Brazil: Funeral held for British journalist murdered in the Amazon


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Family members and friends paid their last respects on Sunday to British journalist Dom Phillips, who was murdered in the Amazon earlier this month along with Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.

Phillips’ wife Alessandra Sampaio, siblings Sian and Gareth, and brother-in-law Paul Sherwood attended the 57-year-old’s funeral in Niteroi near Rio de Janeiro.

He was conducting research for a book on how to save the Amazon rainforest when he was murdered.

“Dom will be cremated in the country he loved, Brazil, which he had chosen as home,” Sampaio told reporters after his funeral at the Parque da Colina cemetery.

“I would like to express my eternal gratitude to the Indigenous peoples, who are with us as loyal guardians of life, justice, and our forests,” she added.

She revealed the couple had been planning to adopt two children from Brazil.

Sampaio said the family would be paying close attention to the murder of her husband and his colleague, and thanked the Indigenous people who helped look for them.

“He was killed because he tried to tell the world what was happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants,” said Phillips’ sister, Sian.

Outside the cemetery, some people protested with signs reading “Who ordered to kill Dom and Bruno?”

How did the two men go missing?

The disappearance of Phillips and Pereira on June 5 sparked an international outcry.

Phillips, 57, and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, were killed on their boat on the Itaquai River, near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

Their remains were found in the jungle roughly 10 days later. 

Three fishermen from nearby communities were arrested. Two of them confessed to the murders, according to the police. Five others who helped hide the bodies have also been identified. 

Some activists have blamed the killings on President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the cost of the environment and law and order.

Phillips had written extensively about the Amazon rainforest, and was a contributor to The Guardian newspaper and other publications. Pereira was serving as his guide, and had previously traveled with him to the area in 2018.

Pereira was a defender of Indigenous rights and had received multiple death threats. He was laid to rest Friday in his home state of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil. The service was attended by Indigenous people who paid their respects through traditional song and dance. 

tg/jsi  (AFP, AP, Reuters)


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