‘We won’t give up’: Brazil demands justice for Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips : Peoples Dispatch

Indigenous leaders protest against the federal government in front of the Ministry of Justice – Evaristo Sá/AFP

Figures in Brazilian politics and society have expressed their regret and outrage at the probable murders of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. The Federal Police (PF) said on Wednesday evening June 15 that they had found bodies that may belong to British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous rights activist from the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) Bruno Pereira, and had obtained a confession from one of those implicated in the deaths.

“It’s hard to wake up in one of the countries that kills the most environmental defenders. They want us to give up, but we won’t give up. Brazil is an indigenous land and we will make our whole life a life of struggle for our peoples! “said the executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and pre-candidate for federal deputy Sônia Guajajara (PSOL-SP), in her Twitter account.

In a joint note, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and former Governor Geraldo Alckmin expressed their solidarity with the families of Bruno and Dom, who “have dedicated their lives to doing good. That is why they have traveled the interior of Brazil, helping, protecting and telling about the life, values ​​and sufferings of indigenous peoples.

“The world knows that this crime is directly linked to the dismantling of public policies to protect indigenous peoples. It is also directly linked to the encouragement of violence by the current government of the country,” they denounced.

Indigenous entities and civil society demand investigations into the deaths of Bruno and Dom

The Union of Indigenous Peoples of Vale do Javari (UNIJAVA), an indigenous organization that has closely followed the search for the two men, considered the deaths “priceless losses” and demanded further investigations both to elucidate the case, which they classify as a “political crime”, and to guarantee the protection of other threatened people in the region.

In the letter, UNIJAVA indicates that it has sent letters to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Police indicating the “composition of a gang of professional fishermen and hunters, linked to drug traffickers, who illegally enter our territories to extract our natural resources and sell them”. in neighboring towns. But action was not taken quickly enough. This is why today we are witnessing the murder of our partners.

The organization demands further investigations. “Pelado and Dos Santos are part of a larger group, we know that. We express our concern for our lives, the lives of those threatened (because it’s not just Bruno Pereira), components of the indigenous movement, when the armed forces and the press are leaving Atalaia do Norte. What will happen to us?”

The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) recalled in a press release Dom and Bruno’s “relentless activism” in favor of indigenous peoples, which earned them “genuine recognition and extraordinary esteem on the part of indigenous peoples, their allies and all good people”. The text also demands that the murders “be immediately investigated, reaching all actors who profit from and participate in the plans for invasion and illegal exploitation in the Vale do Javari IT. We also demand that the political responsibilities that allowed the death of Bruno and Dom be investigated.

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) expressed its solidarity with the families and its “regrets and deep sadness” at the loss on its Twitter account. “Our solidarity with the families of those who have been defenders of indigenous peoples, allies in our struggles.”

The victims

Bruno Pereira was a chartered civil servant at the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) and had worked in partnership with the leaders of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of Vale do Javari since 2019. In the same year, he was removed from his position as head of the Vale do Javari unit after supporting operations to combat illegal mining.

Rubens Valente, a journalist who had known Bruno for more than 9 years, also spoke. “He was faithful to the noblest tradition of Brazilian indigenism, humanist, altruistic,” he said. “He was assassinated when the government turned its back on him, which is to say he betrayed one of his best. He was left to his own fate by a state he represented so well.

Dom Phillips was a great international reporter who lived in Brazil for 15 years, first in São Paulo, then in Bahia. He stopped covering the music world in England to devote himself to socio-environmental issues in Brazil, with recurring contributions to the British newspaper The Guardian.

Prior to his disappearance, Phillips was invited by Pereira to do interviews with riverside and indigenous people. The journalist’s objective was to take a closer look at the reality of the Amazon region, where the inhabitants suffer from illegal fishing and hunting, drug trafficking and mining.

Since 2019, when he left FUNAI, Pereira had been working in partnership with the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA), carrying out a program of surveillance and control of the territory and strengthening the self-defense of the indigenous peoples. . For this reason, he had been the target of death threats a few days before his disappearance.

“Who ordered the murder of Bruno and Dom?

With the possible end of the search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, after the Federal Police (PF) located what could be their bodies, the feeling of insecurity is growing among the indigenous leaders who are fighting to defend their territories, just like the peoples of the Javari Valley (AM). It was in this region that the FUNAI indigenist and the British journalist disappeared on 5 June.

“The impact that these deaths have on our territories is immense,” said Telma Taurepang, representative of the Taurepang people of Roraima. “Our companions are killed, murdered and tortured because of the white man’s greed against the lives of indigenous peoples and the right to land”, adds the coordinator of the Union of Indigenous Women of the Brazilian Amazon (UMIAB ) and pre-candidate for federal deputy.

In its assessment, it is essential that the investigations identify who gave the order and who are the people involved at all stages of the crime. Only then will the feeling of impunity not spread even more blood in the territories in conflict. “We must punish all those who think that the lives of indigenous peoples are of no importance,” she said.

“We indigenous peoples have a banner to fight for today: who ordered the murder of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips? We need to know,” she said.

Victims of war

“Who was in the wrong place? Garimpeiros, illegal fishermen, drug traffickers, or a journalist and indigenist who defended the Amazon and denounced an endless sequence of crimes in the region? asked journalist Rafael Colombo of CNN Brazil.

Another journalist, Eliane Brum, said: “It’s a war. Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips are victims of war. She listed the actions needed at this time, starting with the investigation of the crimes. “There will only be justice for Dom and Bruno when the crime is solved and the perpetrators identified, tried and punished,” she said, also calling for the non-re-election of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and supporting indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Amazon.

“Everyone threatened in the forest should be treated as if they were part of the family. Not one less. Every day is a day of struggle. More blood!” He asked.

Adapted from several articles originally published on Fato’s Brazil.

Elna M. Lemons