Gold miners 'bragged about massacring Amazon tribe'

Gold miners 'bragged about massacring Amazon tribe'

Brazilian prosecutors are investigating reports that gold prospectors may have killed members of a so-called uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.


Key points:

  • Two goldminers were allegedly heard "boasting" about the deaths
  • Federal prosecutors confirmed they have opened an investigation
  • Survival International says the Amazon is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth

Brazil's National Indian Foundation asked prosecutors to look into the matter after prospectors were heard discussing an attack on indigenous people who live in the Javari Valley near the border with Peru.

The foundation alleged two gold miners were heard "boasting" about the deaths and paraded "trophies" from the massacre in a town near where the killings were said to have occurred.

They added it was believed "more than 10" members of the tribe were killed. If confirmed, this means up to a fifth of the entire tribe has been wiped out.

The foundation said in a statement that some prospectors have been detained for questioning, but they have not confirmed any deaths.

Federal prosecutors confirmed they had opened an investigation, but did not give any more details.

Survival International says the area is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth.

Government 'setting indigenous rights back decades'

The allegations have brought the Brazilian Government's treatment of indigenous people to the fore.

Isolated peoples are particularly vulnerable and indigenous groups in Brazil in general have complained that their way of life is increasingly under threat from land conflicts.

The Amazon rainforest has seen a growing number of illegal gold miners operating within it, disrupting indigenous tribes.

The foundation has criticised the Government for "openly supporting those who want to open up indigenous territories" adding that their actions are "setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades".

Renowned Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, whose music has been informed by injustices against Amazonian tribes in the past, also called on the Government to take action.

"Another deadly, violent and cowardly attack on the Amazon! A group of isolated Indians living in a protected forest in the Western Amazon was massacred by illegal miners in the region," he said.

"Fear has tried to stifle the news because this government does not like Brazilians, but loves the money from the miners who arrive in suitcases.

AP/ABC