Yanomamis decry the death of 2 children during attacks of wildcat miners in Roraima

The children aged 1 and 5 were found in the river after fleeing gunshots

Translated by: Julia Abdalla

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Neila Yanomami and eight other indigenous leaders of the community of Palimiú in Boa Vista (Roraima), last Saturday (15) - Reprodução /Divulgação

Two Yanomami children aged 1 and 5 were found dead after the attack carried out by wildcat miners last Monday, May 10, in the community Palimiú, located in the Yanomami territory in the Brazilian state of Roraima.

“On Monday, many children ran into the forest, to the other side, and toward the river [to escape the gunshots]. And two children stayed there, on the riverside. It was a very bad moment for everyone, we were defending ourselves, and the children ran into the woods”, explains Dário Kopenawa, vice-president of the Hutukara association. 

“The next day, we looked for the kids and found them, except for two [who were not located]. On May 12, the children appeared floating on the river. Their bodies were collected at 3 pm. The leaders of the community confirmed that the children died in the crossfire, running from the shots”.

In a video recorded by the Yanomami, one can see the precise moment when the vessels approach the riverside and the miners start shooting from them. As the women and children that were there ran into the community, the two children got lost in the woods and fell into the river. 

Last Saturday, May 15, nine indigenous leaders from the community were in Boa Vista, capital of Roraima, to talk to the press and to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office. On the occasion, they gave more details on what the community has been through due to the attacks. 

In a statement, the Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY) informed that the community is extremely saddened by the situation and mourns the death of the children. The note also said the indigenous population is very tired, as most residents have not been able to sleep since the attacks.  

“We are very concerned about our relatives in Palimiú, who have been suffering threatens against their lives. At this moment, the community has no health assistance, as the healthcare providers have been removed because of the shots”, the statement says. 

HAY also claimed that there is not any public security force permanently in the place and the wildcat miners continue to scare the Yanomami in Palimiú. “Miners are circulating around the community in vessels and carrying guns. On Friday, May 14, they invaded the community at night, but the Yanomami had run into the forest to protect themselves”. 

“We the Yanomami want to live in peace in our lands and with the forest. The Brazilian authorities must meet their obligations and responsibilities and act urgently to ensure the safety of the Yanomamis and Ye’kwanas, and to protect the Yanomami Indigenous Land and the forest from illegal mining”, the note concludes. 

Last Friday, responding to a request from the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Roraima (MPF-RR), the Federal Justice determined that the Union keeps armed personnel permanently in Palimiú to avoid new conflicts and safeguard the community. 

The decision set a 24-hour deadline for the Union to provide information and evidence of troops sent to protect the community, under the penalty of a fine to be defined. It also established that the National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio, FUNAI) supports the security forces in their contact with the indigenous and manages intercultural relations. 

The request was made by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) last Wednesday, May 12. It was carried out within the Public Civil Action filed last year, which demanded the complete removal of miners from the region.

Brasil de Fato contacted the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), and the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, but did not receive any answers until the publication’s deadline.


Edited by: Leandro Melito