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Brazil: Frontline Defenders condemns murder of landless movement member, claims agribusiness model has been increasing inequality and rights violations & govt. Bolsonaro legitimize violence

Author: Front Line Defenders (Ireland), Published on: 24 July 2019

"Brazil – Killing of MST member increases concern over state policies that incite violence against human rights defenders", 23 July 2019

On...18 July 2019, human rights defender Luis Ferreira da Costa was killed by a pickup driver while he protested for access to water in Valinhos, Sao Paulo. Four hundred residents of the Marielle Vive Camp participated in the protest to demand municipal authorities to grant access to water, health and education to their community, and distributed food and pamphlets to cars who passed by...Marielle Vive Camp was established by 700 families of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers in April 2018...at the Fazenda Eldorado Empreendimentos..., an unproductive farm used for speculation...The Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) is the largest social movement pressuring for...agrarian reform in Brazil, to fight...historically high land concentration and the human rights violations...The camps and settlements organised by rural workers and human rights defenders are characterised by sustainable family agriculture and commercialisation of produce surplus...The Brazilian agribusiness model has promoted inequalities, human rights violations,...adverse environmental impacts, putting biodiversity at risk in favour of economic growth…[and]...impedes the efforts and resistance of those creating alternative forms of living  and working on the land...as...MST...After the attack, the driver showed the protesters that he was carrying a fire weapon, and ran away…[T]he driver and passenger affirmed that they would “run over” the protesters…[T]he...Police was able to identify and arrest the driver. On 20 July 2019, MST members gathered in Valinhos in a protest...to draw attention to the growing intimidation and criminalisation against popular movements in Brazil,...being translated into public policies...Since President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign and...election in 2018, he has made...public statements against the Movement of Landless Rural Workers, including that they were terrorists and should be “treated with bullets”. He has also been responsible for promoting policies that incite violence and impunity, such as the relaxation of the country's firearms laws and the dismantling of human rights and agrarian reform institutions…[and]...legitimise those who act violently against members of MST...Front Line Defenders is...worried at the security and safety of MST camps and settlements in Brazil, and notes with concern the increased risk they are under…[A]uthorities should...recognise the positive and legitimate role of human rights defenders in a democratic society and ensure that public officials refrain from engaging in stigmatisation, smear campaigns, and hate speech against human rights defenders…

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