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Brazil President denies indigenous leader murdered

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has denied that there was evidence that Emyra Wajapi, a leader of the Waiapi tribe, was killed by wildcat miners who had invaded protected tribal land.

Wajapi was found dead last week, he lived on protected land in the northwest of the country near the border with French Guiana. 

UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, has called for an investigation into the death of Wajapi stating it was “a disturbing symptom of the growing problem of encroachment on indigenous land – especially forests – by miners, loggers, and farmers in Brazil.”

She further urged Bolsonaro to reconsider his proposed plan to open up more of the Amazon rainforest area to mining. Deforestation and exploitation of the Amazon has risen under Bolsanaro which has threatened protected indigenous reservations. 

Bolsonaro has decried critics of deforestation as fake news and has criticised the existence of protected indigenous land maintaining that it is restricting the country’s ability to profit of their natural resources.

On Monday Bolsonaro told reporters;

“Brazil lives from commodities,”

“What do we have here in addition to commodities? Do people not remember this? If the [commodities] business fails, it will be a disaster.”

The Funai, a state agency in Brazil established to defend indigenous rights, stated that the police report they have not yet found evidence of the “presence of an armed group” on his indigenous reservation at the time it occurred.

The police have stated they are still investigating the matter.

Read more here.