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Lula accuses Bolsonaro of genocide against Yanomami in Amazon
by Survial International, news agencies
22 Jan. 2023
Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has accused Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right administration of committing genocide against the Yanomami people of the Amazon, amid public outrage over a humanitarian catastrophe in the country’s largest Indigenous territory.
Lula visited the Amazon state of Roraima on Saturday to denounce the plight of the Yanomami, whose supposedly protected lands have been plunged into crisis by government neglect and the explosion of illegal mining.
“More than a humanitarian crisis, what I saw in Roraima was a genocide. A premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government impervious to the suffering of the Brazilian people,” Lula tweeted on Sunday, one day after visiting an overcrowded clinic for Yanomami patients in Roraima’s capital, Boa Vista.
Lula’s justice minister, Flávio Dino, said he would order a federal police investigation into “strong indications” the Yanomami had suffered crimes including genocide – meaning the deliberate attempt to partially or completely destroy an ethnic, national, racial or religious group.
Horrifying photographs of emaciated Yanomami children and adults emerged on the eve of Lula’s trip, laying bare the scale of the health crisis facing the territory’s estimated 30,000 Indigenous inhabitants.
“The photos really shook me because it’s impossible to understand how a country like Brazil neglects our Indigenous citizens to such an extent,” the president told reporters in Boa Vista.
Lula, who became president on 1 January, blamed his far-right predecessor for forsaking Indigenous communities and emboldening the thousands of wildcat miners who flooded the Portugal-sized Yanomami enclave during Bolsonaro’s 2019-2022 government.
Those miners contaminated rivers and wrecked forests, depriving remote Yanomami communities of key food sources – fish and other animals such as monkeys and wild boars – while simultaneously spreading malaria and hampering the efforts of government health workers.
“As well as the disregard and neglect of the last government the main cause of this genocide is the invasion of 20,000 illegal miners, whose presence was encouraged by the ex-president. These miners poison rivers with mercury, causing destruction and death,” Lula wrote, pledging: “There will be no more genocides.”
Speaking before flying to Roraima with Lula, the minister of Indigenous peoples, Sônia Guajajara, said that protecting Yanomami children from outrageous levels of malaria, verminosis, malnutrition and diarrhoea was her absolute priority.
“Every 72 hours a child is dying from one of these illnesses, according to the information we’ve received,” Guajajara said, calling for the expulsion of the miners in the next three months.
Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, said the 570 Yanomami children who had reportedly died of hunger or mercury poisoning since 2019 were proof of the “Yanomami genocide”.
“There is a motive: the greed of the miners who invaded their lands. And there is a perpetrator: Jair Bolsonaro, who championed this invasion and denied medical assistance to the Indigenous,” Rousseff said.
“All of those who are responsible, Bolsonaro included, must be prosecuted, judged and punished for genocide,” Rousseff added.
Yanomami leader Júnior Hekurari said he had sent 50 written pleas for help to Bolsonaro’s government as a result of the gold mining invasion and soaring levels of malnutrition, malaria and deaths. “He ignored our cries for help,” the activist said.

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Reparations for loss of language & culture brought on by Indian residential schools system
by CBC, news agencies
Jan. 2023
The Canadian government and 325 First Nations have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit, seeking reparations for the loss of language and culture brought on by Indian residential school system.
The Government will pay CA$2.8 billion into a not-for-profit trust that will operate for 20 years to fund projects for Indigenous education, culture and language.
Starting in the early 19th century, the Canadian government forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families to take them to residential institutions under the church's administration.
The schools were meant to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Christian society, effectively stripping them of their identity, culture and language. The last school only shut down in the late 1990s.
The announced settlement is guided by what is called the Four Pillars, which the plaintiffs representing the Indigenous groups developed. They refer to reviving and protecting Indigenous languages, cultures, and heritage and ensuring the wellness of the Indigenous communities and their members.
"It has taken Canada far too long to own up to its history, own up to the genocide it committed and recognize the collective harm caused to our Nations by Residential Schools," said Garry Feschuk, an Indigenous leader who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
"It is time that Canada not only recognize this harm, but help undo it by walking with us. This settlement is a good first step," he added.
Another plaintiff, Chief Rosanne Casimir, said it would take "incredible efforts" to restore the "profound damage" caused to Indigenous languages and culture in over 100 years.
Between the late 1800s to the 1990s, nearly 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were sent by Canada's government to 139 residential schools run by the church as part of a failed policy of forced assimilation.
Many faced physical and sexual abuse at the hands of headmasters and teachers, while thousands are believed to have died because of neglect, malnutrition and disease.
Since 2021, hundreds of remains of Indigenous children in unmarked graves have been discovered at the sites of former schools, with the national truth and reconciliation commission decrying "cultural genocide."
During a trip to Canada last year, Catholic Pope Francis personally apologized for the horrors of Catholic Church-run Indigenous residential schools.

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