The renowned indigenous activist Benki Piyãko is being prosecuted for slander after requesting State protection from imminent threats of violence.
Right on the heels of the death of Marielle Franco, born in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, killed in barbaric fashion for denouncing police brutality, we see the risk of (recent) history repeating itself with Benki Piyãko, spiritual leader and political representative of the Ashaninka tribe of Acre, Brazil.
Piyãko is being threatened by miners and woodsmen for defending the indigenous communities of Acre from their continued attempts at transforming the Amazon into a cesspool of cattle, mercury and poison.
Piyãko, who has won numerous prizes for his tireless defense of sustainable ways of life for the peoples of the forest, issued a formal request for protection from imminent threat at a criminal court in Cruzeiro do Sul, a city of Acre.
The local judge responsible not only decided to ignore the request, but also proposed that the indigenous leader be indicted for “slanderous accusations”. In a further grievance of justice, Acre’s public attorney’s office accepted the judge’s suggestion and is prosecuting Piyãko who is now facing eight years in prison.
“It is very sad to see a country in this situation where one requests protection but instead is incriminated by the courts. This country has seen the humiliation and murder of so many social leaders and activists. I am doing my part to defend the rights of those less fortunate on this land” stated the indigenous leader.
There is a petition circulating the internet in Piyãko’s defense.