Source: Brasil De Fato / The Dawn News / Novemeber 7, 2016 / Photo Credit: José Eduardo Bernardes / Brasil de Fato
Lawyers of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) issued a statement in which they denounce the criminalization of their movement by Brazil’s judiciary power and the illegal acts of police repression that they are being victims of. They informed that they are taking steps to repeal the “arbitrary arrests” and denounce illegal acts against the movement.
Last Friday (November 4, 2016), the “Operation Castra”, carried out by the Civil Police of the state of Paraná, issued 14 prison sentences against militants of the MST in the states of Paraná, and Mato Grosso do Sul, and in the city of São Paulo.
In the communiqué, the lawyers stated that the “MST is a legitimate social and popular movement” with legal status and that “all Brazilian citizens have the right to organize and meet, even if it is to fight for the Agrarian Reform”, therefore “the abusive application of the Law No. 12.850/13 (criminal organizations law) on the basis that these people are MST militants, is illegal”.
Operation Castra focused on militants from the state of Paraná, in the Quedas de Iguaçu region, which is where most agrarian conflicts usually take place. According to the movement, “since May 2014, around three thousand families have occupied the areas of the Union, which were illegally appropriated by the Araupel company . The federal Justice said that the lands belonged to the Union and that they should be destined to the families who are still waiting for the Agrarian Reform”. Seven months ag,o two landless workers were murdered in the areas occupied by the company and, so far, the crime remains unpunished.
One of the arrest warrants was executed at the Florestan Fernandes National School (Guararema, Sao Paulo). Police invaded the place without showing any warrant for it and acted aggressively, threatening students, teachers and militants with firearms. As a result of that operation, “musician Gue Oliveira and librarian Ronaldo Valenca (64) were attacked and detained by the Police without justification”, says the statements.
The Communique is signed by lawyers Giane Alvares, Juvelino Strozake, Luciana Pivato, Diago Vedovatto and Paulo Freire.