BRASILIA – The Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs agency Funai said on Wednesday that it is looking into a report that a Yanomami teenager died after she was abducted and raped by illegal gold miners on her reservation.
“Funai is monitoring the case,” the agency said by email, adding that it was working with law enforcement to protect the Yanomami people in northern Brazil.
Federal police in the state of Roraima said they had only heard about the case in the media.
Globo TV reported that a 12-year-old teenager died after being raped by miners who invaded a Yanomami village on the Uraricoera river in the Waikas region. Globo TV cited the Yanomami health council Condisi, which said it informed the Federal Police and the Brazilian army on Monday night.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm the report.
The Yanomami people live next to the border with Venezuela on Brazil’s largest indigenous reservation that has been invaded by thousands of miners illegally prospecting for gold, causing pollution of rivers, shooting incidents and other abuses.
Tribal leader Dario Kopenawa said the Hutukara Yanomami Association was still investigating what had happened, and accused the government agency of failing to help his people.
“Funai is lying. They do nothing to protect us. They are supporting the illegal mining activity here,” Kopenawa said to Reuters.
The mining boom has brought disease, violence and grave human rights violations on the Yanomami people, according to a recent study that blamed high gold prices and tacit government support.
The gold rush on protected Yanomami lands has increased under Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro who is backing legislation to allow commercial agriculture, mining and oil exploration on indigenous reservations.