by Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASÍLIA, Brazil – The eighth murder of an environmental activist, since May of this year, has occurred. Joao Chupel Primo, a 55 year old activist in the northern state of Para was shot in the head by two unknown men.
The Argentina Independent reports that Primo was approached at his mechanic shop by two unknown men asking for car repair work to be performed. Upon approaching them, one of them pulled a gun and shot Primo in the head. He died shortly after from the bullet wound.
Primo was an active protestor against the deforestation occurring in Brazil’s rain forest. He was currently working on the Projeto de Assentamento Areia (Area Settlement Project) which publicly criticized the illegal logging taking place in the Riozinho de Anfrisio reserve.
“He was receiving death threats and had already been physically abused,” said Gilson Rego the spokesman for the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).
Other protestors and environmental agencies don’t hesitate to link Primo’s murder to his protests. Rego points to just a few weeks ago, in early October, where demonstrations by Primo led to a police investigation to halt illegal logging near Itaituba. The land conflict issue has been strained to a near breaking point in recent months with the seven previous murders; including those of husband and wife Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.
Following Primo’s murder prosecutors in Para have sought protection by the federal police for two other protestors who witnessed the illegal deforestation taking place in the Itaituba region. CPT also points out that the police had been informed by Primo of the death threats he received but did nothing in response. Similar stories of failure to act by the police have come out of the other environmentalist murders.
CPT also published a letter from the Bishop of Itaituba, Dom Frei Wilmar Santin, condemning the murder. In the letter Santin points to President Dilma Roussef’s administration as being incapable of addressing the problem and therefore responsible for the murders.
“Since 2005 until now over 20 people were killed in the region of Para,” says the Bishop in his letter.
This most recent murder of Primo contributes to an alarming trend that seems to be developing in Brazil; an attitude that permits an atmosphere of total impunity to exist around these unsolved and unprosecuted murders.
For more information, please see;
The Argentina Independent – Brazil: Environmental Rights Defender Murdered – 27 October 2011
Front Line Defenders – Brazil: Killing of Environmental Rights Defender Mr. Joao Chupel Primo – 27 October 2011
Intercontinental Cry – The Killings Must Stop Brazil: Murder of Another Peasant Leader – 26 October 2011
Yahoo News – Eighth Brazilian Farmer Since May Killed in Amazon – 25 October 2011