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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Indigenous and Riverbank Communities Call on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Suspend the Massive Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon

November 11, 2010

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today international and Brazilian human rights organizations submitted a formal petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), denouncing grave and imminent violations upon the rights of indigenous and riverine communities affected by the construction of Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. Signed by the Xingu Alive Forever Movement and as well as representatives of affected communities, the petition urgently calls on the Commission to adopt “precautionary measures” that would compel the Brazilian government to halt the dam, slated to be world’s 3rd largest.

The petition documents the Brazilian government’s violation of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples from the lower Xingu Basin, including the Arroz Cru, Arara, and Juruna communities. It also highlights threats posed by the Belo Monte Dam, including forced displacement of communities, threats to food security and access to drinking water. The petition concludes: “Despite the gravity and irreversibility of the impacts of the project to local communities, there were no appropriate measures taken to ensure the protection of human rights and the environment.”

“The Belo Monte dam will cause extensive damage and gravely violate the rights of everyone living along the Xingu River,” stated Antonia Melo, a leader and spokesperson of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement. “This project will uproot entire indigenous and riverine communities. The government is not listening to us.”

Also this week prosecutors from Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF) urged Brazil’s environmental agency IBAMA not issue an installation license until the dam-building consortium Norte Energia can comply with an obligatory set of social and environmental conditions. Norte Energia has been pushing IBAMA to issue a “partial” installation license, which would allow the project to break ground without complying with legally binding conditions on the dam’s provisional license.

“The Brazilian government is ignoring national and international standards to accelerate this project, even at the expense of human rights and the environment,” affirmed Astrid Puentes Riano, the co-Director of the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA). “Moving forward without taking precautions required by international norms will only result in the irreversible destruction of a critically important region of the Amazon.”

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