Brazilian federal authorities are investigating the alleged murder of a leader from the aboriginal Waiãpi tribe at Mariry, a village in the Amapá region as conflicts between explorers and indigenous communities are on the rise.
A Funai (National Indian Foundation) team is already in the region the Federal Police was arriving sometime Monday, it was reported. Senator Randolfe Rodrigues denounced the murder of Emyra Waiãpi ttok place last Wednesday and media reports claim to have corroborated the allegations with local witnesses.
Armed miners in Amapa, a state in Brazil’s northern Amazon region are believed to be behind the killing, and the Federal Police squad in the area has to both investigate the crime and guarantee the security of the indigenous people).
“For now, there are no reports of conflicts even though a death has been confirmed, of which there are no details about the circumstances,” said Funai in a statement.
A group of Waiãpi people had no choice but to flee their settlement to a nearby village within their protected land when around 50 miners forced their way in, Rodrigues said.
Nearly 1,300 Waiãpi people live in the western section of Amapa in an area near the border with Para state. The Waiãpi
lands are the only indigenous areas in Brazil where gold mining is allowed, although it is also known to be sought illegally.
The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that Emyra Waiãpi's murder was “tragic and reprehensible in itself.
She also criticised Brazil's plan to expand mining areas in the Amazon, which could lead to incidents of violence, intimidation and murders.”
The incident comes amid calls by President Jair Bolsonaro for Brazil to work with other countries to “exploit” the mineral wealth in the world’s largest tropical forest. “Brazil is ours, the Amazon is ours,” the president said during a military ceremony on Saturday.
Bolsonaro, a retired army captain, has often criticised environmental groups and other non-governmental organisations involved in what he calls the “industry of setting boundaries for indigenous lands,” blaming previous administrations for implementing policies that allowed these practices. The president has also questioned reports about deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.