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Brazil: possible extrajudicial executions / fear for safety / medical concern: Squatter peasants in Corumbiara, Rondonia State

, N° d'index: AMR 19/016/1995

A confrontation on 9 August between Rondonia state military police and a group of 500 squatter peasant (posseiro) families is reported to have left at least 11 peasants, including two children, and two policemen dead and over 100 people wounded. The full death toll is not known but reports indicate it could be considerably higher. There is serious concern for some of the gravely wounded whose whereabouts are unknown, and other peasants who remain unaccounted for. It is not clear if the police or the peasants initiated the confrontation, but reports indicate that once inside the encampment police began to fire indiscriminately. Some 450 peasants were arrested, although by the end of 10 August police reportedly began releasing detainees.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 19/15/95
UA 198/95 Possible Extrajudicial Executions / Fear for safety /
Medical concern 11 August 1995
BRAZILSquatter peasants in Corumbiara, Rondônia State
A confrontation between Rondônia state military police and a group of 500
squatter peasant (posseiro) families is reported to have left at least 11
peasants - including two children - and two policemen dead and over 200 people
wounded. The full death toll is not known, but reports indicate that it may
be considerably higher. Furthermore, there is serious concern for some of
the gravely wounded whose whereabouts are unknown, and other peasants who remain
unaccounted for.
From 15 July families of landless peasant families began occupying an
uncultivated forest area of the Santa Elina estate, in Corumbiara municipality
in the interior of Rondônia state. An attempt by some 40 military police to
carry out an eviction order on 19 July was unsuccessful. By 8 August some
500 peasant families - approximately 2,500 people - had camped on the estate.
On 8 August an estimated 200 heavily armed military police, reportedly
accompanied by private guards from the Santa Elina estate who had previously
threatened the peasants, entered the region. Negotiations for an alternative
place for the families to move to were unsuccessful.
It is not clear if the police or the peasants initiated the confrontation.
At about 4am on 9 August, military police reportedly began throwing tear gas
into the encampment and entered firing. The peasants were reportedly armed
with farm implements and sticks, but gunshots were also reportedly fired at
the police. According to survivors who escaped by throwing themselves into
a river, once inside the encampment police began to fire indiscriminately with
machine guns and other firearms wounding men, women and children alike.
The full toll of dead and wounded is not yet confirmed since many of the wounded
fled into the surrounding forest and have scattered throughout the region.
Many of the peasants remain unaccounted for. Survivors who witnessed the
violence fear that those who fled may include the gravely wounded. Thirty
gravely wounded peasants are being treated in hospitals in the towns of Colorado
do Oeste, Cerejeiras and Vilhena. A further 100 peasants have serious injuries,
and others are lightly wounded. Many of the wounds are reportedly consistent
with severe beatings.
On 9 August the military police sealed off the entire area of the estate and
independent access and verification was prevented. On 11 August a Ministry
of Justice official, representing the National Human Rights Council, and a
Parliamentary Commission of five Federal Congressmen were due to visit the
estate.
Some 300 peasants were arrested and detained in the gymnasium in the town of
Colorado do Oeste, and a further 150 were held in police stations. Some 70
women and 110 children were transferred to a community centre in the town.
By the evening of 10 August police reportedly began releasing detainees.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
2
There are frequent reports of excessive use of force, ill-treatment, torture
and extrajudicial executions by Military Police in Brazil against squatter
peasants trying to obtain land to farm.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Portuguese or your own language:
- expressing concern at reports of the confrontation on the Santa Elina estate
in Rondônia state, which resulted in the deaths of at least 11 peasants, two
military policemen and wounding of scores of others;
- expressing serious concern at reports that police fired indiscriminately
on men women and children inside the encampment, and severely beat members
of peasant families, resulting in serious injuries and death;
- seeking a full and independent investigation, including independent forensic
examination of the dead and wounded, by a separate body than the police force
involved, the results of which should be made public, and those responsible
for abuses brought to justice;
- urging that all possible attempts be made to locate the wounded and provide
medical attention for them, and account for those peasants who are still missing
and ensure their safety.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Justice
Exmo. Sr. Ministro da Justiça
Sr. Nelson Jobim
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios, anexo II
70.064 Brasília DF, Brazil
Faxes: +55 61 226 7980 / 321 5172
Telegrams: Ministro Justica, Brasilia, Brazil
Salutation : Vossa Excelencia / Your Excellency
Attorney General
Exmo Sr. Procurador Geral da República
Dr. Geraldo Brindeiro
Procuradoria Geral da República
Ed. Sede da PGR
Av. L2 Sul - Q. 603 - lote 23
70.200 Brasília D, Brazil
Faxes: +55 61 313 5444
Telegrams: Procurado Geral da Republica, Brasilia, Brazil
Salutation : Vossa Excelencia / Your Excellency
Governor of Rondônia State
Exmo. Sr. Governador do Estado de Rondônia
Sr. Valdir Raupp
Palácio Presidente Vargas s/n
78.900 Porto Velho - RO, Brazil
Telexes: 692156 ggrobr; 692314 geccbr
Faxes: +55 69 224 3520
Telegrams: Governador do Rondonia, Porto Velho, Brazil
Salutation : Vossa Excelencia / Your Excellency
Secretary of State for Public Security, Rondonia State
Exmo. Sr. Secretário de Segurança Pública do Estado de Rondônia
Sr. Wanderley Martins Mossini
3
Rua Pio XII, S/Nº,
Esplanada das Secretários
B. Pedrinhas, CP 78904-070, Porto Velho - RO, Brazil
Faxes: +55 69 224 2715
Telegrams: Secretario de Seguranca Publica, Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil
Salutation : Sr. Secretário de Segurança Pública
COPIES TO:
Pastoral Land Commission
Comissão Pastoral da Terra
Caixa Posta 1051, 78.900-970 Porto Velho, RO, Brazil
and to diplomatic representatives of Brazil accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 September 1995.

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