CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Massacre of Amazon indigenous condemned

LIMA (CNS): Catholic leaders expressed “pain, indignation and strong condemnation” at reports of a massacre of isolated indigenous people by gold miners operating illegally in the Vale do Javari indigenous territory of the Brazilian Amazon.
 
The Brazilian government is investigating reports that the miners killed as many as 20 indigenous people in early August. Little is known about the reclusive indigenous group.
 
A statement from the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM), which includes Church leaders and pastoral workers from throughout the Amazon, called for authorities to “quickly clarify the circumstances in which this act of profound violence allegedly occurred and implement immediate measures to protect the life and territory of the indigenous peoples of Vale do Javari.”
 
The statement noted that authorities failed to respond to complaints about incursions by outsiders into the Vale do Javari and other indigenous territories.
 
“If the reports of the massacre are confirmed, it would clearly be a case of deaths that could have and should have been avoided, and the Brazilian government will be directly responsible for (failure) to fulfill its obligations,” the statement said.
 
Rumours of a violent encounter between miners working illegally on the Jandiatuba River and members of an isolated tribe began circulating in mid-August in the town of São Paulo de Olivenca.  
 
REPAM said budget cuts to Brazil’s National Indian Foundation along with policies promoting industrial agriculture and other development projects in the Amazon place indigenous peoples at grave risk.

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