UA 347/91 - Brazil: death threats: Father Ladislau da Silva
EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/28/91
UA 347/91 Death Threats 21 October 1991
BRAZIL Father Ladislau DA SILVA
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Father Ladislau Da Silva,
parish priest of Esperantina, Piauí, North East Brazil, who, in recent months,
has been subjected to repeated death threats and other forms of intimidation.
Death threats against Father Ladislau da Silva reportedly started after
he publicly denounced what he regarded as the corruption of local authorities
and their unusually high salaries, compared to the extremely low wages of local
urban and rural workers. Father Ladislau has also been oustpoken in the defence
of peasants' rights. On 27 September, while Father Ladislau was away, his parish
house was broken into by unidentified gunmen.
Death threats are a common feature of rural violence in Brazil. They are part
of a "culture of terror" aimed at intimidating people who are fighting for
their rights to make them abandon their struggle. As another priest, also
subjected to death threats in the North Eastern state of Alagoas, told an Amnesty
International delegate: "[Death] threats are no joke. They are aimed at creating
a "suspense of death" ["um suspenso da morte"]. It is a ritual that has to
be fulfilled." According to the Comissão Pastoral da Terra, Pastoral Land
Commission, CPT, in February 1991 108 persons had been subjected to death threats
in different areas of rural Brazil. Piauí is one of the poorest states of Brazil
and the region around Esperantina is particularly deprived.
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters:
-expressing concern at the reported death threats to Father Ladislau da Silva;
-urging that the death threats against Father Ladislau da Silva be thoroughly
investigated and that those found responsible be brought to justice;
-requesting that steps be taken to ensure that Father Ladislau da Silva is
able to carry out his work without fear for his physical safety.
page 2 of UA 347/91
Exmo.Sr Ministro da Justiça, Vossa Excelência
Sr Jarbas Passarinho,
Ministério da Justiça,
Esplanada dos Ministerios
70.064 Brasilia DF, Brazil (Minister of Justice)
Telegrams: Ministro da Justiça, Brasilia, Brazil
Telexes 611003 MNJU BR, 611088 MNJU BR or 612313 MNJU BR
Faxes: + 55 61 321 5145
+ 55 61 224 4357
Exmo. Sr Governador do Vossa Excelência
Estado de Piauí
Sr. Antonio Freitas Neto
Palacio do Karnak
Av Antonio Freire 1450
Piauí, Brazil (State Governor, Piauí)
Telegrams: Governador do Piaui, Teresina, Piaui, Brazil.
Exmo. Sr Secretario de Segurança Sr Secretario
Pública do Estado de Piauí
Sr Ismar Aguiar Marques,
Praça Conselheiro Saraiva 269
Piauí, Brazil (Secretary of Public Security)
Telegrams: Secretario Seguarnca Publica de Piaui, Teresina, Piaui, Brazil
Padre Ladislau da Silva
Praça Leonidas Melo 214,
and to diplomatic representatives in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat
or your section office if sending appeals after 3 December 1991.