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Brazil: disappearance of a British journalist and a Brazilian expert in the Amazon

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While traveling in the Amazon, freelance journalist Dom Philips is missing, announced The Guardian newspaper and indigenous rights groups. The man was conducting research for the publication of a book in the Javari Valley, an indigenous territory and had received threats with the specialist who accompanied him.

A British journalist and a Brazilian expert on indigenous peoples, who had received threats, are missing in the Amazon, the daily newspaper The Guardian and indigenous rights groups announced on Monday. The independent journalist Dom Phillips disappeared while researching for a book in the Javari Valley, along with Bruno Araujo Pereira, a recognized specialist in indigenous peoples, indicated The Guardian, to which the journalist regularly collaborates.

The two men traveled by boat on Lake Jaburu, located in the state of Amazonas (northwest), and were to return on Sunday around 9:00 p.m. local time (2400 GMT) in the city of Atalaia do Norte, said the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA) and the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples (OPI).

They had “received threats on the ground the week (preceding) their disappearance”, added in a press release the two organizations.

Local authorities mobilized

The latter did not specify the type of threats received, but Bruno Araujo Pereira, a fine connoisseur of the region and who worked for a long time at FUNAI, a government agency in charge of indigenous peoples, has regularly been the subject of threats from the share of illegal loggers and miners coveting indigenous lands.

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FUNAI told AFP it was collaborating with local authorities in the search. According to UNIVAJA and OPI, the two men left Atalaia do Norte to interview residents around a FUNAI base, and reached Lake Jaburu on Friday evening.

They then headed back on Sunday morning, stopping in a community where Bruno Pereira had scheduled a meeting with the local chief to discuss the issue of indigenous patrols to combat land “invasions”.

The media condemn these attacks

The local chief not arriving, the two men decided to return to Atalaia do Norte, two hours away by boat, according to these two organizations. They were traveling on a new boat, with 70 liters of gasoline, “enough for the trip”, and had satellite communication equipment, according to the same source.

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The Guardian said in its statement “very concerned” about his occasional contributor, whose articles are also regularly published by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other media. “We condemn all attacks and violence against journalists and people working for the media. We hope that Dom and those who traveled with him will soon be found safe and sound”, adds the daily.

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