Brazil: Five Landless Dead in Attack by Hooded Gunmen

    An attack on an MST (Landless Rural Workers’ Movement) campsite in Minas, Gerais state, on Saturday left five people dead and many more injured. Reports state that the attack was carried out by a large group of gunmen who wore hoods to protect their identity.

    “The long history of impunity for those who commit human rights violations and other acts of violence against the MST and other rural activists paved the way for Saturday’s murders,” Amnesty International said. “We condemn the attack and call on the authorities to immediately investigate and bring those responsible to justice.”


    The killings come after the latest appeal hearing for the 1996 El Dorado massacre in which 19 members of the MST were killed by military policemen in Pará state. Although the hearing upheld the convictions of the officers who commanded the operation, it appears a further 128 policemen suspected of involvement in the massacre will never be tried for their part.


    On November 18, Amnesty had published the folowing note entitle “The World Has Not Forgotten:”


    Though it is eight years since the cold blooded massacre of 19 MST activists in Eldorado dos Carajás, in the state of Pará, the world continues to be baffled as to how nobody has yet been imprisoned for these crimes.


    The latest appeal hearings, which will take place on 19 November in the city of Belém, mark another step in the extremely sluggish process of justice that has characterised this case throughout.


    The hearings that will take place now, as to whether appeals against the conviction of the two commanding officers and the acquittal of the 128 military policemen can be heard, are another important step in the fight against impunity.


    Nevertheless, the failure to ensure justice for the hundreds of people who have been killed in their struggle for land and their right to live in peace and security in the state of Pará, makes the outcome of this case all the more important.


    It is time for the state judicial system to show that it can ensure equal and fair justice for all and for the state authorities to end the killings and corruption that continue to blacken the name of Pará across the globe.


    Amnesty International

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