Brazil is pushing Venezuela to probe the alleged murder of around 80 indigenous people in the country’s remote southern Amazon region. Illegal Brazilian gold miners reportedly crossed the border by helicopter and massacred the area's population.
The Brazilian Foreign Ministry asked Venezuela’s government to provide them with information that Brazilian nationals were involved in an attack on Yanomami Indians. In testimony presented to Venezuelan authorities on Monday, Yanomani leaders claimed that illegal Brazilian miners – known as ‘garimpeiros’ – opened fire from a helicopter and threw explosives at a large hut where around 80 people were living.
Tribespeople who visited the site of the alleged attack said that they found the charred bodies of the dead and the burnt remains of the hut.
“The three survivors of the attack said that the Irotatheri community of approximately 80 people came under attack. This figure has not been confirmed,” Luis Shatiwe, Executive Secretary of the Yanomami Horonami Foundation said. The tribespeople said the attack occurred after the garimpeiros tried to sexually assault some of the Yanomami women, Shatiwe said.
“When the Yanomami tried to resist, the miners began to talk amongst themselves and mobilize to attack and destroy the community,” Shatiwe said, citing eyewitness accounts.
The alleged massacre was perpetrated in early July, but was only brought to light by indigenous rights groups at the beginning of this week. Prior to now, the isolation of the border region prevented members of the Yanomami tribe from alerting authorities......