The undersigned organisations address Brazilian society to express their deep indignation and sadness at the confirmation of the deaths of indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips, in the Javari Valley, State of Amazonas, and whose bodies are currently under expert analysis.
We stand in solidarity, first of all, with the families and loved ones of the most recent victims of Brazil’s escalating violence. We know our sorrow will not be enough to lessen the pain, and we stand with you in the pursuit of justice and reparations.
We reiterate our requests to the national and international authorities for the case to be investigated in a swift, transparent and independent manner, without any interference. It is now imperative to investigate and hold accountable those involved in the death of Dom and Bruno, from those who committed the crime to those who ordered it.
Twice last week, government officials regrettably suggested that the victims themselves were responsible for the tragedy. Brazil’s President even stated in a public speech that they had gone into the region knowing the risks, "on an adventure [our emphasis] that is not to be recommended".
On Wednesday morning, June 15, he chose to spend his time in an interview describing the journalist as "not well liked in the region" for writing "many articles against miners" and called the correspondent's work an "expedition" who, according to the President, "should have taken greater precautions for his own safety". Through these remarks, once again, he attempted to absolve the Brazilian State of any responsibility in guaranteeing the safety of journalists, indigenous people, and environmentalists in the Javari Valley, and practically concede that criminals have taken control of the region.
The undersigned organisations emphatically refute such statements, which comes as no surprise, since they only reiterate the President's aversion to free and independent journalism. Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were providing an important contribution to society by reporting on the reality of the Amazon.
Both the journalist and the indigenous expert were trained and experienced professionals. Dom Phillips had been in Brazil for 15 years publishing stories about the country, particularly on the Amazon, and was internationally recognised for his work, with publications in the British journal The Guardian and the American The Washington Post. Phillips was also writing a book about the daily life in the Amazon.
A most respected Brazilian indigenous expert, Bruno Pereira was a civil servant of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) and had 11 years of experience in the Javari Valley region.
In recent years, journalists and environmentalists have exposed records deforestation and the advances of mining and logging, predatory fishing and drug trafficking on indigenous territories. The weakening of control and inspection bodies by the federal government and the killing of activists were also reported. It's not about adventure, it's about journalism.
At the same time, the President and his allies have become the main actors during the various attacks on the press taking place today in Brazil. Data from various journalism organisations, such as Fenaj and Abraji, point to the exponential growth of hostilities, aggressions and hate speech against journalists and the media. Between 2019 and 2021, cases of attacks against the press and its professionals spiked by more than 200%, according to a survey by Abraji. These attacks mostly come from the President's family, members of the federal government and their supporters. This scenario has placed Brazil in more than worrying positions in global rankings of press freedom and expression, such as those produced by Reporters Without Borders and Article 19.
Faced with this reality, the fieldwork of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira was even more important as it guaranteed, even under the most difficult conditions, the population's right to access information.
We will not accept the horror and darkness prevailing now in Brazil.
Brazil is not an adventure.
June 15, 2022
Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji)
Associação de Jornalismo Digital (Ajor)
Associação de Jornalistas de Educação (Jeduca)
Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas (Fenaj)
Red Voces Del Sur
Instituto Palavra Aberta
Instituto Vladimir Herzog
Repórteres sem Fronteiras (RSF)
Free Press Unlimited
Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)