Leader of Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Threatened with Death
MANAUS, Brazil, October 11, 2001 (ENS) - Fresh photo and video evidence of extensive illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest released by Greenpeace on September 26 has brought retaliation.
A telephone call received last week at a house where Greenpeace campaigners live and work in Manaus, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, threatened death to Paulo Adario who coordinates Greenpeace's Amazon Campaign.
"This is not only a serious threat against my life but, of greater importance, it is a threat to all people who campaign to protect the Amazon," said Adario. "It is clear that our recent work exposing illegal logging of mahogany in the Amazon is at the base of this threat. In Brazil it is well known that most of the mahogany trade is controlled by criminals, who for too long have been allowed to operate with impunity."
Photographs and video images from a recent aerial reconnaissance by Greenpeace showed sophisticated logging operations in lands belonging to the Kayapó Indians, where logging is strictly prohibited. Satellite images obtained by Greenpeace also revealed details of these operations. This information was delivered to the federal prosecutor in Brasilia, along with Greenpeace's call for a full investigation.
Greenpeace has been conducting its campaign against illegal logging with the full cooperation and support of the Brazilian government. Officials expressed concern with regard to the threat.
Brazil's Minister of Environment, Jose Sarney Filho, said, "I take the death threat made to the Greenpeace member as if it was directed to me. That is because Greenpeace does nothing less than what we do. That is why they have all my support in assuring the physical safety of the Greenpeace campaigner. The partnership between the Ministry and Greenpeace is long standing and has brought many results, reducing the huge illegal operations in that region."
On Monday, Jose Carlos Dias, former Minister of Justice of Brazil and a prominent human rights activist, pledged his full support for Adario and Greenpeace.
Amazonino Mendes, the Governor of Brazil's Amazonas State, said that he would give all possible guarantees for Adario's safety, so that the work of Greenpeace can continue in the Amazon.
"We will do everything in our power to protect our people in the Amazon, but we will not be intimidated into stopping our work. We will not be silenced," said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace in the United States. "Greenpeace has been working to protect the Amazon and those who depend on the forest."
To stop the illegal logging of valuable mahogany, in 1996 the Brazilian government enacted a moratorium on new mahogany logging ventures. But Greenpeace says that several companies appear to be using false papers to cover up their illegal logging operations on Kayapó Indian property.
Violence against defenders of natural resources in the Amazon region is not uncommon. On August 25th in Altamira, Ademir Alfeu Federicci, known as Dema, was killed by a gunman in his home. He was the coordinator of the Movement for the Development of the Transamazon and Xingu Region, a leader in the resistance to the construction of dams and an opponent of illegal logging.
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