At least 10 members of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil’s Amazon Basin were allegedly killed last month by illegal gold miners, according to Survival International.
The organization, which advocates for indigenous rights, said the massacre included women and children and may have wiped out one-fifth of the tribe.
Members of the tribe were gathering eggs along a river in the Javari Valley, in the country’s remote west, when they came across the miners, The New York Times reported. The miners later boasted about the slaughter at a bar in the nearest town, and even showed off a hand-carved paddle they claimed to have stolen as a trophy.
“It was crude bar talk,” Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior, Funai’s coordinator for uncontacted and recently contacted tribes, told the Times. “They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”
Funai is Brazil’s agency for indigenous affairs and its budget was recently cut under President Michel Temer. Survival International described Temer’s government as “fiercely anti-Indian, and has close ties to the country’s powerful and anti-indigenous agribusiness lobby.”
Survival International called the attack “genocidal” and said Temer and his government bore “heavy responsibility” for it. According to Stephen Corry, Survival International’s director:
“The slashing of Funai’s funds has left dozens of uncontacted tribes defenseless against thousands of invaders ― gold miners, ranchers and loggers ― who are desperate to steal and ransack their lands. All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognized and protected years ago ― the government’s open support for those who want to open up indigenous territories is utterly shameful, and is setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades.”
At least two other tribes in the region have seen their land invaded and are now surrounded by ranchers and others, Survival International reported.
Adelson Kora Kanamari, leader of the Warikama Djapar tribe, told the Amazon Real portal that the situation for indigenous people in the region was “very critical” and that between 18 and 21 people have been killed in attacks, AFP reported.
“The invaders are landowners, hunters, miners,” Kanamari said. “Many (indigenous) are being killed in isolation, but we don’t know the exact dates or number of deaths.”