Murder of Indians hits 11-year high

January 9, 2006

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The shooting of Guarani Kaiowá leader Dorvalino Rocha by hired gunmen on Christmas Eve brought the number of Brazilian Indians murdered in 2005 to thirty-eight – the highest figure in eleven years.

An employee of a private security firm has confessed to Dorvalino Rocha's murder. Rocha and his community were evicted by police from their land, Ñanderú Marangatú, on 15 December. The land was officially recognised as belonging to the Guarani-Kaiowa in March 2005, but ranchers are contesting the recognition in Brazil's supreme court. The Indians are now living by the roadside.

The Brazilian support organisation CIMI believes the rocketing murder figures are due to the Brazilian government's failure to recognise Indian land. Only five Indian territories were officially recognised in 2005 – a rate at which it would take at least 45 more years for Brazilian Indians to see their land recognised.

Leia Aquino, a Guarani Kaiowá woman from Ñanderú Marangatú, said today, ‘We are very worried. We are very scared and don't have the courage to go out, not even to buy the things we need most…. Last year was terrible for us. We lost many people, and not only in Ñanderú Marangatú.'

Survival's director Stephen Corry says, ‘Dorvalino Rocha's death was a tragedy that need not have happened. The Brazilian government must reverse the shameful murder rate and give the Guarani Kaiowá, and all Brazilian Indians, back their land.'

Photos and footage available. For more information call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]