Remembering the Haximu massacre 20 years on

Survivors of the Haximu massacre, in which goldminers killed 16 Yanomami people, hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives. © C Zacquini/Survival

Survivors of a gruesome massacre in which sixteen Yanomami Indians were killed at the hands of illegal gold-miners have spoken out twenty years after the attack, as miners continue to invade Yanomami land.

Marisa Yanomami and Leida Yanomami, survivors of the Haximu massacre in 1993, speak about their painful memories:

‘The gold-miners killed our brothers and sisters and also killed our father with machetes; some of them were killed with guns.

“Survivors © C Zacquini/Survival

‘We lived in the place called Haximu, where the massacre started. 
Then we fled into the forest, but the gold-miners came after us and killed another ten people, bringing the total deaths to sixteen. 

‘After the first ten people died, at the start of the war, we moved to another place to hide and stayed in our shabono (communal house), but the next day, the miners appeared again. 

‘We stayed in the same area, we didn’t move far, so the miners always came after us.
 That was how the massacre of the Haximu community happened.

‘We can’t talk about it much because it makes us very sad. When we talk about the massacre, we remember our father, which is why we can’t go into more detail.’

Davi Kopenawa, spokesperson of the Yanomami, remembers those murdered at Haximu:

‘I’ve never forgotten about Haximu. The gold prospectors killed sixteen Yanomami and the same prospectors came back.

“Davi © Fiona Watson/Survival

‘I spoke to Arorama from Haximu thëri (a Yanomami from Haximu) and he has never forgotten. I’ve never forgotten either.

‘The federal police didn’t manage to punish them; the same gold prospectors who killed the Haximu thëri (the Haximu people) came back.

‘We were outraged because the gold prospectors were never punished and didn’t suffer like we did.

‘We don’t remember our dead. The napë pë [white people or non Yanomami] keep asking about Haximu. The white people like writing and to record what happened on paper. The napë pë give interviews for others to read and remember, but the Yanomami haven’t forgotten.

‘We Yanomami will never be friends with the gold prospectors.’

Davi Kopenawa is a Yanomami shaman and spokesman. He is president of Hutukara Yanomami Association: