EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/26/93
UA 285/93 Massacre of an estimated 40 Yanomami Indians 20 August 1993
BRAZIL: Yanomami village of Haxumi, including at least 10 children
and seven women
Amnesty International is gravely concerned at reports of the massacre of an estimated
40 Yanomami Indians from the Haximu village allegedly by gold prospectors in northern
Roraima state near Brazil's border with Venezuela, and at persistent impunity for
increasing violent attacks on members of this tribe.
News of the massacre of some 17 Yanomami Indians from the village of Haxumi reached
a catholic mission in the Xidea region on 17 August 1993 after terrified members of
a neighbouring Yanomami village arrived to take refuge, having fled in fear of further
attacks by gold prospectors. They reported that gold miners had attacked the Haximu
village - killing 10 children, five women and at least two men, slashing arms, legs
and heads with machetes - and had set the village on fire.
Members of the government's indian agency FUNAI, Fundação Nacional do Indio,
investigating the massacre have subsequently interviewed survivors and on 19 August
reached the site of the massacre, where they encountered mutilated bodies. According
to a FUNAI spokesperson, "The number of Indians killed was much higher than believed,
about 40 were murdered. The men were gunned down while the women and children were
killed with machetes. Some of the children were decapitated".
Brazil's Minister of Justice, Mauricio Corrêa, and Attorney Federal General, Aristedes
Junqueira, flew to Roraima on 19 August accompanied by police and FUNAI officials.
The Attorney General stated on television, "I have no doubts about calling this
The Yanomami Indians who live in the forest on the border with Venezuela are officially
estimated to number over 9000. They are the largest of Brazil's tribal groups who
through their isolation managed to maintain their traditional way of life. 10,000
members of this tribal group live across the border in the southern part of Venezuela.
Their lands are rich in mineral resources. Following the illegal entry of thousands
of gold prospectors into Yanomami lands in 1987 some 1,500 Yanomani are estimated
to have died from violence and disease. Since 1990 there have been several government
attempts to remove illegal gold prospectors from the area and in November 1991 the
government signed a decree officially demarcating 9.4.million hectares of land as
the Yanomami Indian reserve. However there are constant reports of re-entry of
Brazilian miners into Yanomami lands both in Brazil and in Venezuela. News of the
killing at the end of July of another 5 Yanomami by miners in the same region, but
across the border in Venezuela, was also reported this week.
To Amnesty International's knowledge, of 16 cases of killings of Yanomami between
1984-92 in which police investigations were actually opened, not one has come to trial.
In 1963 an estimated 30 Ureu-wau-wau Indians including women and children were
massacred in the São Tomé rubber plantation in the western state of Rondônia. A case