Another deadly attack in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory

A Yanomami leader was killed and a 15-year-old shot in the face as violence surges through Indigenous territories ahead of the final round of voting in the presidential election in Brazil.

ILLEGAL: Illegal mining site in the Yanomami terriory. Photo: Chico Batata/Greenpeace

Less than a week after Global Witness released their report on killings of land and environmental defenders, an indigenous leader identified as Cleomar (46) was killed, and an unnamed teen (15) was injured. This happened while the victims were visiting a cafeteria in the Napolepi community, a part of the Yanomami Indigenous Land located in Alto Alegre in the Brazilian Amazon.

SHOT: Teen (15) shot by prospectors. Photo: Facsimile from the Brazilian newspaper Globo

The indigenous leader, Dário Kopenawa, head of the Yanomami organization Hutukara, reports that the victims were ambushed by ten men.

– Before they could hide, a large group of prospectors arrived in two boats (…) and fired shots at the Yanomami, says Kopenawa to Brazilian news portal G1.

They tried to escape by throwing themselves into the river, but Cleomar was shot several times in the forehead and chest and died. The teenager escaped with a gunshot that went through his head and is now being treated for his injuries at the General Hospital of Roraima.

Land of conflict

Yanomami Indigenous Land measures almost 10 million hectares and is inhabited by around 27,000 indigenous people in more than 360 communities. The land is rich in natural resources and has been subjected to illegal gold mining since the 1980s.

Many indigenous people have lost their lives trying to protect their land. The report by Global Witness states that more than 1,700 environmental defenders have been killed in the last 10 years, 40% of whom are indigenous people. This is disproportionally high, as only 5% of the world’s population is indigenous.

End the slaughter

Rainforest Foundation Norway has, for months, been echoing the indigenous peoples' warnings about the escalation of violence against them and crimes in their territories. The violence is now reaching absurd levels, with more and more murders being reported. Toerris Jaeger, secretary-general of Rainforest Foundation Norway, fears further escalation during this potentially last month of Jair Bolsonaro being in office.

– Indigenous people are killed for standing in the way of rich and powerful stakeholders. We fear that criminals will see this period as potentially the last opportunity to continue illegal activities with impunity. This could be life-threatening for those guarding the forest, says Ribeiro.

ATTACKS: Indigenous leader Dário Kopenawa draws public attention to the attacks on Indigenous peoples. Photo: RFN

Rainforest Foundation Norway, therefore, calls on the international community to use its influence to strengthen the protection of Indigenous people in Brazil and ensure that their activities do not cause harm to these communities. The Yanomami people and Rainforest Foundation Norway demand immediate investigation and prosecution, and increased protection against new attacks.

–We can no longer tolerate the constant violations against our children, family, and the Yanomami Indigenous Land. We call on the authorities for an effective and immediate response, says Kopenawa on Twitter.