Several dozen people, mostly relatives and friends of the British journalist and the indigenous expert who disappeared last week in the Amazon, gathered on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro this Sunday to ask for answers.
“I came to walk with my uncle on this beach,” recalled Mateus Duarte, nephew of journalist Dom Phillips.correspondent for The Guardian, who was traveling with Bruno Pereira through the Javarí Valley region, where they were conducting interviews for a book on environmental conservation, and disappeared last Sunday when they were going to board a boat after visiting indigenous and riverside communities in a hard-to-reach area.
Until now, his search has only resulted in one detainee, without his involvement in the case having been determined for now.
“We have to know what happened. They must find them. We want an answer for society, the family,” Fabiana Castilho, 47, a friend of Phillips, who was wearing a T-shirt with their photo on a red background, told the AFP news agency.
Others asked that his disappearance not be in vain. “It should serve to give the alert” about the environmental destruction of the AmazonZeca Azevedo, Phillips’ brother-in-law, said. “We have to honor the work” of Dom and Bruno, added Mateus’s father.
In other Brazilian cities such as the capital, Brasilia, and Belém (north) there were also concentrations this Sunday.
Brazilian authorities were investigating Friday signs of excavations and earth moving in an area near the place where they were last seen.
Divers from the fire department went to the Cachoeira community, in the city of Atalaia do Norte, in a remote area of the state of Amazonasafter volunteers said they had seen these signs on the banks of the Itaquaí River, where the disappeared men were moving.
“The story we have is of disturbed earth, as if something had been excavated in the place, something buried, mud thrown at the bottom. We are going to check with a sweep in the background to see if we find anything,” Fire Department Second Lieutenant Geonivan Maciel told media at the scene.
Target of criticism from relatives of the disappeared and indigenous groups for the delay in deploying a tracking device, the authorities intensified the searches to find any clues about the whereabouts of both.
In this context, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights lambasted the government of Jair Bolsonaro on Friday for having reacted “extremely slowly” to search for Pereira and Phillips.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani pointed out that both “play an important role in the region by warning about illegal activities in the Vale do Javarí”, a region where illegal mining and illegal fishing mafias operate, as well as being a step close to the drug trafficking routes from Peru on their way to the Atlantic ports.
Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted this Saturday precautionary measures in favor of both, considering that they are “in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to their rights.”