Connect with us

World

Brazil’s Pankararu finally win land rights, but fight isn’t over

The Azeri Times

Published

on

Brazil’s Pankararu finally win land rights, but fight isn’t over

Jatoba, Brazil – Sarapo Pankararu, 36, sits in front of his house on the indigenous reserve in Brazil‘s semi-arid Sertao region, where, after a bitter 25-year struggle, his Pankararu people have finally won their land rights.

But intitial relief has given way to tension and unease as a long-running land conflict in the region flares up again. 

“We have had cameras installed on our houses because of the threats,” Sarapo tells Al Jazeera.

The indigenous leader says the threats – physical, verbal and online – are from the settler farmers who live on the edge of the reserve and are set to be evicted this month. He and nine other Pankararu leaders are part of a state government human rights protection programme.

The settlers’ eviction was first ordered in 1993 and a final eviction was ordered in June this year. Under the order, about 300 settler families must leave the 8100-hectare reserve in Pernambuco state where 6,500 Pankararu tribespeople live and was demarcated by the Brazilian government in 1987.

In the Sertao, long-running land disputes between indigenous people, settlers and landowners are common and often deadly. Experts blame slow-moving courts, impunity and the state’s incapacity or indifference to resolve conflicts in this poverty-stricken region.

“The biggest provoker of land conflict is the Brazilian state, with its failed land policy,” says Saulo Ferreira Feitosa, a professor and indigenous specialist at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

In the early 20th century, indigenous groups began to demand their ancestral lands back [Sam Cowie/Al Jazeera]

During Brazil’s colonisation in the northeast, indigenous people were boxed into villages by the Portuguese crown. In the 19th century, these lands were given to farmers, where indigenous people were forced to work. Then, in the early 20th century, they began to organise and demand their ancestral lands back.

In February of this year, Brazil was convicted at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for its 16-year fumble to demarcate the Xucuru indigenous land, also in Pernambuco, during which several were killed, including tribal leader Francisco de Assis Araujo.

Today, in Pernambuco, where 12 indigenous groups live, only one has its land fully demarcated while hundreds of other territories across the country remain in limbo with demarcations all but frozen in recent years.

Under Brazil’s 1988 post-military dictatorship constitution, indigenous people have the exclusive right to their traditionally occupied lands. Demarcation of indigenous territories throughout Brazil was supposed to be completed by 1993.

Last year was one of Brazil’s deadliest years on record for land conflict killings, according to local watchdog Comissao Pastoral da Terra, with a disproportionate number of indigenous people attacked or murdered. 

Land conflict heats up again

The Pankararu reserve is a 10-hour drive from Pernambuco state capital Recife, through Brazil’s impoverished dry backlands, passing mud houses, failed and abandoned water irrigation projects, and vast plantations commanded by powerful local landowners. 

Sarapo and nine other Pankararu leaders are part of a state government human rights protection programme [Sam Cowie/Al Jazeera]

The reserve sits behind a mountain range by the great Sao Francisco River where centuries ago Sarapo Pankararu says his ancestors roamed the river’s banks, fishing and hunting. Today, this stretch of the river is mostly riverside properties and tilapia fish farms.

Sarapo was just a boy when Pankararu leader Quiteria Binga was forced to flee her reserve after an attempt on her life by hired gunman believed contracted by the settlers. As with most murders and death threats to life in the Sertao, there wasn’t a conviction.

It was 1993, the first time the settlers were told they had to leave. Civil society groups intervened and the indigenous reached an uneasy truce with the settlers: they could stay until the government provided them with land and compensation.

“It was like a cold war,” says Tiago Da Silva Oliveira, 34, a Pankararu leader and indigenous school teacher. But with the looming eviction, the conflict has begun to heat up again.

Pankararu leaders say the human rights protection programme installed the security cameras because a gunshot was fired at a house last year. Al Jazeera confirmed with the public prosecutor’s office that an official complaint about the gunfire had been filed and that federal police were called to the scene. 

“It’s a very tense situation,” says Maria Beatriz Ribeiro Goncalves, a prosecutor who visited the reserve. “It’s clear that there are political interests involved, referring to the leaders of the settlers.”

Settlers say they’ve been cheated 

While some have already left, 302 settler families remain. They claim they’ve been cheated and that compensation cash offered for their homes and land is inadequate.

“Our fight is for all 302 families to be justly compensated and resettled here in the municipality of Jatoba,” says Eraldo Jose de Souza, 63, the group’s leader and a former city councilman for Jatoba. Souza denies the accusations by Pankararu leaders that he incited violence against them.

“This is fiction,” he tells Al Jazeera. 

Hilda Isabel da Silva, 64, will receive 88,000 Brazilian real (about $21,100) for her home where she lives with her sons Jailson and Nildo and three other family members and keeps livestock and crops. She says the money is not enough for her to buy another home in Jatoba where a three-bedroom house with no land goes for more than 100,000 Brazilian real (about $24,000). 

“We are children of this land and we want to stay here,” she tells Al Jazeera.

Hilda Isabel da Silva will receive 88,000 Brazilian real (about $21,100) for her home where she lives with her sons Jailson and Nildo [Sam Cowie/Al Jazeera]

Fernanda Antonia Bezerra, 35, who is blind, will not receive any compensation because her home was built after an agreed 1994 timeframe. Altogether, 153 families will not receive any compensation.

Brazil’s National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) is charged with providing compensation and told Al Jazeera in an email that the payments were “scientifically elaborated by official agencies and priced in the region where it is located”. 

Regarding the settlers who will not receive compensation, the agency said: Homes “existing before the timeframe are considered as having been installed in a time of good faith,” and “only such improvements are entitled to compensation.” Last year, Funai’s budget was cut by 44 percent.

The settlers also say the land where they will be resettled is not suitable for family agriculture. A report by Brazil’s state-owned Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, produced at their request, noted the land was “considered unfit for crops”.

The state needs to act, because we need our land and [the settlers] need somewhere to go

Sarapo Pankararu, indigenous Pankararu leader

Felipe Mota Pimentel de Oliveira, a Pernambuco judge who ruled on the settlers’ eviction in March, tells Al Jazeera that he has sympathy for all parties, “but above all, we must uphold the law.”

The settlers appealed, but judge Pimentel’s decision was upheld. In late June, a 90-day limit for the eviction was established. Failure to comply means police will evict the settlers.

In the meantime, Sarapo and other Pankararu leaders continue to live in unease.

“The state needs to act, because we need our land and [the settlers] need somewhere to go,” he says.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Azerbaijan

Demonstration in support of Azerbaijani blogger on hunger strike in prison: fines and arrests

The Azeri Times

Published

on

Four demonstrators have been sentenced to three weeks in prison on charges of organising unauthorised gatherings. The demonstrators recently protested the launch of a new criminal case against well-known Azerbaijani blogger Mehman Huseynov.

Among the arrestees are two journalists and two members of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA).

Another four participants were fined 300 to 400 manats (approximately 177 to 236 dollars).

Huseynov has gone on a hunger strike in protest against new charges of “attacking a prison guard” that are being levied against him.

The demonstration

Several dozen journalists and activists gathered on 3 January near the Neftchiler metro station on the outskirts of Baku, shouting “Freedom for Mehman!” and “Freedom for political prisoners!”.

Five minutes later the police stopped the rally and detained 15 people.

Seven women were released at the police station, and the rest were taken to the Nizami District Court. Three other women were released there, and five men were left in custody until a court decision was made.

On 4 January the court sentenced journalist Afgan Sadigov to 22 days in prison, while journalist Nurlan Qahramanov and PFPA members Elmkhan Agayev and Sakhavat Nabiyev were sentenced to 21 days in prison.

 Police halt rally of family members of dead soldiers in Baku, one arrested

 Where is the red line for Azerbaijan’s journalists?

Hunger strike

Mehman Huseynov is an Azerbaijani video blogger who has actively criticised the wealth and corruption of certain officials.

In early 2017 he was detained by the police. After his release, Huseynov complained that the head of the police station had tortured him. He was again arrested and received two years in prison on charges of defamation.

Local journalists, opposition activists and human rights advocates have spoken out in his defence, considering him a victim of political repression.

On 26 December 2018, with just a few months of his prison term remaining, Huseynov was accused of attacking a prison officer. A new criminal case has now been filed against him. In response, the blogger has gone on hunger strike.

The Caucasian Knot writes that on 30 December his condition worsened, and at the insistence of his brother, agreed to drink water.

The head of the public relations department of the Prison Service, Mehman Sadiqov, stated that Huseynov was not on a hunger strike and that he had no health problems.

Huseynov’s father tried to meet with him in the detention facility, but was refused access. His lawyers are also unaware of his current condition.

Mehman Huseynov has received outspoken support from Reporters Without Borders.

Continue Reading

Azerbaijan

Imprisoned Azerbaijani political blogger on hunger strike

The Azeri Times

Published

on

A prominent Azerbaijani political blogger and activist is on a hunger strike after the authorities brought new charges against him shortly before he was to be released from a two-year prison term.

Mehman Huseynov, once Azerbaijan’s most popular political blogger, was sentenced to two years in prison in March 2017 on charges that he defamed police officers who allegedly tortured him. He had been scheduled to be released in March 2019 but on December 26, prison authorities brought new charges against him.    

Huseynov allegedly did not cooperate with an inspection in prison and attacked a guard, Lieutenant Ali Abdalov, according to a statement from the state prison service. “He physically resisted and injured Abdalov,” as well as “scattered and broke” items in an office in the prison, the statement said. The prison service also claimed that Huseynov had 461 manats (about $270) in his possession, which is against prison regulations. The new charges carry a potential prison term of up to seven years.   

The day after the new charges were brought, Huseynov, 26, stopped eating and drinking, his family reported.

This is the third time in the last year that the Azerbaijani authorities have imposed new charges on a detained political activist, thus prolonging their terms. Similar punishments were meted out to a religious activist, Telman Shiraliyev, and a senior member of the opposition Popular Front Party, Mammad Ibrahim.

“The government’s repunishments are the result of their understanding that they will never control [Huseynov] by imprisonment,” said Jamil Hasanli, an Azerbaijani historian and political activist, in a Facebook post. “The government does not want to forgive this young blogger for exposing their corruption.”

“We were expecting this kind of provocation against Mehman. He was warned that he would not be released in March,” his brother, Emin Huseynov – also a political activist, living in exile in Switzerland – told the news agency Turan. “The charges are nonsense. Who believes someone can beat prison officer while being under arrest?”

Emin Huseynov said that his brother was being punished for statements he made at his mother’s funeral in August: “Breaking me down is possible only with death. Today I have lost my mother. If they release me alive from jail, I will double my activities.”

Emin Huseynov said that Mehman started drinking water again after four days at the insistence of his family, though he continues to refuse food. His family and fellow activists say his health has dramatically deteriorated.

“Mehman Huseynov is in danger of dying and we hold the Azerbaijani authorities responsible for his fate,” press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said in a December 31 statement.

Prison authorities have claimed that Huseynov is not in fact on a hunger strike. “Mehman Huseynov is having food and water. He keeps contact with his family by telephone. He is not conducting a hunger strike. His health is also normal, and he enjoys all the rights he is allowed under the law,” said Mehman Sadigov, a prison service spokesman.  

On January 3, a group of activists held a rally in Baku demanding the Huseynov’s release, with posters depicting Huseynov and chanting “Freedom to Mehman.” Ten of the activists were detained by police.


Lamiya Adilgiz
i is a freelance Azerbaijani journalist.

Continue Reading

Politics

Senator Marco Rubio Calls for Immediate Release of Mehman Huseynov

The Azeri Times

Published

on

US Senator Marco Rubio called on official Baku to immediately release blogger Mehman Huseynov.

“Azerbaijani blogger Mehman Huseynov remains imprisoned on a trumped-up charge. Now he is in a critical situation due to a hunger strike. The government of Azerbaijan should release him immediately,” the senator wrote in his blog on Twitter.

Recall that Huseynov continues his hunger strike for the 10th day in connection with a new case brought against him about alleged resistance to the warden in the prison, where he is serving a two-year term on defamation charges against the police

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Azerbaijan2 weeks ago

Demonstration in support of Azerbaijani blogger on hunger strike in prison: fines and arrests

Azerbaijan2 weeks ago

Imprisoned Azerbaijani political blogger on hunger strike

Politics2 weeks ago

Senator Marco Rubio Calls for Immediate Release of Mehman Huseynov

Politics2 weeks ago

A jailed blogger in Azerbaijan is on a hunger strike to fight bogus charges. He must be freed.

Uncategorized3 weeks ago

Azerbaijan Extradites Kyrgyzstan’s Fugitive Ex-Customs Chief

Uncategorized3 weeks ago

Three-Year Prison Term Of Jailed Opposition Leader In Azerbaijan Cut By Two Months

Azerbaijan3 weeks ago

New pension rules hardly apply for most Azerbaijani retirees in 2019

Azerbaijan3 weeks ago

Azerbaijan: Where healthcare lacks, magic reigns

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

Azerbaijani journalist’s bank accounts frozen

Armenia4 weeks ago

Foreign Minister’s statement on Karabakh conflict resonates in Armenia

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

Aliyev announced New tax rules

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

The seven main events in Azerbaijan in 2018

Karabakh4 weeks ago

Azerbaijanis displaced by war seek to keep memories alive

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

Tourists instead of oil

Shutdown to continue for days as US Senate adjourns with no deal
World4 weeks ago

Shutdown to continue for days as US Senate adjourns with no deal

Redskins vs. Titans odds, line: Picks, best predictions from proven computer model on 16-6 roll – CBS Sports
Sport4 weeks ago

Redskins vs. Titans odds, line: Picks, best predictions from proven computer model on 16-6 roll – CBS Sports

Cardiff City vs. Manchester United – Football Match Report – December 22, 2018 – ESPN
Sport4 weeks ago

Cardiff City vs. Manchester United – Football Match Report – December 22, 2018 – ESPN

Schumer demands Trump ‘abandon the wall’ as DC faces shutdown stalemate – Fox News
Politics4 weeks ago

Schumer demands Trump ‘abandon the wall’ as DC faces shutdown stalemate – Fox News

How arrest of Chinese ‘princess’ exposes regime’s world domination plot – New York Post
Politics4 weeks ago

How arrest of Chinese ‘princess’ exposes regime’s world domination plot – New York Post

Denmark authenticates video of murder of Scandinavian in Morocco
World4 weeks ago

Denmark authenticates video of murder of Scandinavian in Morocco

Players react to blockbuster trade between Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers – Cincinnati.com
Sport4 weeks ago

Players react to blockbuster trade between Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers – Cincinnati.com

A closer look at the Pixel 3’s DxOMark review – Notebookcheck.net
Technology4 weeks ago

A closer look at the Pixel 3’s DxOMark review – Notebookcheck.net

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

Tourists instead of oil

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

Azerbaijani journalist’s bank accounts frozen

For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone – The New York Times
Politics4 weeks ago

For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone – The New York Times

‘Real Alchemy’: Chinese Scientists Discover a Way to Turn Copper Into ‘Gold’ – Sputnik International
Science4 weeks ago

‘Real Alchemy’: Chinese Scientists Discover a Way to Turn Copper Into ‘Gold’ – Sputnik International

Armenia4 weeks ago

Foreign Minister’s statement on Karabakh conflict resonates in Armenia

Azerbaijan4 weeks ago

The seven main events in Azerbaijan in 2018

Is A Backpack As Good As A Parachute When Jumping Out Of A Plane? : Shots – Health News – NPR
Science4 weeks ago

Is A Backpack As Good As A Parachute When Jumping Out Of A Plane? : Shots – Health News – NPR

Schumer demands Trump ‘abandon the wall’ as DC faces shutdown stalemate – Fox News
Politics4 weeks ago

Schumer demands Trump ‘abandon the wall’ as DC faces shutdown stalemate – Fox News

The Secret Fishing Habits Of Northwoods’ Wolves – NPR
Science4 weeks ago

The Secret Fishing Habits Of Northwoods’ Wolves – NPR

Ground turkey recall: 164,000 more pounds recalled as salmonella outbreak has sickened 216 – USA TODAY
Politics4 weeks ago

Ground turkey recall: 164,000 more pounds recalled as salmonella outbreak has sickened 216 – USA TODAY

Shutdown to continue for days as US Senate adjourns with no deal
World4 weeks ago

Shutdown to continue for days as US Senate adjourns with no deal

Two arrested for Gatwick Airport drone chaos, ‘environmental activism’ a rumored motive – Fox News
Business4 weeks ago

Two arrested for Gatwick Airport drone chaos, ‘environmental activism’ a rumored motive – Fox News

The 10 Android apps that made the most money worldwide in 2018 – Business Insider
Technology4 weeks ago

The 10 Android apps that made the most money worldwide in 2018 – Business Insider

Karabakh4 weeks ago

Azerbaijanis displaced by war seek to keep memories alive

Trending

© Azeri Times - All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the site's materials is permitted only with a mandatory reference to www.azeritimes.com. Email: info@azeritimes.com