The UN, indigenous organizations, various NGOs and those close to the victims expressed their outrage at the murder in the Brazilian Amazon of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, who linked the impunity that prevails in the region encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro, a promoter of the commercial exploitation of protected areas.
The investigation into the disappearance of the British reporter and the indigenist on June 5 turned around on Wednesday with the confession of one of the two detainees: Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, who led the police to the place where he said he had buried the bodiesnear the city of Atalaia do Norte, in the remote region of Valle del Javarí, bordering Peru.
The Federal Police (PF) found there human remains, who this Thursday night arrived by plane at the Brasilia airport for identification. Two brown coffins were unloaded by members of the corps. The results will come out next week.
The case still has much to clarify: the motive for the crime, the circumstances of the death, apparently with a firearm, the exact role played by the two detainees, Amarildo and his brother Oseney, and their eventual accomplices and ordering parties.
Phillips, 57, who had worked as a reporter for Guardian and other prestigious media, was working on a book on the preservation of the Amazon.
An indigenous leader from Brazil, with the images of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, in a protest after the disappearance of both in the Amazon. Photo: AFP
Pereira acted as his guide in this region where 26 indigenous peoples live, many of them isolated, and in which they operate illegal drug traffickers, miners, fishermen and loggers.
The expert from the Brazilian government agency for indigenous affairs (Funai) had received threats of these groups for their work in defense of protected lands.
Faced with this “brutal act of violence,” the UN urged Brazil to “increase its efforts to protect human rights defenders and indigenous peoples” by “state and non-state actors,” spokesman Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Amazon is “at the mercy of the law of the strongest, under which brutality is common currency,” deplored WWF.
Criticism of the President of Brazil
The disappearance of both revived the criticism of Bolsonaro, who since he came to power in 2019 is accused of encouraging invasions of indigenous lands with his speech in favor of the economic exploitation of the jungle.
Greenpeace assured this Thursday that in the last three years Brazil has been configured as the land of “anything goes”, fueled by the “actions and omissions” of its government.
The crime zone. /AFP
In Brussels, seven Brazilian indigenous leaders denounced the climate of violence and “impunity” in the Amazon in front of the European Union headquarters. One of them, Dinamam Tuxa, told AFP that “Bruno and Dom Phillips were victims of government policies.”
Phillips’ family in the UK said they were “heartbroken” by the deaths and thanked search participants, “especially indigenous people.”
“Now that the spirits of Bruno are walking through the jungle and scattered among us, our strength is much greater,” wrote Beatriz Matos, the indigenist’s wife, on Twitter.
The Brazilian president reacted to the deaths of Phillips and Pereira on Thursday with a terse tweet: “Our condolences to the families and may God comfort everyone’s hearts.”
In the last few days, it caused indignation by assuring that the incursion of Phillips and Pereira was an “adventure not recommended” and that the reporter was “badly seen” in the region for his reporting on illegal activities.
The Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javarí Valley (Univaja), whose members actively participated in the searches, described “political crime” the murder considering that they were “defenders of human rights”.
The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) stated that the work of journalists and environmentalists in recent years has served to show the “records” of environmental crimes in the Amazon, as well as the murders of activists.
The PF affirmed Thursday in a statement that, after being analyzed, the traces of blood found last week on Oliveira’s boat belong to a man, but they do not correspond to Phillips, and that “complementary tests” are necessary to determine if they are from Pereira.
In addition, in the viscera found in the river “no human DNA was detected”, something that according to the PF may be due to the degradation or the “non-human” origin of the sample. Bolsonaro said on Monday that “human viscera were found floating in the river.”
On the ground, the Civil Police complied with three search warrants, which ended with no detainees. The authorities were unsuccessfully searching for the boat in which Phillips and Pereira were sailing when they were last seen on the Itaquaí River in the direction of Atalaia do Norte.
The local press affirms that there would be three other suspectsincluding a possible perpetrator of the crime.