Masked gunmen kill Brazilian Indian leader

By agency reporter
19 Nov 2011

Survival International, the NGO which campaigns for the rights of tribal people, reports that masked gunmen in Brazil have executed an Indian religious leader in front of his community.

Gunmen surrounded Nísio Gomes on 18 November 2011, ordering his community to lie on the ground. Witnesses say he was shot in the head, chest, arms and legs. The 59-year-old’s body was then driven away.

Gomes is believed to have been the main target of this attack, although there are unconfirmed reports of children being kidnapped and a woman being killed.

He was the leader of a group of Guarani Indians, 60 of whom returned to part of their ancestral land in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul at the start of November, after having been evicted by cattle ranchers.

Members of the community say this is not the first time they have been attacked since their return, and that gunmen had been circling their roadside camp since Wednesday.

One Guarani Indian said, "We’ll stay on the camp. We’ll all die here. We will not leave our ancestral land."

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: "It seems like the ranchers won’t be happy until they’ve eradicated the Guarani. This level of sustained violence was commonplace in the past and it resulted in the extinction of thousands of tribes."

"It is utterly shameful that the Brazilian government allows it to continue today," he concluded.

[Ekk/4]

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