Raoni Metuktire, a spokesman of the Kayapó tribe of the Brazilian Amazon, traveled to the United Nations in Geneva last month, to warn of the devastation that a planned mega-dam would bring to his people.
Raoni warned that the Belo Monte dam project is causing ‘major suffering and negative effects for my people and my relatives’.
The Belo Monte dam, if built, would be the third largest in the world and would greatly harm the forest and lives of thousands of indigenous people, including uncontacted Indians.
It would drastically reduce fish stocks upon which local communities rely for their nutrition, and bring deforestation.
Raoni told UN officials, ‘I am concerned for my people, rivers, land, animals, trees; I want to protect them… If there are no trees on the land, if they burn (the trees), what do we do? What about us?’
He continued, ‘I want all the indigenous peoples of the world to be left in peace, because we all have rights, we are citizens of the world’.
The Brazilian government allowed the construction of the dam to commence, despite widespread concerns of indigenous peoples, river communities, scientists, Brazil’s Public Ministry and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The construction of the dam was suspended last month, and the Indians have stated they will fight to prevent it from continuing.