Brazil: Killing of Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva, one of the leaders of the Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Brazil

Urgent Appeal
en es
DIDA SAMPAIO / Agência Estado


BRA 002 / 0915 / OBS 073
September 10, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Brazil.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by Justiça Global and Indigenous Missionary Council (Conselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI) about the killing of Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva, one of the leaders of the Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Brazil, who actively participated in efforts undertaken for the recognition of indigenous territories and the recognition of the lands of the Guarani-Kaiowá people[1].

According to the information received, on August 29, 2015, Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva was shot in the face while trying to find his son during a land recuperation operation held in the municipality of Antônio João in the western state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The killing of Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva occurred in the context in which land and environmental rights defenders, in particular indigenous rights defenders in Brazil, are increasingly at risk as a result of their human rights work.

Attacks against the Guarani-Kaiowás continue even after the killing of Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva. The Nanderu Marangatu territory was attacked again on August 30 by 60 gunmen, who entered the land shooting against children, elderly people, women and indigenous men. On September 3, 4 and 5, another Guarani-Kaiowá territory was targeted by the farmers, Guyra Kamby’I, which was attacked with fire conflagration and gun shooting.

The Observatory strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Semião Fernandes Vilhalva and the use of excessive force against human rights defenders, including indigenous leaders and activists participating in peaceful land reclamation actions. The Observatory urges the authorities to adopt measures to ensure their effective protection in Brazil and to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Brazil, urging them to:

i. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

ii. Move forward in the processes of Guarani-Kaiowá land demarcation, as delays in the finalization of such processes results in legal uncertainty and insecurity regarding land ownership and foster increased violence in land dispute;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Brazil, including in particular land rights defenders;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

 Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
 Article 12 , which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Brazil.


· H.E. Ms. Dilma Rousseff, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Palácio do Planalto, Praça dos Três Poderes, 70150-900, Brasilia DF, Brazil.

· Mr. Gilberto José Spier Vargas, Secretary for Human Rights, Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, Setor Comercial Sul - B, Quadra 9, Lote C, Edificio Parque Cidade Corporate, Torre A, 10º andar, Brasília, Distrito Federal, Brasil - CEP: 70308-200. Email:; Twitter: @DHumanosBrasil

· Ms. Izabella Mônica Vieira Teixeira, State Minister of the Environment, Ministry of the Environment, Esplanada dos Ministérios - Bloco B, CEP 70068-900 - Brasília/DF, Brazil. FAX: 2028-1756. Email: Twitter: @mmeioambiente

· Mr. João Pedro Gonçalves da Costa, President of the Indian National Foundation (FUNAI), SBS, Quadra 02, Lote 14, Ed. Cleto Meireles, CEP 70.070-120 – Brasília/DF, Brazil, Email:

· H.E. Ms. Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin Louis-Dunant 15 (6th Floor), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 910 07 51, Email:

· H.E. Mr. André Mattoso Maia Amado, Ambassador, Embassy of Brazil in Brussels, Avenue Louise, 350 B-1050, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 640 81 34, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Brazil in your respective country.


Paris-Geneva, September 10, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

— -

[1] In 2005, the territory of Nanderu Marangatu was finally demarcated and approved as belonging to the indigenous people. However, the decision was suspended in the same year by the Federal Supreme Court following an injunction filled by the land owners. As a result, many Guarani were forced to live in overcrowded reserves or in makeshift camps on the roadside where malnutrition, disease and suicide are high.

Read more