Murder of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips

Article

July 6, 2022

On June 5, 2022, Brazilian indigenist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips were murdered during a trip through Vale do Javari, Brazil's second largest indigenous land, in the extreme west of Amazonas.Bruno and Dom visited Lago do Jaburu , a location close to the National Foundation for Indigenous Surveillance Base (Funai) on the Ituí River, to interview indigenous and riverine people for a book on the Amazon. Later, with the expedition almost completed, they moved to the São Rafael community, where they would meet with a local fisherman. The crime occurred on the way between the community and the municipality of Atalaia do Norte. After 10 days of searching, one of the suspects arrested by the Federal Police (PF) confessed to his involvement in the murders and indicated the location of the bodies. The mortal remains found were taken to Brasília, examined and confirmed as belonging to Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. The crime generated repercussion in the international press and criticism of the weakening of environmental institutions promoted by the administration of Jair Bolsonaro. The Brazilian government reacted late to the disappearance and did not take sufficient search measures.

Context

Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips met in Atalaia do Norte. On June 3, 2022, they visited Lago do Jaburu, a location close to the Funai Surveillance Base, so that the journalist could interview indigenous people. Two days later, they moved to the São Rafael community, where they would have a meeting with a local fisherman nicknamed "Churrasco". The purpose of the meeting was to discuss joint work between riverside people and indigenous people in the surveillance of Vale do Javari, a territory heavily affected by invasions and criminal activities. However, the resident was not in the community and the two talked with his wife. Bruno and Dom were murdered while traveling to the municipality of Atalaia do Norte.

Victims

Bruno Pereira

Bruno Pereira was born in the city of Recife, Pernambuco, on August 15, 1980. He was an indigenist and career employee of Funai, having been considered one of the greatest specialists in isolated or recently contacted indigenous people in the country. In 2019, he led the biggest expedition to contact uncontacted Indians in the last 20 years. However, after pressure from rural sectors linked to the government of Jair Bolsonaro, he was dismissed from his position in October of that year by the then executive secretary of Sergio Moro at the Ministry of Justice, Luiz Pontel. According to indigenous entities, Bruno was constantly threatened by miners, loggers and fishermen.

Dom Phillips

Bishop Phillips was born in Merseyside County on July 23, 1964. He was a journalist who contributed to the Financial Times, The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post. He moved to Brazil in 2007 and lived in Salvador. He was married to Brazilian Alessandra Sampaio and was writing a book about the Amazon rainforest and its sustainable potential.

Searches and investigation

On June 5, the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley (Univaja) organized two search teams that left Atalaia do Norte and Tabatinga. However, without success, the entity released a note on its social networks reporting the disappearance and asking for efforts in the search. In turn, the Federal Police announced that it was investigating the event, but did not provide further details. Two days later, the Military Police inspected the residence of Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, known as "Pelado", after receiving an anonymous of his alleged involvement in the disappearance. He was arrested for possession of drugs and restricted-use ammunition. At the time, the police also seized the suspect's speedboat, where traces of blood were found, sent for analysis. On June 12, the fire department in