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Christian Aid mourns death of Amazon land rights defender

Christian Aid expresses its sadness at the news of the murder of a local activist from one of our partners in Brazil.

Dilma Silva Ferreira, 45, was a co-ordinator for the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) in the Tucurui region.

We stand in solidarity with our partner, which tirelessly advocates for the human right to water and land, particularly for people displaced by dams and other mega-projects.

Dilma was killed along with her partner Claudionor Costa da Silva, 42, and Hilton Lopes, 38, in a settlement in the rural area of Baião last Friday (22 March). The tragedy follows the death of Nilce de Souza Magalhães – another MAB activist fighting for the rights of those affected by the hydroelectric plants – in 2016.

The Brazilian Amazon is a region that accounts for nine out of 10 murders of land rights defenders and environmentalists in Brazil, according to Global Witness.

Christian Aid’s report The Scandal of Inequality urged that now more than ever, it is critical that the rights, liberties and lands of traditional populations such as peasants, indigenous people and Afro-Brazilians who have been part of building the country, are safeguarded.

It is vitally important that as civil society actors in development that we do not lose sight of the forest custodians, or of their human rights. We strongly urge against anything that will endanger the Amazon, traditional communities and their lands, the work of civil society organizations and the laws of the environment.

A statement from MAB said: “How many more women, blacks, poor, leaders and rights defenders need to die until justice is done?

“We demand a government investigation into this crime and for the government to implement security measures for all human rights defenders in Brazil, especially in the Amazon, and for measures be adopted to guarantee the rights of those affected by dams in Brazil.

“We reaffirm our commitment to continue fighting for the rights of those affected, in defense of life and against the privatization of water.”