Brazil's Special Secretariat of Human Rights initiated a process
to monitor the case involving street dwellers who were attacked
and murdered in the center of São Paulo.
The Minister of the Secretariat,
Nilmário Miranda, named the head of the organ's review board, Pedro
Montenegro, to accompany the investigations.
"From the number
of victims involved, in vulnerable circumstances, and the brutality of the
attacks, this case already has the outlines of a massacre, probably committed
by extermination groups or Nazi-Fascists," Montenegro believes.
"We shall give a
firm, resounding response, to keep barbarity from taking hold and spreading.
We shall make available the entire infrastructure of the federal government,
including the witness protection program, for this case."
According to the head
of the review board, monitoring processes are normally initiated at the behest
of human rights defense organizations. But, in view of the seriousness of
the facts, the Secretariat decided to act immediately.
Montenegro was to meet
in São Paulo with representatives of the Municipal Secretariat of Human
Rights, the São Paulo Human Rights Commission, and non-governmental
organizations concerned with this issue.
Meetings have also been
set up with the police commissioner in charge of the case and with representatives
of the public prosecutor's office and the court solicitor-general's office.
In a note
to the press, the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz
Bastos, lamented and repudiated the attacks committed against
the homeless in the center of São Paulo. Six of them
are dead, and nine are in the hospital, seriously injured. "The
Union, the State, and the Municipality will not weigh efforts
to elucidate this crime, discover the perpetrators, and bring
them to Justice."
Bastos classified the
act against the street dwellers as brutal and intolerable. For the Minister,
the incident is an offense to the Brazilian State, "defender of the principle
of human dignity and responsible for the promotion of the general welfare,
without prejudice due to origin, race, gender, color, or any other kinds of
The Worst Ever
and beating against homeless (all of them were hit on their
heads with a club) occurred in downtown São Paulo in
the predawn hours of August 19, a Thursday, when 10 people were
attacked and again three days later. The results of the first
attack were discovered gradually as the day progressed, as it
became clearer to authorities that the cases were not isolated
The Homicide and Personal
Protection Department (DHPP) of the State Secretariat of Public Safety decide
to not release more detailed information, according to them, in order not
to interfere with the investigations.
The attack was the biggest
act of violence ever committed against street dwellers in the capital of São
Paulo, as well as the biggest in the country since the Candelária Massacre,
in Rio de Janeiro, on July 23, 1993, when eight homeless kids were killed.
"We are feeling the
sadness and the indignation," affirmed Father Júlio Lancellotti,
director of the Catholic Church's Street Pastoral Commission.
Father Lancellotti is
accompanying the DHPP in its investigation to reveal the authors of the crimes.
He requested the intervention of the Public Interest Defense Ministry in the
case and informed that secrecy is being maintained in order to protect the
A 2003 study by the Economic
Research Institute Foundation (Fipe) shows that over ten thousand people in
São Paulo sleep in the city's streets, squares, underpasses, thoroughfares,
cemeteries, and shelters. The study was conducted at the request of the São
Paulo Municipal Government's Secretariat of Social Assistance.
Juliana Cézar works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.