The murdered indigenous lawyer Bruno Pereira has been buried in his home state of Pernambuco Brazil after a small ceremony attended by family members and local tribes.
Dozens of indigenous people of the Xukuru tribe marched around his coffin on Friday, singing farewell rituals to the beat of their percussion instruments.
Topless and wearing palm frond hats, they saluted a man who had spent much of his life working with remote communities in remote parts of the Amazon rainforest.
“We will continue our fight without them,” said one of the tribal leaders in a short speech in front of the coffin and next to Pereira’s wife, Beatriz Matos.
Pereira’s coffin was draped with flags of Pernambuco and its Sport Recife soccer team.
The 41-year-old father of three died on June 5 when he and British journalist Dom Phillips was shoton the Itaquaí River in western Brazil.
Phillips was write a book on sustainable development in the Amazon and the two men were returning from a reporting trip when local fishermen allegedly attacked their boat. Shots were exchanged and Pereira was hit three times and Phillips once.
Three men are in custody and others are being sought by police for allegedly helping dispose of the bodies.
Although authorities initially said the killers acted alone, the officer in charge of the investigation now quashes that hypothesis. “There might be an intellectual author behind it,” said Eduardo Fonte. “The investigations are ongoing. We look at everything and leave no stone unturned. We’ll find out what happened and what didn’t happen.”
Loggers, prospectors, ranchers and drug dealers are all encroaching on tribal lands in the remote Javari Valley, local groups say, and hunters and fishermen have been known to target protected species of animals and fish. Locals claim that organized crime groups active in the area may have been involved in the killings.
Pereira worked with an indigenous organization called Univaja. He helped tribesmen living in the Javari Valley to demarcate their lands and protect them from invaders.
Pereira had previously worked with Funai, the Brazilian government’s indigenous foundation. He was removed from his post in 2019 after leading a successful operation to destroy an illegal mining operation on tribal land.
He found a new home working with NGOs in the Javari Valley, overseeing the isolated Indian tribes living in one of the most remote corners of Brazil.
“Today the land where he was born welcomes him, his body meets again the clay, the roots of the plants, the water and the warmth of the soil,” the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Indigenous Peoples (OPI) said one of these NGOs in a statement.
Phillips, a longtime Guardian contributor, is scheduled to be buried in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro, on Sunday. The 57-year-old journalist is to be buried on property belonging to his wife’s family.
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