Representatives from social movements in Brazil have condemned the charges against 23 activists of criminal conspiracy in Rio de Janeiro. Among the groups represented in the press conference were the Torture Never Again Group, the Frente Internacionalista dos Sem Teto (Internationalist Homeless Front), and the Institute of Human Rights Defenders (DDH), along with several trade unions.
The newly created Popular Committee Against the State of Emergency also took part in the gathering, and announced that demonstrations will be staged in several places in the country on July 30.
“It has only served to bring us closer together. We had been working on our movements individually, setting their framework. Now, we have a single forum and take action together. This will grow,” said Liette Ornellas, on behalf of the committee, which gathers over 100 social movement organizations, among which collectives, trade unions and associations.
“For now, the committee is only found in Rio, but we’re getting more organized, because the idea is to make it achieve nationwide proportions,” Ornellas declared.
Joana Ferraz, from Torture Never Again, said that the organization sent to domestic and international organizations a number of communications warning that the 23 activists are being persecuted, tortured and forced to live in clandestinity.
“What we want is the freedom of all of them; ample, general, unrestricted amnesty; and [we also want] to report that habeas corpus is too little,” she said.
Thiago Melo, coordinator of DDH, whose lawyers were arrested during the investigation, said that the charges are generic as no foundation can be provided for individual or specific accusations.
He went on to say that the accusations are authoritarian, and complained about the tap put on the phones of the institution, which offers protection to victims of violations committed by the police.
“What happened is of the utmost gravity. The communication between clients and lawyers must be confidential,” he argued.
“We have a clear understanding that the social movements are being viewed by the police and the criminal courts as organized crime,” Melo added.
Trade union Sindsprev-RJ issued a note in which it presents its stance on the charge filed against the union for providing demonstrators with money for food. In the statement, the trade union says that it has played an active role in all popular demonstrations and that the organization directly supports all protests questioning the government.
“Instead of meeting the demands of the population, the authorities respond by treating protests as a case for the police,” the note reads.
On July 23, the Rio de Janeiro Justice granted habeas corpus to all 23 activists who had their preventive detention order issued on July 18. They are being charged with conspiracy for armed criminal action in demonstrations that took place in the city early this year.
The court has not granted the habeas corpus appeals of Fábio Raposo Barbosa and Caio Silva, who have been accused of firing the squib that killed cameraman Santiago Andrade in February.
A never-before-seen photograph showing the scene of the accident that killed Brazilian fashion designer Zuzu Angel in April 1976 has corroborated the suspicions harbored by the National Truth Commission (“CNV”) about the Armed Forces’ involvement in the case.
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The picture, presented by Cláudio Guerra, former police commissioner from the Department of Political and Social Order (“DOPS”) as he gave testimony to the CNV, shows Army Colonel Freddie Perdigão in the background near the wrecked vehicle. The military man was a notorious perpetrator of torture and murders during Brazil’s period of military dictatorship. Perdigão died in the 90’s.
The fashion designer was the mother of Stuart Angel, a member of the October 8th Revolutionary Movement (MR-8), who disappeared in 1971 after both were arrested by agents from repression forces. Other prisoners reported he was tortured and killed in the premises of the Galeão Air Base.
Taking advantage of her prestige as a famous fashion designer and the fact that her son held US citizenship, Angel managed to bring international notoriety to the case after publicly questioning then State Secretary Henry Kissinger during his trip to Brazil.
According to CNV President Pedro Dallari, that was the moment after which she was considered “a bothersome presence for the regime, for whom her disappearance would be rather convenient.”
Dallari says that the picture “could not be found in the case records, and is a very important revelation and document”, making it clear that there was some sort of involvement by military forces in the accident that took place in Rio de Janeiro, since “Armed Forces Official Freddie Perdigão appears near the wrecked vehicle.
This shows a very strong link between the Armed Forces, since Perdião was a notorious perpetrator of human rights violations,” said Dallari. The CNV chairman further reported that the place shown in the picture and the one seen in the photos taken by experts at the time of the accident are the same location.
Dallari also believes Perdião admitted to Cláudio Guerra his participation in the planning and simulation of the accident that killed Zuzu Angel. “The investigations certainly corroborate this hypothesis,” he added.