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Indigenous farewell to experts killed in the Amazon

#Indigenous #farewell #experts #killed #Amazon

Bruno Pereira, the Brazilian indigenous expert who was murdered in the Amazon along with British journalist Dom Phillips, was given a moving farewell on Friday by members of one of the tribes he spent his life and work defending.

Dressed in loincloths and head coverings made of straw and feathers, members of the Xukuru indigenous group sang dirges and mourned at a solemn ceremony near Recife, where Pereira was born in the northeastern state of Pernambuco.

A photo of 41-year-old Pereira hung on his coffin, which was also draped with the flag of his favorite football club, Sport Recife.

“It’s a great loss, not only for us, but for all of Brazil, for those who fight to defend Mother Nature, which is meant to defend life,” Marcos Xukuru told AFP.

Pereira and veteran correspondent Phillips, 57, disappeared June 5 in a remote part of the rainforest dotted with illegal mining, fishing and logging, and drug trafficking.

– ‘Destroyer of the Forest’ –

Philips was the author of dozens of articles on Amazon and a longtime contributor to The Guardian newspaper and other major news organizations.

He was traveling to the Javari Valley as part of research for a book with Pereira as his guide when they were ambushed.

Police say the men were shot, indigenous groups claim in retaliation for exposing illegal fishermen in the area.

Pereira, an expert with Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, had received multiple threats from criminals targeting isolated indigenous resources.

The bodies of the men were handed over to their families on Thursday.

“Today, the country where he was born welcomes him. His body finds the clay, the roots of the plants, the water and the heat of the soil,” the Observatory for Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples, with which Pereira had collaborated, said in a statement.

Pereira was killed, it said, “by the destroyers of the forest.”

“This crime is the tip of the iceberg of the critical situation in Brazil today, caused by the way the state is handling indigenous affairs,” Vania Fialho, a 56-year-old anthropologist who attended the wake, told AFP .

Pereira was married and had three children.

His body was to be cremated after Friday’s ceremony, while Phillips’ family will hold a wake and cremation on Sunday in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro.

So far four people have been arrested for the crime.

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#Indigenous #farewell #experts #killed #Amazon

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