A cry for help from the Amazon rainforest

A young Paiter Surui treehugger A young Paiter Surui treehugger, Brazil

Brazil’s indigenous Paiter Surui people are desperate for help: armed illegal loggers, gold and diamond miners are invading their ancestral land, felling trees, poisoning rivers and threatening the forest dwellers at gunpoint. Tell the Brazilian government to stop this unfolding environmental and humanitarian disaster NOW.

Call to action

To: the Brazilian government, President Michel Temer and responsible ministers

Take action to protect the rainforest of the indigenous Paiter Surui against illegal loggers, gold and diamond miners!

Read letter

The Paiter Surui live in a 250,000-hectare territory in the Amazon rainforest. The following is an abridged translation of the indigenous people’s original Portuguese letter to the global community:

Rondônia, Brazil, October 13, 2016

“I am Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Paiter Surui indigenous people. Our population lives in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.

This is my cry of alarm, please listen to me!”

Since the beginning of 2016, we have been suffering an invasion by illegal loggers and miners of diamonds and gold. Every day, over 300 trucks leave our territory filled with wood. Yet according to the constitution of Brazil, it is illegal to deforest an indigenous reservation.

The illegal loggers use heavy machinery such as bulldozers. We have found mercury and cyanide used by the miners in three rivers of the Surui territory.

In addition to environmental damage and the challenge to our way of life, this invasion directly endangers our families and our children. Either one cooperates, or they put a gun to our heads!

Despite our appeals for help against this mafia, the new government has not responded. In its silence, it has become a tacit accomplice to this destruction of the forest and the endangering of our people!

We do not know what to do. Help!

  1. We ask you to write to the Brazilian embassies in your own countries to express your outrage.
  2. We also ask you to boycott all Brazilian products.
  3. We ask the different political bodies to establish an international observer mission on deforestation.

Finally, on behalf of the Surui people and all indigenous people who are trying to protect the Amazon rainforest, we ask you to distribute this letter to all your contacts in the world and on social networks, because today we are all connected in a common destiny.

Back­ground

Paiter Surui

The Paiter Surui are one of the more than 240 indigenous peoples in Brazil. Their territory is located in the Brazilian state of Rondônia about 30 kilometers north of the city of Cacoal. 

The people lived in isolation until 1969, when they first came in contact with the “developed” world. The Paiter Surui have sustained the rich nature of their territory to this day. Their way of life consists of hunting, shifting cultivation on small plots, fishing, and collecting fruits, honey, medicinal plants and palm fronds as roofing.

Deforestation by loggers, settlers and land speculators has already destroyed vast tracts of rainforest in Rondônia. Land that until a couple of years ago was lush forest is now covered with barren pastures, sugarcane and soy plantations, mining waste dumps and eroded land. Rondônia is the Brazilian state with the highest deforestation rates in the Amazon. Half of the original 200,000 square kilometers of rainforest have already been cleared.

The Paiter Surui’s recognized 250,000-hectare “Sete de Setembro” reservation is currently one of the last intact rainforest areas in Rondônia – and surrounded by clearings, roads and settlements (see satellite image).

The 41-year-old Almir Surui has devoted his life to the preservation of the rainforest and was the first of his people to attend a university. Almir has established contacts around the globe and is pursuing a mapmaking project to demarcate the people’s territory. An article on Smithsonian.com, “Rain Forest Rebel”, profiles Almir and documents the ways in which indigenous peoples are working together to stop illegal loggers and developers.

Since 2013, the Paiter Surui have been operating a REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD+ is a climate protection concept designed to finance the conservation of forests as carbon sinks. Polluters offset their greenhouse gas emissions by paying forest owners to conserve nature.

Whether the concept will help the world’s climate and promote forest conservation is controversial. For example, some complain that the REDD+ project run by the Surui Paiter and Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, has fueled internal conflicts among the forest dwellers, prompting some Paiter Surui leaders to call for it to be terminated.

Ultimately, all efforts to protect the rainforest and preserve the way of life of indigenous people will be doomed to failure if the Brazilian authorities do not ensure the rule of law. The government and authorities have mostly been standing idly by while rainforests and indigenous reservations are plundered by loggers, settlers, speculators and miners, and the inhabitants are harassed and disenfranchised.

Translation of the full text of the Paiter Surui letter

Gamebey (Associação Metareilá do Povo Indígena Surui)

Rua Geraldo Cardos Campos Nr. 4343, Cacoal, Rondônia, Brasilien

ASSOCIATION OF THE INDIGENOUS PAITER SURUI PEOPLE

Rondônia, Brazil, October 13, 2016

“I am Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Paiter Surui indigenous people. Our population lives in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.

This is my cry of alarm, please listen to me!”

Since the beginning of 2016, we have been suffering an invasion by illegal loggers and miners of diamonds and gold.  Every day, over 300 trucks leave our territory filled with wood, representing 600 hectares of deforested land.  According to the constitution of Brazil, it is illegal to deforest an indigenous reservation. The illegal loggers use heavy machinery such as bulldozers. We have found mercury and cyanide used by the miners in three rivers of the Surui territory.

The implications are disastrous: In addition to environmental damage and the challenge to our way of life, this invasion directly endangers our families and our children. Either one cooperates, or they put a gun to our heads!  In addition, they try to bribe some of my people with money. For fear and lack of alternatives, some of my people accept, against their first resolve to protect the forest. The situation is terrible!  

We, the Surui indigenous people, are the first to have set up a REDD+ project to save the Amazon forest, lung of our planet. But this invasion undermines the REDD agreement and goes against the spirit of the COP21 agreements!

Despite our appeals for help against this mafia, the new government has not responded. In its silence, it has become a tacit accomplice to this destruction of the forest and the endangering of our people! 

We do not know what to do. Help!

As citizens, NGOs or institutions, you can help us in four ways:

1. We ask you to write to the Brazilian embassies in your own countries to express your outrage and ask the new Brazilian government to intervene quickly.

2. We also ask you to boycott all Brazilian products as the Brazilian government does not react.

3. We ask the different political bodies to establish an international observer mission on deforestation.

4. Finally, on behalf of the Surui people and of all indigenous people who are trying to protect the Amazon rainforest, in the name of our struggle to preserve a future for all children of this planet at the price of our lives, in the name of hope for the future, we ask you to distribute this letter to all your contacts in the world and on social networks, because today we are all connected in a common destiny.

Thanking you,

Almir Narayamoga Surui

Chief of the Paiter Surui Indigenous People

Further information

- Surui Forest Emergency Call on Facebook

- Text of the original emergency call in Portuguese

- Smithonian.com: “Rain Forest Rebel”

- REDD Monitor: “Leaders of the Paiter Suruí ask that the carbon project with Natura be terminated”

- Website of the Paiter Surui indigenous organization (in Portuguese)

Letter

To: the Brazilian government, President Michel Temer and responsible ministers

Dear Mr. President, dear ministers,

Brazil’s indigenous Paiter Surui people have issued an emergency call to the global community. For months, armed illegal loggers and gold and diamond miners have been plundering their ancestral land in the state of Rondônia.

300 truckloads of timber leave the area daily. The rivers are being contaminated with mercury and cyanide, and the forest dwellers threatened at gunpoint.

The statement by indigenous leaders notes that the Brazilian government has ignored the people’s calls for help, and with its silence, is making itself a tacit accomplice to the destruction of the rainforest and the demise of the Paiter Surui people.

As concerned citizens of the world, we call on you on behalf of the Paiter Surui: Please take all necessary measures to ensure the long-term protection of the 250,000 hectares of Paiter Surui rainforest and guarantee the survival and rights of the forest dwellers without delay.

Kind regards,

Please sign

Help us reach 200,000:

156,227
Recent activity