On January 26, Fernando dos Santos Araújo, land rights defender and survivor of the 2017 Pau D’Arco massacre, was shot and killed in the Brazilian state of Pará. The undersigned organisations condemn this horrific crime in the strongest terms.

Since the terrible events three years ago, rural workers  living on the Santa Lúcia farm in Pau D’Arco have been threatened, harassed and denied their constitutional right to land and their right to protection under Brazilian law. Police killed ten members of the community in 2017, some shot in the back, others in the head at point blank range. Almost four years have passed, yet none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.

Fernando, whose boyfriend was a victim of the 2017 massacre, was testifying in the ongoing investigation, and had reportedly received threats for doing so. His killing is a clear attempt to subvert the rule of law and to intimidate the community.

Local authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation into Fernando’s killing, and must guarantee the safety of José Vargas, the lawyer representing the victims of the massacre, who is facing criminilisation and persecution.

For too long, violence against landless communities has gone unpunished. The judiciary and authorities have failed to stand up for landless communities and for environmental defenders, and ignored state-sanctioned violence. Until there is justice for the Pau D’Arco massacre and for Fernando’s killing, until communities can peacefully stand up for their rights without fear of violent reprisals, impunity will reign in Brazil. 


  • Front Line Defenders
  • Global Witness
  • Not1More
  • Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)