Brazilian Indigenous groups demand justice for journalist missing in Amazon
Hundreds of protesters belonging to the Javari Valley Indigenous Union (UNIVAJA) gathered on Monday to demand justice for missing British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.
With signs that read “Who killed Bruno and Dom?” and “Stop spilling the blood of the defenders of the indigenous cause” indigenous protesters walked through the streets of Atalaia do Norte located in the Brazilian Amazon.
On Sunday, police said search teams had found the belongings Phillips and Pereira, in a creek off the river where they were last seen on June 5.
"As our leader Kora Kanamari just said: we all are Bruno (Pereira) and (British journalist) Dom Phillips!" a protester said while speaking on a stage during the protest.
The two men were on a reporting trip in the remote jungle area near the border with Peru and Colombia which is home to the world's largest number of uncontacted indigenous people.
The wild and lawless region has lured cocaine-smuggling gangs, along with illegal loggers, miners, and hunters.
News of the pair's disappearance resonated globally, and environmentalists and human rights activists had urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.
Bolsonaro, who last year faced tough questioning from Phillips at a news conference about weakening environmental law enforcement in Brazil, said last week that the two men "were on an adventure that is not recommended" and suggested that they could have been executed.
State police detectives involved in the investigation told Reuters they are focusing on poachers and illegal fisherman in the area, who clashed often with Pereira as he organized indigenous patrols of the local reservation
On Monday Bolsonaro said that "human organs" were found in the region where a British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous activist disappeared in the Amazon jungle, amid growing confusion over their whereabouts.
Bolsonaro said, "indications" that illegal groups operating in the Amazon committed acts of "evil" against Phillips and Pereira.
"Now the indications lead us to believe that they (illegal groups) did something evil with them because human organs have already been found floating in the river," Bolsonaro said on government television.
Bolsonaro added that the human remains found are undergoing DNA testing in Brasilia.
Earlier on Monday Brazilian police and indigenous search teams dismissed reports that they had found the bodies of a British reporter and a Brazilian indigenous expert missing in the Amazon jungle, dashing hopes of a quick resolution in the week-old case.
On Sunday police said search teams had found the belongings of Phillips and Pereira, a former official at federal indigenous agency Funai, in a creek off the river where they were last seen on June 5.
However, a federal police statement and a spokesman for local indigenous association UNIVAJA, which has organized search efforts since June 5, denied subsequent reports of two bodies turned up in the search.
The case was thrown into confusion early on Monday by reports of a diplomatic briefing for the family of Phillips.
The Guardian reported that a Brazilian diplomat told Paul Sherwood, the journalist's brother-in-law, that authorities were working to identify two bodies tied to a tree near the river.
No authorities or search teams in Brazil provided any corroboration of that development.
A police statement on Sunday described the belongings of the two men that had been recovered, including an ID card for Pereira. A firefighter on a search team told reporters of a backpack with clothes and a laptop tied to a tree trunk near the river.
Brazilian police had also said late on Friday (June 10) that they were analyzing "organic material" found in the river to see if it was human, but four people involved in the investigation told Reuters it seemed more likely to be of animal origin.
The material was found near the port of Atalaia do Norte, more than 40 miles (65 km) downstream from where Phillips and Pereira were last seen on a slow-moving river, the sources said. The material's condition suggested it could have been scraps from a nearby butcher rather than remains carried downstream.