We pursued the work of Bruno and Dom on the Amazon because our future depends on it.
“This story must be told.”
On June 26, 2022, 11 days after the discovery of the bodies of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips, the world’s cameras captured the anger of Sian Phillips, the sister of the assassinated British journalist. Surrounded by close friends and family, all of them wearing black t-shirts with photos of Dom in the heart of the rainforest, she explained that her brother had been killed “because he tried to tell the world what is happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants.”
Over the past several years, environmental crimes have been one of the most dangerous subjects for journalists to report on. According to Reporters Without Borders, two journalists are killed on average each year on account of their work on deforestation, illegal mining activities, land predation, pollution and other subjects linked to extractive industries. Environmental defenders, for their part, are also in the eye of the storm. According to a report by Global Witness, 1,700 of them were killed between 2010 and 2020.
Dom Phillips was one of the most battle-tested of these journalists. For 15 years, he criss-crossed the Amazon region. His friend and guide, Bruno Pereira, an expert on indigenous communities, knew this territory better than anyone. The two of them had gone to work together in the Javari Valley, a region that had been transformed into a den of illegal timber, drug and natural resource trafficking.
The murderers of Bruno and Dom will not succeed in preventing this story from being told. For one year, more than 50 journalists from 16 news organizations, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, came together to pursue their work in order to ensure that their work will not die with them. They were killed because they had tried to inform the world about the crimes committed by those whose activities are puncturing the lungs of the planet.
Does this topic seem far away from you? It’s nonetheless intimately connected to our daily lives. The global appetite for beef is accelerating the global climate catastrophe: around two-thirds of Amazon deforestation is linked to cattle farming. In 2019, we coordinated the Green Blood project alongside 30 other media organizations, pursuing the investigations of Indian, Guatemalan and Tanzanian journalists into the environmental costs of the mining industry. By tracing back to the supply chain from the final distributor, our journalists were able to show how dirty resources end up in the heart of Silicon Valley by way of opaque multinationals.
Without journalists on the ground, nobody would know what these large multinationals are doing beyond the greenwashed content of their PR campaigns. Climate change is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations around the world. The journalists and human rights defenders who are telling this story are also at the front lines. Reporting on these topics—as well as questioning polluting companies and the politicians who enable them, “Don’t Look Up” style—is an official right dating back to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.
Without access to independent information, nobody is going to save the planet.