Conference Invitation: Awá, On the Brink of Extinction


Date: Wednesday 22 January 2014, 3-6.30 pm

Venue: European Parliament, Room A7F387, Brussels

Somalilandsun- The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in coordination with Richard Howitt (S&D) and Catherine Grèze (Greens) MEPs will be convening a conference at the European Parliament to assess the precarious situation of Brazil’s indigenous peoples.

The Awá tribe, also referred to as Guajá, lives in the rainforest area of the state of Maranhão, on the eastern Amazon forest of Brazil. Besides harassment from loggers and other illegal settlers, the Awá tribe has been facing relocation to legally demarcated reservations by the Brazilian government since 1973. In 1980, with the launch of the Carajas mining project, extractive industries pursued their activities at an alarming pace for the Awá tribe, whose population has shrunk to only 450 members.

Despite the different international instruments acknowledging Indigenous peoples rights in Brazil – the ratification of the ILO 169 Convention on Tribal Peoples in 2002 and the signature of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 – Indigenous peoples in Brazil are still facing evictions from their traditional lands, and the violation of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in mining projects is often reported. This timely conference comes as Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) stated just a few days ago that the Brazilian Ministry of Justice will give a forty-day notice, urging all trespassers to leave Awá lands. This has been the first substantial move from the Brazilian authorities and the Minister of Justice to enforce Indigenous rights, and thus to save the Awá, one of the last partially uncontacted tribes in the world. However, the future for the Awá people is still under severe threat.


With two panels hosting international experts, from governmental, academic and civil society backgrounds, the conference will focus on the challenges the Awá are currently facing in securing their existence. Confirmed speakers are Padre Ton (Brazilian MP), Barbara Truffin (Free University of Brussels), Sarah Shenker (Survival International), Adrianus Koetsenruijter (EEAS) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The discussion will intend to inform an audience of policy makers, press and activists, and assess current and future courses of action on the protection of Indigenous peoples in Brazil.

To register for this event, please contact UNPO sending your full name, ID/Passport number, DOB, place of residence and nationality to

Registration closes on 15 January 2014

More detailed information on the Conference is available on and on our Facebook page