In Brazil, police have launched an investigation into the death of about 100 children at the Yanomami Indigenous Sanctuary. Genocide is suspected. According to Justice Minister Flavio Dino, there is “clear evidence” that the indigenous population has been denied food and sanitary aid.
The investigations targeted officials responsible for the area, among others. It also involves allegations of committing environmental crimes and misappropriating government funds. The government of the new president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also fired 43 soldiers from the Funai Indigenous Authority. They were appointed under the government of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and are accused of failing to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Children died of malnutrition or infections
An official investigation had previously found that 99 children under the age of five died in the Yanomami indigenous shrine last year from malnutrition, pneumonia, malaria or other infectious diseases. According to the Ministry of Health, 67 children were under one year old.
About 30,400 people live in Yanomami territory. Its territory extends over the states of Roraima and Amazonas, as well as parts of neighboring Venezuela. Due to the destruction of the rainforest, they find it increasingly difficult to feed themselves.
Danger from gold diggers
They are also harassed and attacked by illegal prospectors in the region. According to the Yanomami, the prospectors killed local people, sexually assaulted women and youth, and polluted rivers with mercury.
President Lula visited Boa Vista on Saturday in the northern state of Roraima, part of Yanomami territory. “What I saw shocked me,” he said, speaking of “inhuman” scenes.
Lula wants to stop deforestation
Fires and deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest had increased sharply under ex-president Bolsonaro. When he took office earlier this year, the new head of state, Lula, pledged to halt deforestation and reactivate conservation programs.