Brazil Deploys Police As Miners Flee Yanomami Territory

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Rio de Janeiro: Brazil said on Monday it was deploying hundreds of Police and soldiers in preparation to evict gold miners accused of causing a humanitarian crisis on the Yanomami Indigenous reservation, as thousands of the illegal miners fled.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino said authorities estimate at least 15,000 people have illegally invaded the protected Amazon rainforest reservation, where Indigenous leaders accuse gold miners of raping and killing inhabitants, poisoning their water with mercury and triggering a food crisis by destroying the forest.

Dino said officials were moving more than 500 police and soldiers into place for an operation to evict the miners, which he said would start later this week.

Thousands of miners have already begun fleeing on their own, he said, after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ordered the military to establish a no-fly zone over the reservation last week, cracking down on the illegal bush planes the mines rely on for food and supplies.

Dino welcomed the exodus, saying the government preferred the miners leave 'peacefully, without conflict.'

But he vowed there would be no impunity for their crimes.

'All those who committed crimes such as genocide, environmental crimes, as well as financing illegal gold mining and money laundering,' will be prosecuted, he told a news conference in Brasilia Monday.

Brazilian media carried images of large numbers of miners fleeing the remote jungle territory.

Some are reportedly trekking up to 30 days on foot. Others have crowded onto boats to make their way out by river, raising fears of accidents involving overloaded vessels.

There have been reports of conflict between fleeing miners and Indigenous inhabitants.

The Indigenous affairs ministry said it had received a report on Monday that miners killed three natives who only recently had their first contact with the outside world.

'We simply cannot continue to have 30,000 Yanomami living alongside 20,000 illegal miners,' Indigenous Affairs Minister Sonia Guajajara, who traveled to Yanomami territory to coordinate the humanitarian response, told a news conference Saturday.

The Yanomami reservation, which sits on Brazil's northern border with Venezuela, is the largest in Brazil, spanning 96,000 square kilometers (37,000 square miles).

Police opened an investigation into crimes including genocide on the reservation last month, after images of starving Yanomami children shocked the world.

Illegal gold mining rose sharply in Brazil under far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), who pushed to open protected Indigenous reservations to mining and presided over a surge of deforestation in the Amazon.


The Peninsula

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