The murder of an eight year old child from the Awa-Gwajá indigenous community, allegedly burnt alive by loggers in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, has caused outrage throughout the Internet, as well as disbelief by many in the face of such cruelty.
The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) confirmed that “suspicions indicate that an attack has occurred between September and October against the camp of isolated indigenous” of the Araribóia reserve, and added more information:
The charred body was found in October 2011 in a camp abandoned by the isolated Awá, about 20 km from the Patizal village of the Tenetehara people, a region located in the municipality of Arame (Maranhão). The National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) was informed of the incident in November and no investigation of the case is ongoing.
According to Rosimeire Diniz, CIMI’s coordinator in Maranhão state, “the situation has been reported for a long time. It has become a frequent occurrence, the presence of these logging groups, putting the isolated indigenous in danger. No concrete measure has been taken to protect this population”.
“The world needs to know”
Journalist Eliano Jorge interviewed a Guajajara Indian who said:
[…] The loggers were buying wood from the hands of the Indians (Guajajara) and found a little Gwajá girl. They burned the child. Just to be evil. She is from another tribe, they live in the woods, have no contact with whites, are polecats.
Journalist Luis Carlos Azenha, on the other hand, urged caution:
Renato Santana [press officer of CIMI] denied the existence of any photo of the charred body. Only an official investigation led by Funai can confirm if that in fact there is a charred body and if in fact is a child. Moreover, it takes the direct testimony of someone who witnessed the episode to see if there was a crime and, if any, to identify the perpetrators.
To which journalist Niara de Oliveira replied, raising the issue of reported unofficial coallitions between “FUNAI officials in the region of Arame [and] local ranchers and loggers”:
“It is therefore not surprising that there is no ongoing investigation and that the case has only now come to light.” Based on the behavior of the federal government to investigate the murder of the Guarani chief in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and the importance they give to indigenous people when it comes to benefitting allies (contractors, large farmers, loggers, lumbermen, etc.) and based on the importance that the government-friendly press gives to the indigenous people themselves, I tend to rely on Rogérios’ investigation…
Read more here.