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29 Nov 2021

Global Witness

Brasil: Global Witness highlight activism of young Indigenous activist who opened COP26 ceremony

"The Earth is speaking: she tells us we have no more time", 29 November 2021

"The Earth is speaking: she tells us we have no more time." These were the words of Txai Suruí - a 24-year-old activist from the Brazilian Amazon - as she spoke at the opening ceremony of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the only Indigenous woman to do so.

“It is a huge responsibility to be representing Indigenous Peoples. We are a large and diverse group, with different cultures and realities. Some suffer with deforestation, others with illegal mining. I speak about the Amazon rainforest because it is the place I live and was born,” said Txai when talking about her experience in Glasgow...

For Txai, climate change and deforestation are not separate issues, but intimately connected... Txai became a rights advocate due to her parents’ activism, especially her father Almir Suruí, one of the most prominent Indigenous leaders in the country. She is also the first Indigenous woman of her community to study law and is currently training to become an environmental lawyer...

Women who defend our environment too often face gender-specific forms of violence, including sexual violence, as reported in our latest data on environmental defenders. After delivering her speech at COP26, Txai received threats and racist attacks via social media...

This dynamic was fully present at COP26 in Glasgow, where over 500 lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry were welcomed through the doors of the debating halls, while the voices of Indigenous Peoples and citizens of countries most affected by the climate crisis were systematically excluded due to vaccine inequity, travel restrictions, high costs, and a litany of logistical failures at the venue itself...