A feeling of sadness mixed with indignation descends on Brazil after the confirmation of the double assassination of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips, ten days after their disappearance in the Amazon. A suspect allegedly confessed, according to the federal police, to have shot dead the specialist in indigenous peoples and the British journalist.
Amarildo da Costa, a 41-year-old fisherman taken into custody at the start of the investigation, allegedly buried their bodies in the virgin forest after sinking the two men’s boat, according to a version corroborated by investigators.
A deliverance for the family
The official version presented by the authorities constitutes a sort of deliverance for the family and loved ones of the victims, after days of desperate research in the indigenous territory of the Javari Valley and the most gruesome rumours. “This tragic outcome puts an end to the anguish of not knowing where Dom and Bruno weresaid Alessandre Sampaio, the widow of the English journalist. We can now take them home and bid farewell with love. Today we can also begin to demand justice. »
Beyond mourning, it is indignation that dominates after these new crimes in the Amazon, in a territory theoretically reserved for Amerindians, on the border with Peru, but subject to trafficking of all kinds. The main suspect and his brother, also in police custody, have already threatened Bruno Pereira, who denounced the illegal fishing of pirarucu, a highly prized and endangered fish, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). A lucrative traffic that would be used to launder drug money, coming from the other side of the border…
The two brothers, according to the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Unijava), “are part of a larger group”. Unijava thus denounces “a political crime”, because the missing were “human rights defenders and died trying to act on our behalf (…), for our right to well-being, for our right to land and natural resources which are our food and our guarantee of life”.
A region without faith or law
President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly admitted that the Brazilian state is unable to provide security in this area. He considered that the two missing had embarked on “a disreputable adventure”adding with regard to Dom Phillips that “This Englishman was frowned upon in the region. He wrote a lot of articles against the miners, on the environment”.“They knew the risk they were running in this region. They knew it”he said.
The sudden disappearance of the two men is unfortunately not an isolated case. It would even be the sign of a “recent escalation of violence”according to the Institute for Environmental Research in the Amazon (Ipam), based in Belém, which reports “unacceptable threats against the natives (et) traditional communities.
The list of victims is long: from Dorothy Stang, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Namur, murdered in 2005 in Anapu, in the state of Pará, in the midst of agrarian conflict, to Maxciel Pereira, of Funai, killed shot in Tabatinga, near the border with Peru and Colombia, in 2019.
But when the public outcry and outrage over these new killings subsides, “What will become of us? », asks the Unijava. Alessandra Sampaio, the widow of Dom Philips, claims that “we will only find peace when the necessary measures are taken to ensure that such tragedies never happen again”.