Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira have been killed for searching and reporting the truth. Their lives were dedicated to protecting indigenous peoples and the Amazon forest they depend upon. Our heartbreak over these atrocities is beyond words, but we must turn our grief and anger into stronger determination to ensure their life’s work will continue.
Indigenous people and environmental defenders are being threatened and killed across the planet, as biodiversity loss and climate change increase, resource wars become ever more extreme and illegal loggers, miners, cattle herders and fishermen are emboldened by reckless leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro. The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts said it best in his beautiful tribute to Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips:
“These aren’t isolated cases in faraway places. When you join all of those conflicts together, in places like the Javari Valley, but also in places like the Philippines or places like the Congo, you can see that there is a global war on nature.”
According to the 2020 edition of the report “Violence against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil” by CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council), murders of indigenous people increased by 61% and territorial conflicts increased 174% compared to the previous year. Yet the Brazilian government is still trying to push for the approval of a series of laws that would strip indigenous peoples of their rights and open up their territories to even more destructive resource exploitation. Similar laws promoting the aggressive expansion of extractive industries are being pursued by governments in other Amazon basin countries, such as Peru and Ecuador.
Indigenous organizations in the Amazon region have vociferously denounced the invasions of the Vale do Javari Indigenous Territory by criminal organizations, who feel supported and empowered by the negligence and permanent attack on indigenous rights by the federal government. These territories also have the world’s highest concentration of people living in voluntary isolation. What is unfolding in the Javari Valley is intrinsically linked to the dismantling of policies and public agencies designed to protect indigenous peoples and their territories; such as the systematic weakening of Brazil’s National Indigenous Foundation FUNAI, the very agency that Bruno Pereira worked for until dismissed under the Bolsonaro regime in 2019. Bruno received many threats for his tireless pursuit of justice for indigenous peoples. Dom Phillips, who reported about the threats to the forest and its people for many years, was working on a book, because he felt the urgency to share with the world the importance of protecting the Amazon from destruction.
The publishers of Dom Phillips’ book, which was scheduled to come out in April 2023 have announced that it will be published to ensure his work was not in vain. The outpouring of solidarity and determination by many to honor the legacy of Dom and Bruno is heartening in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Our work will not be complete until the war on nature and indigenous peoples is stopped.
Bruno and Dom’s families need help now, not only to pay the bills, but also to cover new costs that emerge as they continue their search for justice.
Please consider donating here and share the link: https://gofund.me/d215cc53