THE FATE OF AMAZONIA AND ITS GUARDIANS IS LINKED TO OURS - EUROPE MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY
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In response to an absolute emergency, indigenous leaders in Brazil, youth climate activists and civil society organisations are joining forces to call among other things for the creation of a coalition of European parliamentarians, the cancellation of the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement and an immediate freeze on deforestation-related imports.
Europe, which continues to shamefully contribute to deforestation, must be held accountable to its citizens. This is because the last protective barriers to the Amazon and its guardians, the indigenous peoples, which have been built up through a two-decade-long international cooperation effort, are about to collapse catastrophically. In this context, the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement, which was signed in 2019 after lengthy negotiations, is seen by many EU citizens as a failure on the part of Europe to protect them from climate disasters. The agreement would further increase Europe's participation in the destruction of one of Mother Earth's most important ecosystems. It is due to come into effect at the end of 2021. It must be stopped!
This trade agreement, besides contributing to the suppression of human and environmental rights that are already largely threatened by the current context, will increase the number of bulldozers and arsonists that are already destroying the ecosystems of the Amazon and of other countries in South America. The feared environmental impacts are well known to the public and more than a million people have already expressed their views through previous petitions. We wish, however, to look beyond the risks to biodiversity and the climate to a danger that is too often overlooked: the fate of indigenous peoples and their territory.
Yet among all the valid arguments calling to stop the ratification of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement, there is one that deserves the most attention: our “duty to protect” the Guardians of the Amazon. If only for the sake of consistency. At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, international cooperation was launched to protect Brazil's tropical rainforests and to map out the borders of indigenous lands, i.e. demarcating them. The EU, at the time, contributed to the real protection of tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and its inhabitants.
The EU-Mercosur agreement reinforces extractivist policies, including the unabashedly destructive and anti-indigenous policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing legal action before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and ecocide, filed by the Cacique Raoni. Far from building on the progress of Rio '92, it will, at best, take us back to where we started. At worst, it will move us further away from meeting the Paris climate agreement targets.
Can we honestly trade "freely" with Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil? In 2020, 11.088 km² of Amazon rainforest was destroyed (according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research). Last year, seven indigenous leaders were killed. In total, there were 1120 cases of violence against indigenous peoples’ heritage. The Brazilian government is seeking to cancel out the boundaries of indigenous lands, of which more than one third have been demarcated with the help of the EU. The Brazilian government also wishes to authorise industrial and agricultural activity in these near-intact environments, in violation of the Constitution and cooperative agreements of the past. The pillaging of protected zones has increased during the Covid-19 health crisis, already extremely deadly for the indigenous population. Jair Bolsonaro is accused of exploiting the crisis to deliberately harm the Guardians of the Amazon.
The silence from Europe and the rest of the world regarding this situation is unbearable.
Has the EU forgotten that indigenous peoples play an essential role in the restoration and preservation of the Amazon rainforest, but also the planet’s other primary forests and natural areas? Has the EU forgotten that it has been accepted for 30 years that the recognition of indigenous rights is vital to the preservation of the areas they protect? Has the EU forgotten that demarcating indigenous lands, which is a constitutional right, is the most effective way to combat deforestation? Has the EU forgotten that the countries of the G7 and its own members are well aware of this, to the point that they have invested nearly half a billion dollars over more than 15 years through an international cooperation programme, the PPG7, with the aim of protecting Brazil's tropical rainforests, and in particular to carry out a significant number of demarcations of indigenous lands?
What is left of it today? Our leaders are suffering from collective amnesia, high on the effects of international and free trade. From one abdication to another, they have pushed indigenous peoples into the clutches of Jair Bolsonaro. However, by leaving them to their fate, they are also betraying the citizens of the world. These citizens are now speaking out throughout Europe and, alongside the Guardians of the Amazon, calling for the immediate protection of indigenous territories and, more fundamentally, a rapid paradigm shift. The next IUCN World Conservation Congress, which will be held in September in Marseille, aims to define a new global conservation model. Solutions cannot be reached unless indigenous peoples are involved in the decision-making process. It is not enough to pretend to listen to them!
While more and more voices are calling for the Amazon rainforest to be protected, under the management of indigenous peoples, we feel that the EU-Mercosur trade agreement is an insult to young climate campaigners and to the future generations that the countries gathered at Rio '92 swore to protect. Many similar agreements, that are just as dangerous, are being prepared. This predatory vision of development must stop and we must move from free trade to fair trade.
In order to fight against this threat and other ever-increasing threats to the Amazon, its indigenous lands as well as its traditional peoples, a new type of international cooperation must be created. Indigenous peoples and European citizens, as allies, wish to be part of it in order to establish a permanent dialogue with parliamentarians understanding their concerns so that they can work together.
Consequently, in the face of Europe and its leaders’ silence about these crucial questions and to respond to the requests of the Guardians of the Amazon, we are calling for:
- The creation of a coalition of European parliamentarians that will work alongside indigenous peoples and civil society to ensure the protection of the Amazon and its peoples
- An immediate and definitive withdrawal of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement
- A freeze on imported products and resources that are linked to deforestation
- A strict control of European companies that are responsible for the destruction of natural ecosystems and human rights violation.
- Broad support for the complaint lodged at the International Criminal Court against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for crimes against humanity by the Cacique Raoni, together with many indigenous leaders and prominent figures.
This petition is an initiative of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon along with European youth climate campaigners and is addressed to all heads of state and parliamentarians of the European Union, with the hope that this movement will raise the awareness of the international community, because the fate of the Amazon and its communities concerns us all.
LIST OF SIGNATORIES
1 FEPHAC | Federation of the Huni Kui people of the state of Acre (Brazil)
2 ARPIN SUL | Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Sul (Brazil)
3 Planète Amazone (France)
4 Youth For Climate (France)
5 Youth For Climate (Belgium)
6 Or de question (France)
7 Notre Affaire à Tous (France)
8 Maiouri Nature (Guyana)
9 Mighty Earth (USA)
10 Alofa Tuvalu (Tuvalu)
11 all4tress (France)
12 Coeur de Forêt (France)
13 Mr Mondialisation (France)
14 Naturevolution (France)
15 ICRA INTERNATIONAL (France)
16 Planetari (UK)
17 CAoS, Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability, University College London (UK )
18 Flourishing Diversity (UK)
19 Gallifrey Foundation (Switzerland)
20 TreeSisters.org (UK)
21 Wild Heritage (USA)
22 Society for Threatened Peoples (Germany)
23 Permavenir (France)
24 European Coordination Via Campesina (Belgium)
25 Attac France (France)
26 Envol Vert (France)
27 Latin America Solidarity Centre (Ireland)
28 Ishpingo (France-Ecuador)
29 Women’s Earth and Climate Action (WECAN) (USA)
30 A Plastic Planet (UK)
31 Rise For Climate Belgium (Belgium)
32 Friends of the Earth Finland (Finland)
33 América Latina Mejor Sin TLC (Argentina)
34 Éghajlatvédelmi Szövetség / Hungarian Climate Alliance (Hungary)
35 Magyar Természetvédők Szövetsége / Friends of the Earth Hungary (Hungary)
36 Attac-Ireland (Ireland)
37 SEED (Brazil and US)
38 Amigos de la Tierra (España)
39 Ecologistas en Acción (España)
40 Espirito Mundo Asbl (Belgium)
41 Centro de Estudios HEÑÓI (Paraguay)
42 Amazon Watch (USA)
43 Frente Internacional Brasileira contra o golpe e pela Democracia (Brazil)
44 Rede Stop UE-Mercosul (Portugal)
45 Instituto Shirley Djukurnã Krenak (Brazil)
46 Collectif Alerte France Brésil / MD18 (France)
47 CGT (España)
48 Béfana tattù (Uruguay)
49 Grands Parents pour le Climat (Belgium)
50 Attac Austria (Austria)
51 Groupe non violent (France)
52 XR Youth Solidarity (UK)
53 Radical Restart (UK)
54 Fundación Solón (Bolivia)
55 COAG (España)
56 Ehne-Bizkaia (España)
57 Amazon Planet Peru (Peru)
58 Coletivo Alvorada (Brasil)
59 Brazilian Left Front (Irlanda)
60 Hamburgo pela Democracia (Alemanha)
61 Democracy For BRASIL UK (UK)
62 Coletivo Amsterdam pela Democracia (Holanda)
63 Amis de la Terre France (France)
64 Campaña No a los Tratados de Comercio e Inversión (España)
65 Cátedra UNESCO de Desarrollo Humano Sostenible - Universitat de Girona (España)
66 Karátson Gábor Kör (Hungary)
67 Ocareté (Brasil)
68 Action Solidarité Tiers Monde (Luxembourg)
69 Climate Alliance Luxembourg / Klima-Bündnis Letzebuerg (Luxembourg)
70 Intersindical Región Murciana (España)
71 Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brasil)
72 Grassroots International (USA)
73 ATTAC-Liège (Belgium)
74 Extinction Rebellion (France)
75 CLOSER (UK)
76 Earthforce Fight Squad Global (Bahamas)
77 Extinction Rebellion Genève (Switzerland)
78 Doctors for Extinction Rebellion (Switzerland)
79 European ATTAC Network (Europe)
80 People’s Planet Project (Netherlands)
81 ATTAC ESPAÑA (Spain)
82 House On Fire Germany (Germany)
83 The Beirut Umbrella (Lebanon)
84 Hivos (Brasil)
85 TROCA - Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo (Portugal)
86 Alternatiba (France)
87 Indigenous Environmental Network (USA)
88 Grabbe Bénin (Benin)
89 The Otomi-Toltec Regional Council of Alto Lerma (Mexico)
90 Alliance of Mother Nature's Guardians (Global)
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