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Brazil: Social Activist Murdered in Amazon

Church Leaders Call for Investigation, Action

A “rapid investigation of the crime” and the implementation of “security measures for people damaged by the construction of dams throughout Brazil” are the requests contained in the statement of the Movement dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB), also signed by other bodies for the defense of human rights, including the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) of the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil.

The statement, reported by Fides News Agency, comes in the wake of the killing, on March 22, of Dilma Ferreira da Silva, leader of the MAB, murdered together with her husband and a family friend, in Tucuruí, in the state of Pará. The three people were gagged, brutally tortured and stabbed to death.

“The murder of Dilma is another sad moment in the history of the people affected by the construction of dams, which on that day celebrated International Water Day”.

At the head of the MAB, Dilma Ferreira Silva, 45, was working for a national policy that guaranteed the rights of people damaged by dams. At the end of the 1970s, during the construction of the Tucuru hydroelectric plant (the largest in Brazil), Dilma was one of some 30,000 families forced to leave their home due to the project. In 2011 Dilma Ferreira presented a proposal to President Dilma Rousseff for a specific law to be approved for people who had received damage due to dam construction. She was a special witness because she grew up in that area, as the great Tucuruí dam had invaded the lands of her people 30 years before. Since then, Dilma had not stopped working to stop the exploitation of the Tocantins river, to the detriment of the rights of nature and of the people who lived there thanks to the river and around the river.

Although the Pará Public Security Secretariat claims that the Civil Police has organized a task force to investigate the triple murder, “so far it is not possible to define a crime research line”, says the MAB note. The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) has informed that the place where the victims were found is known to have a history of conflicts, and has been the site of numerous clashes. The murders could, therefore, be easily linked to agrarian conflicts.

According to the CPT, the social leader is the first activist murdered in the Amazon in 2019. Just a few days ago we remembered the tragedy of last January, of the Brumadinho dam, in which 300 people were killed and another 14 million are suffering the negative effects of contaminated water. Several organizations report that in Brazil there are 45 other dams that are about to collapse because they are old, with all the consequences that can be expected.

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