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Current Affairs

Blood Gold

Date: 06 September 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

From the remote rainforests of Brazil, a little-known tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians to stop buying gold, which is illegally mined in rainforests of Brazil.

 

Background

The appeal, by Brazil’s indigenous Yanomami people, was posted in a video online with by Survival International, an international human rights advocacy based in London, which campaigns for the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples around the world.

 

Details

  • The Yanomami live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and are the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America.

  • The Yanomami are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into North America perhaps 15,000 years ago, and travelled southward to their home in the Amazon.

  • Survival International says the tribe numbers around 38,000 today, and its members live in contiguous forested territory of around 9.6 million hectares in Brazil and 8.2 million hectares in Venezuela.

  • The Yanomami practise an ancient communal way of life. They live in large, circular houses called yanos or shabonos, some of which can hold up to 400 people.

  • It is a Yanomami custom that a hunter does not eat the meat he has killed. He shares it out among friends and family. In return, he will be given meat by another hunter.

  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief. Instead, all decisions are based on consensus after long discussions and debates.

  • The Yanomami have been facing an onslaught from illegal gold miners. Yanomami land was invaded by up to 40,000 miners who killed the indigenous people, destroyed their villages, and brought them deadly diseases. A fifth of the Yanomami population perished in just seven years.

  • Scientific studies have shown that some Yanomami communities near the illegal mining zones are facing dangerously high levels of mercury contamination.

  • A report said a third of the gold produced in Brazil is sold as jewellery in India and China, and that it was difficult for buyers to distinguish between legal and illegal gold. 

  • The tribe has launched an initiative called MinersOutCovidOut to enlist the support of Brazilian society and the international community to lobby the Brazilian government to take urgent action to remove the miners and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.