Photo: © Andressa Anolete, Getty Images
Protect defenders of environmental and Indigenous peoples’ rights
Indigenous rights defender Bruno Pereira and environment reporter Dom Phillips disappeared in the Javari Valley of the Brazilian Amazon during a fact-finding trip to learn about efforts by Indigenous people to protect their territory.
Authorities were slow to respond, despite reports of death threats against Pereira. Top government officials even made stigmatizing statements about the two victims. It was Indigenous people from Pereira’s organization Univaja who courageously led search efforts. On June 15, the bodies of the missing men were discovered.
Sadly, the murder of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips is no isolated case. Brazil is one of the most lethal countries in the world to defend Indigenous lands and the environment. The danger is increasing.
Like in other parts of the Amazon region, Indigenous peoples in the Javari Valley are under attack by land invaders associated with mining, poaching and illegal logging. Invasions have increased since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has encouraged the extraction of natural resources in the Amazon, while dismantling state institutions and protections for the rights of Indigenous peoples and the environment.
President Bolsonaro’s government cannot turn a blind eye to the crimes occurring in the Amazon, nor be complicit in them. Authorities must ensure a prompt, credible investigation to establish the truth of what happened and bring to justice everyone responsible for the killing of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. The government must also ensure protection of Indigenous rights, lands and the environment.