“We Indians have the constitutional right to occupy our land. We will continue to fight… We demand respect. Our people have been massacred; they have killed our leaders; and that is sad and unacceptable. We are an advanced society and living in the 21st century. This cannot happen and should not happen.” Guarani tribal chief Vera PopyguaAbout 170 members of the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul have threatened to commit mass suicide if they are evicted from their agricultural farm, Press TV reports. This week, a Brazilian court ordered members of the indigenous tribe to vacate the Cambar’s farm immediately, but some 100 adults and 70 children said they would kill themselves en masse before leaving the farm, a Press TV correspondent in Brazil reported on Tuesday. The threat was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, in which the Indians also said they would not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region they call tekoha, which means ancestral cemetery. According to the court's decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) will have to pay a fine of approximately $250 per day. “We Indians have the constitutional right to occupy our land. We will continue to fight,” Guarani tribal chief Vera Popygua told Press TV. “We demand respect. Our people have been massacred; they have killed our leaders; and that is sad and unacceptable. We are an advanced society and living in the 21st century. This cannot happen and should not happen,” he stated. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, the suicide rate among members of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe has risen recently, to the point where one commits suicide approximately every six days because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.
In the letter sent to the court, the indigenous group demanded that the decision be overruled, saying they would not leave the land of their ancestors under any circumstances. They also asked the court to secure their right to be buried at the location, so that even in death, they would remain in their homeland.Carolina Bellinger of the Pro-Indigenous Council of Sao Paulo said, “The rights of indigenous people of Brazil have been under fire for a long time.” “And despite a series of laws that were created to guarantee their rights, the reality is something else. Brazil must obey international agreements and demarcate their land. Our Congress is slow, and Indians cannot survive until it decides,” she added. GJH/HGL