BRASILIA, Brazil (October 10, 2001) -- 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 Paulo 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.''
Greenpeace believes this threat is a direct response to fresh evidence of extensive illegal logging deep in the heart of the Amazon released by the organization on September 26th.
Photographs and video images from a recent aerial reconnaissance by Greenpeace clearly showed sophisticated logging operations in lands belonging to the Amazon's Kayapó Indians, an area 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.
In a bid to stop the opening of the forest by mahogany loggers, the Brazilian Government in 1996 enacted a moratorium on new mahogany logging ventures. But, based on Greenpeace's new
information, several companies appear to be using false papers to cover up their illegal logging operations on adjacent Kayapó Indian property.
The Amazon region is known for violence against those who work to defend it. One tragic example occurred on August 25th in Altamira when the coordinator of the Movement for the Development of the Transamazon and Xingu Region (MDTX), Ademir Alfeu Federicci (Dema), was killed by a gunman in his home. Dema was an active leader in the resistance to the construction of dams and an opponent of illegal logging in the region. He unsuccessfully defended himself and was shot in the head in front of his wife and children.
Brazil's Minister of Environment, Jose Sarney Filho, expressed deep concern. ''I would like to say that 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".
''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 U.S. ''Greenpeace has been working to protect the Amazon and those who depend on the forest.''
Photo and video of the illegal Amazon logging operations and of Paulo Adario are available.
Contacts: Aaron Bannon, 202-319-2432 desk, 202-256-4041 cell, Scott Paul, 202-319-2369 desk, 202-262-0310 cell.