Crime & Justice

Bodies found in Amazon arrive in Brasilia for identification

Sao Paulo, June 16 (EFE).- The bodies uncovered in a remote region of the Amazon where British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira disappeared arrived in capital Brasilia on Thursday for forensic testing and formal identification.

Brazilian authorities located the human remains 3 kilometers into the jungle in the Javari Valley on Wednesday, guided by one of the two brothers arrested in connection to the disappearances and who confessed to having fatally shot the men, who had been missing for 10 days.

Police confirmed they are investigating the potential participation of other people in relation to the murders.

The incident has exposed the range of dangers in the Amazon and in particular the Javari Valley Indigenous Reservation on the borders with Peru and Colombia — home to the largest number of uncontacted tribes in the world.

This region has become lawless in the absence of the State and has become a hotspot for the growing presence of drug trafficking, illegal fishing and mining, poaching and pirates.

“Fishermen, hunters and traffickers are entering our area and making death threats,” an indigenous leader from the Javari Valley, who did want not to identify himself for fear of reprisal, told EFE.

Illegal activities were under the spotlight of Pereira, who for years worked for the national indigenous affairs agency Funai in the valley.

“Now that Bruno’s spirits are wandering in the forest and spread among us, our strength is much greater,” tweeted Pereira’s wife, anthropologist Beatriz Matos, on Thursday.

The Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja), which was on the front line of the search for Phillips and Pereira, expressed concern about the continuity of the investigations and with their own lives once the armed forces and the international press withdraw from Atalaia do Norte, more than 1,000 kilometers from Amazonas state capital, Manaus.

“What will happen to us? Will we continue to live under threats? We need to deepen and expand the investigation,” Univaja said in a statement.

Various international organizations also spoke out in this regard, calling for an exhaustive investigation to clarify the circumstances and the motive for the crime.

Human Rights Watch called for strong and swift measures to combat criminal networks in the Amazon, while Greenpeace stressed that the death of the two men was the result of the “actions and omissions of a government committed to the economy of destruction, we are orphans of two great defenders of the Amazon and, at the same time, hostages of the organized crime that is now sovereign in the region.”

Former president and presidential hopeful Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President Jair Bolsonaro’s main rival in the October election and favorite to win, said that the killing of Phillips and Pereira is “directly related to the dismantling of public policies to protect indigenous peoples. It is also directly related to the encouragement of violence by the current government of the country.”

“What is now required is a rigorous investigation of the crime; that their authors and principals be tried. Democracy and Brazil no longer tolerate and can no longer live with violence, hatred and contempt for the values of civilization. Bruno and Dom will live in our memory and in the hope of a better world.” EFE


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