For weeks, people around the world prayed they would hear good news about two men who went missing in the Amazon rainforest, while doing research for an upcoming book that was to be titled How to Save the Amazon. But sadly, British environmental journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araújo Pereira have been confirmed as deceased. That said, who killed Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira, and why would someone do so?
Here’s what we know about the two men’s deaths, as well as a look into their recent funerals.
Who killed Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira?
On Monday, June 6, 2022, locals grew worried when the two men in question did not arrive at their destination of Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas after departing Vale do Javari on a boat journey the day prior. Later that day, a search party went out looking for them.
As their loved ones, supporters, politicians, and even celebrities sounded the alarm, authorities continued their search. Finally, on Friday, June 17, Brazilian police confirmed that remains found in the Amazon were confirmed to be those of Dom Phillips, as reported by AP News. He was 57.
The following day, on Saturday, June 18, authorities confirmed that they had also found the remains of Bruno Araújo Pereira, according to The Washington Post. He was 41.
One was Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, who is known by the nickname “Pelado.” He was the first suspect arrested in relation to this case, and he later admitted to carrying out the murders by gun.
Soon after, another fisherman named Jeferson da Silva Lima, aka Pelado da Dinha, admitted to the murders as well, as per AP News.
Pereira worked to protect Indigenous groups from illegal activity in the Amazon, while Phillips worked to expose such activity in the Amazon through his writing. Because of that, both men had received recent death threats, including from Pelado himself, according to BBC News.
British journalist Dom Phillips was laid to rest in Brazil, the country he called home.
When Phillips was missing, his wife, Alessandra Sampaio, and his sister, Sian Phillips, both posted emotional videos beseeching authorities to help find Phillips. Now, just weeks later, they had to address the public again at Phillips’ funeral, which took place just outside of Rio de Janeiro.
“He was killed because he tried to tell the world what was happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants,” Sian Phillips said in a speech, as seen in a video. “His mission clashed with the interests of individuals who are determined to exploit the Amazon rainforest regardless of the destructive impact of their illegal activities.”
“First of all, 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,” Sampaio stated at the ceremony, as per AP News. “Today, Dom will be cremated in Brazil, the country he loved, his chosen home. Today is a day of mourning.”
Bruno Araújo Pereira was buried with a traditional Xukuru funeral.
Pereira, who left behind three children, was buried in Pernambuco, Brazil, which is his home state, as reported by Reuters.
A group of Xukuru Indigenous Brazilians attended the ceremony to honor the life of Pereira, who dedicated his life to defending the Amazon's Indigenous peoples.
"We came here to honor our warrior, the warrior Bruno, who today becomes a martyr for all of us, for the indigenous cause," Marcos Luidson, a leader of Pernambuco's Xukuru community, stated at the funeral, as per Reuters.
That said, the memory of both men will live on — according to AP News, Phillips’ wife and siblings plan to publish How to Save the Amazon. Phillips had only written four chapters, but it’s clear that the world needs to read the book that Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira tragically lost their lives for.