Journalist and environmental defender killed in Amazon

By WWF

Our fear has come true: on June 15, the bodies of Brazilian researcher Bruno Araújo Pereira (41) and British journalist Dom Phillips (57) were found.

The two went missing in the Amazon earlier this month. Phillips, who works for The Guardian, and Pereira, who works for an organization dedicated to protecting indigenous communities in Brazil, were doing research for a book in a remote part of the Amazon. The area is infested with illegal fishing, logging, mining and drug trafficking.

 

WWF express their solidarity and support to Bruno and Dom’s families, friends and colleagues.

The level of violence against Pereira and Phillips shows how much the Amazon is at the mercy of the most powerful, with violence being the rule rather than the exception. WWF is deeply outraged by the situation in which the indigenous people and their protectors are being treated by the Brazilian government. In official speeches, the government speaks of “our Amazon, the Amazon of all Brazilians”, but in practice, cruel murders are not cleared up, and illegal miners, land robbers, loggers, fishermen and drug traffickers often go free. It is the government’s disregard for the Amazon, its inhabitants and its protectors that made possible the murder of Pereira and Phillips and the murder of countless others who have devoted their lives to the area and its indigenous people: Ari Uru Eu Wau Wau, Paulino Guajajara, Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, Zé do Lago, and many others.

 

Protection of indigenous population weakened

Brazil ranks fourth in the list of countries where most conservationists are killed, Global Witness reports. In 2020, a total of 228 climate and conservationists were murdered, forty percent of them in Amazonian countries. Violence against indigenous communities and conservationists has increased in recent years. Funds for nature conservation and the protection of these people were further and further cut. The end is not yet in sight: There are plans to dissolve Funai (National Indigenous Foundation, a body that protects the rights of indigenous communities) and proposals are before Congress to further weaken the protection of the communities.

The deaths of Pereira and Phillips mirror the death of the Amazon itself. Records were broken in May of this year: the number of fires increased by 184 percent compared to an average May month in the past ten years, and between January and May 2,867 km2 of nature was destroyed, breaking the record for the third year in a row. became. We’ve never been this close to the tipping point where the Amazon can no longer sustain itself. The Amazon Science Panel points out that 17 percent has now been deforested, and another 17 percent has been degraded. Yet bills are on the agenda of Brazil’s National Congress to further accelerate the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest. A rainforest that is indispensable for animals, people, nature and climate.

 

Concrete actions by the government are crucial

This latest tragedy calls for an in-depth investigation to determine who is involved in the murder and whether there is any link to the drug trade in the region. It is imperative that this case be punished, and that it becomes a benchmark in the fight against impunity in this crime-dominated area. Not to mention, the government must fulfil its role with concrete actions that prevent further massacres, such as bringing back invaders from the indigenous areas of the Yanomami, the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau and other regions.

See the original article is posted on the WWF site.

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