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Amazon tribal leader seeks police protection following death threats

A prominent leader of the Yanomami tribe who has been a central figure in protecting the Amazon's rainforests says he received a death threat from gold miners seeking access to the land, and has requested police protection.
By JC Finley   |   July 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

BRASILIA, Brazil, July 30 (UPI) -- Davi Kopenawa, a prominent leader of the Amazon's Yanomami tribe, fears for his life and has requested police protection.

Last May, Kopenawa says he received a death threat from gold miners who warned he would not live through the year.

He explained the reason for the bad blood in an interview with the BBC.

"Illegal gold miners are still invading our land. They have leaders who organise the supplies and transport and support the invasion of our land. Ranchers have also invaded with their cattle.

"This group is angry with me because I send the police and Funai (Brazilian Indian Agency) in to destroy their rafts and dredgers.

"The gold dealers in town have money to hire gunmen to get rid of me."

Kopenawa is a central figure in a campaign to protect Amazon's rainforests. In February, hundreds of gold miners were evicted from Yanomami land.

The tribal leader informed the police of the threat and requested protection for himself, his son, and unnamed associates.

No further details regarding the police response to the protection request were available.

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