News-Letter Nr. 553

Invasion of Yanomami lands by miners reported

Yanomami leaders reported to the Brazilian authorities that miners have invaded their lands on several occasions. Every three days, an airplane lands on a clandestine runway bringing more invaders, without any obstacles to stop them. The Yanomami are worried with these invasions, because diseases are being transmitted and the younger members of their community are being persuaded to do what the miners ask them to and many of them have been drinking and using firearms. In the last four months, six indigenous people were killed and four others were seriously injured.

On December 9, 2002, leaders of the Paapi£ village reported the occupation of their lands to Funai. The document indicates the times of the day that the airplanes landed on the runway bringing more invaders.

On the 18th of last month, 217 leaders from 41 villages met in the annual assembly of the Yanomami people. The conclusions of the meeting were submitted to the Federal Prosecution Service, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of the Defense, and the Ministry of Justice. In the document, the people ask the government to take tougher measures against the presence of miners and farmers in their lands. "The authorities should remove the miners from our lands immediately, because we don't want epidemics to kill our people again" (...) " and they should also remove these farmers from them."

The Yanomami leaders also reported the presence of Army forts in the Maturac, Surucucu, and Auaris villages. They reject the activities of the military in their lands. "When the military want to do something in our forests, they must first consult all the Yanomami leaders. We were never consulted and this is why the behavior of the military in our lands is, in most cases, irresponsible. They don't process their garbage appropriately, they offer alcoholic beverages to our people, they have sexual intercourse with our women, and the miners are not removed from our forests," they reported in the document.

Brazil is once again denounced to the OAS

On the 26th of last month, Marcos Luidson, Chief of the Xukuru people, was in Washington to report to the Organization of American States (OAS) for the second time that Brazil did not take the cautionary measures that were requested last year. In October 2002, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission asked the Brazilian Government to adopt cautionary measures to protect Zenilda Maria de Araújo, mother of the chief and of Marcos Luidson. No measure was taken. On February 7, the chief was attacked in an ambush in which two indigenous people were killed.

Fabiana Gorenstein, lawyer of the Office for Legal Advice to Popular Organizations (Gajop), accompanied Marcos in a hearing at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. According to her, the Official Communication of the Permanent Brazilian Mission to the OAS reported to the Commission that the chief had been contacted and that he had refused the protection offered by the Brazilian government. The chief denied this information and personally explained to the commission what had actually happened, telling it that no contact had been made by the government to protect his life and integrity.

In the end, It was decided that the Brazilian Government will meet the chief on the 6th and 7th to define what could be done to protect him and his mother. Until this newsletter was ready to be published, the government had not made any contact. Fabiana said that if nothing is done until tomorrow the petitioners will ask the Commission to refer the case immediately to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, so as to avoid more damages to the life of chief Marcos.

Brasília, 206 March 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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