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UA 206/93 - Brazil: possible extrajudicial execution: Amancio Francisco Dias (includes correction)

, Index number: AMR 19/019/1993

Amancio Francisco Dias, 41, president of the Rural Workers Union of Belem de Maria, was killed on 14 June 1993 in Pernambuco state. On the evening of 14 June two men called on his home alleging they had just been dismissed from a sugar cane plantation and needed some advice. Amancio Fransisco Dias had reportedly been one of the most active union leaders in what is known as "Zona da Mata" (the sugar cane area of Pernambuco State), and had recently been putting pressure on some refinery owners to pay outstanding debts to the workers. When his wife opened the door, the gunmen opened fire, hitting Amancio Francisco Dias in the face, killing him instantly. In the weeks before his killing he had allegedly been receiving death threats.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/19/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 206/93 Possible Extrajudicial Execution 23 June 1993
BRAZIL Amancio Francisco DIAS (Rural Union Leader)
Amnesty International is concerned about the death of Amancio Francisco Dias, 41, president
of the Rural Workers Union of Belém de Maria, who was killed on 14 June 1993 in Pernambuco
state, Brazil, in circumstances that indicate that he may have been the victim of an
extrajudicial execution.
According to the information received by Amnesty International Amancio Francisco Dias,
father of 10 children, was shot in his house in Belém de Maria. In the evening of 14 June,
at around 20:00, two men called on his home alleging that they had just been dismissed
from a sugar cane plantation in the region and needed some advice. When Amancio Francisco
Dias' wife opened the door the gunmen opened fire hitting Amancio Francisco Dias in the
face. He died immediately from the wounds.
Belém de Maria, with 11,000 inhabitants, employs almost 4000 men and women in the sugar
cane plantation industry. Amancio Francisco Dias had been president of the rural workers'
union for just two years. Reportedly he was one of the most active union leaders in what
is known as "Zona da Mata" (the sugar cane area of Pernambuco State). Recently, acting
as union president, Amancio Francisco Dias had been putting pressure on some refinery owners
to pay outstanding debts to the workers. He had allegedly been receiving death threats
in the weeks before his killing.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Land disputes between peasants, smallholders and landowners and conflicts over rural
workers' conditions are an endemic source of violence in Brazil. Over 1,000 peasants and
their supporters are reported to have been killed since 1980, the vast majority of them
by hired gunmen, known as pistoleiros, employed by landowners or aspiring landowners (See
Amnesty International: Brazil: Authorized Violence in Rural Areas (AMR 19/16/88, September
1988).) Very rarely have the killers been detained or brought to justice. The Assistant
Attorney General of the Republic is reported to have stated early this month that of the
173 cases of rural murders being investigated by the Attorney General's Department, in
which gunmen were paid to commit crime, 72 proved to have the direct participation of military
policemen, while 8 others involved members of the civil police.
Harassment, threats and killings have been more recently targeted at union leaders and
their advisers. According to the Federation of Agricultural Workers of Pernambuco, Federação
dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura do Estado de Pernambuco, (FETAPE), which reportedly
represents 250,000 rural workers in the state, in the last seven years over 50 trade unionists
have been murdered in the state of Pernambuco, among them six this year alone.
Among those killed this year, reportedly in land or work related conflicts in Pernambuco
were Artur Rufino dos Santos, killed in January 1993, allegedly for having testified in
court in favour of a fellow worker on a labour dispute; 17 year old Ednaldo Severino da
Silva, killed on 14 May 1993 in the municipality of Vicência, allegedly for trespassing;
and labour lawyer Márcia Maria Eugênio de Carvalho, on 29 January 1993, in the municipality
of Bonito. At the time of her death Márcia Maria Eugênio de Carvalho was working in a
number of court cases on behalf of rural workers against local landowners. Reportedly she
had been advised by fellow lawyers to take extreme care due to the fear of reprisals from
landowners whose interests she may have affected. On the day of her assassination by unknown
gunmen Márcia Eugênio de Carvalho was returning to Caruaru from the town of Barra de Guabiraba
where she had met several rural workers to whom she was giving legal advice. More than
80 work registration cards, carteiras profissionais, belonging to workers being defended
by rcia Eugênio de Carvalho were found in her car. To Amnesty International's knowledge
nobody has been charged with her death.
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters either in
English, Portuguese or your own language:
- urging that an immediate and effective inquiry be carried out into the death of Amancio
Francisco Dias, that those found responsible for his death be brought to justice and that
his family be adequately compensated;
- urging the state authorities that all necessary steps be taken to ensure that killings
of this kind do not continue to be carried out with impunity;
- requesting to be kept informed of the progress of the investigation.
APPEALS TO:
1) State Governor of Pernambuco
Exmo Sr. Governador do
Estado de Pernambuco
Sr Joaquim Francisco
de Freitas Cavalcante
Palácio Campo das Princesas
Praça da República
50.000 Recife - PE
Brazil
Telegrams: Governador Pernambuco, Recife-PE, Brazil
Faxes: + (55) (81) 424 4671
Telex: 811029 gopebr
Salutation: Vossa Excelência/Your Excellency
2) State Secretary for Public Security
Exmo Sr Secretário de
Segurança Pública do
Estado de Pernambuco
Dr Augusto Carlos Dinz Costa
Rua Aurora No 487, Bõa Vista
50.000 Recife - PE-
Brazil
Telegrams: Secretário Segurança Pública, Recife-PE, Brazil
Faxes: + (55) (81) 421 2070
Salutation: Dear Secretary
COPIES TO:
Agricultural Workers Federation of Pernambuco
Federação dos Trabalhadores na
Agricultura do Estado de Pernambuco
Rua Gervásio Pires 876
Recife - PE -
Brazil
and to diplomatic representatives of Brazil accredited to your country. The World
Conference on Human Rights is being held in Austria this month and you can enhance the
power of your appeals by also sending copies to the diplomatic representative of Brazil
in Austria during June at the following address:
Brazilian Embassy:
The Ambassador
Botschaft der Föderativen Republik Brasilien
Lugeck 1/V/15, 1010 Wien
Austria
Faxes: + 43 1 513 83 74
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the Interntional Secretariat, or your section
office, if sending appeals after 4 July 1993.

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