| Nov 7, 2022
Protecting Environmental Defenders in Brazil
Xingu Indigenous Man / Credit: Christian Poirier
The Belo Monte Dam is the third-largest dam in the world. The dam is located in the northern part of the Xingu River in Brazil and covers 500 square kilometers of forest and farmland. Due to the dam’s operations, the people of the Xingu have lost a main resource of survival, and over 20,000 people have been forced to leave their communities. A similar situation could happen if Belo Sun Mining Corporation is situated in the region. Belo Sun is a gold mine located in Volta Grande, part of the Xingu River, and if put into operations could leech contaminating fluids, employ high quantities of cyanide, and cause acidic waste to reach rivers.
AIDA has been working with local communities and organizations for years to bring visibility to the damage created by the Belo Monte dam to the communities and the ecosystem and amplified why Belo Sun will only destroy the Xingu even more.
The year 2022 is proving very difficult for the communities of the Xingu. Threats and hostilities to defenders opposing the implementation of the Belo Sun mining company have intensified, leading to several security incidents. AIDA is supporting the strengthening of grassroots organizations that accompany the defenders, as well as coordinating networks of allies who are joining forces to deal with criminalization, social marginalization, and direct threats. We assisted defenders in obtaining emergency resources, being removed from the field, and applying for inclusion in the defender protection program.
We have also written a report on the situation of threats against the life and integrity and stigmatization of defenders in the region, which we intend to send to the UN Special Rapporteur on Defenders as soon as there is guaranteed security for the defenders. In the meanwhile, we have submitted, in the Universal Periodic Review of the Brazilian state, in alliance with other organizations, two reports that specify the human rights violations and risks of the project's implementation in the region.
AIDA is working in alliance to counter the criminalization promoted by Belo Sun, and seeking to implement a strategy to combat the demonization of the Public Ministry among communities co-opted by the company, thus fostering unity and forming an organized resistance.