Outrage after Amazon Indigenous Activist Killed

Published: 04 November 2019

activist murderedPaulo Paulinho is seen in this undated photo. (Sarah Shenker/Survival International)

By Nicholas Wells

Activists are outraged with Friday’s murder of an indigenous “Amazon Guardian” allegedly by illegal loggers he fought against.

Paulo Paulino Guajajara- also known as Kwahu Tenetehar - was ambushed by loggers while patrolling an area in Arariboia, according to Survival International - a group the activist worked with.

According to another tribesman who was also injured in the attack, but managed to escape, Paulino was shot in the neck, before dying in the forest. 

He was a member of the “Guardians of the Forest,” a group formed in 2012 to combat widespread illegal logging gangs.

“It's time to stop this institutionalized genocide! Stop authorizing the bloodshed of our people!” Sonia Guajajara, the coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, said on Twitter.

Survival International says at least three “Amazon Guardians” have been killed in the past several years.

“(Paulino) knew that he might pay with his life, but he saw no alternative, as the authorities did nothing to protect the forest and uphold the rule of law,” said Sarah Shenkler, Survival International’s Brazil researcher, in a statement.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced international criticism for his comments disparaging environmental campaigners as well as his support of loggers in the region.

“This is the reality of life for many of Brazil’s indigenous people and it has got much worse under President Bolsonaro,” said Shenkler. “He encourages the loggers and land grabbers, and strips the forest’s defenders of protection, leaving them at the mercy of heavily armed and utterly ruthless logging mafias.”

In September, Human Rights Watch said the violence directed towards the forest activists is “only getting worse under President Bolsonaro” and called for funding to be restored to environmental law agencies.

Brazil’s Justice Minister says federal police are investigating the death and the circumstances regarding the attack.

“We will spare no effort to bring those responsible for this serious crime to justice,” Minister Sergio Moro tweeted.