federal Court in Ilhéus has been acting in a way of assuring that non-Indigenous can extract sand from the Indigenous Tupinambá territory in Olivença. He caused discord with the Tupinambá is by adopting an attitude of wanting tointermediate the conflict between the indigenous and non-indigenous people, responsible for extracting sand from the spring. The proposal of the judge is that the indigenous people can remain in the village Gravatá, only if they do not impede the extraction of sand.

The recent history of violence by the State against the Tupinambá is big, both from the big farmers as well as from gunmen, including arbitrary arrests, abuse of police force, torture, destruction of houses, community cars, food and school equipments. In that way the Federal Police imposed systematically pressure, supported  by court decisions or other justifications not very clear for the Tupinambás, so that the Tupinambás would leave their re-conquered territory. Especially chief Babau and his family have been targeted, resulting in an endless list of violence against the Tupinambá of the Serra do Padeiro territory.

We trust the Word of the Chief and his brother, because of his responsible behaviour and defense of nature, his community and supporting groups and people, as well as the organized and just way he leads his community that supports him as a Chief. This allows us to DEMAND, that Chief Babau and his brother be released now!

Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas para o Desenvolvimento do Extremo Sul/Ba – CEPEDES
Conselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI
Blog Combate Racismo Ambiental
Comissão Paroquial de Meio Ambiente (Bahia)
Associação Ambientalista Corrente Verde

(*) Letter sent to Eugênio Aragão, Ministro da Justiça; Deborah Macedo Dubrat de Brito Pereira, Coordenadora da 6ª Câmara de Coordenação e Revisão do Ministério Público Federal; João Pedro Gonçalves da Costa, Presidente da Funai; e José Geraldo Reis Santos, Secretário de Justiça, Direitos Humanos e Desenvolvimento Social da Bahia.

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