domingo, 6 de julho de 2008

Mercio Gomes´ statement on the Zuruahá video

Dear non-Portuguese speaking viewers of this Blog. 

This past week I placed two posts on a video on Zuruahá infanticide. They were written in Portuguese. Some of you who read them or had them translated left several comments. By the gist of them I feel that some missed the point of my comments, and that is why I am posting this notice to clarify things.

To begin with, my posts on the video did not concern my anthropological and humanistic views on infanticide among the Zuruahá or among other Indian cultures in Brazil. That view I did not express in the posts in any way.

My main concern was with a video that uses children to perform an act that is by all means condemnable and that may constitute an indictment on the Zuruahá. Furthermore, the act was purposely intended to provoke disgust and horror on other people, as it indeed provoked.

This sort of thing is unacceptable in Brazil. Those means do not justify the ends, whatever they might be. I dare say it is unacceptable as well in the United States, Canada, England, India, Sweeden, and any country that keeps a standard of respect and protection of children.

The video was made with an aesthetics of horror and curse movies, and it appeals to base emotions and feelings, not to elevated sentiments of love and charity, as Christians ought to feel and behave.

My anthropological background tells me to respect other cultures´s practices and values. Most anthropologists follow this attitude. Nevertheless, in many instances, an anthropologist has to take upon himself to transcend his profession and take attitudes that go beyond it. I believe that is the case with infanticide, with terrorism, with violence in general, and with other important human issues. In all cases, I take a stand against a relativistic attitude.

Over the years many Indian cultures in Brazil stopped the practice of infanticide, and for many different reasons. Some of them did it spontaneously, others were helped by missionaries and mostly by Funai (National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples) civil servants. In all cases, the practice was abandoned by persuasion in view of a close relationship between the people who practiced it and the people who helped them. A relationship of charity, self-abandonment, and love. Most of the cases were achieved without any show of media, self-serving attitudes, and self-righteousness.

This statement is intended to clarify only my comments on the Zuruahá video. It is not intended to cover the issue of infanticide and the actions that ought to be done to help people abandon it. That would take more human resources than I can dare imagine. In any case, it could never be done without pulling together the resources of the Brazilian state, through the Ministry of Justice, the National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai), the National Health Foundations (Funasa), the General Attorney Office, the Public Ministry, clergy of all denominations -- and especially the indigenous peoples concerned. Who would be able to lead this task, I don´t know. In any case, it is being done in many indigenous areas by the attitude of love and respect of people, and through modest and simple demeanor.

Finally, I am sorry to say but this statement does not intend to be an engagement in a strict dialogue with those that have defended the Zuruahá video and the Jocum organization. It is probable that that organization shall be sued by the Brazilian government for exposing such a video and for making it without proper authorization. For those who want to know about Brazilian Indian legislation, interethnic relations, and history, I immodestly recommend my book The Indians and Brazil (Gainesville: UPF, 2000) It might also be possible that the American Anthropological Association will issue a statement regarding the unethical character of the mentioned video. 

Those who wish to use my statement to pick out phrases to attack me might as well as lay their pen to rest. I shan´t give them the benefit of my response.

14 comentários:

Makoto Shimizu disse...

I am afraid that Mr Mercio has missed the point of hundreds of comments in Brazilian Portuguese and English that are against the crime of infanticide and do approve the actions, including the film , to stop this and to save innocent children lives. A crime was denounced but Mr Mercio gives more importance and priority to mobilize everything he can to prohibit the exhibition of the film, to prosecute the film makers. The few anonymous supporters of Mr Mercio showed a strong prejudice against Christian missionaries, totally against the Brazilian Law and International Human Rights Declaration. Brazilian Indian Policy is from the times of a Totalitary State - Many old fashioned anthropologists consider that indigenous people are their exclusive property, they do not consider them human beings with full citizenship rights, they want to keep isolated indians tribes in the wild for their exclusive access as a group of wild animals in danger of extintion. This blog in English has a commercial purpose, to sell his book. Mr Mercio has shown no mercy for the assassinated children. Mr Mercio has been merciless against those that have been saving disabled, abandoned children. May God have mercy on Mr Mercio and give him a humble and merciful heart.

Anônimo disse...

bullshit, mr mercio
only bullshit, what you wrothe

Why you don't have made nothing wen you'r in funai's presidence?

Any question: in europe have some indians too? You lived so much time there while you'r whas Funai's president...
shuayshuahysyahyahayhsyahahas cuisp cuisp...
I know her
shameless antropologist, only think in self benefit.

Thomas disse...

Mr. Mercio,
With respect to your statement, "My main concern was with a video that uses children to perform an act that is by all means condemnable and that may constitute an indictment on the Zuruahá." I find it hard to believe that you are so gullible that you think the children were actually harmed in making this film. Do you think PITA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) should mount an assault on Steven Speilberg for his attrocities against that poor shark in Jaws? What of all the innocent Jews he murdered to make Schilndler's List. If you really want to attack someone, I respectfully suggest you focus on the big offenders like Speilberg. And to address your complaint about the "indictment on the Zuruahá," did you happen to notice that all the actors were tribal people and that they were the ones speaking out in the documentary portion against the practice of infanticide. Would it blow your mind if I told you the girl on whose life the movie is based is Zuruahá. The heroes and victims of the story are Zuruahá as well as the villains. I look at that movie and see the courage of Bibi, to go against his tribe and family to save his sister, and think these people have a kind strength rarely seen in our culture. The negative Zuruahá characters are far outweighed by the positive.
Also, you claim not to express an opinion about the practice of infanticide, yet you very cleary express an opinion about filming a staged reinactment of the practice, where camera tricks and syrup replace torture and blood. "This sort of thing is unacceptable in Brazil. Those means do not justify the ends, whatever they might be. I dare say it is unacceptable as well in the United States, Canada, England, India, Sweeden, and any country that keeps a standard of respect and protection of children."
Well, Mr. Mercio, I couldn't have put it better myself. I only wish you would judge the actual act of killing children as reprehensible as pretending to.

Cristina disse...

Mércio, I respect you, but I´m sorry I don´t lelieve you! I know what you did with the zuruahá in São Paulo.

Anônimo disse...

Wow... I find it interesting that you seem to find it reprehensible that a film using willing actors portraying a real-life situation is horrific! Hmm.. guess you havent spent much time watching movies lately.. With all your studies of past and present cultures, one would think that you would applaud the accurate cultural representation shown in the movie. Hmmmmm could it be that you and your closed minded views are a part of your closed culture?

T.P.Edwards disse...

As far as I know, all of the actors were willing to take part in the drama, they were (according to the site survivors of infanticide or people who had saved someone from it.

What my quarrel is, is that the practice of infanticide is clearly against the International Human Rights as stated by the UN, of which, Brazil, is a signatory country, and thus must comply to these rules.

Think of this analogy. A man from a tribe is raping young pre-adolescent boys. Would the Brazilian government intervene then? What about if the whole tribe were abusing babies. This is a question that goes a long way beyond cultural-relativism and tradition.

I am sure, without a doubt, that the Brazilian government would imprison any, and all paedophile groups if they were to know of them. Child abuse is a terrible thing, everyone can agree on this. It cannot be called "cultural", not here, and not in any country that is a signatory of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Infanticide is worse than child abuse, and so why is it still allowed in Brazilian territory?


Anônimo disse...

Let me get this straight: you're more in favor of preserving cultural practices (infanticide) than in preserving a child's life?

If so, that is reprehensible, as it means you do not place much value on the lives of Indians.

Makoto Shimizu disse...

Dear non-Portuguese speakers, there is some light in the middle of all this evil darkness efforts to keep innocent and defenseless indian children at the will of merciless people - The Brazilian Congress will vote a specific law, known as MUWAJI´s LAW ( LEI MUWAJI ) that points that it is CRIME to omit, to not take action in cases of indian children in danger, and this includes even FUNAI and FUNASA staff that were under evil command that was hindering them to effectively protect the children lives. Once approved the law will give the good the legal coverage they need to proactively act to do the right thing.

Anônimo disse...

"The truth behind the facts": your blog has clear goals: self-promotion to sell your books.

You criticize the video Hakani and their producers looking for some publicitity.

But, as this case is very important to the brazilian society, and I think you did not know this before your post, the truth came out: can the people in Brazil have acess to the information about the indian infanticide? Can the brazilizian citizens to decide what they have to do, after the knowledge about the facts? The video Hakani is a very important part of this discussion, that includes the main interested: the indians. Absolutely this is not a media show! Remember: the survivers were the actors.

We need to take position about this situation, including to require Funai to help indians children in danger. Or maybe there is no more children survivers in the future.

Sheila Smith DDS disse...

In response to yur blog regarding the Hakani video: surely you don't mean to imply that the people who made that video, whoever they are, had an ulterior motive for doing so, and that using the children as actors was so harmful to them it is criminal. If one child is saved from that horrifying fate, I would let my children act in a thousand such videos. Please, imagine your own precious child buried ALIVE. Obviously there are many within the tribes who want the practice stopped. Pass the necessary legislation, and be grateful that the producers cared enough for these children to make this movie, I'm sure at their own expense and great personal risk. People like that are the ones that get things done, instead of just "spinning" the issue, as we say in America. Thank you for your kind attention tho this issue.

Rhoda Mulhall disse...

Dear Mr. Mercio, thank you for creating a forum for people to respond to the Hakini film. Every human life has equal value. If we continue to approve of such behaviors and traditions of culture, we are giving permission to the world to commit murderous crimes and be defended by their culture. Please pass the Bill.

Isabel disse...

With all due respect, I would like to respond to several of your comments.

1. If Hakani’s appeal at the end of the film does not appeal to “elevated sentiments of love and charity, as Christians ought to feel and behave”, then I don’t know what would. Did you really watch the whole film?

2. As I understand it, the couple who adopted Hakani, legally, waited for 5 years, enduring all kinds of unreasonable opposition from FUNAI and others, before their appeal was heard. They have rarely been treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. They have exhibited anything but a self-serving attitude all through the many trials and unreasonable opposition. They have never exhibited self-righteousness or fanaticism. There are many congressional records which prove this. No one is denying that many other people, FUNAI workers included, have tried to intervene in different ways, to avert cases of infanticide. The fact that many Indigenous parents are now seeking alternatives and looking for support, should alert the FUNAI, FUNASA and others to do all they can to support those who are supporting the indigenous people in their own struggles against a custom they no longer wish to observe. It is hard to understand why there is criticism of any who are seeking to support the indigenous people. Why not partner with them? Why not work together to make Brazilians and the world proud of Brazil’s response to indigenous concerns?

You say you are not seeking to engage in a strict dialogue with those who have defended the video and Jocum. It is disappointing that you are not willing to dialogue, not only in the blog but face to face. It is an oft-repeated error to judge all members of an organization by the organizational label. That happens to members of FUNAI as it does to members of ONGs and religious missions. It is time for everyone to discover the people behind the many labels. We can only find the truth by seeking for it.

Anônimo disse...

Contra o INFANTICÍDIO PDF Imprimir E-mail

Carta Aberta do

Ao presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, à D. Marisa e à Nação Brasileira.

Nós, indígenas do Mato Grosso e do Brasil, pedimos a sua atenção para os casos de infanticídio que ocorrem impunemente nas aldeias indígenas do Brasil. O infanticídio não é um fato novo. Infelizmente sempre esteve presente na história das culturas indígenas. Entretanto, este assunto tem ganhado visibilidade na mídia com a divulgação da história da menina Hakani da etnia Suruahá, que sobreviveu ao infanticídio após o suicídio dos pais e irmãos.

Estamos vivendo um momento de mudanças - de profundas mudanças em nossa cultura e estilo de viver. Hoje vivemos um novo tempo e a realidade dentro das comunidades indígenas e outra. Já não vivemos confinados nas nossas aldeias, condenados ao esquecimento e a ignorância. O mundo já esta dentro das aldeias através da TV e da INTERNET e da escola. O acesso à informação têm colocado o indígena em sintonia com os acontecimentos globais.

Tudo isso tem alterado nossa visão de mundo. Hoje já não somos objetos de estudos, mas sujeitos, protagonistas de nossa própria historia, adquirindo novos saberes e conhecimentos que valorizam a vida e a nossa cultura.

Somos índios, somos cidadãos! Vivendo na cidade ou na aldeia, não abandonamos as riquezas de nossas culturas, mas julgamos que somos capazes de distinguir o que é bom é o que é danoso à vida e a cultura indígena. Assumimos a responsabilidade de nosso destino e de fazer escolhas que contribuem para nosso crescimento. Recusamos-nos a ser meros fantoches nas mãos das organizações científicas e de estudo. Chega de sermos manipulados por organizações governamentais e não-governamentais!

Portanto manifestamos nosso repúdio a pratica do infanticídio e a maneira irresponsável com que essa questão vem sendo tratada pelos Órgãos Governamentais. Não aceitamos o argumento de antropólogos baseados no relativismo cultural. De acordo com a própria Constituição brasileira de 1988 que em seu artigo 227 determina:

“É dever da família, da sociedade e do Estado, assegurar à Criança e ao adolescente, com absoluta prioridade, o direito à vida , à saúde, à alimentação, à educação ao lazer à profissionalização, à cultura e à dignidade, ao respeito, à liberdade é à convivência familiar e comunitária, além de colocá-las a salvo de toda forma de negligência, discrimininação, exploração, violência, crueldade e opressão!”

E em nome deste preceito constitucional é que nos dirigimos à nação brasileira, em especial ao Presidente Lula e à esposa D. Marisa, assim como aos congressistas e aos governantes estaduais municipais, para manifestar nossa indignação com a falta de respeito à vida em especial das crianças vítimas do infanticídio.

O recente caso da menina Isabela alcançou tal repercussão na mídia, que de repente nos vimos vivendo a dor e a angústia de sua família. Parecia que Isabela era alguém de nossa própria família. Toda a nação brasileira se comoveu e se encheu de indignação com tamanha violência e passou a acompanhar, a exigir justiça e punição aos suspeitos. A justiça tem feito seu papel e a sociedade está em alerta contra a violência infantil.

Mas nós perguntamos - será que a vida da Isabela tem mais valor do que a daquelas crianças indígenas que são cruelmente enterradas vivas, abandonadas no mato, ou enforcadas por causa de falsos temores e da falta de informação dos pais e da comunidade? NÃO!

Não aceitamos o infanticídio como prática cultural justificável. Não concordamos com a opinião equivocada de antropólogos que têm a pretensão de justificar estes atos e assim decidir pelos povos indígenas, colocando em risco o futuro de etnias inteiras. O direito à vida é um direito fundamental de qualquer ser humano na face da terra, independentemente de sua etnia.

Sr. Presidente, e D. Marisa Senhores, senhores congressistas e governantes estaduais e municipais, cidadãos e cidadãs brasileiras, os direitos humanos estão sendo violados no Brasil!! Quantos milhares de crianças já foram enterradas, enforcadas ou afogadas quantas mais terão que passar por isso? Nosso movimento espera que a lei maior de nosso país seja respeitada isto é independentemente de etnias, cor, cultura, raça, todas as crianças gozem do direito à vida.

Por isso, através desta carta aberta:

· pedimos que a Lei Muwaji seja aprovada e regulamentada;

· pedimos ao presidente Lula e a sua esposa que pessoalmente interfiram nesse processo;

· pedimos que os órgãos competentes não mais se omitam em prestar socorro as mães e as crianças em risco de sofrer infanticídio.

Nós, abaixo assinados, concordamos com os termos desta carta aberta e junto com seus autores, pedimos aos governantes do País em todas as instâncias, providencias no combate e na erradicação do infanticídio para que assim o sangue inocente não seja mais derramado em solo indígena.

Mato Grosso, junho de 2008.

Movimento contra o infanticídio indígena.

Contato: edsonkairi@hotmail.comEste endereço de e-mail está protegido contra SpamBots. Você precisa ter o JavaScript habilitado para vê-lo. .

Edson Bakairi é lider indígena em Mato Grosso, professor licenciado em historia com especialização em Antropologia pela UNEMT, presidente da OPRIMT ( Organização de professores Indígenas de Mato Grosso) por 3 anos e é sobrevivente de tentativa de infanticídio, abandonado para morrer na mata, foi resgatado e preservado com vida por suas irmãs.

E agora? And now?

Ann Hemmons disse...

Dear Mr. Gomes

I have made the Zuruaha video a central piece in my recent study and have found it to be discriminatory of Indigenous peoples. I would love it if any one involved or interested in the "Muwaji Law" would view my study before they made a decision regarding the video.