The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Amazon tribe massacre

Yanomami Indians ‘massacred’ by goldminers in Venezuela 29 August 2012

Survivors of Brazil's 1993 Haximu massacre hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives. Goldminers killed 16 Yanomami in the attack.

Survivors of Brazil’s 1993 Haximu massacre hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives. Goldminers killed 16 Yanomami in the attack.
© C Zacquini/ Survival

Goldminers in Venezuela have carried out a ‘massacre’ of isolated Yanomami Indians, according to reports received by Survival International.

Witnesses of the aftermath described finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’ when they visited the community of Irotatheri in the country’s Momoi region, close to the border with Brazil.

Initial reports suggest up to 80 people have been killed, but these numbers are impossible to confirm. Only three survivors have been found.

The attack is believed to have happened in July, but news is only just emerging.

Due to the community’s remote location, it took the Indians who discovered the bodies days to walk to the nearest settlement to report the tragedy.

Luis Shatiwe Yanomami, a leader of the Yanomami organisation Horonami, was in Parima and spoke to the Indians about what they saw. He heard how those who survived had been hunting at the time the community’s communal house was set alight.

He told Survival today, ‘For three years we have been denouncing the situation. There are lots of goldminers working illegally in the forest.’

Hundreds of gold miners work illegally on Yanomami land in Brazil and Venezuela.

Hundreds of gold miners work illegally on Yanomami land in Brazil and Venezuela.
© Survival

Speaking to Survival today, Eliseo, a Yanomami man from the region who has spoken to the Indians who discovered the massacre’s aftermath, said, ‘They reported seeing charred bodies and bones, and the burnt remains of the shabono (communal house).’

Massacres against Yanomami Indians are not uncommon. In 1993, 16 Indians were killed after miners attacked the Yanomami community of Haximu in Brazil. Several miners were subsequently convicted of genocide. So far, there has been no investigation into this latest attack.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival said, ‘This is another appalling tragedy for the Yanomami – heaping crime upon crime. All Amazonian governments must stop the rampant illegal mining, logging and settlement in indigenous territories. It inevitably leads to massacres of Indian men, women and children. The Venezuelan authorities must now bring the killers to swift justice, and send a signal throughout the region that Indians can no longer be killed with impunity. The mining and logging must be stopped.’

Source: Survival

Venezuela to Investigate Report That Brazilian Miners Massacred Indian Village

CARACAS, Venezuela — The authorities in Venezuela said Wednesday that they would investigate claims that illegal Brazilian gold miners massacred a village of Yanomami Indians deep in the Amazon jungle.

It was not clear how many people may have died in the massacre. An account presented to prosecutors on Monday said that most of the approximately 80 people living in a remote village called Irotatheri were killed.

The massacre occurred in early July, according to the account, which was submitted by a Yanomami organization to prosecutors in Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas State in southern Venezuela.

The document said that the only survivors of Irotatheri appeared to be three people who had been away from the village hunting when the miners arrived. The village sits along the upper reaches of the Ocamo River.

The account said that the miners arrived in a helicopter and attacked the villagers with guns and possibly with explosives. The three people who had been off hunting heard the helicopter and sounds of gunfire, it said.

The document said that members of another village arrived later to find Irotatheri burned, and the charred remains of the villagers.

The national prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that it had appointed two officials to investigate the allegations. It said the village was a long helicopter ride or a 15-day walk from Puerto Ayacucho.

The charges evoked memories of a 1993 episode in an Amazonas village called Haximú in which 16 Yanomami were killed by Brazilian miners. An early account of those killings put the death toll at 73, suggesting that caution was indicated in judging the death toll in the newly reported massacre.

The Yanomami are one of the largest isolated indigenous groups in the Amazon. Many of them maintain traditional ways deep in the jungle.

Illegal gold mining is a longstanding problem in the Amazon on both sides of the border, although it has increased in recent years with the soaring price of gold. Many Brazilian miners cross into Venezuela, often clashing with indigenous groups.

“The entrance of illegal miners is well documented, and they are not taking sufficient measures to prevent it,” said Aimé Tillet, a member of an indigenous advocacy group, Wataniba.

In the document it submitted to prosecutors, the Yanomami group, known as Horonami, said it reported the massacre to military authorities in the region in late July. It said that representatives of the Venezuelan Army traveled this month to a village where witnesses of the massacre and its aftermath were staying, to interview them.

The document asks the Venezuelan and Brazilian authorities to work together to stop the encroachment of illegal miners.

The Yanomami are well known to generations of university students because they were the subject of an anthropological study published in the late 1960s that has been assigned reading for millions of students. That work cast the Yanomami as a fierce, warlike people, although other researchers say that view is exaggerated.

Several other indigenous organizations this week released a statement calling for an investigation and warning of increasing abuses by Brazilian miners crossing into Venezuela.

Source: The New York Times

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.


~ by FSVSF Admin on 31 August, 2012.

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