These gold miners allegedly bragged to bar patrons about brutally murdering 10 members of an uncontacted Amazonian indigenous tribe, and now they’re under investigation.
Brazilian authorities are investigating the massacre of an indigenous tribe after gold miners were caught proudly telling strangers about the killings in a bar near the Colombian border. Brazil’s agency on indigenous affairs, Funai, then filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office in the state of Amazonas following the recorded boasting.
“It was crude bar talk,” Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior, Funai’s coordinator for uncontacted and recently contacted tribes, told The New York Times.
“They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”
The killings are said to have taken place last month. According to Maior, the miners said it was a “kill them or be killed” situation.
Federal prosecutor Pablo Luz de Beltrand confirmed an investigation was under way after his department received the audio clip recorded by an unidentified person. The murders are believed to have taken place near the Peruvian border in the Javari Valley, where around 20 percent of Brazil’s uncontacted tribes live.
According to The New York Times, Survival International, a global indigenous rights group, warned this murder could have eradicated a large percentage of a remote ethnic group, given the small size of these uncontacted Amazonian tribes.
Gustavo Souza, another Funai official who heard the recording, told Reuters the miners spoke of shooting at women and children on a riverbank.
“If the investigation confirms the reports, it will be yet another genocidal massacre resulting directly from the Brazilian government’s failure to protect isolated tribes – something that is guaranteed in the Constitution,” Sarah Shenker, a senior campaigner with the rights group, told The New York Times.
Another killing of uncontacted indigenous people in the region allegedly occurred in February, and the case remains open. These killings however, are highly unusual.
“It was the first time that we’d had this kind of case in this region, Beltrand said. "It’s not something that was happening before.”
There is growing concern that these tribes may be at a heightened risk since Brazil’s president Michel Temer cut funding to indigenous affairs and protections. As a result of the cuts, Funai closed five of 19 bases meant to protect these uncontacted communities.
BANNER/THUMBNAIL CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons/Gleilson Miranda