“To guarantee the efficacy of Human Rights, we need to work together”. This was one of the phrases repeated throughout the public hearing which brought together Caboclos (people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry), Caiçara people, indigenous peoples, fishermen and women, quilombolas and river-dwellers from all the regions of Brazil to the Rector’s Office of the Federal University of Bahia (Universidade Federal da Bahia: UFBA) on Friday 31st.
Ambassadors from the European Union – Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland were also present at the event. Indigenous peoples from a range of communities from both Bahia and Brazil initiated the activities in the Rector’s Office, presenting a ritual with dance and music.
During the hearing, issues were discussed regarding the current Brazilian model of development, which does not prioritize the preservation of traditional communities. For the leaders of the social movements, certain government programmes, such as the Growth Acceleration Programme (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento: PAC) encourage agribusiness and hydrocommerce, guaranteeing the effectiveness of these sectors.
Chief Babau, from the Serra do Padeiro Tupinambás community, denounced the lack of attention paid by the public authorities to education in indigenous communities. “We need specialised teachers who respect our culture. An indigenous teacher receives R$400 to give classes. Slave labour for indigenous teachers, this is criminal”.
The importance of explaining to society the problems these minorities face was also highlighted, in order to encourage dialogue and reduce prejudice against these communities.
Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation, Ana Paula Zacarias, stressed the EU’s role within this activity. “The EU has come to collaborate, we have values in common. Indigenous peoples have an exemplary model of sustainability. That is why we have so much to learn from them”.
The book “Dez faces da luta pelos Direitos Humanos no Brasil” (Ten faces of the struggle for Human Rights in Brazil), which contains accounts of the trajectories of people under special PPDDH protection, was launched following statements by representatives of traditional communities.
The publication is the product of a partnership between the EU, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Nations in Brazil. The series of interviews are reports of complaints made in the voices of the defenders, their motivations for the struggle and the setbacks inherent in each one’s activities.