Confiscated illegally logged timber floats down the Guam river delta in Pará, Brazil. Reuters / Brazil / guardian.co.uk

By JULIANA BARBASSA
15 June 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO — A landless peasant activist was killed by a gunshot to his head outside his home in Brazil — the fifth murder in a month likely tied to the conflict over land and logging in the Amazon.

The body of the victim, Obede Loyla Souza, was found over the weekend in the dense forest surrounding his home in the landless settlement of Esperanca, near the town of Pacaja in the Amazon state of Para, said Hilario Lopes Costa, coordinator for the watchdog Catholic Land Pastoral in Para.

Costa traveled to the remote settlement to interview witnesses and support the victim's wife and children, who are also afraid for their lives.

Police from the nearby town of Tucurui confirmed the death and said the investigation was ongoing. Members of a national police force created by the federal government earlier this month to control violence in the region took the body to the state capital, Belem, for an autopsy. It was returned Tuesday for burial. They could not be immediately reached for comment.

The state law enforcement agency in charge of land conflicts, the Agrarian Conflict Delegation, is not participating in the investigation, a spokesman said, declining to give his name because of department policy.

The Catholic Land Pastoral monitors the threats made by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence protest over illegal extraction of wood and the violation of land rights in the environmentally sensitive region. More than 1,150 rural activists have been killed in conflicts over land and logging in the last two decades, and group has a list of 125 activists who know their lives are in danger.

Souza wasn't on that list, said Costa. …

Amazon activist killed after dispute with logger via The Oil Drum

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