The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Brazil on 18 February 2022. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, during which time the Government was expected to respond. The Government did not respond during this period, and any reply, if sent, will be available on the UN communications database.
This is a shorter version of the original communication.
Topic: alleged threats and intimidation of indigenous human rights defender Alessandra Korap Munduruku following her participation in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Ms. Alessandra Korap Munduruku is a Munduruku indigenous woman, environmental human rights defender, and a key indigenous leader in Brazil. She is the coordinator of the the Associação indígena Pariri of the Tapajós Itaituba region. Ms. Munduruku defends the rights, ancestral territories, and culture of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil as main guardians of the Amazon Forest. She received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for her work in 2020.
In November 2021, Ms. Munduruku participated in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom as part of a delegation of Indigenous Peoples from Brazil. During the conference, she, along with other Indigenous leaders, denounced the encroachment of corporations in Indigenous territories, including mining and hydroelectric projects, as well as the lack of protection from the State, and its failure to demarcate Indigenous territories.
During the COP26, Ms. Munduruku and another indigenous activists received threats and were intimidated after they denounced large corporations and the Brazilian Government. At the conference, Ms. Munduruku reportedly suffered an aggressive rebuke by an unidentified individual who questioned that Indigenous Peoples were “mixing politics and environment”. Security guards at the event had to intervene and ask the man to leave the venue. Upon returning to her community, she has experienced alleged threats and intimidation, including the robbery and vandalization of her home, which forced her and her family to relocate for their safety.
On 9 November 2021, Ms. Munduruku returned to her community in Santarém, in southwestern Pará State. On 10 November 2021, Ms. Munduruku’s electricity was cut off by a representative of the local energy provider, allegedly for maintenance reasons. Though her electricity was subsequently restored, the incident was so unusual that it triggered fears for Ms. Munduruku and her family’s safety. For this reason, they left their home to stay with a friend.
During the night of 12 November 2021, Ms. Munduruku’s house was burglarized and vandalized. The perpetrators stole memory cards of security cameras, documents, and money. It is believed the burglary was politically motivated and as such was reported to the Federal Police who inspected her home on 13 November 2021. The results of the police inspection and the investigation into her home invasion are yet to be known. Ms. Munduruku previously suffered such an invasion in 2019, after she had denounced encroachments in Munduruku territories, including mining projects. At that time, documents and reports were stolen and no arrests were made.
From 18-20 December 2021, Ms. Munduruku attended the 17th General Assembly of the Munduruku Peoples of the mid Tapajós and related workshops. In this context, she learned that a woman had been seeking information about her prior to the burglary of her home. Between 25 and 26 December, Ms. Munduruku’s husband was followed by four men in plain clothes in a black car during the night. Ms. Munduruku had also allegedly previously been followed by a black van.
These incidents take place during a time of development projects and encroachment in Munduruku territories, including hydroelectric and mining projects.
In the communication we expressed our concern about the above allegations. In particular, we are concerned at allegations of acts of intimidation during the participation of Ms. Munduruku at the UN COP26, and at the incidents that followed upon her return. Given Ms. Munduruku’s continued advocacy work, particularly her position as Coordinator of the Associação indígena Pariri of the Tapajós Itaituba region, we are concerned at the continued risk of threats, intimidation, and attacks. We are additionally concerned that, if the above allegations are true, they appear to take place in a wider context of intimidation, threats, and attacks against those defending the rights of Munduruku Indigenous Peoples in Para State, as well as Human Rights Defenders in Brazil more broadly. Similar concerns regarding human rights defenders in Para State were outlined in AL BRA 2/2021, to which no reply has been received.