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UA 392/94 - Brazil: possible extrajudicial execution / fear for safety: Manoel Bonfim Bastos, Zilda de Jesus Silva (killed); Carlos Barbosa Santos Lima, Deusdete Dutra Costa, Endaldo Silva Souza, Jose de Jesus Sena, Marcelo Rocha Santos, Ariosvaldo Jose d

, N° d'index: AMR 19/023/1994

AI is concerned for the safety of a groups of 500 landless rural workers and their families camped on the side of the road outside the Fazenda Mocambo in Vitoria da Conquista, Bahia state. On 29 October 1994 gunmen fired on the encampment, killing two and seriouly wounding six. Leaders of the group had previously received death threats and families had been shot at on other occasions. There are suggestions that police personnel may have been among the gunmen.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/23/94
Distr: UA/SC
1 November 1994
UA 393/94 Possible extrajudicial execution/Fear for safety
BRAZIL Manoel Bonfim Bastos, 39, father of 5, killed
Zilda de Jesus Silva, 51, mother of 12, killed
wounded: Carlos Barbosa Santos Lima, 21
Deusdete Dutra Costa, 50
Ednaldo Silva Souza, 26
José de Jesus Sena, 33
Marcelo Rocha Santos, 17
Ariosvaldo José dos Santos, 51
and other rural workers camped on the roadside in Vitoria da Conquista, Bahia.
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of a group of 500 landless
rural workers and their families camped on the side of the road outside the
Fazenda Mocambo (Mocambo Estate), in Vitoria da Conquista in Bahia state.
This follows an incident on 29 October when gunmen fired on them killing two
and seriously wounding six. Leaders of the group had previously received death
threats and the families had been shot at on other occasions. There are
suspicions that police personnel may have been among the gunmen.
On 29 October a group of the families entered the Mocambo estate to clear some
rough vegetation next to the roadside, which they claimed the gunmen used as
cover to fire at them in the encampment. Once on the property, when they tried
to discuss the situation with the landowner, the families were allegedly
surrounded by a group of gunmen who started to beat them and fire shots at
them. A number of women and children were injured. The families reacted with
farm implements, wounding some of the gunmen. One of the gunmen - wearing
a hood to cover his face - reportedly claimed to be a civil policeman, another
wore a bullet proof jacket. It is further alleged that some of the gunmen
wore surgical gloves. (These are regularly issued to police personnel as a
protection against HIV infection when in contact with blood from wounds of
members of the public).
According to reports, the gunmen proceeded to fire at the rural workers. A
number were wounded in the back as they tried to flee. Manoel Bonfim Bastos
and Zilda de Jesus Silva were shot dead. Six other rural workers are being
treated in hospital for bullet wounds. Ariosvaldo José dos Santos risks
paraplegia as a result of a bullet wound in the neck.
A military police detachment has been sent to the estate and some military
police have been stationed at the hospital. No news has been reported, however,
of an investigation into those responsible for the killing and wounding of
rural workers on the estate. There continue to be fears for the lives of
community leaders, who were the main targets of the death threats.
The group of families had been seeking to be settled on land in the Vitoria
da Conquista area through government land reform procedures. They had
previously been expelled after attempting to occupy another estate in the area.
After the Mocambo Estate was included on a list issued by the government of
properties to be expropriated for land reform, the families attempted to occupy
it on 12 August 1994. They were expelled shortly afterwards by military police
carrying out a court order. Since that time, they have been camped on the
roadside outside the Mocambo estate, waiting for the estate to be expropriated
by the government and receiving food and water from local government and
non-governmental agencies.
Landless rural workers and squatter peasants and have been the target of threats,
assaults, abductions and killings in the context of disputes over land in Brazil.
While Amnesty International takes no position on such competing land claims,
the organization is concerned at the impunity with which gunmen allegedly acting
on behalf of landowners continue to intimidate and carry out violent attacks
on peasant communities with the apparent tolerance of local authorities.
Amnesty International is also concerned with the extent of direct police
involvement in these crimes. Of 173 cases of rural murders involving hired
gunmen being investigated by the Attorney General's Office in Brazil in 1993,
80 proved to have direct participation of military and civil police personnel.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
either in Portuguese, Spanish, English or in your own language:
- Expressing concern for the safety of members of a community of rural workers
camped outside the Mocambo estate in Vitoria da Conquista, Bahia state after
they have received death threats and been shot at;
- Seeking assurances for the safety of members of the community and their
- Expressing concern at the killing of Manoel Bonfim Bastos and Zilda de Jesus
Silva and the wounding of six others by gunmen on 29 October;
- Seeking a full investigation into the killings, including an investigation
into possible police involvement in the incident, and for all those responsible
to be brought to justice.
Secretary of Public Security
Sr. Secretário de Segurança Pública do
Estado da Bahia
Dr Francisco Netto
Secretaria de Segurança Pública
Praça Piedade
40.070-010 Salvador, BA, Brazil
Faxes: + 55 71 320 4175
Telegrams: Secretário Netto, Secretaria de Segurança Pública, Salvador, Brazil
Salutation: Sr. Secretário/ Mr Secretary
Governor of Bahia
Exmo Sr Governador do Estado da Bahia
Dr. Antônio Imbassuí
Palacio do Governo
Av. Tancredo Neves 776,
Caminho das Arvores, Iguatemi
41.820-020 Salvador, BA, Brazil
Faxes: + 55 71 371 0610
Telegrams: Exmo.Imbassuí, Palacio do Governo, Salvador, Brazil
Salutation: Vossa Excelência/ Your Excellency
Minister of Justice
Exmo Sr Ministro de Justiça
Dr Alexandre Dupeyrat
Ministério de Justiça
Espalanda dos Ministérios
70.064-900 Brasília DF, Brazil
Faxes: +55 61 322 3905
Telegrams: Exmo. Ministro Dupeyrat, Ministério de Justiça, Brasília, Brazil
Salutation: Dear Minister
Local Diocesan Commission on Rural questions
Comissão Rural Dioscesiana
Caixa Postal 10
45.100-000 Vitoria da Conquista, BA, 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 14 December 1994.

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