32-year-old indigenous leader Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau was found dead on the morning of Saturday 18 April 2020, on Line 625 in the Tarilândia, district of Jaru, in the state of Rondonia. Ari was a teacher and an environmental activist. According to the Medical Examiner he had been beaten to death with a blunt instrument.
According to official information from the Civil Police, Ari’s scooter was found on one side of the road and his body on the other. Initially, the information contained in the police report suggested that Ari could have had an accident. However during the course of the investigation, agents confirmed that Ari was murdered with approximately four blows from a blunt object that caused head trauma. The probable time of death was in the early hours of Saturday morning.
According to the Ethno-environmental Defense Association (Kanindé), Ari worked in the Uru-eu-wau-wau indigenous people’s surveillance group. The group’s role is mainly to register and report the activities of illegal loggers and land grabbers in the area.
Ari was a cousin of Awapu Uru-eu-wau-wau, an indigenous leader who has received multiple death threats. Another indigenous leader Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau was murdered 5 years ago. No one has ever been held accountable.
According to CPT (Commissão Pastoral da Terra) which documents violence in rural area, 2020 was the most violent year in Brazil’s countryside since 1985, the year it first began to track land conflicts in Brazil. The invasion of public land by big landowners and illegal miners at the expense of Indigenous groups and small growers has led to record numbers of violent conflicts in Brazil’s rural and forest areas, especially in the Amazon.
CPT’s annual Atlas of Rural Conflicts showed that in 2020 there were 1,576 land disputes, 315 more than in 2019, which had been the previous record year. More than 40 percent of the total cases involved Indigenous peoples.