Image courtesy of UNIVAJA.
We lower our eyes in sadness at the tragic murders of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips, two men who committed their lives to the health and security of Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon. The bodies of these two strong and courageous men were discovered today.
Bruno Pereira was our friend. He was a brave man with a big heart and a great sense of humor who dedicated his life to protecting Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation, first at FUNAI, and more recently with Univaja in the Vale do Javari. He helped the Indigenous Peoples of the Javari create a professional, technically sophisticated, and deeply committed Indigenous patrol corps that was stepping in to protect their lands after the State had abandoned that responsibility. Bruno was one of the most experienced experts on isolated peoples in the Brazilian Amazon, and understood more than most people the imminent threats posed to Indigenous communities by illegal miners, loggers, fisherman, and organized crime groups. He courageously fought to prevent the corrupt forces invading the constitutionally designated and protected Indigenous land of the Vale do Javari. Bruno loved his work and was deeply appreciated by so many Indigenous and non-Indigenous friends. We mourn his death and offer our deepest condolences to his family, his wife and kids, and to all of his friends.
We did not know Dom Phillips personally. We did know, however, of his honesty, his courage, and his determination to uncover the truth and to share through his words what he had learned. We know that he was committed to supporting the many Indigenous Peoples in the Vale do Javari and beyond. We are devastated by his tragic death and offer our deepest condolences to his family and to his many friends and colleagues.
We cannot begin to understand the immorality of those that murdered these two good men. We call upon the government of Brazil, at the federal level, to prosecute the perpetrators of these murders, and to address the threats to Indigenous Peoples by criminal groups operating in the Amazon. We also call upon all forces to cease the assault on the constitutional rights of all Indigenous Peoples and to commit to actively protecting their lives, families, and lands.