Aug. 22, 2019 – Responding to the news of the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:
“The responsibility to stop the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks now lies squarely with President Bolsonaro and his government. They must change their disastrous policy of opening up the rainforest for destruction, which is what has paved the way for this current crisis.
“Earlier this year Amnesty International documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near Indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondônia state where many of the fires are raging.
“Deforestation in the territories Amnesty visited has doubled this year compared to the same time period in 2018 because of illegal invaders who are felling trees, starting forest fires and attacking Indigenous communities living there.
“Despite this, President Bolsonaro has deliberately sought to weaken protections of the rainforest and undermine the rights of the one million Indigenous Peoples who live there.
“Now that the city of São Paulo, thousands of kilometers away from the Amazon, has been shrouded in darkness from the resulting smoke plume, the President has tried to smear NGOs with the slander that they started the fires.
“Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the President to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires. This is essential to protect people’s right to a healthy environment, as well as their right to health given the impact on air quality over wide swathes of Brazil and neighboring countries.
“And for the rest of the world wondering what they can do to protect the Amazon, campaigning for the protection of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples is key to preventing further deforestation.
“We must stand together behind the Indigenous communities and leaders across the Amazon region – from Brazil to Ecuador and beyond. For them the Amazon is more than the lungs of the world, it is their home.”