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Suspects Arrested for Murders of Rainforest Activists

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In May José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva was shot along with his wife Maria do Espírito Santo in what appears to have been an ambush near their home in Nova Ipixuna. Da Silva had been an activist who fought against illegal logging in the Amazon Rainforest.

According to the Guardian, the lifelong activist had predicted his death only six months prior. He had actively sought out police protection after receiving death threats but was refused such protection. Six months later in a gruesome act of violence Riberio da Silva and his wife were shot down outside their home.

A new report in the Guardian claims that two men are being held as suspects in the murders of Da Silva and his wife. Jose Rodrigues Moreira and his brother Lindon Johnson Silva Rocha just two of the three suspects that police have apprehended in the murder case. The suspects were found during a raid on a jungle camp 32 miles from the town Novo Rpartimento. The third suspect in Da Silva and Santo’s assassinations, Alberto Lopes do Nascimento, but had currently not been arrested.

Claudelice Silva dos Santos, da Silva’s sister, told the Guardian, “The family’s reaction is happiness, happiness, happiness,” adding, “We have been waiting for this news for nearly four months.”

According to the reports and statements by security authorities, the two suspects tried to escape while being surrounded by police. The report accuses Jose Rodrigues Moreira as being the ringleader. Allegedly, Moreira ordered the killings and had his brother, Lindon Johnson Silva Rocha, carry out the executions.

The family is hoping that these are the first steps toward justice for the victims and believe that there is more than just the three suspects involved in the murder. They are hoping that the police contine to investigate.

Jose Claudio Riberio da Silva, although widely known for his martyr status akin to Chico Mendes, should be remembered for the his devoted human rights and environmental activism.

His words at a TEDx event in November 2011, six months prior to his assassination, will long be remembered, “[People] ask me, ‘are you afraid?’ Yes, I’m a human being, of course I am afraid. But my fear does not silence me. As long as I have the strength to walk I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.”

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