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  • The UNIJAVA coordinator Kenampa Marubo, Brazil, 2020.

    The UNIJAVA coordinator Kenampa Marubo, Brazil, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @socioambiental

Published 15 April 2020

The contact that missionaries want to carry out exposes Indigenous peoples to an absurd risk of coronavirus contamination.

Due to the risk that the COVID-19 pandemic will spread to the territories of Indigenous peoples, the Union of the Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA) asked a judge in Tabatinga municipality for legal protection to prevent Christian missionaries in their communities.

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"We want the world to know what is going on... because the missionaries here are very strong," the UNIVAJA coordinator Paulo Kenampa Marubo said.

"They have an airplane and argue that there is no law in heaven only on earth. They say no law prevents their entry."

The legal action was filed against U.S.-based missionaries including Andrew Tonkin, who is part of the Frontier International Mission, Josiah Mcintyre, who works with the New Tribes Mission, and Wilson Kannenberg, who is a pilot for Asas do Socorro Mission.

Their organizations are part of the Brazilian Association of Transcultural Missions (AMTB), which brings together several fundamentalist denominations traveling by airplanes to indigenous communities that remain isolated in the Amazon rainforests in Brazil and Peru.​​​​​​​

Kenampa Marubo also denounced that Christian missionaries and pastors are pressuring members of his organization to obtain an entry permit to indigenous communities, which is a requirement that the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) demands in these cases.

However, if the contact with the missionaries were to take place, the Korubo, Kulina-Pano, Marubo, Matis, Matses, Tsohom-dyapa and other Indigenous peoples, who live in isolation from the rest of Brazilian society, would be exposed to mortal risk.

"The absence of a nearby health infrastructure further increases the risk," Brazil's Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) said and explained that there are only 10 health centers, which barely have nursing technicians, in that area of the Amazon.​​​​​​​

"There is no doubt that the attempted contact that the missionaries want to carry out exposes the indigenous population to an absurd risk of contamination, the effects of which will be devastating in fact," local outlet Carta Capital commented.

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