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Brazil: Death threats / fear for safety

, N° d'index: AMR 19/027/1997

Miriam Prochnow (f) and Wigold Schaeffer: These two environmentalist activists have been threatened with death because of their work. Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of the couple and their two young children.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 19/27/97
UA 340/97 Death Threats / Fear for safety 30 October 1997
BRAZILMiriam Prochnow (f), environmental activist
Wigold Schaeffer (m), environmental activist
Two environmental activists campaigning to save the Mata Atlantica Rainforests
in the state of Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil have been threatened
with death because of their work. Amnesty International is concerned for the
safety of the couple and their two young children.
The anonymous threats against Miriam Prochnow and Wigold Schaeffer were left
on their telephone answering machine last week. One caller said, "Tell Miriam
and Wigold to keep out of the logging in Santa Terezinha [a small town nearby],
because we are not like Pamplona [a local meat company], we’re not going to
just make threats and then do nothing". Another caller simply repeated over
and over "You’re going to die, you’re going to die". The verbal threats have
now ceased but they continue to receive silent, anonymous phone calls.
Amnesty International is concerned at the failure of the state authorities
to open an immediate investigation into the threats. Miriam Prochnow and Wigold
Schaeffer have been receiving threats since last year, but these most recent
ones have caused them greatest fear for their physical safety and that of their
two young children.
The couple live in a very small town in an isolated region, the Vale do Itajai.
On 23 October, deputies from the state legislative assembly requested police
protection for them, but there has been no response from the state or federal
police. On 24 October, Wigold Schaeffer and Miriam Prochnow formally reported
the death threats and requested a police investigation at the nearest police
station in Rio do Sul. However, the police chief had so far taken no action
either to provide them with protection or to investigate the death threats.
The couple also asked a local state prosecutor to obtain telephone records
in order to help them trace the calls immediately. The state prosecutor refused
and told them to have their lawyer petition for the records from the local
judge. The petition was entered on 24 October and there has so far been no
Wigold Schaeffer and Miriam Prochnow have a long record of environmental
activism in Brazil. They are directors of the well-respected National
Environmental Foundation, APREMAVI, based in Rio do Sul. They have campaigned,
with some success, to keep loggers, tobacco growers, real estate developers
and agribusiness from destroying what remains of the Mata Atlantica rainforest
in Santa Catarina. They have opposed large-scale pig production and fish farming
in the region as the lagoons allegedly became breeding grounds for mosquitoes,
causing epidemics among the local population, especially children. Federal
legislation protects the Mata Atlantica, and the couple has campaigned to
prevent this legislation being overturned by the political allies of the
above-mentioned economic groups. However, the state governor recently
introduced a state law, in contradiction to the federal law, which permits
logging and other environmentally harmful activities in the area.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Portuguese or your own language:
- calling on the state authorities of Santa Catarina to ensure that the death
threats against Miriam Prochnow and Wigold Schaeffer and their family are
promptly, effectively and impartially investigated and that those responsible
are brought to justice;
- asking the state authorities of Santa Catarina to guarantee that all necessary
measures, including police protection if necessary, are taken to provide
protection to Miriam Prochnow and Wigold Schaeffer and their family.
Exmo. Sr. Paulo Afonso E. Vieira
Governador do Estado de Santa Catarina (State Governor)
Palácio Santa Catarina
Rua José da Costa Moelmann 193
Praça Tancredo Neves
88020-170 Florianópolis SC, Brazil
Telegrams: Governador Estado, Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
Faxes: + 55-48-221-3137
Salutation: Your Excellency/Vossa Excelência
Exma. Sra. Secretário de Segurança Pública do Estado de Santa Catarina
(State Secretary of Public Security)
Lúcia Maria Stefanovich
Rua Esteves Junior, Nº80
88015-530 Florianópolis SC, Brazil
Faxes: + 55 48 222 3462
Telegrams: Secretario Seguranca Publica Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
Salutation: Dear Madam/Sra. Secretário
Exmo.Francisco de Assis Kuster
Presidente, Assembléia Legislativa de Santa Catarina
(President of the State Assembly of Santa Catarina)
Palácio Barriga Verde
Praça Tancredo Neves
88020-900 Florianópolis SC, Brazil
Faxes: +55-48-221-2600 (if voice ask for fax)
Exmo. Eduardo Martins
Presidente, IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente)
(President of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment)
SAIN Av L.4 Norte - Ed. Sede
70800-200 Brasília - DF, Brazil
Faxes: + 55 61 316 1025
Caixa Postal 218
89160-000 Rio do Sul SC, Brazil
Faxes: + 55 47 821 0326
Email: apremavi@rsol.com.br
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 15 December 1997.

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