Davi Kopenawa with the signed letter to Brazilian Minister of Justice

Right Livelihood Foundation and Survival International call on Brazilian government to protect indigenous peoples

Press releases 12.03.2020

The Right Livelihood Foundation and Survival International expressed grave concern over the security of indigenous peoples in Brazil in a joint letter sent to Brazilian Minister of Justice Sergio Moro on Thursday. The letter was signed by 36 Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, including Greta Thunberg (Sweden), Vandana Shiva (India), Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria), David Suzuki (Canada) and Erwin Kratler (Brazil).

Brazilian indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa, a 2019 Right Livelihood Laureate, with a copy of a letter that was sent to Brazilian Minister of Justice Sergio Moro.

In the letter, the Right Livelihood Foundation and Survival International condemn the flagrant human rights violations that continue unabated against indigenous peoples and express deep concern over the direction taken by the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

In particular, the letter warns of growing threats to the lives of indigenous leaders, notably 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Davi Kopenawa Yanomami. The organisations also express concern over the appointment of Ricardo Lopes Dias as head of the department for isolated and recently contacted tribes at FUNAI, whose fundamentalist views pose a grave threat to Brazil’s landmark policy of not forcing contact with uncontacted tribes.

“Without the forest, protected forests, my people cannot survive,” Davi said. “Our people take care of the forest, international people must guarantee the protection of the environment and of my people. But importantly for isolated people, you have the power to confront governments, use that power to fight the people who are harming us.”

The letter lays out the following urgent recommendations for the Brazilian government:

  1. Undertake all institutional measures required to ensure the full security for Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, as an indigenous leader and human rights defender under serious threat, as well as other Hutukara directors and staff;
  2. Act to remove and prosecute all illegal goldminers and to effectively protect the demarcated Yanomami territory from invasions, especially those connected to illegal mining and deforestation, with due respect to Brazilian law and the Constitution;
  3. Protect the uncontacted Yanomami in the Serra da Estrutura region from goldminers operating illegally near their community, including rebuilding and equipping the FUNAI protection post that was closed down in 2017;
  4. Ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those uncontacted peoples, are respected through the demarcation of their territories as enshrined in the constitution, and the upholding of the “no contact” principle.


The full letter with the list of signatories. Photos of Davi Kopenawa with the letter can be downloaded here.


Media Contacts

Johannes Mosskin
Public Relations Advisor, Right Livelihood Foundation
+46 (0)70 43 71 148, johannes@rightlivelihood.org

Emoke Bebiak
Communications Manager, Right Livelihood Foundation
+41 78 333 84 84, emoke.bebiak@rightlivelihood.org


About the Right Livelihood Award

Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. To date, there are 178 Laureates from 70 countries. The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation presenting the Award sees its role as being a megaphone and shield for the Laureates and provides them with long-term support. It also helps protect those Award recipients whose life and liberty are in danger. The Foundation has Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.


About Survival International

Survival International is the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. The only organisation that champions tribal peoples around the world, Survival exists to prevent the annihilation of tribal peoples and to give them a platform to speak to the world so they can bear witness to the genocidal violence, slavery and racism they face on a daily basis. From the Amazon to the Kalahari, Survival works in partnership with tribal peoples to protect their lives and land. By lobbying the powerful, Survival helps defend the lives, lands and futures of people who should have the same rights as other contemporary societies.

Survival received the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 for “working with tribal peoples to secure their rights, livelihood and self-determination.”

Media contacts

Emoke Bebiak

English, French & International Media

E-mail: emoke.bebiak@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +41 (0)78 333 84 84

Marina Shupac

Eastern European Media

E-mail: marina.shupac@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: + 373 799 74 628

Mikaela Fredrikson

Multimedia & Copyright

E-mail: mikaela.fredrikson@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +46 (0)70 407 0325

Nayla Azzinnari

Spanish Media

E-mail: nayla@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +54 9 11 5460 9860

Nina Tesenfitz

German Media

E-mail: presse@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +49 (0)170 5763 663

Johannes Mosskin

Swedish Media

E-mail: johannes@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +46 (0)70 437 11 48