ILLEGAL gold miners in the Amazon jungle have been bragging in local bars about slaughtering an entire uncontacted tribe deep in the primal forest.
Prosecutors told Amazonia Real that federal police and the Public Prosecutor’s office were investigating the killings of an unspecified number of indigenous people reportedly killed in August in the Sao Paulo municipality of Olivenca, on the border with Peru and Colombia.
Although the report did not confirm the death toll, suspects or weapons used, it cited other indigenous people as saying up to 20 tribal members were killed.
Prosecutors are also investigating another complaint about the alleged killing of indigenous people from the isolated Warikama Djapar tribe. The attack would have occurred in May but has not been confirmed.
The remote regions of Brazil are home to about 100 tribes that have either never made contact with the outside world, or rejected it. But the intensifying illegal activities of loggers, gold miners and ranchers is placing these communities at risk.
The uncontacted tribe behind the massacre allegations is known locally as the Fleicheros, or “those who throw arrows”. But nothing is known of their language or culture.
The drunken barrom boasting of two illegal gold miners’ claiming to have “killed the lot” before “cutting-up” the bodies and dumping them in a local river was recorded, sparking the investigation, authorities say.
The miners (known locally as garimpeiros) reportedly handed around ‘tropeys’ as evidence of their exploits — including indigenous jewellery and tools.
They have since been arrested and taken to the regional centre of Tabatinga for questioning. Brazil’s justice ministry insists no evidence of a massacre has yet been found. Investigators are having to undertake 12-hour boat journeys to reach the remote forested site where the attacks allegedly took place.
Both killings would have taken place on the Vale do Javari indigenous land that lies in an area of about 8.5 million hectares, about 1,200 kilometres from Manaus, capital of Amazonas state.
According to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), there are at least 14 references to isolated indigenous peoples in the area.
Indigenous leader Adelson Kora Kanamari said in an interview with the Amazon Real portal that between 18 and 21 indigenous people “have been attacked and killed.” “If these stories are confirmed, President (Michel) Temer and his government bear a heavy responsibility for this genocidal attack,” Survival said.
The killings were also denounced by Survival International, which said the killings allegedly took place last month but only came to light after goldminers had boasted of the killings.
“All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognised and protected years ago,” it said.
“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.” A court order last week blocked a decree signed by Temer to open up a huge area of the Amazonian rainforest to large-scale mining.
Speaking to Amazonia Real, Kanamari explained that the situation in the region is “very critical.” “The invaders are landowners, hunters, miners. Many (indigenous) are being killed in isolation, but we don’t know the exact dates or number of deaths,” he said.
Temer’s government has come in for international criticism after rowing back on environmental and indigenous rights issues amid an economic crisis.