“We refuse to give up hope” – friends of missing journalist Dom Phillips
Scores of Brazilian journalists and international correspondents have appealed to authorities to intensify efforts to locate British journalist Dom Phillips and colleague Bruno Araújo Pereira, an expert on indigenous and uncontacted Amazon peoples.
The pair were reported missing on Sunday when they failed to return from a field trip in the Javari valley in the remote western corner of the rainforest. The area is a known hotbed of illegal logging and mining and the two were reported to have received threats prior to setting out.
In the letter published below that Phillips’ friends shared with Diálogo Chino and other media, they express their concern, admiration for his commitment to Amazon reporting, and their enduring hope that he and Pereira will be found safe and well. We reiterate that hope.
We are Dom’s friends and we are in Brazil, Britain, the US, and other points around the world. We are glued to our phones, televisions and computers, desperately seeking information about our friend and colleague. We are phoning, swapping news on WhatsApp, exchanging any nugget that might suggest we will see him again safe and sound. We refuse to believe the worst may have happened to him and Bruno Araújo Pereira, the expert in Indigenous peoples who was with him.
Dom is known as one of the sharpest and most caring foreign journalists in South America. As correspondents we are used to hearing people ask: “Why did you leave your comfortable home to come to Brazil, with all its problems?” The answer is usually the same: “Because we love it here.” As his wife Alessandra put it: “My husband loves Brazil and loves the Amazon. He could live anywhere in the world, but he chose to live here.”
Before he came to Brazil in 2007, Dom had an interesting life writing about music in the UK. He edited a magazine and then wrote a brilliant book about the rise of DJ culture. But he wanted a second act. He came to São Paulo, lured by DJ friends, and Brazil instantly felt like home. He moved to Rio a few years later, then married a Baiana and a couple of years ago he moved to Salvador. His second career as a correspondent has been as brilliant as his first as a music writer.
He has written for The Guardian, the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Intercept and many others. But he wanted to make a mark and his love of the Amazon, a place he went for reporting trips, was deep. His book project on development in the region allowed him to spend more time there, to really get to know the people and their struggles.
But there has always been a lot more to him than pages and paragraphs. His friends know him as a smiling guy who would get up before dawn to do stand-up paddle. We know him as a caring volunteer worker who gave English classes in a Rio favela. One of the first things he did in Salvador was get involved with Jovens Inovadores, a collective health programme at the UFBA [Bahia Federal University]. He was surrounded by young people, youths he lovingly described as noisy and distracted and full of curiosity about the world.
It was his same curiosity that took him to the Vale do Javari with Bruno, whose experience in the region is widely recognised. It’s an isolated area that very few people will ever see. That isolation is why search efforts must be stepped up immediately. Every second is vital. Every man, boat, helicopter, or satellite can make a difference. We are worried but we refuse to give up hope. Please, spare no effort in finding our friend and his friend Bruno.
Tom Phillips, Latin America correspondent, the Guardian
Martin Hodgson, International editor, the Guardian US
Jonathan Watts, global environment editor, the Guardian
Eliane Brum, journalist
Adriana Carranca, journalist
Tom Hennigan, South America correspondent, The Irish Times
Tariq Panja, Global Sports Correspondent, The New York Times
Andrew Downie, author of 'Doctor Socrates, Footballer, Philosopher, Legend'
Andrew Fishman, Contributing Writer, The Intercept
Sam Cowie, journalist
Sylvia Colombo, Folha de S.Paulo
Henrik Brandão Jönsson, Latin America correspondent, Dagens Nyheter
Cecília Olliveira, Director, Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji)
Vinod Sreeharsha, Correspondent, LatinFinance (U.S.)
David Biller, Brazil News Director, Associated Press
Richard Lapper, author of 'Beef, Bible and Bullets: Brazil in the Age of Bolsonaro'
Tony Danby, Freelance Journalist
Gareth Chetwynd, News Editor NHST
Jack Nicas, Brazil Bureau Chief, The New York Times
Flávia Milhorance, contributing writer, The New York Times/ Brazil editor, Diálogo Chino
Patricia Campos Mello, reporter at large, Folha de S.Paulo
Stephanie Nolen, global health reporter, The New York Times
Lulu Garcia-Navarro NYT Opinion, Host
James Hider, author and journalist
Vincent Bevins, Former Brazil Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, editor of the "From Brazil" project at Folha de S.Paulo, and author of The Jakarta Method
Lianne Milton, Photographer, Panos Pictures
Fábio Erdos, Filmmaker, Panos Pictures
Simon Romero, National Correspondent, The New York Times
Fabiano Maisonnave, Amazon Correspondent, Associated Press
Wyre Davies, former Latin America correspondent, BBC
Manuela Andreoni, reporter, The New York Times
Cristina Tardáguila, founder of Lupa
Elisangela Mendonça, Reporter, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Daniel Politi, Southern Cone correspondent, Associated Press
Jenny Barchfield, Regional Editor for Latin America, UNHCR.
Paulo Prada, Latin America Enterprise Editor, Reuters
Philip Reeves, international journalist and NPR contributor
Catherine Osborn, Latin America Brief writer, Foreign Policy
Nathan Thompson, editor/producer, National Public Radio
Paula Ramon, former AFP correspondent, Brazil
Kate Steiker-Ginzberg, producer
Taylor Barnes, journalist
Anna Kaiser, reporter, The Miami Herald
Nadia Sussman, videojournalist, Propublica
Catherine Osborn, Latin America Brief writer, Foreign Policy
Júlia Dias Carneiro, journalist
Sebastian Smith, AFP reporter
Juliana Barbassa, deputy editor, NYT
Italo Nogueira, Folha de S. Paulo
Adele Smith, former Latin America correspondent for Journal du Dimanche
Samantha Pearson, correspondent, The Wall Street Journal,
Luciana Magalhaes, correspondent, Wall Street Journal
Clarissa Thomé, GloboNews
Anthony Boadle, correspondent, Reuters Brasilia
Brad Brooks, correspondent, Reuters
Rebecca Carter, literary agent, Janklow & Nesbit
Laura Bonilla, AFP chief editor Latin America
Paula Bianchi, editor, Agência Pública
Uki Goni, journalist, Argentina
Pascale Trouillaud, AFP Brazil bureau chief
Anna Pelegri, AFP Brazil deputy bureau chief
Carl De Souza, AFP Brazil chief photographer
Jill Langlois, independent journalist in Brazil, contributor to Yale Environment 360 and National Geographic
Bruce Douglas, former Brazil journalist
Meirion Jones, Editor, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Rozina Breen, CEO, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
James Ball, Global Editor, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Kerry Jean Lister, Social Media Manager, UK
Valentina K. Yanes, Digital Content Editor, Florida, EEUU.
Paul Mason, Contributing writer, New Statesman
Joseph Patel, Academy Award winning Documentary Filmmaker
Gary Duffy, former BBC correspondent and Editor in Brazil
Sarah Robbins, BBC World News America
Patrick Greenfield, reporter, The Guardian
Stephen Eisenhammer, Reuters bureau chief, Mexico & Central America,
Dado Galdieri, Hilaea Media Visuals Director
Domonique Davies, PhD researcher in environmental humanities (University of Reading)
Max Beckett, Content Editor, Uswitch.com
Ida Leal, Visual Artist
Ed Davey, Special Correspondent, Climate, Associated Press
Donna Bowater, journalist
Matt Sandy, former correspondent in Brazil
Arthur Neslen, Freelance Journalist, The Guardian
David RS Taylor, freelance journalist