MST denounces police action in Rio de Janeiro

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Monday July 14 the MST published a letter about the police repression of a protest that was carried out before the final World Cup game in Rio de Janeiro. Hundred of demonstrators were surrounded in the Saens Peña Plaza and could only leave after the end of the game.

Tear gas and rubber bullets were launched indiscriminately and even the wounded were prevented from leaving the area. The police had illegally arrested around 20 people on the previous day.

Here is the letter:

Letter denouncing the State of Siege in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, July 14, 2014

Last weekend in Rio de Janeiro witnessed the establishment of a true state of emergency, implemented to ensure the mega event of the World Cup. The repressive and violent actions, however, had already been noticeable since last year with the brutal criminalization of protest movements that occupied public spaces as a way to demand better health, education, and transit, among other social rights enshrined in the Constitution since 1988.

What was seen last weekend was a sorry spectacle of breaking with any notion of democracy.

On Saturday July 12, the judge of the 27th criminal court of the Judicial Branch of Rio de Janeiro authorized the implementation of 26 illegal temporary arrest warrants under the excuse that "There are serious indications that acts of extreme violence are being planned for the next few days to take advantage of the visibility of the World Cup soccer games, the police action was necessary to prevent this and also to identify other members of the association".

It demonstrates the subservient relationship of the judiciary to economic interests, be they international or national. The State and Federal Executives were shamefully silent in the face of abuses by its security forces operating in Rio de Janeiro.

The role of the judiciary in Rio de Janeiro submitting to the State Executive, demonstrates the fallacy of independence between the branches of government and the mediocrity of their members who defend this method of social control.

It was not enough that the order decreed no lights-out, a common practice during the inquisitorial period and the regimes of “exception” (see civil-military dictatorship in Brazil), but on Sunday we had a real siege established in the Saens Pena Plaza in Tijuca. The public space was chosen by a number of social movements and political parties as the location for demonstrations in defense of more democratic public policies and fewer evictions, less repression and criminalization

What followed was a real war zone where security forces surrounded the protesters with bombs, causing them to get stuck in the square and prevented from leaving. No one was able to enter after the establishment of the siege that lasted until the end of the game. Attorneys who were called on for support were barred and could enter only after a long period.

Inside the siege, the police officers (identified by an alph-numeric code) beat protesters and anyone else who was there, such as a media activist who had his forearm broken by blows from a baton, among several other victims. A journalist with a bleeding head and a student with an injured arm were prevented from leaving the enclosure. There was no reason for this brutal repression, justified only by the certainty that the higher authorities (whether state or federal) tacitly granted carte blanche to repress the activists.

 The legacy of FIFA for Brazil will be the consolidation of a state of exception, legitimized by the courts, where citizens can wake up with police at their door with an arrest warrant to ensure peace and order in the State. Peace and order are created by removing the rights of free expression and political participation, and by imprisoning those who defend democracy. But as Marcelo Yuka noted, "Peace without a voice is not peace; it is fear!".

We wish to reiterate that we refuse to be silent. Our history and our achievements have been forged in the struggle, and the struggle will continue.