False Alarm: 80 Yanomami NOT massacred in southern Venezuela

By Rebecca Sommer

According to Leaders of the Horonami Yanomami Organization of Venezuela, at Yanomami village Irotatheri, goldminers suddenly positioned their helicopter on top of their shabono of about 80 peoples, on the 5th of July, and shot down explosives.

The remains were charred and were not identified, they said in their statement, that was doublicated by the news and other NGOs, such as IWGIA.

nomami women from Paapiu Novo, Brazil (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Yanomami women from Paapiu Novo, Brazil (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

They also informed that the conflict arose in Venezuela at the (southern) border with Brazil already days earlier , when the gold miners’ that are claimed to be from Brazil, took a woman (Yanomami) by force to their campsite, and that the indigenous Yanomami rescued.

The organization HOY reported the alleged attack against the Attorney General, the Ombudsman and the military, and urged both governments, Brazil and Venezuela, to create a binational commission to investigate the facts and expel once and for all the miners.

The Indigenous organizations of the Amazonas of Venezuela (Coiam) did not confirm that the massacre took place, but said that since 2009 they received reports of assaults by artisanal gold and diamond miners against Yanomami communities that have been victims of physical violence, threats, abduction of women and water contamination with mercury, which is the gruesome fact also for the Yanomami in state Roraimia, Brazil.

But it seems that the story of this massacre of 80 Yanomami is not true.  Yanomami from Venezuela and Brazil warned the author that HAY’s accusations might be a false and created for political reasons. That they haven’t heard anything that would confirm that the massacre took place.

It was also claimed that Marcos de Oliveira from Brazil’s Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) told the Caracas daily El Nacional that an injured survivor from Irotatheri reached a Yanomami shabono on the Brazilian side of the border, where he was given medical assistance and was taken in by relatives in another community.

Talking to Marcos directly by cellphone (former director CCPY-Roraimia) he did not confirm the story from the  Caracas daily El Nacional, and said that he has no knowledge of a survivor, and that he doubts that the massacre has happened, based on his information.

Now, clearly, the gold miners must be removed from the area. In both countries, Brazil and Venezuela. Maybe, for this reason,  to raise awareness about the plight of Yanomami to get the miners out of their areas,  the story in the news was useful.

But shame on any human rights organization,  that creates untrue stories for whatever reasons – making it more difficult for those that are trying to report real incidents, and to engage the UN system and states to do something against reported human rights violations.

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