An indigenous health worker in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has been killed in an ambush by gunmen thought to be loggers.
Eusébio Ka’apor was shot in the back by two hooded men while traveling on a motorbike. He succumbed to his injuries two hours later while his companion sought help.
The Ka’apor’s territory has been heavily invaded by illegal loggers for years, and the tribespeople believe that the assassins were also loggers. Soon after the incident, Eusébio’s son was stopped by a well-known logger and warned that other indigenous people could die too.
One Ka’apor leader said, “There have been constant death threats against us for a long time. Now they are even killing to intimidate us. They say it’s better that we release our wood than more people die. We don’t know what to do, because we have no protection. The state does nothing.”
The Ka’apor live in Alto Turiaçu territory in Brazil’s eastern Amazon rainforest, which is also inhabited by Awá Indians – Earth’s most threatened tribe. Some Awá are uncontacted and extremely vulnerable to contact with outsiders.
Last December, three uncontacted Awá were brought out of the forest after being surrounded by loggers. One woman reported that her husband had been killed by loggers, and another woman has fallen gravely ill with pneumonia as a result of first contact.
After the Brazilian authorities failed to take action against the invaders, the Ka’apor took matters into their own hands. In 2013 they successfully expelled many loggers by catching them, stripping them of their clothes and handing them over to the police.
Violence has increased against the tribespeople, especially in recent months after the Ka’apor closed the last logging track in the forest and set up guard posts.
In January 2014, Brazilian authorities mounted a major operation to expel illegal loggers, rancher and settlers from the neighboring Awá territory, but rampant illegal logging continues in Alto Turiaçu and other neighboring indigenous reserves.
Survival is calling on the Brazilian authorities to bring Eusébio’s killers to justice, and to provide protection to the Ka’apor and Awá as a matter of urgency.