He’s not promoting a “witch hunt” said the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, when he proposes the creation of a Truth Commission to investigate cases of torture and killings of political prisoners during the long military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.
Lula da Silva insisted there are no motives or cause for the military to fear because of the activities of such a commission.
“In this country there’s no reason for anybody to fear when we investigate the truth about recent Brazilian history. You can do this is an easy going and peaceful way, and that is precisely what we are doing,” underlined the Brazilian leader.
“This is no ‘witch hunting’, simply ensure that people that still have not found their disappeared next of kin have the right to locate the remains and give them a dignified and respectful burial.”
The creation of a Truth Commission is one of the proposals included in the III National Program on Human Rights, signed by Lula last December 21st.
The initiative generated an immediate and strong reaction from the military that accused the government of promoting “revenge” and trying to annul the effects of the Amnesty Law dating back to 1979, (drafted under military rule) and which benefited both left wing armed groups as well as the security (repression) forces.
Lula also rejected press reports that he had been under military pressure because of his intention of naming a Truth Commission.
But the initiative triggered a serious confrontation in the Brazilian cabinet between Paulo Vanucchi, Human Rights minister and Defense minister Nelson Jobim, who allegedly together with the commanders in chief of the three services threatened to resign.
“Nobody ever informed me about military officers resigning. I was on vacation when I heard about it. As president I do not work on versions or rumors. There were divergences between two cabinet ministers but that is over,” said Lula.
However the Brazilian press insists that following a meeting earlier this week with Jobim and Vanucchi, Lula accepted to delete from the Truth Commission text the “political repression” term.
Jobim and the chiefs of staff want the Commission to also investigate the left wing armed organizations which fought against the military coup following the ousting of elected president João Goulart back in March 1964.
The Brazilian military, contrary to other South American countries, have never been to court for alleged crimes against humanity, protected by the Amnesty Law of 1979, currently under review, on request from the Brazilian Bar, by the Supreme Federal Tribunal.
Vanucchi had also threatened to resign if the Truth Commission included in the Human Rights Program announced last December, was “emptied of content”.
“I would feel uncomfortable if my ministers did not have differences or disagree. It’s the president’s job to put an end to those divergences”, underlined Lula.
Finally Lula said the Brazilian democracy was sufficiently mature and plural as to address controversial issues because “we live in full democracy with all our rights 24 hours a day.”
The Human Rights Program and the Truth Commission initiative must be considered by Congress.