Statement of grief and condemnation over the murder of Bernadete Pacífico

Conectas has joined Conaq and other civil society organizations to demand an immediate investigation and accountability of those involved in the death of the quilombo leader

Foto: Conaq Foto: Conaq

Conectas Human Rights expresses deep dismay at the brutal murder of Bernadete Pacífico, the Afro-Brazilian priestess and leader of both the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo settlement and the National Coordination of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (Conaq). At the age of 72, the religious and community leader was shot dead on Thursday, August 17, at the terreiro temple she ran in the municipality of Simões Filho, in the metropolitan region of Salvador. We express our solidarity with the family, friends and the wider quilombola community. 

Brazil has lost a remarkable human rights defender who dedicated her life to preserving the culture, religion and history of her people, and to fighting racism and religious racism. In addition to her local action, she played an important role at Conaq on the national level and her tireless dedication to the defense of a dignified life for the quilombola population will always be a source of inspiration for human rights defenders. 

As noted in a statement released by Conaq, the priestess “gave her body and her voice to the defense of a cause for which she had an unshakable commitment. Her voice resonated not only at meetings and events, but also in the hearts of those who believed in change”. 

This is not the first time that the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo community has suffered a fatal attack. In 2017, Flavio Gabriel Pacífico dos Santos, known as ‘Binho do Quilombo’ and Bernadete’s son, was also brutally murdered.

Conaq and quilombola leaders play an essential role in the fight against racism, for environmental and social justice, for the right to land and for the fulfillment of the constitutional obligations of the Brazilian State. We have, therefore, joined Conaq in demanding that the authorities immediately and diligently investigate the case and hold to account those involved in the attack that took the life of Bernadete Pacífico.

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