Joenia Wapixana Wins 2018 UN Human Rights Prize

Joenia Wapixana
Joenia Wapixana

Joenia Wapixana was the first in her family to go to university to study law. In 1997, she became Brazil’s first indigenous lawyer; and in 2018, she became Brazil’s first indigenous congresswoman.

After taking the “Raposa Serra do Sol” land dispute to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Wapixana became the first indigenous lawyer to argue and win a case before the Supreme Court of Brazil.

She wanted to end the violence against indigenous peoples in Northern Brazil who had been persecuted for decades because they would not cede their ancestral lands to agribusiness companies.

“In 2008 we had a positive result. In 2009, this was confirmed. So this verdict was relevant to end many threats and violations of human rights,” Wapixana said. “Without land, we have no education, no health, no environment, and no economy. That’s why indigenous land demarcation is a human rights issue as well.”

“Either you fight for the human rights of your people or you lose everything,” she added.

Wapixana was one of four individuals or organizations awarded the prestigious UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights this year.

Previous winners included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yusafzai, Amnesty International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the universal Declaration of Human Rights. Over 300 nominations were received this year.

Photo: UN Human Rights

Support RMN News Service for Independent Fearless Journalism

In today’s media world controlled by corporates and politicians, it is extremely difficult for independent editorial voices to survive. Raman Media Network (RMN) News Service has been maintaining editorial freedom and offering objective content for the past more than 12 years despite enormous pressures and extreme threats. In order to serve you fearlessly in this cut-throat world, RMN News Service urges you to support us financially with your donations. You may please click here and choose the amount that you want to donate. Thank You. Rakesh Raman, Editor, RMN News Service.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman