RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil is said to have launched a probe into the massacre of ten members of an “unconnected” indigenous tribe, allegedly by gold miners.
A federal prosecutor in Brazil’s Amazonas state launched an investigation into the reported massacre.
Funai, Brazil's indigenous affairs agency confirmed in a statement that the investigation into the murder which allegedly took place along the Jandiatuba river, near Peru’s border, had been launched.
Federal prosecutor Pablo Beltrand said, "There is an ongoing inquiry into the case but I cannot speak about its content in order to not prejudice the investigation.”
According to reports, if the murders are confirmed, they would be one of the largest massacres of ingenious people in Brazil since 16 Yanomami indigenous people were killed in 1993.
Gustavo Souza, acting coordinator of Funai’s ethno-environmental protection front at Vale do Javari, where the murders allegedly took place said that Funai officials in Amazonas had revealed that they received an audio clip with miners bragging about the crime.
Souza added that he had heard miners in the recording saying there were women and children on the river bank and they shot them.
Souza said, “In the audio, one of the miners said ‘you know, I do not mistake a shot.’”
He said he also saw a picture of a hand-crafted paddle that reportedly belonged to the indigenous tribe.
Adding, “Indigenous lands are at risk amid increasing invasions and we’re afraid that it’ll get worse from now on."
reports noted that the number of invasions in indigenous lands in Vale do Javari has been increasing amid budget cuts, which are part of austerity measures aimed at lifting Brazil out of its worst recession in decades.
Souza added that although Vale do Javari is one of the largest indigenous reserves in the country, it is patrolled by just 10 Funai officials who are charged with monitoring the largest number of "uncontacted" indigenous people worldwide.
Further, miners are said to be posing a threat to endangered indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest.
Activists and local officials have attributed the threats to government budget cuts to the Brazilian agency responsible for protecting them.
A spokeswoman at indigenous rights group Survival International, Carla de Lello Lorenzi has said that the cuts put indigenous lives at risk.
Lorenzi added, “These tribes are completely vulnerable. If miners and loggers get into their land, they are very vulnerable to violence and diseases.”