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Brazil says no evidence loggers burned indigenous girl
by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) Jan 10, 2012

Authorities said Tuesday they found no evidence to substantiate charges that an indigenous girl was burned alive after loggers invaded the territory of her isolated tribe in Brazil's north.

FUNAI, the National Indian Foundation handling indigenous affairs, said it sent a three-member team to investigate the case in the Amazon basin state of Maranhao.

The team "did not find evidence that a young girl from this (Awa-Guaja) tribe was burned alive," said a FUNAI spokesman. "The investigation does not show that the charges are true. Other indigenous tribespeople cited as sources of the charges denied them."

The source said FUNAI would continue its investigation, adding that the presence of illegal loggers in the area was however confirmed.

Last week, two groups linked to the Roman Catholic Church, quoted indigenous leaders of the Guajajara tribe, that has sporadic contacts with the isolated Awa-Guaja, as saying that they found the charred body of a young girl from that tribe in October.

Tuesday, the London-based Survival International, a human rights organization campaigning for the rights of indigenous peoples and uncontacted people, echoed the charges against the loggers.

"Loggers have invaded the Amazon home of uncontacted Awa Indians, one of whom has reportedly been burned alive, the group said.

At least 60 uncontacted Awa people are thought to live in this part of the northeastern Brazilian Amazon, Survival International said.

"They are one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in Brazil. The Awa rely on their forest to survive, but vast numbers of loggers are illegally invading their land, which now suffers one of the highest deforestation rates in the Amazon," it added.

FUNAI estimates that 67 tribes chose to live in isolation in the forest.

Though they enjoy government protection, the tribes are often victims of attacks by illegal loggers, who are armed with guns.

Indigenous people make up under one percent of Brazil's more than 190 million people today.

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