HRDs being interviewed by journalists


[Statement] 105 organizations from 25 countries co-sign statement on the assassination of Brazilian human rights defender Dilma Ferreira Silva

8 April 2019

Statement on the Assassination of Dilma Ferreira Silva, leader of Brazil’s Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples (MAB)

In the face of the brutal crime committed on March 22nd against a coordinator of the Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples in Brazil, the undersigned human rights and environmental organizations call on Brazilian authorities and multilateral organizations to ensure that the country’s obligations regarding the protection of human rights and environmental defenders are enforced.

With deep sadness and indignation, we received the news that Dilma Ferreira Silva, a regional coordinator of Brazil’s Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples (MAB), together with her husband Claudionor Costa da Silva, and Hilton Lopes, a friend of the family, were assassinated on Friday, March 22nd in the Amazonian state of Pará. The bodies of the three victims were found in her residence with signs of torture.

Dilma Ferreira Silva was a prominent activist and recognized leader who, for more than three decades, fought for the rights of the people affected by the Tucuruí mega-hydroelectric dam project on the Tocantins River of the Brazilian Amazon, built during the country’s military dictatorship in 1964-1985), provoking the displacement of an estimated 32,000 people, along with serious environmental damage. This is not the first case of a brutal murder perpetrated against a human rights defender in the region of the Tucurui dam. In April 2009, Raimundo Nonato do Carmo, a union leader who fought on behalf of those whose lives were ruined by the Tucuruí dam was shot seven times by two men on a motorcycle as he walked out of a supermarket on the street which he lived in the town of Tucuruí.

Dilma dedicated her life to promoting national policies that would effectively take into account the rights of dam-affected peoples, with due attention to gender issues that particularly affect the rights of women.

Dilma Ferreira lived in the rural settlement of Salvador Allende, where land titles were issued for family farmers by the federal government in 2012, as a result of a popular mobilization of the Movement of the Landless Workers (MST), with support from MAB. However, the area continued to be coveted by land grabbers (grileiros) that invaded and seized control of public and community lands. One such example is Fernando Ferreira Rosa Filho (aka ‘Fernandinho’) arrested by the civil police force of the state of Pará as the principal suspect in the triple homicide of Dilma Ferreira, Claudionor Costa da Silva, and Hilton Lopes.

The assassination of Dilma Ferreira Silva is evidence of the grave situation faced by human rights and environmental defenders in Brazil, a country that tops the global ranking in violence practiced against defenders, with one person murdered every six days in 2017.

The incoming administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has intensified recent attempts to undermine Brazil’s progressive legislation on environmental protection and human rights – especially those of indigenous peoples, quilombolas (descendants of African slaves), family farmers, and other traditional populations. Such attempts have often clashed with Brazil’s progressive Federal Constitution, approved in 1988 during a period of re-democratization that followed military rule. Backsliding on public policies, together with public statements that incite violence in conflictive areas, are seriously increasing the risks faced by human rights and environmental defenders such as Dilma Ferreira Silva.

The undersigned human rights and environmental organizations express our solidarity with the family of Dilma and the Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples (MAB). Without a doubt, her assassination is a huge loss for the defense of the environment and human rights in the Amazon.

We stand with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in demanding a complete, independent, and impartial investigation of the assassination of Dilma Ferreira Silva, as well as the exemplary punishment of those who carried out and ordered this horrendous crime.

Moreover, we call on Brazilian authorities to ensure that the country’s domestic legislation and international obligations regarding the protection of human rights and environmental defenders are fully implemented, including preventative action to avoid further acts of violence.



2. Aborigen-Forum

3. AMAR – Associação de Defesa do Meio Ambiente de Araucária

4. Amazon Watch

5. APREC Ecossistemas Costeiros

6. Arctic Consult

7. Articulação Antinuclear Brasileira

8. Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente – AIDA

9. Associação Mineira de Defesa do Ambiente – Amda

10. Association Green Alternative Georgia

11. Association of Journalists-Environmentalists of the Russian Union of Journalists

12. BAI Indigenous Women’s Network in the Philippines

13. Bank Information Center (BIC) USA

14. Biodiversity Conservation Center

15. Both ENDS

16. Bretton Woods Project

17. Buryat Regional Association for Baikal

18. Business & Human Rights Center

19. Center for International Environmental Law – CIEL

20. CIDSE – International family of Catholic social justice organizations

21. Coalition for Human Rights in Development

22. Coletivo de Mulheres do Xingu

23. Coletivo de Mulheres Negras de Altamira

24. Comisión Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos

25. Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida

26. Conectas Direitos Humanos

27. Conseil Régional des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Développement en RDC

28. Corporación SOS Ambiental

29. Crescente Fértil

30. Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales – DAR

31. Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente – DHUMA

32. Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente de Puno – Perú

33. DKA Austria

34. ECOA – Ecologia e Ação

35. Ecological Center DRONT

36. Ecolur Information MGO

37. Environmental Investigation Agency

38. Fastenopfer Switzerland

39. Focsiv – Federation of Italian Christian NGOs

40. Fórum em Defesa de Altamira

41. Foundation Sami Heritage and Development

42. Frente por uma Nova Política Energética para o Brasil

43. Front Line Defenders

44. Fundação Avina

45. Fundação Grupo ESQUEL

46. Future for Everyone

47. Global Witness

48. Green Dubna

49. ONG Guajiru

50. In Difesa Di – per i Diritti Umani e chi li difende

51. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

52. Instituto Igarapé

53. Instituto Terramar

54. Institutos Ethos

55. International Indigenous Fund for Development and Solidarity “Batani” dos EUA

56. International Land Coalition Secretariat

57. International Rivers

58. Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu National Alliance of indigenous peoples in the Philippines)

59. Kazan Federal University

60. Latin America Working Group

61. London Mining Network

62. Lumiere Synergie pour le Developpement

63. MAB – Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens

64. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns


66. Movimento Negro

67. Movimento Paulo Jackson – Ética, Justiça, Cidadania

68. Movimento Tapajós Vivo

69. Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre

70. O Movimento Nacional das Cidadãs Posithivas (MNCP)

71. Oyu Tolgoi Watch

72. Pax Christi – Comisión Solidaridad Un Mundo Alemania

73. Pax Christi Internacional

74. Pax Christi Toronto

75. Projeto Saúde e Alegria

76. Protection International

77. Public Interest Law Center (PILC/CHAD)

78. Red de Comités Ambientales del Tolima

79. Red de Género y Medio Ambiente de México


81. Resource Rights Africa da Uganda

82. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition

83. Rivers without Boundaries – Mongolia

84. SAPÊ – Sociedade Agrense de Proteção Ecológica

85. SCIAF – Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

86. Serpaj Chile

87. Siberian Environmental Organization

88. Socio-ecological Union International

89. Tatarstan Organization of the All-Russian Society for the Conservation of Nature

90. Terra 1530

91. The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace/Caritas

92. The Society for Threatened Peoples International STPI – Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker-International, GfbV-International

93. Toxisphera – Associação de Saúde Ambiental

94. Tutela Legal Maria Julia Hernández

95. Uma Gota no Oceno

96. Uniafro Brasil

97. Washington Office on Latin America – Wola

98. WoMin African Alliance

99. World Wide Fund for Nature – WWF/Brasil

Link to the statement on AIDA-Amercias website