Brazil: Campaign Calls Attention to Toxic Impact of Mining Activity on Health and Environment of Amazon Community

05/01/2020
Press release
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Açailândia, Paris — The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Brazilian human rights and environmental group Justiça Nos Trilhos launch a campaign today alerting people around the world that they are unwittingly consuming mining and steel companies’ products that have, for over three decades, worsened the health and polluted the environment of people in the Piquiá de Baixo community in the Brazilian Amazon.

FIDH and creative agency Babel learned in December that their Piquiá campaign had received the silver medal of the 2020 Epica Prize: a strong recognition of FIDH’s innovation.

Established in 1987, Epica is unique as it is the only creative prize judged by the press: over 200 magazines and websites from around the world are on the jury. Epica rewards outstanding creativity whether it comes from agencies, media consultancies, PR, marketing or tech firms, production houses, design studios or individual artists, to develop their reputations beyond their national borders.

Link: https://winners.epica-awards.com/2020/winners?category=Online+%26+Viral+Films

This campaign, launched to coincide with Grupo Ferroeste’s 30-year anniversary of mining activity in the municipality of Açailândia, encourages people worldwide to support the community’s fight for its rights. Companies and government authorities have long turned a blind eye to the devastating consequences brought about by the industries’ activities. Yet the situation remains dire, while government and company leaders have not shouldered their responsibilities and behave as if nothing were wrong.

The video released today, “An invitation to Piquiá de Baixo”, invites those who are directly responsible for the violations to come walk a mile in the shoes of those who have had to deal with the consequences of their irresponsible behaviour. Representatives of multinational corporations and the government are so-called guests of honour, to share a banquet with community members. The tongue-in-cheek invitation describes a menu of “contaminated fish” and “seasonal fruit coated with iron dust.

"Around the world, we unwittingly consume steel tainted by irresponsible corporations’ appalling violations," said Maria Isabel Cubides, researcher at FIDH’s business and human rights desk.

"In sharing this invitation to Piquiá, we hope that the pubic will support the community in its struggle by demanding that companies finally take responsibility and provide redress for the harm they have caused."

Maria Isabel Cubides, researcher at FIDH's business and human rights desk

For over 10 years, FIDH has made Piquiá de Baixo’s struggle its own. It has carried out several missions to visit the community, sounded the alarm about its critical situation, and issued many recommendations to companies and authorities in two reports (2011 and 2019) and press releases. In the same vein, the United Nations special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes requested that the necessary resources be put in place to relocate the community and urged the government of Brazil and companies involved to issue an official apology to the community and grant reparation to those whose rights were violated. To this day, no such action has been taken.

After decades of neglect, the Piquiá community deserves to finally be heard. With this campaign, we encourage the public to help us lift up Piquiá’s voice and oblige those responsible to compensate the damage caused; in this way we aim to give hope to the 300 families making up the Piquiá de Baixo community — families who do not deserve to continue enduring such egregious violations.

Support Piquiá’s struggle by signing the petition

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