Brasilia. – Police clashed Tuesday with Indigenous protesters armed with bows and arrows outside Brazil’s Congress, leading lawmakers to suspend debate on a controversial land reform bill.
According to Coiab, the main Indigenous organization in Brazil, two indigenous people were hospitalized with severe injuries, and ten more sustained light injuries in the clashes.
Meanwhile the congressional press office said “at least three police officers were wounded with arrows.”
The press office said around 500 protesters tried to “invade” one of the entrances to Congress, and that police responded with tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray after coming under attack with arrows.
However, organizers said the protest was peaceful and that police “brutally” repressed it.
“Today is a troubling day for the right to protest, and for democracy,” lawmaker Joenia Wapichana, Brazil’s first indigenous Member of Parliament and 2018 UN Human Rights Prize.
The events led lawmakers to suspend a committee session on “PL 490,” a bill that would change the regulations establishing protected indigenous lands.
Indigenous rights groups warn the bill would pave the way for things such as mining, hydroelectric dams and road construction on previously protected reserves.