The investigative journalism center of Agora Paraná met with the young Kanhu Kamayurá, 19 years old. She is one of the dozens of infanticide survivors who received help from the NGO Atini, an organization that has been accused of inciting hatred of indigenous people in a lawsuit that is secretly going through the justice system as it involves minors, and published in the printed version of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper this Saturday.

In an exclusive interview, Kanhu denies this version. “I saw in the Folha de São Paulo report that they are trying to turn Damares into a bad person, a person who takes children by force from their families. That’s not it. She was one of the people who saved me. Thanks to her I am here, thanks to her I have dreams, thanks to her I want to help other indigenous children who go through the same thing I went through, who have the same difficulties. They said that those who saved us incited hatred, but they brought love, life”, said the indigenous woman.

According to Kanhu, what the newspaper classified as kidnapping or human trafficking is actually the rescuing of children who were sentenced to death and provision for the indigenous families themselves. In an exclusive interview, Kanhu told the story of how she and her family left the village to ensure their survival.
“I am a voice that has not been silenced. I suffer from progressive muscular dystrophy. I had to stay inside a hole, hidden away. My parents asked for help from Atini, who helped my family to go to Brasília so that I could get treatment. If I had stayed in the village I would surely be dead. In the village there is no structure for a girl in a wheelchair, there is no medication, there is no bathroom,” she said. Kanhu came to the city and last year finished high school. “I want to study International Relations or Social Work. I currently live with my parents in the Brasília region. My father works and my mother takes care of me,” she said.

The Folha de São Paulo report calls ATINI the minister’s NGO, however, a document obtained exclusively reveals that Damares Alves has not been a part of the NGO ATINI – a Voice for Life since 2015.

Understand the case

According to the Folha report, the information is about a legal process that is running in secret related to an indigenous teenager. The leak of classified information published by the Folha de São Paulo could be investigated by the courts. Respecting the decision of the Courts of Justice of the Federal District, which decreed secrecy in this case, the report from Agora Paraná will not address this specific case of the lawsuit.

The report also found that other children rescued by the NGO had been sentenced to death. Folha’s story did not address this other side in depth. One example is Hakani, a small Suruwahá Indian girl who was buried alive and rescued by her brother Bibi, who took care of her as best he could for three years, until she asked for help from a couple of missionaries. Today, Hakani is 20 years old and lives in self-exile in the United States because for some sectors of anthropology she should return to the village to be killed in order to maintain the culture. The subject was treated by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office as fiction, after the story of Hakani became a movie that went around the world.

Hakani currently lives in the United States, is fluent in three languages and has got into one of the country’s universities. In 2017, during a public hearing in the Chamber, Gustavo Hamilton de Sousa Menezes, representative of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), admitted that infanticide does exist. “We know that, here it is saying that there are around 20 ethnicities that practice (infanticide), which is not even 10%. We have to raise this, this data has to help produce something, we have to share an interest in revealing what really happens,” said Menezes.

An important piece of information also brought by the documentary is that the Indians do not want, in their great majority, to practice infanticide because they understand that their culture is a living thing and can evolve like any culture in the world. It has also been shown that some indigenous people feel pressured by anthropologists to kill their children on the grounds that the practice is part of the culture.

The response of the Indians on this issue is convergent with the recent testimony of elected President Jair Bolsonaro who said that Indians want doctors in the village, just as any other citizen would want access to healthcare. In the three-year survey that culminated in the documentary, the indigenous people told journalist Sandra Terena that if there were public healthcare available in the village, the indigenous peoples of Brazil would like to raise and care for their children.

The report from Agora Paraná also found survivor Kakatsa Kamayurá, who also lives in Brasília. In September of this year, the indigenous young man who was saved from infanticide was trained on a nursing technician course, with the support of Atini. “My father did not acknowledge me as a son and my grandmother wanted to bury me alive, but a neighbor in the village offered to take care of me. At 17 I came to the city and Atini helped me to stay in the capital. I am now married and live with my family in a satellite city near Brasília,” said Kakatsa.

Searched out for the report from Agora Paraná, Atini’s lawyer, Maíra de Paula Barreto Miranda, did not want to directly comment on the case of alleged sexual abuse in the organization for being in secrecy of justice, but assured that the subject is about free persecution and campaigns through some means to attack the new minister without any foundation.

15/12/2018 às 22:43 – by Carlos Moraes
Image:  Michael Melo & Agora Paraná