Indigenous expert and family murdered in the Amazon

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Recife, Brazil – Members of Brazilian indigenous groups, friends and family gathered Friday to mourn Bruno Pereira, an indigenous expert who was murdered with a British journalist during a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. His body was cremated after the ceremony.

Pereira, who was on leave from the Brazilian Government’s Agency for Indigenous Affairs, and reporter Dom Phillips were killed by a fisherman on June 5, the day they disappeared in the Javari Valley region, near the Brazilian borders with Peru and Colombia.

Members of the indigenous group Xukuru sang mourning songs near Pereira’s sealed sarcophagus, with his picture framed at the top, during the ceremony in Recife, where the banner demanded “Justice for Dom and Bruno”.

Marcus Zukuru, president of the Xukuru Group, said he came with others to “honor our warrior… the warrior Bruno who became a martyr for all of us, for the indigenous cause… for those who are fighting in defense of life.”, he told reporters.

Thani Rufino, sister-in-law of Pereira, thanked those “who prayed, searched, worked, represented Bruno.”

“May God reward them in His greatness to them all and their families. Now, we are committed to love, forgiveness and prayer.

Police investigators said, last week, that the bodies of the two men were found deep in the woods, where the killer had taken them. The police arrested three people in connection with the crime.

Pereira was trying to help indigenous groups in the Javari Valley create a 350-kilometre (220 mi) path to mark the southwestern frontier of their lands to help protect it from encroachment by ranchers and other outsiders.

He was helping Phillips during a press trip to the area when they were attacked. The journalist, whose funeral was scheduled for Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, was writing a book on Amazon preservation.

Pereira, 41, was born in the northeastern city of Recife and began his career as a journalist. But his interest in indigenous affairs and their languages ​​- he learned four of them – prompted him to work for the government’s National Indian Corporation.

He soon became one of the country’s top experts in the Javari Valley, where he used to spend months working, with little contact with the outside world. His wife, Beatrice Matos, an anthropologist, encouraged his mission. They had two children.

Pereira lived for many years in Atalaia do Norte, the closest town to the Javari Valley.

Pereira told the Associated Press in an informal conversation in November that he was waiting for the end of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency to return to the Indigenous Agency, and in the meantime he would work with an Indigenous association.

Pereira also wanted to spend more time in Belém, one of the largest cities in the Amazon and his wife’s home, watching his two- and 3-year-olds.

His coffin was covered with three objects that represented some of his passion; The flag of the state of Pernambuco, where he grew up, another of his favorite football team, the sport, and a T-shirt of the indigenous group he worked for.

____ Savarese was reported from São Paulo.

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