Brazil’s Guarani Indians have announced that they will take their government to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, over its failure to protect their land.
The Guarani said in a statement that they would present the case "in light of the delay in mapping out our lands, the violence to which our leaders and communities are exposed and the genocide resulting from the government’s failure to protect us and give us our land back… We will not wait any longer!"
Whilst they wait for their lands to be mapped out, as is required by Brazilian law, many Guarani communities are trapped in roadside camps or in overcrowded reserves where malnutrition and suicide rates soar.
Several Guarani leaders have been killed in recent years, says Survival International, the NGO which campaigns for the rights of tribal people, and communities are frequently exposed to violence at the hands of gunmen, employed by ranchers who occupy the Indians’ land.
Eighteen people, including ranchers, civil servants, and the owner of a security firm, were recently arrested in connection with the murder of Guarani leader Nísio Gomes.
Last month, Guarani spokesman Zezinho was killed in a road accident, and Guarani leader Adélio Rodrigues died as a result of inadequate health care.
The Guarani’s statement also demands better education and health care for the communities. It ends, "We remain united and strong."