Rio+20 Breaking News: Activists who spoke at the Peoples’ Summit killed

Cross-Posted from Front Line Defenders, June 28th, 2012

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mr_joao_luiz_telles_penetra_june_27João Luiz Telles Penetra.  Photo courtesy Front Line Defenders
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EJOLT partner Professor Marcelo Firpo has just send us a sad message:“I was with two fishermen on 19 June in a meeting at Peoples´Summit discussing the impacts of big projects (basically oil, mining and steel) in Rio de Janeiro State. Three days later they disappeared when went to work. They have just been found dead. The media is considering this case without importance and we will need more national and international pressure in order to protect other people and to investigate who have killed them.”
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On 24 and 25 June 2012 the bodies of human rights defenders Mr Almir Nogueira de Amorim and Mr João Luiz Telles Penetra were found following their disappearance on 23 June 2012.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, or “Pituca” as he was known, were both leaders of the Associação Homens do Mar – AHOMAR (Association of Sea Men) which was set up in 2009 to defend the rights of the fisher-folk working in Rio de Janeiro, and particularly those affected by the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras. Since the founding of the organisation its members have reported being subjected to death threats, physical attacks and killings. According to AHOMAR’s members, the attacks are perpetrated by people linked to death squads, security guards hired by the companies in charge of building pipelines and militias operating in the region.

On the afternoon of 25 June 2012, João Luiz Telles Penetra’s body was found on the banks of Guanabara Bay by employees of a shipyard. The fisherman’s corpse was bound at his hands and feet by rope. The previous day, at around midday, the body of Almir Nogueira de Amorim was found tied to his boat. He had bruises on his neck and the boat had several holes in the hull.

On 22 June 2012, at approximately 4:00pm, Almir Nogueira de Amorim went to João Luiz Telles Penetra’s home in Ilha de Paquetá, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, to collect him to go fishing. It is common practice for fishermen in the region to go at that time and return late at night or early the following day. When they had not returned by the following day, local fishermen and fire fighters began a search of the Guanabara Bay.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim was a founding member and vocal activist of AHOMAR. João Luiz Telles Penetra was the leader of the association in Ilha de Paquetá and had been a key figure in a new campaign launched by the organisation. He led the struggle against Petrobras’ construction plans in Guaxindiba river, located within the Área de Proteção Ambiental Guapimirim (Environmental Protected Area of Guapimirim). The oil company wants to deepen the river to create a waterway, which would eliminate any possibility of fishing in these waters.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra are not the first members of AHOMAR to be murdered. On 19 January 2010, fisherman and human rights defender Marcio Amaro was assassinated one day after a demonstration organised by AHOMAR took place in front of the Petrobras headquarters in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Prior to his killing Marcio Amaro had filed a formal complaint concerning the presence of unlawfully armed men in Petrobras construction sites in Guanabara Bay. On 22 May 2009 Paulo César dos Santos Souza, former treasurer of the association, was killed in front of his wife and children after being shot in the head five times. The crime occurred six hours after a government inspection decided to stop the pipeline construction due to irregularities. To date no one has been brought to justice for these killings.

The president of AHOMAR Mr Alexandre Anderson de Souza, has been under the National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders for the past three years. However he, and his family, still face many risks. Reportedly at least three other leaders of AHOMAR received death threats in recent months. Even with the high rate of violence in the region of Mauá and all the threats faced by human rights defenders, the only police station covering the region was shut down on 13 February 2012.

Front Line Defenders believes the murder of Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra is directly related to their human rights activities, in particular their work to defend the rights of the fisherfolk in Rio de Janeiro, and is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of their family members and other members of the association.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Green Economy, Political Repression, Rio+20

0 Responses to Rio+20 Breaking News: Activists who spoke at the Peoples’ Summit killed

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  4. this is a case where nonviolence is not working. time to match and mirror: quick, surgical strikes against the perpetrators.

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  10. Now they are martyrs. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

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  12. those responsable for those honest working fishermans death will never have any luck themselves and neither will their direct decendents …fishermen take their lives into their hands every day at sea without the added problems of maniacs and greedy oil tycoons ..

  13. Obviously it can be traced to this Petrobras company and I’m sure the orders are coming down the pipeline from the top– one of these activists should just knock off the important people of that company.

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  15. Matt

    “depleted uranium WMD from a US drone strike”

    These jargon-y buzzwords don’t even belong together. While we are probably on the same team, the fact that you use emotionalized rhetoric instead of facts makes me think you are probably a big tool.

    Just to be clear. Depleted uranium is primarily used in the rounds of very large caliber machine guns and cannons. These are not WMDs which by definition destroy cities not houses. Drones don’t carry guns just missiles. The lag time between drone and operator is too long to make guns reliable.

    Also the big difference I see here is that the Brazilian fascists spent a few bucks on rope to murder these guys where as the US scenario spends 10s of millions per target.

    Know your enemy. Speak truth to power. Avoid hysterical rhetoric at all costs.

  16. Mrs. Freida Mercredi

    The Human Rights Activists had to be killed according to the oil / mining and steel companies. People were listening to them. (The oil /mining / steel companies had to shut them up permanently.)They can get away with the murder in that country. These people were speaking up for their rights! That’s a No, No, in some countries. Usually they aren’t found. They wanted to send a message to other activists.

  17. Dominique Chanovre

    I think that difference is there is a direct link between the union representatives and their murders by corporate killers. Thus it is a strategic symbolic action. However I do understand that U.S government is supported by a much larger amount of people to continue these routine murders in the Middle East. The difference is one is localised and stopped by local people, the other can only be stopped by large nations.

  18. Corporations are destroying all life either with death squads or by slow motion genocide. People of the earth must unite for the sake of our children’s future.

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  20. Oppressed Fisherman

    Here in the states fishermen are punished for being vocal against big oil etc. by being subjected to copious and over zealous stop and inspect incidences by law enforcement and biologists and being systematically excluded from commerce by gov. regulations. A slow death by many cuts. Example – F&G biologists have ordered me to lay out my beautiful day caught salmon on hot black top to take samples for their studies. My salmon lost scales and were manhandled so much that my buyer did not want to buy them. Example – I was accused of being two weeks late in sending in one of my landing receipts for crab. I denied being late and the F&G took me to court located over 3 hours from my home were the charge was thrown out. I had to travel there twice and lost revenue from not being able to work on those days and I had to pay for gas etc. and wait in a hot court house all day both days. I call that punishment without doing a crime.This was the third time of being charged with a crime by the F&G only to be vindicated in court. But I guess I am lucky that I don’t just disappear.

    • LC Felix

      At least you’re alive buddy. These poor guys are not. Corporations don’t care about the working class. Being part of the 99% is not fun at all. Nothing is going to change. Now that they can expend as much money as they want, is going to get worst. Politicians are a roten class anywhere in the world. But in Brazil together with the police they are the worst.

  21. Kevin Schmidt

    How is this any different than when a house is blown to smithereens with everyone in it by a depleted uranium WMD from a US drone strike?

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