Former Funai official and British journalist missing in the Amazon

Bruno Araújo has long received threats from the loggers and miners seeking to invade indigenous lands, and journalist Dom Phillips works for The Guardian on climate change issues and was working on a book about the environment, with support from the Alicia Patterson Foundation

Univaja (Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley) and the OPI (Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and of Recent Contact) confirmed on Monday morning (6), in a public statement, the disappearances of Bruno Araújo Pereira, a Funai (National Indian Foundation) indigenist, and Dom Phillips, a British journalist working for The Guardian newspaper.

According to information from local organisations, the two disappeared in the Javari Valley, in the Amazon, when they were on their way from the Ribeirinha São Rafael community to the town of Atalaia do Norte.

“The two arrived at their destination (Lago Jaburu) on June 3, 2022 at 7:25pm. On 5/6 the two returned early to the city of Atalaia do Norte, however, before that they stopped at the São Rafael community, a previously scheduled visit, so that the indigenist Bruno Pereira could hold a meeting with the community member nicknamed “Churrasco”, with the aim of consolidating joint work between riverine and indigenous people in the surveillance of the territory, which has been greatly affected by the intense invasions”, the organizations point out in a statement.

This meeting would not have been possible and the two resumed their course towards Atalaia do Norte, expecting to arrive in the city in approximately two hours. Since then, nothing is known about their whereabouts. The boat used was new and the fuel was sufficient for the journey.

Indigenist under threat

As published in the brazilian newspaper O GLOBO, Bruno Araújo was the constant target of threats for the work he had been doing with the indigenous people against invaders in the region, fishermen, miners and loggers.

“We emphasize that, according to reports from Univaja staff, this week the team received threats in the field, in addition to others that had already been made against the technical team of Univaja, and other reports already made official to the Federal Police and the Federal Public Ministry in Tabatinga,” said Beto Marubo, member of the coordination of Univaja, an entity composed of Marubo, Mayoruna (Matsés), Matis, Kanamary, Kulina-Pano, Korubo and Tsohom-Djapá indigenous peoples.

To the press, Univaja’s lawyer, Eliésio Marubo, pointed out that “Bruno Pereira is an experienced person who knows the region well, as he was Funai’s Regional Coordinator in Atalaia do Norte for years”.

Pereira was Funai’s Regional Coordinator of Atalaia do Norte for five years and, and for almost three years, Funai’s General Coordinator of Isolated and Newly Contacted Indians.

Journalist for the environment

Dom Phillips is a British journalist working for The Guardian. He moved to Brazil in 2007 and has been reporting from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador for newspapers such as the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Daily Beast and others.

Phillips was collecting material for a book about the threats to the Amazon, which he would launch with the support of the Alicia Patterson Foundation.

The British daily published a note expressing concern about the disappearance and calling on the government and authorities to find the correspondent.

“The Guardian is very concerned and is urgently seeking information about Mr Phillips’ whereabouts and condition. We are in contact with the British embassy in Brazil and local and national authorities to try to establish the facts as soon as possible.”

Phillips had joined one of Pereira’s expeditions in the same region in 2018 to carry out a photo report on the lost tribes of the Amazon, also for The Guardian.

He is a journalist known for his love of the Amazon region, having travelled to the region many other times to produce reports denouncing the increasing destruction of the forests and the native and riverine peoples.

To The Guardian, Marubo also recalled the murder of another indigenist in 2019, Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, and said that in the Javari region, a vast expanse of jungle that is home to more than 20 indigenous groups, tension and violence is increasingly growing. “Under the Bolsonaro government, the pressure has increased even more because the invaders have felt empowered and have become more aggressive,” Marubo added stating further that they act as “systematically organised gangs” of illegal miners and hunters who continue to “plunder” the forests and rivers of the region with impunity.

“They are real gangs and they are very violent,” the indigenous leader told the newspaper.

The journalist’s brother-in-law, Paul Sherwood, in a tweet on his social media account, called for speed in the search, stressing that Phillips “loves Brazil and has committed his career to covering the Amazon rainforest”. “We understand that time is of the essence, so please find our Dom as soon as possible,” he posted.

The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) said that the Navy, through the Naval Operations Command, will conduct the search for Phillips and Pereira.

With information from O Globo and The Guardian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s