Uncontacted tribe members in the Brazilian Amazon, filmed from the air in 2010. Photo: Gleison Miranda / FUNAI / Survival International

13 September 2017 (Survival International) – Brazilian Indians have appealed for global assistance to prevent further killings after the reported massacre of uncontacted tribespeople, and have denounced the government cuts that left their territories unprotected.

Paulo Marubo, a Marubo indigenous leader from western Brazil, said: “More attacks and killings are likely to happen. The cuts to FUNAI’s funding are harming the lives of indigenous people, especially uncontacted tribes, who are the most vulnerable.” (FUNAI is Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency).

Mr. Marubo is the leader of Univaja, an indigenous organization defending tribal rights in the Uncontacted Frontier,the area with the highest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world.

COIAB, the organization representing Indians across the Brazilian Amazon, denounced the massive cutbacks to FUNAI’s budget that has left many tribal territories unprotected:

“We vehemently condemn these brutal and violent attacks against these uncontacted Indians. This massacre shows just how much the rights of indigenous peoples in this country have been set back [in recent years].

“The cuts and dismantling of FUNAI are being carried out to further the interests of powerful politicians who want to continue ransacking our resources, and open up our territories for mining.”

Unconfirmed reports first emerged from the Amazon last week that up to 10 uncontacted tribal people had been killed by gold miners, and their bodies mutilated and dumped in a river.

The miners are reported to have bragged about the atrocity, whose victims included women and children, in a bar in a nearby town. The local prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation.

The alleged massacre was just the latest in a long line of previous killings of isolated Indians in the Amazon, including the infamous Haximu massacre in 1993, in which 16 Yanomami Indians were killed by a group of gold miners.

More recently, a group of Sapanawa Indians emerged in the Uncontacted Frontier, reporting that their houses had been attacked and burnt to the ground by outsiders, who had killed so many members of the community that they had not been able to bury all the bodies.

All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected. Survival International is campaigning to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “The decision by the Brazilian government to slash funding for the teams that protect uncontacted Indians’ territories was not an innocent mistake. It was done to appease the powerful interests who want to open up indigenous lands to exploit – for mining, logging and ranching. These are the people the Indians are up against, and the deaths of uncontacted tribes won’t put them off. Only a global outcry can even the odds in the Indians’ favor, and prevent more such atrocities. We know public pressure works – many Survival campaigns have succeeded in the face of similar odds.”

Amazon Indians plead for help after “massacre”

By Karla Mendes
12 September 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Endangered indigenous tribes are increasingly facing threats from miners in the Amazon rainforest amid budget cuts to the Brazilian government agency responsible for protecting them, local officials and activists say.

A federal prosecutor in Brazil’s Amazonas state has launched an investigation into a reported massacre of at least 10 members of an “uncontacted” tribe by gold miners in a remote area along the Jandiatuba river, close to Peru’s border.

A unit of the indigenous affairs agency, Funai, was recently closed, leaving indigenous lands exposed to invaders, activists say.

“There is an ongoing inquiry into the case but I cannot speak about its content in order to not prejudice the investigation,” federal prosecutor Pablo Beltrand told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

If confirmed, the massacre would be one of the worst such tragedies since the murder of 16 Yanomami indigenous people in 1993.

Funai officials in Amazonas received an audio clip with miners bragging about the crime, said Gustavo Souza, acting coordinator of Funai’s ethno-environmental protection front at Vale do Javari, where the murders allegedly took place.

Souza said he heard miners in the recording saying there were women and children on the river bank and they shot them.

“In the audio, one of the miners said ‘you know, I do not mistake a shot’,” Souza told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He also saw a picture of a hand-crafted paddle that reportedly belonged to the indigenous tribe.

The number of invasions in indigenous lands in Vale do Javari has been increasing amid budget cuts - part of austerity measures aimed at lifting Brazil out of its worst recession in decades.

“With budget cuts this year, there was a reduction of Funai’s team in the area by half,” Souza said.

Although Vale do Javari is one of the largest indigenous reserves in the country, it is patrolled by just 10 Funai officials.

The officials attempt to monitor an area of 85,000 sq km, home to largest number of uncontacted indigenous worldwide. [more]

Reported murder of 'uncontacted' tribe exposes mining threats in Brazil's Amazon

11 September 2017 (CBC) – A few weeks ago, gold miners were overheard at a bar in Brazil talking boastfully about killing and stealing the belongings of  between eight and 10 members of an uncontacted community in the Amazon.

Someone recorded that bar talk, and now the miners are the subjects of a federal investigation in Brazil.

The miners reportedly had in their possession a hand-carved paddle that most likely came from deep within the Amazon, according to the agency investigating the case. The alleged killings are believed to have happened last month.

According to reports, the group of remote tribe members were looking for food near a riverbank when they bumped into a group of miners.

As It Happens host Carol Off asked Jonathan Mazower for more details about the story. He's the media director for Survival International, a London-based NGO and the group that helped uncover the story. Here's part of their conversation.

Mr. Mazower, what were these gold miners doing in this area in the first place?

Well, they've been prospecting along the main river in this area, the Jandiatuba River, for many years. And although there was an operation quite recently to move some of them, there's a lot still there. These Amazonian tributaries do contain gold and are now suffering from a real invasion of gold prospectors. The price of gold is so high it really makes it worth their while to get to these remote areas. And, of course, that brings them into contact and conflict with the Indigenous people who live there. [more]

Miners who boasted about killing uncontacted Amazon tribe members now under investigation



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