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12 Jul 2017

Brazil: Pau D'Arco is the second largest slaughter for land conflicts in 20 years; company comments

On May 24, 2017, the country's second largest slaughter related to land conflicts for 20 years occurred in the state of Pará, according to Darcy Frigo, President of the National Council of Human Rights and coordinator of Terra de Direitos, a leading Brazilian human rights NGO.

Ten rural workers were murdered during police operations at Fazenda Santa Lúcia, that had been occupied the previous day by rural worker families who have been fighting for years for the area to be considered for agrarian reform, according to Liga Camponesa (Farmers League). 7 out of the 10 murdered people belonged to the same family. Liga Camponesa also states that Fazenda Santa Lúcia was from the family of a cattle rancher and timber businessman, Honorato Babinski. Liga says it was illegally operating on public lands, and this was land grabbing. They also alleged that: "The Police Department of Agrarian Conflicts (Deca), other police, gunmen and private security guards were in the area to provide security for the landowner...And they did the slaughter to avenge the death of an alleged gunman who would have died in the region. Deca went to Pau D'Arco to kill rural workers." (our translation). Witnesses say private security guards at Elmo Segurança were present during the police action. The journalist Alceu Castilho states that Honorato Babinsk was the owner of Agro Pastoril Conceição do Araguaia and that Fazenda Santa Lúcia appears in the Rural Environmental Registry on behalf of Honorato Babinski Filho. The process of regularization of the conflict is in the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform-Incra.

The National Human Rights Council and the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office visited the site of the slaughter immediately after the crime and are following the investigations.

Pau D'Arco is also home to the Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre in 1996, when 21 rural workers were killed.

On 7 July, another rural worker and leader was killed.

On 10 July, 10 police officers were arrested for allegedly involvement in the killings.

To read this story in Portuguese, click here.