Brazilian Indians blockade railway line


awa_railway_blockade_lr.jpgBlockade by a united group of indigenous tribes paralyzes railway line belonging to Brazilian iron ore mine

A protest involving a tribe that Survival International say is the Earth’s most threatened tribe, the Awá, has forced the world’s largest iron ore mine to suspend operations along its main railway line.

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On Tuesday this week, hundreds of Indians including the Awá, took to the tracks of Vale’s Carajás railway to voice their opposition to Brazilian government plans that could weaken their land rights, if legalized. The demonstration follows months of anger surrounding a draft text called Directive 303, which prohibits the expansion of indigenous territories. Brazilian Indians expressed their anger back in July this year when this new directive was initially proposed. The directive, signed by Brazil’s Solicitor-General, is seen as a result of pressure from Brazil’s powerful rural lobby group which includes politicians who own ranches on indigenous land due to be returned to the Indians.

The government has refused to scrap the proposed directive, despite it violating national and international laws by suggesting certain projects can be carried out on Indian land without proper consultation. All the indigenous frustration spilled over on Tuesday. Several different tribes united to demand respect for their land rights; but this blockade is just the latest in a string of controversies to involve mining giant Vale, whose railway borders the territory of the Awá.

Last month, a judge reversed a ruling that had stopped the company from doubling its railway line to increase production. This decision was a blow for the Awá, who blame the railway for bringing thousands of invaders into their lands and for scaring off the animals they hunt.

Source: Suvival International

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