Rio de Janeiro DECLARATION
Representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Black people, pastors and bishops and lay members of churches from various parts of the world, met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 23 to 28 November 1999. Their objective was to analyse how racism and discrimination are understood today, and to define effective means of making the rights of individuals, peoples and groups affected be fully respected by States, governments and societies.
After having heard, analysed and discussed a variety of issues, we express our concern about:
1. Our profound indignation with regard to the current conditions in which the Indigenous Peoples and Black people of Brazil live. They are stripped of their land and natural resources and when they defend themselves, are unjustly repressed by the State and local landowners, while companies implement projects that harm their lives and environment. Another serious issue is that the State does not recognise them as full citizens. We urge the authorities, society and federal governments of Brazil to take urgent measures to end the abuses of these peoples’ rights, so they can live in peace and develop their communities.
2. The implementation of neoliberal policies, economic globalisation and privatisation policies are leading to an accelerating impoverishment and degradation of the conditions and dignity of women, Indigenous Peoples, the Black people and the poor in most countries of the world.
3. Many States and governments continue racist and discriminatory policies which have the effect of oppressing, marginalising, exploiting Indigenous Peoples, Black people and women. Only the form has changed, becoming more sophisticated than in previous decades, but the results are the same: the destruction of life, identity and dignity of citizens, especially those groups and peoples that are vulnerable to impositions of any kind.
4. We support a stand of resistance and adopt the right of Indigenous Peoples anywhere in the world to oppose economic, political, social, cultural, educational and other projects that destroy life, territory, natural resources and the environment in general.
Governments and policy-makers must be reminded that we have entered a new stage of relations and that oppression and repression does not contribute to peace, democracy and development. Racism and discrimination are practices that divide, putting us into confrontation with each other, which benefits no one.
The signatories of this Declaration make an urgent call to all governments and States in the world to begin or, when that is the case, to continue, legal and constitutional reforms. To take decisions in conjunction with their Indigenous and Black people and women to seek solutions to the serious problems that directly affect them.
Finally, we urge the churches, of all origins, whether local, national or world councils to work with Indigenous Peoples, women and Black people and with any other oppressed people in their process of struggle in the recognition and full respect for their specific rights.
Rio de Janeiro, 28 November 1999.