Brazil: Increasing repression and criminalization against the Landless People Movement (MST)
Last June 17, about 300 landless (the vast majority of them women, children and elderly) were forcibly evicted from two camps of the "Movimento de Trabalhadores Sem Terra" (MST), located on leased and private land -therefore legally occupied- in the vicinity of Fazenda Guerra, in Coqueiros do Sul, Northern region of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
The judiciary of Carazinho issued the eviction order after the Attorney General’s office of Rio Grande do Sul filed a complaint against MST on June 11. In this complaint, the Attorney General accuses MST of crimes against the national security and characterizes MST as a para-military organization which ought to be dismantled.
It is the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in Brazil that a systematic attempt to disarticulate and criminalize movements of social protest like MST is registered. The situation in the region is very tense. Please send letters to the President of Brazil asking him to take measures to investigate the case, to redress the families unduly evicted and to guarantee full enjoyment of the right to free association to MST. Please send copies of your letter to the Governeour of Rio Grande do Sul, to the Brazilian embassy in your country and to MST.
Very early in the morning of June 17, 2008, five hundred soldiers appeared in the landless camps of Coqueiros do Sul with an eviction order issued by the judiciary of Carazinho the day before. The eviction order followed a complaint filed by the Attorney General on June 11. The landless families living in the vicinity of the Fazenda Guerra were forcibly evicted from their camps legally occupied. The judiciary did not care about where the families will stay after the eviction.
Very serious is the fact that the Attorney General’s office of Rio Grande do Sul is trying to characterize MST as a threat for national security which therefore ought to be dismantled. One of the authors of the complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office, Luis Felipe Tesheiner, summarizes the justification for the complaint as follows: "It is not about removing camps but about dismantlig the grassroots MST uses to repeatedly commit crimes". In the preliminary ruling of Justice Orlando Faccino Neto allowing the complaint filed by the Attorney General it reads: "It is just violence what is going on overthere, in Coqueiros do Sul" and goes on characterizing the landless camps as "seedbeds of illicit acts which cannot be further tolerated".
It is noteworthy that the complaint of the Attorney General’s office is alledgelly based on police incidents in which MST persons living in the aforementioned camps would be involved. According to our information, though, no one of these persons have been convicted. With these allegations the Attorney General and the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul are treating as convicted persons which have not been tried at all. Even if these persons were being tried, their innocence should be presumed until the contrary is proven. Moreover, the Attorney General’s office and the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul do not consider land and agrarian conflicts as social conflicts at all.
Mandate of the Emergency Network:
The forced eviction committed against 300 landless families in Coqueiros do Sul by the military following a judicial ruling of the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul violates the right to due process enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights and in the Brazilian Constitution. Additionally, the actions and decisions aforementioned violate international standards on evictions established by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment N° 7. The forced eviction of the landless families in question represents a serious breach of the obligation of the Brazilian state to respect the right to adequate food and housing as set forth in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Protocol of San Salvador.
Moreover, the actions and decisions of the state agencies involved in this case clearly represent an attempt to criminalize the struggle of Brazilian landless people for agrarian reform and is therefore a violation of the right to free association which hinders landless people to defend their human rights.
End of action: August 15, 2008
Mr Luis Inácio Lula da Silva,
President of Brazil
Palácio do Planalto - 4º Andar
70150-900 - Brasília - DF
Fax: + 55 61 3411-1222
Ms Yeda Crusius
Governeour of Rio Grande do Sul
Palácio Piratini, Praça Marechal Deodoro s/n CEP 90010-282 - Porto Alegre/RS
Fax: +55 51 3288-2465
Brazilian embassy in your country
MST Nacional email@example.com
Please informe FIAN about any response to your letters.