International law

An indigenous association denounced Bolsonaro for genocide to the International Criminal Court

The complaint filed to the ICC highlights a series of human rights violations, like extermination and persecution

São Paulo (SP) |
Apib claims Bolsonaro works to legalize invasions on indigenous lands. - Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil

On this Monday (August 9), in the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib, in Portuguese) filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a United Nations (UN) justice agency, to denounce the government of Jair Bolsonaro for genocide.

For the first time in history, indigenous lawyers go directly to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to demand that a president be investigated. The report provides evidence of two crimes under the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the ICC.

The first crime listed is a crime against humanity. It consists of "extermination, persecution and other inhuman acts". The second is “causing severe physical and mental damage and deliberately inflicting conditions aimed at destroying indigenous peoples”, an act classified as genocide.

The complaint has 86 pages consisting of reports from leaders and organizations, official documents, academic researches, and technical notes. According to a statement from Apib, the documents prove the execution of an "explicit, systematic and intentional anti-indigenous people policy" headed by Bolsonaro since the beginning of his term.

Read more: An estimated 1 million are people involved in rural land conflicts in Brazil

Among the criminal actions denounced by Apib are Bolsonaro's explicit refusal to demarcate new indigenous reservations, his attempt to legalize invasions, and his encouragement to conflicts in the countryside by using bills, decrees, and ordinances.

“The dismantling of public structures for indigenous peoples and for social and environmental protection triggered invasions in Indigenous lands, deforestation, and fires in Brazil, as well as an increase in mining in protected territories”, says the statement filed at the Court of The Hague.

“Apib will continue to fight for the right of indigenous peoples to exist in their diversity. We are indigenous peoples; we will not surrender to extermination” says Eloy Terena, one of the eight indigenous lawyers who filed the statement.

Read more: An estimated 1 million are people involved in rural land conflicts in Brazil

“We sent this communiqué to the International Criminal Court because we cannot fail to denounce Bolsonaro's anti-indigenous policy. He needs to pay for all the violence and destruction he is committing”, says Apib's executive coordinator, Sonia Guajajara.

The complaint was elaborated by the Collective of Advocacy on Human Rights (CADHu) and the Arns Commission, organizations that sued Bolsonaro in the ICC back in 2019.

Indigenous August

The organizations which make part of Apib are organizing mobilizations in Brasília, the Brazilian capital city, against anti-indigenous agendas in Congress and the Supreme Federal Court.

“We warn the International Criminal Court to the authoritarian escalation underway in Brazil. Democracy is at risk there”, says Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of Apib.

Among the proposals is the so-called "timeframe limitation", a legal thesis according to which delimitation only occurs if indigenous peoples can prove that they were occupying the territory previously or on the exact date of the promulgation of the Federal Constitution, or if dispute for the land ownership is proven.

Edited by: Thales Schmidt