June, 28th 2012
Police Arrests 11 Activists Operating on Rainforest Fronts in Brazil
11 activists standing in solidarity with indigenous people against the Belo Monte dam project in the Brazilian Amazon were arrested after company overseeing the construction pressed charges against them on counts of theft, conspiracy, disturbance and other crimes.
The civil police of the state of Para, Brazil asked the Court of Justice to arrest 11 activists accused of participating in protests against the construction of Belo Monte dam during the event “Xingu +23”, taking place in the region. Law enforcement is waiting for a report from the juridical instances to pursue further action.
Among the defendants in the investigation are advisers and members of the Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre (Xingu: Alive Forever), a priest who celebrated a public mass for the protest, a nun, a fisherman who had his house destroyed by the consortium, a documentary filmmaker of São Paulo and indigenista missionaries.
The police accuse them of having planned a direct action at the offices of Norte Energia consortium, responsible for the construction of Belo Monte dam, enumerating allegations of arson, trespassing, theft, public nuisance, disobedience, property damage and conspiracy. All despite not having a “(…) single image in file to prove that”, says Marco Apolo Leão, lawyer and president of the human rights legal society defending the activists.
Lawyers of the movement, facing threats of arrest by the police, filed for a preventive habeas corpus to ensure freedom of the persecuted. Filed by the defence on Friday, June 22, the habeas corpus application was approved by the prosecutors but denied by the court on Monday, June 25th. The decision will be appealed; the defence maintains that no one will testify at the police because they do not have access to all parts of the investigation. The testimony of eight of the 11 defendants was scheduled for Wednesday, June 27th.
Not only is the defence been denied full access to all documentation of the process, but the
Xingu Vivo movement argue that the investigations lack legitimacy and impartiality as the civil and military police in Altamira are largely sponsored and financed by the Belo Monte consortium. An official cooperation agreement was signed between the state government and corporations who are responsible for executing this project.
The defence also say that this is yet another case of criminalization of social movements, happening everywhere in the world. A large network of solidarity and demonstrations are building up around this confrontation between the corporate consortium, the police and the state. A note of support for militants has already been signed by over 150 civil society institutions throughout Brazil, including the Sociedade Paraense de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos (SDDH) and the Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (National Movement for Human Rights – MNDH).
Still this week, the legal team of the movement will send a report to the UN and the OAS denouncing the criminalization of activists.
For further information:
Verena Glass / press officer + 55 (11) 9853.9950
Ruy Sposati / press officer + 55 (93) 9173.8389