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Benki Piyãko Addresses the IRI Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders

Benki Piyãko addressed “An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon: An Interfaith Rainforest Initiative Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders” at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

First of all, I would like to thank the Great Spirit.

My name is Benki Piyãko, I am a leader of the Asháninka people.

I live here on the border of Brazil with Peru in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo.

I am President of the Yorenka Tasorentsi (“Wisdom of the Creator “) Institute. 

I want to thank all the religions of the world for sharing with us this opportune moment today to ensure the integration of our knowledge as Indigenous peoples and great defenders of the Amazon rainforest. As well as all the Indigenous Peoples that integrate the protection of all forests around the planet. 

I also want to say that today is the moment for us to look at what is happening on planet Earth. This is the moment for us Indigenous Peoples and religions of the world to have this dialogue about what we should do for the future of this planet.

This means talking about the future of humanity. Because it is now that we must look at all the processes that are causing destruction of the planet, like our human consumption that is leading to the devastation of the Earth and causing global climate changes that directly affect those living in the forest near the seas, near the rivers, as well as those living in the city.

We [Indigenous Peoples] are here saying to not take the minerals from the land, to not take away the forest, not take the oil, not contaminating the waters, not looking to become more rich, because no one is able to eat money. One thing I want to ask is: what should we do now, to bring change? 

You and I have to take responsibility. We, human beings are the ones in charge of leaving future generations with a commitment. We reflect on this, because now is the time: droughts increase each day, the heat increases each day, the water disappears each day, and air pollution leaves more disease each day.

It’s all dry here. Look at the earth! Look at the forest! Look at how everything is dying! Look at the rivers, look at the seas, everything is dying. Humans are dying of thirst and hunger, everyone is dying.

And you have to take responsibility, we have to take this responsibility. Because even today we are seeing a bill being proposed by the Brazilian government, the federal deputies to create a law that takes away the right of Indigenous peoples.

When you take away the rights of Indigenous peoples, you go against the principles of life and enable the destruction of the Amazon forest, you create the extermination of people all over the world. Because when you talk about the forest and taking way the right to land from Indigenous peoples you talk about killing the Amazon, you talk about killing the planet. Because now we still have a living forest and its Indigenous guardians are still alive.

So, I would like that all the religions around the world pay attention to this not just for the Amazon but all the forests around the world.

Plant the forest! Plant seeds! Instead of dropping bombs to kill people, drop bombs of seeds from within your hearts, souls and minds.

That is how I am working today, showing humanity the responsibility I carry. To plant a tree, to take care of a seed, to grow a plant and to generate fruit that I can eat, because that is how God (“Tasorentsi”) made it.

And like this goes the responsibility that each of us have as we look at this fragile time of global climate change. 

I want to thank the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative that today draws attention to the Amazon, along with the United Nations, calling on society and including Indigenous Peoples as messengers of the Earth within this process of guiding humanity, of mental healing, psychological healing, spiritual healing, and raising awareness about what nature has always given us.

So here I leave this message and calling on all religions once again, and I thank all who are helping us and all who are willing to embody this same spirit of being together respecting each other in the same feeling, promoting quality of life for all living beings on Earth.

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