Yanomami Indigenous Group Detains Illegal Gold Miners in Brazil's Amazon Region

The Yanomami indigenous group in Brazil's Amazon detained 12 alleged illegal gold miners, highlighting the ongoing environmental and health threats posed by mining in their territory, and calling for government action to protect their land.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Yanomami Indigenous Group Detains Illegal Gold Miners in Brazil's Amazon Region

Yanomami Indigenous Group Detains Illegal Gold Miners in Brazil's Amazon Region

The Yanomami indigenous group in Brazil's Amazon region has detained 12 people, including 10 men and 2 women, for allegedly engaging in illegal gold mining activities within the Yanomami Indigenous Territory. The group filmed their members carrying bows and shotguns as they apprehended the alleged miners and handed them over to Brazil's National Force agents.

The incident took place in the northern state of Roraima, which borders Venezuela. The Yanomami group said their actions were aimed at preventing water contamination from mercury used in mining. Brazil's Indigenous Peoples Ministry confirmed the detentions.

The Yanomami territory has faced decades of illegal mining, which significantly expanded during the previous administration of former President Jair Bolsonaro. The current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has promised to expel the illegal gold prospectors and improve health conditions in the region, but Indigenous leaders say his administration has yet to deliver on these promises.

Why this matters: The Yanomami community, the largest Indigenous tribe living in relative isolation in the Amazon, has been heavily impacted by illegal mining activities. Many of its members are contaminated with mercury from the widespread illegal gold mining in the region, leading to serious health concerns and environmental degradation.

The Yanomami territory covers an area the size of Portugal and has a population of 27,000 people. The Yanomami group criticized the continued presence of illegal miners in their territory, emphasizing the need for government action to protect their land and resources. "We took matters into our own hands and detained the garimpeiros to prevent further contamination of our water," a Yanomami representative stated.

Key Takeaways

  • Yanomami indigenous group detained 12 alleged illegal gold miners in Brazil's Amazon.
  • Yanomami aim to prevent water contamination from mercury used in mining activities.
  • Illegal mining has significantly expanded in Yanomami territory under previous administration.
  • Current president promises to expel illegal miners, but Yanomami say actions are lacking.
  • Yanomami territory faces serious health and environmental issues due to illegal mining.