Goldminers in Venezuela would have carried out a massacre of isolated Yanomami Indians. According to reports received by Survival International, the attack is believed to have happened in July, but news is only just emerging. Witnesses of the aftermath described finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’ when they visited the community of Irotatheri in the country’s Momoi region, close to the border with Brazil. Initial reports suggest up to 80 people have been killed, but these numbers are impossible to confirm. Only three survivors have been found.
Due to the community’s remote location, it took the Indians who discovered the bodies days to walk to the nearest settlement to report the tragedy.
Luis Shatiwe Yanomami, a leader of the Yanomami organisation Horonami, was in Parima and spoke to the Indians about what they saw. He heard how those who survived had been hunting at the time the community’s communal house was set alight.
Venezuelan ministers have apparently cast doubt on the reports of a massacre, after a preliminary investigation. According to Survival, the investigating team has even reached the area where it happened. According to the group , all miners should be removed from Yanomami territory and the perpetrators of the massacre brought to justice.
Massacres against Yanomami Indians are not uncommon. In 1993, 16 Indians were killed after miners attacked the Yanomami community of Haximu in Brazil. Several miners were subsequently convicted of genocide. So far, there has been no investigation into this latest attack.