Rio de Janeiro, May 8, 2021
We, black Brazilian people, together with Black Coalition for Rights, denounce to the world that we are living in a country in which tomorrow we may be dead, because we are black. Whether of coronavirus, hunger or bullet, the political and historical project of black genocide is advancing in Brazil in a way without limits and with no concrete possibility of survival for the black people. At the height of the pandemic in the country, where few or no protective measures are implemented by the government, on May 6, 2021, we lived in one of the saddest chapters of our tragic trajectory of urban violence.
The Slaughter in Jacarezinho, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, has so far accounted for at least 25 deaths. Lives and stories exterminated by the forces of the State, without respect to any right provided for by law. Bodies whose humanity and citizenship are denied in life and death. Murders resulting from an illegal police operation – since there was already a ban on carrying out this type of police action during the pandemic by the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF). From June 2020 to March this year, more than 823 people were killed in police operations, despite the Supreme Court’s (ADPF das Favelas) ban. The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Cláudio Castro, opted for the deliberate disobedience of this order. He is directly responsible for the deaths.
The Slaughter in Jacarezinho is at the top of the list of exterminations that mark the sad and violent daily lives of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro and that disclose the racism present in Brazilian society. This is another massacre against youth and against black people, yet another tragedy that befalls black mothers, families and communities. We will never forget the Slaughter in Vigario Geral, in 1993, with 21 dead; the Slaughter in Complexo do Alemao community, in 2007, with 19 dead; the recent slaughters in Fallet/Prazeres (2019), with 13 dead and, again, Complexo do Alemao (2020), with another 13 dead. We will also not forget the Slaughter in Jacarezinho
Reports from community residents point to the terror and the atrocities practiced by police officers. Heavy artillery and grenade explosions formed a war scenario. Houses were invaded and summary executions were carried out in front of family members, including children. A community of more than 40,000 residents cornered under low-flying helicopters with snipers. At every moment, new reports appear about missing people and accusations of alterations of the crime scenes before the forensics. In addition to the reports, there are several video records of houses and streets covered in blood, which are going viral on the internet.
In addition to the tragic national scenario with more than 410 thousand deaths in the Covid-19 pandemic – result of the actions of Bolsonaro’s negationist government, the shortage of vaccines to immunize the population, the more than 14 million unemployed, the growth of poverty and hunger that affects thousands of Brazilian families, we are living another chapter of genocidal barbarism. The Slaughter in Jacarezinho is an affront to Brazilian society. The government should be concerned primarily with saving lives, but they do the opposite.
What we saw this week at Jacarezinho were summary executions of individuals elected as public enemies because of their racial origin. The color of people who were dead in this and in the countless military operations in the country’s outskirts reveals the systematic practice of the black Brazilian population genocide. In 1951, the civil rights movement in the United States accused that country of genocide of the black population through the historic “We Charge Genocide” petition. The petition parallels “the barbaric murder of millions of Jews” and “black people killed because of their race”. Also, in South Africa, black South African activists have drawn the world’s attention for more than forty years to the Apartheid system’s racial terror, prompting the United Nations to condemn the system in 1973 and declare economic sanctions in the following years.
The black movement of Brazil has systematically asked for the world’s solidarity to denounce the black genocide put in place by the Brazilian State. It’s Genocide! Using the definition prescribed by the UN, of which Brazil is a signatory, “crime of genocide means (…) acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. When looking at the number of black deaths by the Brazilian state, the process of genocide is evident. In the year 2020, more than 5,600 people were killed by the police in Brazil – five times the number of people killed by the police in the United States. There is a systematic death of young black men and women from the Brazilian outskirts. At least 75% of victims of police terror belong to this racial group. This situation requires a stance from the international community, the UN system and global civil society regarding the process of black genocide that we are living in Brazil. Brazilian black lives matter and need global solidarity.
In 1994, a group of pastors from a small community in Rwanda wrote a letter to the leader of their congregation asking for help in the face of imminent danger. The letter, immortalized in a Philip Gourevitch’s book, entitled “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families”, was ignored. They were all murdered. Later, this plea would become a denunciation of the world’s contempt for the more than 800,000 victims of the Rwandan genocide.
Based on this example, there is an urgent need to put an end to this systemic situation of violence in order to avoid even greater tragedies. It is essential that the police forces, Governor Cláudio Castro and the state of Rio de Janeiro be held responsible for this slaughter. Thus, we at the Black Coalition for Rights, demand:
I – That the protocols used in order to prevent the use of lethal force and the victimization of the civilian population, especially black people, be informed, under the terms of the resolution;
II – That an independent, swift, transparent and impartial investigation be guaranteed, conducted by an independent body, outside the security forces and public institutions involved in the operation, under the terms of the obligation;
III – That an independent expert body be formed, guaranteeing impartiality and
transparency in investigating murders, observing the terms of the Minnesota Protocol;
IV – That the victims’ families and all those who have suffered violations be properly compensated;
V – That there is an vigorous action by the Public Ministry of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal Public Ministry so that the police forces are held accountable;
VI – The immediate removal of those responsible for the Slaughter in Jacarezinho by the police forces;
VII – That the STF decision in the ADPF das Favelas be complied with;
VIII – That the international condemnation received by Brazil be implemented in the case of Favela Nova Brasília, also located in Rio de Janeiro;
IX – That the state of Rio de Janeiro create a plan to reduce police violence and lethality, as already recommended by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;
X – That policies are adopted to protect the safety and integrity of witnesses who live in the Jacarezinho community, as well as human rights defenders who are working in the community and in the report this case.
On next May 13th, a historic date of the formal slavery abolition act in Brazil, we call for demonstrations all over the country for the end of black genocide, the murderous police operations and the everyday slaughters. No bullet, no hunger, and no Covid-19. We want to live!
We need to put an end to the black genocide. The black and slum population is also worthy of human rights.
We will not forget the Slaughter in Jacarezinho.
Black lives matter.