Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s piece is a followup on a tense situation in the city of Salvador, Bahia, in Brazil’s northwest. Earlier this month, the state’s Military Police opened fire and slayed 12-15 black males in the latest of a long line of brutal assassinations committed by the police in various cities and states throughout the country for a number of years. The intensity of the situation jumped several notches after residents and participants in a march in honor of the victims revealed that they were taunted and insulted by Military Police as they walked the path of the march. In the latest report, we discover that the life of another key activist had also been threatened. In utter disregard for the local population, who consistently feel the need to hide their identities, the government seems to support the actions of the police. Brazil’s brutal Military Dictatorship supposedly ended 30 years ago, but with the way citizens are treated, one must really wonder if that was a reality or simply a farce!
Military Police in Salvador threaten community after slaughter, denounces Amnesty International
After residents organized a march against the actions of Rondesp that left 12 dead earlier this month, officials began to approach them with more brutality, reports entity
by Wanderley Preite Sobrinho
Surrendered and unarmed. This is how 12 young people were allegedly murdered by the Military Police (MP) of Bahia on February 6th are described by the streets of the Cabula neighborhood on the outskirts of Salvador. However, since the residents’ version of the massacre spread, the MP has gone around the neighborhood distributing threats to its residents, denounces Amnesty International.
The story began to circulate on Wednesday the 11th when residents of Cabula decided to march through the neighborhood scheduled to conclude at the exact field where the young men, kneeling, were executed. Responsible for human rights of Amnesty International in Brazil, Renata Neder has been following the case closely. She said the organization took advantage of the march on that day to talk with the locals who, on condition of anonymity, reported the alleged execution.
Since then, this version has gained momentum and the police came to visit the neighborhood and frequently demonstrating excessive brutality. “Since the march, the MP’s presence has been constant and threatening. It puts fear in people. This behavior discourages the testimony of community members in the courts,” says Renata.
One person who happened to be threatened by the police even before the march was the activist Enderson Araújo, who left Salvador. He tells of being approached by an MP when he was leaving a bakery on Monday the 9th. “He said that it would better hold your finger and stop writing because I wouldn’t have any security,” remembers Araújo, for whom the threat was motivated by a matter of him publishing an article on the Carta Capital website about this action of the Military Police.
The story of the residents contrasts with the narrative of the Rondesp police – Bahia’ equivalent to Rio’s BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais – Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State). According to the troop, the nine agents involved defended themselves in a firefight with 30 suspected of planning a bank robbery. The deaths were therefore recorded as Auto de Resistência (Auto resistance), bodily injury or death resulting from police intervention. No MP, however, was injured or killed after the alleged exchange of fire.
Questioned by the report, the State Department of Security of Bahia confirmed that the nine officers involved in the action were not removed from their activities. For Amnesty International, a serious error: “The ideal in these cases is to remove the police from the streets so he gets psychological counseling. Killing a person is not trivial, killing 12 is even less banal,” says Renata, who claims to have evidence that the crime scene was not preserved. “If agents are working it’s a sign that no weapons were collected for examination.”
Little is known about what the new state governor, Rui Costa (PT), intends to do 12 days after the event. For now, his only manifestation was stating that a gun-toting MP “is like a striker in front of a goal.” Sought for comment, he didn’t respond to Carta Capital contacts. Rui Costa also refused to meet with Amnesty International and invited, didn’t attend or even send representatives to a meeting with social movements on Tuesday the 10th.
PT defends the governor
For the state president of the PT (Workers’ Party) in Bahia, Everaldo Anunciação, the freedom of suspects ensures that they are not convicted before the inquiry, which must be delivered by police to prosecutors by the 10th of March. On the PT’s stance on the case, he said he expects from the government “a hard and deep investigation” and promises : “The governor has no commitment to this conservative behavior.”
Public security promises to be the Achilles heel of Rui Costa, elected governor for the first time in last year’s election. The homicide rate per 100 thousand inhabitants in Bahia jumped from 24.8 to 34.4 between 2007 and 2013, according to the latest Anuário Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (Brazilian Yearbook of Public Safety).
In addition to holding the state title with the highest number of murders (5,440 in 2013), Bahia has the most violent city in Brazil: (the city of) Simões Filho has a rate of 141.5 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants, at a distant second place is Campina Grande do Sul, in the state of Paraná, where the rate is 107 per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The Department of Security of Bahia also doesn’t disclose killings committed by police,” laments Renata. Informally – with police data – the Yearbook estimated 313 as the number of people killed by agents on or off duty in 2013.
Source: Carta Capital