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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Tom Phillips and Constance Malleret in Rio de Janeiro

Events in Brazil and UK to celebrate lives of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

A demonstrator walks past an image of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in Brasília in June 2022. Events will be held in Brazil’s capital and other cities on 5 June.
A demonstrator walks past an image of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in Brasília in June 2022. Events will be held in Brazil’s capital and other cities on 5 June. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Friends and admirers of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira are preparing to gather in towns and cities across Brazil as well as London to remember the men and the causes they cherished.

The British journalist and the Brazilian Indigenous expert were shot dead during a reporting trip in the Amazon’s remote Javari valley region a year ago, on 5 June 2022.

To mark Monday’s anniversary, events will be held in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, where Pereira once worked for the Indigenous agency, Funai, and on Rio’s Copacabana beach, where Phillips often went paddleboarding while living in the seaside city.

Other memorials will be held in Campinas, Salvador and the Amazon city of Belém while activists from EVU, the Indigenous monitoring team Pereira helped create, will travel up the Itaquaí river to erect a towering redwood cross where the two men were killed.

“We must never forget what happened in the Javari valley,” the Indigenous leader Beto Marubo said at the premiere of a Brazilian documentary celebrating the victims and the rainforest where they died.

Tributes will also be paid in London, where Phillips’s friends and family will demand justice and champion the Indigenous communities he was writing about when he died.

“Many people were touched by this tragedy and these events are for people to come together and remember Dom and Bruno, and help deal with their loss,” said the journalist’s sister, Sian Phillips.

Phillips hoped the memorials would maximise awareness of the issues her brother spent the final years of his life investigating for an unfinished book called How to Save the Amazon.

“It’s about alerting people to those facts, the politics of the Amazon, the dangers for the Indigenous people … these issues are just as relevant today as a year ago, so we have to keep on campaigning,” she said.

Clare Handford, a close friend who is helping organise the event at east London’s Rich Mix arts centre, called the tributes “an important symbol of the love and respect for Dom and Bruno which the world now shares with us”.

“We refuse to allow them to be forgotten and are determined their deaths will not be in vain,” Handford said, remembering “the panic, the fear and the feeling of utter helplessness” that followed reports of their disappearance last June.

A year after the killings – which exposed the Amazon devastation inflicted during Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year presidency – the culprits have yet to be punished.

Three local fishers are in high-security prisons while a judge decides if they should face trial by jury. Two have confessed, although they later claimed that they acted in self-defence. A fourth suspect, an alleged mobster who federal police claim ordered the murders, is in custody but has yet to be formally charged.

Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has sent security forces to Atalaia do Norte, the isolated river town that is the main entry point into the Javari valley Indigenous territory, as part of a government effort to reduce Amazon destruction.

“We will not abandon this struggle for the planet, nor will we forget Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira,” Lula told the Guardian last week.

But Javari activists continue to receive death threats, despite nascent government efforts to control the crime-ridden region.

“Indigenous people remain under siege in their lands, waiting for answers from a country which closes its eyes to our plight,” Beto Marubo warned in an article for the Guardian as part of The Bruno and Dom Project.

Without more emphatic government action, Marubo said other activists and journalists would die on the frontline of a global war on nature and its Indigenous defenders.

“There will be other Doms and other Brunos in these trenches – and unfortunately they will lose their lives,” Marubo said, warning that conservative lawmakers were trying to “raffle off” Indigenous territory with controversial legislation stripping back protections.

  • If you want to help finish Dom Phillips’s book on the Amazon you can contribute here

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