Indians speak out against mining on their land

August 23, 2007

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Indian leaders in Brazil are voicing their opposition to a draft law which if approved will allow mining in Indigenous territories.

Davi Yanomami spoke recently to a Survival researcher by telephone from the Yanomami organisation, Hutukara.

‘I am very worried about the mining law. It will destroy our heartland. We use the water that flows through Yanomami land for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing.

‘I want to publicise this more and let everyone know what we are up against.

‘They offer us a bit of money but this is a sop. The Brazilian government will not help us. Once again they want to finish with my people, because they think mining is king. But mining will bring us disease, alcohol and pollution.

‘You who live far away please spread our message – there is another fight going on for our Yanomami land. Our land is recognised – the whole world knows this and the name Yanomami. But now the Lula government is ruining our land once again, even though it’s demarcated. The miners are being encouraged to invade and this is a crime.’

Earlier this month a group of Metyktire Kayapó, including their leader Raoni, sent a strongly worded letter to President Lula:

‘We do not like the mining law which the Lula government wants to approve. Mining will ruin Indigenous lands and the Kayapó will be very angry if mining invades our lands….

‘We don’t want the Lula government to get in the way of our life. We have the right to live on our land, which was our land before the whites arrived. How can we live on spoilt land?

‘Mining will only enrich the big companies and the miners while we, the Indians, remain poor. We don’t want money from mining. Our wealth is our forest and clean rivers, our gardens, our fruits, our medicines and everything that exists in our forest…

‘If the government wants mining it can do it in other places, on the ranchers’ and politicians’ lands.’