Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A protest against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Members of political parties and civil society organizations protest outside the National Congress in Brasilia on June 30, 2021. (Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images)

Indigenous Group Accuses Bolsonaro of 'Genocide' and 'Ecocide' at The Hague

"We believe that there are ongoing acts in Brazil that constitute crimes against humanity, genocide, and ecocide."

Jake Johnson

A coalition of Indigenous organizations filed a complaint at The Hague on Monday accusing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of carrying out an "explicit, systematic, and intentional" assault on native peoples, pointing specifically to his systematic dismantling of environmental protections and aggressive campaign of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

"We believe that there are ongoing acts in Brazil that constitute crimes against humanity, genocide, and ecocide," Eloy Terena, the legal director of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), said in a statement. Global climate activists and legal experts are currently in the middle of a push to make ecocide an officially recognized crime under international criminal law.

Terena said APIB was forced to take its complaint to the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC) because the current Brazilian justice system lacks the ability and willingness to "investigate, prosecute, and judge" anti-Indigenous actions by the Bolsonaro government.

APIB's filing accuses Bolsonaro of encouraging "illegal activities" by miners and loggers on Indigenous territories in the Amazon rainforest, which the Brazilian president has said should be open to government and corporate exploitation. According to a study published in the journal Nature last month, the climate crisis and deforestation have turned parts of the Amazon basin—a key carbon "sink"—into a source of planet-heating CO2.

Since Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and ramped up deforestation efforts, invasions of Indigenous territories and violent attacks on Indigenous communities in the Amazon have intensified. As National Geographic reported last month, "Indigenous leaders believe their communities are facing the most perilous moment since Brazil returned to democracy in the 1980s, after more than 20 years of military dictatorship."

Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of APIB, said in a statement Monday that his organization's complaint at The Hague is aimed at alerting the ICC to "the authoritarian escalation underway in Brazil."

"The democratic environment is at risk," said Tuxá.

The APIB complaint also slams the Bolsonaro government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 560,000 people in Brazil—the second-highest official death toll in the world behind the United States.

For months, APIB been warning of the devastating impact the virus has had on Indigenous communities and condemning Bolsonaro for refusing to take action to protect the vulnerable. The coalition estimates that there have been 58,017 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Indigenous communities and at least 1,166 deaths.

The Brazilian government's policies, APIB's filing argues, have negatively "affected the life, health, integrity, and existence of Indigenous communities in Brazil, especially that of uncontacted or recently contacted peoples."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Sanders Demands End to Medicare Premium Hike From Alzheimer's Drug

Biogen's original price for the controversial drug, he argues, "is the perfect example of why Medicare should be negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Monumental Victory' as Biden Cancels Boundary Waters Mining Leases

Rep. Betty McCollum called the administration's decision "a rejection of the deeply flawed and politically motivated process under the Trump administration."

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Groups Demand Hearings on the 'Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act'

"The longer Congress waits," warned one advocate, "the stronger and more dangerous this industry will become."

Kenny Stancil ·


Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·


'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo