Davi Kopenawa Yanomami threatened with death

November 16, 2007

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A rancher who is illegally occupying land within the Yanomami Indigenous territory in Brazil has threatened to kill renowned Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa.

Davi visited the UK and Germany with his son Dário in October to launch Survival’s report on tribal peoples’ health and to ask Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel to sign up to the key international law on tribal and Indigenous peoples. He learned of the death threat shortly after his return to Brazil.

In 2004, a Brazilian court ordered a group of ranchers, including the one who made the threat, to leave the land they are occupying in the Ajarani area of the Yanomami territory in Roraima state. The rancher has said he will kill Davi if he is forced to leave.

Davi is due to attend a meeting of Yanomami in Ajarani next week, and has asked the police for protection. In a phone call with Survival he said ‘The ranchers have invaded our land and we are fighting to get them out. The rancher who threatened me is fighting for money, but I am fighting for my people. I saw what happened to my friend Chico Mendes who was murdered. I do not want this to happen to me.’

Davi Kopenawa is a shaman and winner of the UN Global 500 award. He was a key figure in the campaign that resulted in the demarcation of the Yanomami’s land in 1992.

Read Davi's biography.

For more information on the Yanomami of Ajarani read the Pro Yanomami Commission’s Bulletin No 49 (in Portuguese).