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Alessandra Korap wins Robert Kennedy Rights Award

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

By Ahan Rai

23rd October 2020

Alessandra Korap of the 'Munduruk tribe' in the Amazon was awarded the 'Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Prize' for her role in protecting the rights, traditional lands, and history of indigenous peoples in Brazil in 2020. According to NBC News, the thirty-six-year-old 'Alessandra Korap of the Munduruku tribe' said that "This prize is not for me alone-it is for all of Brazil's Indigenous peoples that are crying out for help."

Alessandra Korap in Brasilia, Brazil on November 21, 2019 (Source- REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)

In recent years the indigenous communities, including the 'Munduruku culture of Alessandra', have encountered immense difficulties in Brazil. Gold miners and loggers unlawfully occupying and abusing indigenous territories, widespread fires in the Amazon, and an elevated risk of coronavirus. Not to mention a combative president who has proactively 'eliminated' rights for indigenous tribes and insulted the coronavirus through her participation in the 'Wakoborun Indigenous Women's Association and the Pariri Indigenous Association'. Alessandra has also played an essential role in promoting women's leadership in the 'Munduruku community' and other Indigenous tribes in Brazil.

In a simulated ceremony in Washington, Kerry Kennedy, the former U.S. senator's daughter, awarded the INR 2,235,157.24 to 'Alessandra Korap of the Munduruk tribe'. Alessandra Korap said in a telephone interview with NBC News that "It has strengthened our cause. We will cry out louder." It comes at a time when President 'Jair Bolsonaro's far-right government' has 'dismantled' indigenous health and educational programs that have turned a blind eye to illicit loggers and gold mines steadily, breaching conservation areas and burning forests, she added.

Korap believed that the award drew attention to her tribe's fight to stop the construction of 'hydroelectric dams on the Tapajos River', where the Munduruku live. This fight has not only brought victory and pride to their tribe but has also gained respect for their reserve lands. By incorporating indigenous communities into Brazilian society and lifting them out of poverty, Bolsonaro defends his proposals. The indigenous leader also spoke about how the president had converted the' indigenous affairs' of the department 'Funai' of the government into a 'farmers body' that would be run by the farm lobby appointees, who are thereby attempting to extend industrial agriculture into tribal lands.

In a report by Today Online- the former senator mentioned how Munduruku had actively resisted "Constant, violent, illegal and sometimes state-sponsored push by loggers and miners to exploit their land."

"The Munduruku people in Brazil are warriors ... and they have survived more than 500 years of oppression, of attempts to destroy their ancestral lands and attempts to abscond with their natural resources", added Kerry while talking at the virtual award ceremony.

"To have the additional backing and support of Kerry Kennedy and her entire organization, especially during the pandemic, will make all the difference as we continue to fight for our rights, including the demarcation of our lands to ensure that Indigenous peoples have their autonomy, and for the fight of women who are also the strength of the resistance", said Alessandra Korap of the 'Munduruk tribe'- reported by GlobeNewswire.

(Sources- NBC News, UK Reuters, Today Online, Nasdaq, Globe Newswire, MSN)

Edited by- Nivedita Dutta

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