Brazil: loggers invade tribal home of Amazon indigenous child “burned alive”

Loggers have invaded the Amazon home of an “uncontacted” Awa-Gwajá band, a sub-group of the Awá indigenous people, after a young girl was reportedly burned alive as a warning to terrorize the band. The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) news service reported the attack, in the Araribóia reserve of Brazil’s Maranhão state, saying that members of the neighboring Guajajara tribe found the burned remains of an Awá child in the forest in October. The corpse was found in an abandoned Awa-Gwajá camp. Guajajara leaders told CIMI that while they often see Awa-Gwajá in the forest while hunting, they have seen none since the attack, and believe they have fled. Luis Carlos Guajajaras told CIMI: “They burned the child. Just to be evil. She was from another tribe, they live deep in the jungle, and have no contact with the outside world. It would have been the first time she had ever seen white men. We heard that they laughed as they burned her to death.”

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI is investigating, as reports mount that the Araribóia reserve has been overrun by illegal loggers. The missing Awa-Gwajá band is believed to made up of some 60 members. Survival International says that a third of the Awá’s traditional territory had already been deforested, and that their nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life is threatened as animals flee approaching loggers. Around 450 indigenous people were murdered in Brazil between 2003 and 2010, according to figures from CIMI. (Survival International, Amazon Watch, The Telegraph, Jan. 10; CIMI, Jan. 6)

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