This morning about 150 Tupinikim and Guarani Indians blocked the ES-010 road in protest against the arrest of 15 people on 9 August 2006. The protesters demanded the immediate release of the people arrested, who are accused of stealing wood from Aracruz, Brazil’s pulp giant.
They were arrested on an area of land covering 11,009 hectares which is under dispute between the Indians and Aracruz. The company established its plantations in Espírito Santo on land belonging to the Indians. In January 2006, Aracruz was involved in the violent eviction of Tupinikim and Guarani from two villages on land that the Indians had reclaimed from Aracruz.
According to Aracruz, 23 people were arrested, including 15 Indians. The demonstrators prevented Aracruz employees from getting to work. Aracruz claims that there were only about 60 people “including teenagers and children”. Aracruz’s manager for community affairs, Jessé Moura Marques, said “Once again, Aracruz is being used as an instrument of pressure by a part of the indigenous communities who are interested in calling attention to the authorities to resolve matters that go beyond the decision-making powers of the company.”
Once again, Aracruz is avoiding taking responsibility for the fact that its plantations were established on Indian land.
We suggest the following message (in which we demand for the release of the people, in which we say there is no legal reason to keep people in prison who never underwent any crime and also have a permanent address, that we are concerned about the fact that this arrest is related with the land struggle Indians-Aracruz and the fact that Aracruz Celulose is apparently abusing of its power and influence to keep the Indians arrested in degrading conditions for almost 20 days, and finally, that we hope that measures will be taken so that the Indians will be released immediately):
Tribunal da Justiça do Estado do Espírito Santo
A/C Ouvidoria Geral
Através desta, vimos solicitar a imediata libertação de 15 índios presos na delegacia da Polícia Civil na cidade de Aracruz(ES), desde o último dia 9 de agosto.
Não há nenhum motivo legal para manter estes índios presos, já que são réus primários e todos têm residência fixa. Eles podem portanto responder processo em liberdade.
Vale esclarecer também que neste momento existe um conflito de terra entre as comunidades indígenas e a empresa Aracruz Celulose, que aparentemente está usando todo seu poder e sua influência para manter os índios presos, em condições degradantes, já por quase 20 dias.
Ficamos atentos a este processo, e confiamos que o Senor(a) tome as devidas providências para que os índios sejam libertados quanto antes,