Davi Kopenawa, delivering his statement at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.

HRC43: Right Livelihood Award Laureate Davi Kopenawa demands that indigenous rights be respected in Brazil

On March 2nd, during the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council,  2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Davi Kopenawa Yanomami delivered a statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to a clean, safe and sustainable environment, denouncing the presence of illegal miners in the Yanomami territory. He also called on Brazilian authorities to comply with their constitutional obligations and guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples. Read the Oral Statement below:


Mr. President,

My name is Davi Kopenawa, and I represent the Yanomami people, in total 41,000 people between Brazil and Venezuela.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for underlining in his report that indigenous peoples are more likely to invest in good management of forests, soil and water. However, the example of Brazil’s good practice with regards to legislation, agroecological farming and land protection has been severely dismantled since the new administration took office. Our lives are threatened once again.

Land protection is not guaranteed as violent attacks, destruction of property and land invasions in Indigenous communities starkly increase. Despite our territory has been officially demarcated, the government does not want to respect our rights.

There are already around 20,000 illegal miners invading our territory, contaminating our water and bringing back diseases such as mercury intoxication and malaria. The bill in Parliament to legalise industrial mining within indigenous territories would be a real act of genocide for indigenous communities.

We will not give up our land. We do not wish to be like non-indigenous people. The Federal Government must comply with its constitutional obligations and guarantee our rights. This would not be good practice, but a duty.

Thank you.