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ABRAPO & IAPL Condemn Massive Arrest of Anti-FIFA Activists In Rio de Janeiro

July 13, 2014

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The Brazilian Association of People's Lawyers and the International Association of People's Lawyers come hereby to repudiate the dispatch of 26 arrest warrants against activists, last July 12, in the eve of the final match of the FIFA World Cup. The activists were literally hunted by the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro in several cities, including Porto Alegre and São Paulo, held in their homes and taken to the Police City in Rio, which became a center of operations for political prisons. Materials used in protests, such as gas masks and flags, plus a revolver held by the father of one of the activists (minor), were used to charge the activists as "armed gang", by the State repression organs and the press.

Among those arrested is Eloisa Samy, lawyer who acts in defense of persons persecuted for protesting - in clear violation of the exercise of the legal profession.

The decision of the judge of the 27th Criminal Court of Rio de Janeiro, Fábio Oliveira de Itabaiana Nicholau, founded the 5 days custody warrants in the crime of criminal association, referred to in art. 288 of the Penal Code, which refers to "associate themselves with three or more people, for the specific purpose of committing crimes." The decision also refers to the protests scheduled to take place on the eve of the final of the FIFA World Cup, taking advantage of the visibility given by the coverage of the event, aiming to be "necessary police action to prevent the consummation of this objective and also to identify other members the association". Statements by the head of the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro, Fernando Veloso, in a press conference, made ​​it clear that the arrests were because the activists were mobilizing to protest during the FIFA mega event.

These latest arrests are a continuation of the pattern of violence and the State of Exception installed in Brazil including during the World Cup games. Decisions and arguments of the Judiciary and the Civil Police make clear that the Brazilian State acts as an armed branch of FIFA to ensure the profits of the entity and their sponsors. This approach is fully backed by the government of Dilma Rousseff and advisors, like Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo.

Among the numerous illegalities of the case, the activist Elisa Quadros was arrested in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where her family lives, by a police officer from the state of Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, the fact that she was traveling to visit his family shows that there was no link with the protests.

At the Headquarters of the operation, the Police City in Rio de Janeiro, independent journalists were prevented from having access to the press conference, which was open only for those parts of the corporate press, as denounced by the Union of Journalists of the municipality.

Two weeks ago, in Sao Paulo, two lawyers were arrested for gathering in a downtown square discussing the defense of four activists arrested last June 26, which are arrested to date. In Rio de Janeiro, two other young people who participated in demonstrations are arrested since January this year. In Goiânia, in May, three young students were taken out of their homes for allegedly participating in protests for public transportation.

Like this episode of political arrests in Rio, several other cities, such police operations, based on confidential investigations, have been practiced. They expose a state that strives to arrest and prosecute those who protest and fight for justice. As said the lawyer of the arrested activists in Rio de Janeiro, Marino d'Icarahy, these operations are performed by the political police, the one that receives orders directly from the domes of government.

"The method is always listening, breaking the pages, the breach of personal privacy, and I think that there is an unconstrained campaign to transform our politicized and militant youth who want to see a different country, in a gang of marginal and armed thugs, that's what they want to transform our youth."

Several organizations, such as Amnesty International, Global Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Bar Association of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro Section have condemned the arrests as an attempt to intimidate the protesters in the country.

Criminalization is such that it is absurd to arrest based in supposed future actions, labeling people who, at some point, simply exercised their free right to demonstrate.

It's unacceptable to keep such decisions of nature absolutely political within a scenario that reveals a growing process of fascistization of the Brazilian State, that to restrain any act aimed at exposing their violations reacts with brutality and violence, trampling all rights and guarantees, which in theory should be safeguarded by such a state.

It is clear that this pattern of state violence will continue even after the end of the World Cup, while the protests are expected to increase. The ABRAPO and IAPL repudiate the arrests of activists and attacks on lawyers in the exercise of profession; demand the immediate release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of arrest warrants and the end of the persecution of struggling, and ask for the repudiation of Brazilian government and President Dilma Rousseff by international community, for systematic human rights violations.

ABRAPO - Brazilian Association of People's Lawyers
IAPL - International Association of People's Lawyers