© Survival International
Survival has developing news from Brazil, where masked gunmen have today executed an Indian religious leader in front of his community.
Gunmen surrounded Nísio Gomes, ordering his community to lie on the ground. Witnesses say he was shot in the head, chest, arms and legs. The 59-year-old’s body was then driven away.
Gomes is believed to have been the main target of this attack, although there are unconfirmed reports of children being kidnapped and a woman being killed.
He was the leader of a group of Guarani Indians, 60 of whom returned to part of their ancestral land in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul at the start of November, after being evicted by cattle ranchers.
Members of the community say this is not the first time they have been attacked since their return, and that gunmen had been circling their roadside camp since Wednesday.
One Guarani Indian said, ‘We’ll stay on the camp. We’ll all die here. We will not leave our ancestral land.’
The killing of Nísio Gomes has startling parallels to that of Marcos Veron, a Guarani leader murdered by employees of a Brazilian rancher in 2003.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘It seems like the ranchers won’t be happy until they’ve eradicated the Guarani. This level of sustained violence was commonplace in the past and it resulted in the extinction of thousands of tribes. It is utterly shameful that the Brazilian government allows it to continue today.’