Brazil: Fear for Safety

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is forwarding the attached Amnesty International action alert:

A neofascist group, who threatened several times to kill Amnesty International staff member Eduardo Bernardes da Silva, have traced him to the location where he was moved for his safety. Amnesty International is concerned that the group appear to have informants within the police force, and believes that Eduardo and Amnesty International members in Brazil are in danger.

The group, which calls itself the Frente Anti-Caus (FAC), Anti-Chaos Front, planted a bomb in Amnesty International's S‹o Paulo office in October 1999. With it was a letter featuring a crude swastika, attacking Amnesty International for its work in defence of gays and blacks. Eduardo Bernardes da Silva, who worked in the S‹o Paulo office, began receiving telephone threats from the group, and once a group of men in a car tried to force his motorcycle off the road as he was on his way home.

Amnesty International temporarily closed the S‹o Paulo office to review its security arrangements, and moved Eduardo to another state. The FAC delivered a letter claiming that they knew Eduardo's whereabouts, and threatening to kill him, to the Porto Alegre office on 5 June.

In the past few months, the FAC has sent letters threatening Amnesty International, human rights activists in general and gay men and lesbians to the human rights organization Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais (No More Torture Group), and to a major national newspaper, the Folha de S‹o Paulo. The letters also threaten nordestinos, people from the impoverished and drought-stricken northeast of the country, who move to shanty towns near major cities in search of work and face widespread prejudice.

Amnesty International has reported all incidents to the S‹o Paulo police, but although a special police squad has been set up to investigate neofascist activity in S‹o Paulo, investigations into the group threatening Eduardo have made little or no progress. The latest threatening letter implies that the group has access to the police: "You need to tell the S‹o Paulo police to keep their mouths shut. They're better than a newspaper." ["Precisam falar para a polícia de S‹o Paulo ficarem de boca fechada. Eles são melhores do que jornal."] Porto Alegre police have opened their own inquiry into the threats.

The latest letter repeats a threat to attack a planned gay march in S‹o Paulo. Some gay groups and nordestino associations have apparently received threats, but it is not known whether the same group is involved.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Neofascist activity is a relatively new phenomenon in Brazil, which has a large racial mix. The country was shocked when skinheads beat a gay man to death on 6 February 2000. Edson Neris da Silva was killed by 18 men from a group called the Carecas do ABC (ABC Skinheads) after he left a bar with his boyfriend. Unusually, this skinhead group allowed Afro-Brazilians and nordestinos into their ranks. All 18 were arrested and charged with murder. Two time-bombs later exploded in São Paulo trains. Police received a phone-call claiming that the bombs were in reprisal for the arrests.

In 1999, police also arrested two men accused of running a neofascist web-site which promoted a campaign against gays, blacks and jews.

S‹o Paulo police have since set up a special squad to investigate neofascist activity in the state.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail letters in Portuguese or your own language:

  • expressing concern for the safety of Eduardo Bernardes da Silva, after a neo-fascist group calling itself the Frente Anti-Caus repeated threats to kill him;
  • expressing concern for the safety of gay activists planning a march in S‹o Paulo, who have been specifically threatened in letters delivered to Amnesty International;
  • noting that letters repeating the threats against Eduardo Bernardes da Silva, and also making general threats against human rights activists, gays, blacks, nordestinos and Jews, have been sent to Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais - S‹o Paulo and the Folha de S‹o Paulo;
  • noting that in eight months the S‹o Police investigation into the threats appears to have made no progress;
  • expressing concern that the latest threatening letter insinuates that the FAC has contact with the S‹o Paulo police;
  • calling for the S‹o Paulo police to make renewed efforts to investigate and apprehend those responsible for the threats;
  • noting that Eduardo Bernardes da Silva is now being threatened in Rio Grande do Sul, and calling on the authorities from both states to cooperate in investigations.

In appeals to the Minister of Justice only:

  • calling for the federal government to develop a cross-state strategy to investigate and quell neofascist activity in Brazil.

APPEALS TO:

Minister of Justice
Exmo. Sr. Ministro da Justiça do Brasil Dr. José Gregori
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco 23
70064-900 - Brasília - DF - Brazil
Salutation: Vossa Excelência/ Your Excellency Telegrams: Ministro Justiça, Brasília, Brazil
Fax: + 55 61 224 2448/322 6817
Public Security Secretary - São Paulo
Exmo. Sr. Secretário de Segurança Pública do Estado de São Paulo Dr Marco Vinicio Petrelluzzi
Secretaria de Segurança Pública
Av. Higienópolis 758, Higienópolis
01238-000 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Secretário/Dear Sir Telegrams: Secretário Segurança Pública, SP, Brazil
Fax: + 55 11 3823 5708

COPIES TO:

Secretary of Justice and Public Security, Rio Grande do Sul Exmo. Sr. Secretário de Justiça e Segurança Pública do Estado de Rio Grande do Sul
Dr. José Paulo Bisol
Secretaria de Segurança Pública
Rua 7 de Setembro, 666, 1ºandar
90010-190 - Porto Alegre - RS - Brazil
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Secretário/Dear Sir Telegrams: Secretário Segurança Pública, RS, Brazil
Fax: + 55 51 211 5624
Amnesty International - Porto Alegre
Rua Jacinto Gomes No. 573
Santana
90010-321 - Porto Alegre - RS - Brazil

and to diplomatic representatives of Brazil accredited to your country.