Brazil opens an investigation for "genocide" of indigenous yanomamis

The Federal Police of Brazil began an investigation for “genocide” of Yanomami indigenous peopleafter an official report revealed the death of almost a hundred children from malnutrition and malaria of that original town, the Minister of Justice reported on Tuesday.

In parallel, the government of President Lula da Silva announced the dismissal of more than fifty public officials, including a dozen soldierswhich fell into different areas related to assistance to indigenous communities.

“I determined the opening of a new police investigation to find out (if there was) genocide,” declared the minister flavio dino to the news channel CNN Brazil. “We consider that there are very strong indications of refusal to nutritional and health assistance to these indigenous populations, there was intention,” added the senior official.

The investigation, which points to actions and omissions by public officials and former health officials on Yanomami land, in northern Brazil, will also cover alleged environmental crimes and diversion of public resources.

Yanomami children, the victims

The announcement comes after the Lula government revealed last Saturday that 99 Yanomami children under the age of 5 died last year in the largest indigenous reserve in Brazil due to malnutrition, pneumonia and malaria.

Authorities also found numerous cases of children suffering from severe malnutrition, malaria, respiratory infections and other health complications during a visit last week, the ministry reported.

In parallel, the government announced on Tuesday that 54 people were dismissed, including 11 regional coordinators of the Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai) and 43 other regional and state heads of the National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (Funai), including 13 military; both institutions depend on the Ministry of Health.

Although the Ministry of Health specified that these revocations are part of the natural processes in a change of management, they were announced days after Lula denounced the “genocide” of which communities such as the Yanomami people had been victims.

For the first time, Sesai and Funai will be led by members of these native communities, and the second organization will become part of the portfolio of Indigenous Peoples.

Lulawho assumed power for the third time on January 1, described an “inhumane” scenario after visiting the northern Amazon state of Roraima on Saturday.

“More than a humanitarian crisis, what I saw in Roraima was a genocide. A premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government insensitive to the suffering of the Brazilian people,” the president published.

Between the Roraima and Amazonas states the Yanomami Indigenous Land extends, covering 96,000 square kilometers, home to some 30,400 indigenous people.

In a turn from the policy of his predecessor, far-right Jair Bolsonarowho maintained a hostile stance towards the native peoples, Lula created a ministry to meet their demands.

Faced with this crisis in Yanomami lands, his government declared a health emergency in that territory.

The new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples warned that this region suffers from a humanitarian and food crisis unprecedented and amounted to at least 570 minors who died from malnutrition or food contaminated by mercuryas a consequence of the invasion of illegal mining.

In addition, the advance of illegal mining drives the proliferation of diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and even the coronavirus, according to specialists, in a reserve that is the regular scene of clashes between indigenous people and illegal miners who killed residents and sexually abused of women and girls, according to complaints from associations and indigenous people.

The authorities found in the Yanomami lands “a very precarious assistance structure,” said Minister Dino.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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