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' Heroic victory': Acquittal of 23 protestors criminalised for fighting for justice in Brazil

By Harsh Thakor*
After almost 10 years of a process based on no material act that constitutes the commission of crimes, the Judiciary finally recognized that the young people, who participated in the Days of People’s Struggle, in 2013 and 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, were not guilty of any crime, exonerated of all set up charges.
The entire process, with its 48 volumes, was a pure fabrication or incarceration based on false testimonies from police officers and National Force agents intervening without a court order. Every democrat should in no uncertain terms congratulate the Brazilian Center for Solidarity with the Peoples (CEBRASPO), which battled the most turbulent waves to secure justice for the incarcerated victims.
The Dilma government at the time paid a deaf ear to the millions of people mobilized for and patronised the historical ties so that a nation was gripped by imperialism and hostage to the interests of the big landlords and the big bourgeoisie, both monopolists of benefits from the State. Instead of dealing with the escalating external debt, anti-democratic laws were passed, such as the Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Organizations Law, to suppress protesters on several occasions.
In collusion with Sergio Cabral, who was accused for corruption and the disappearance of the worker Amarildo by the Rocinha’s UPP, and with the patronage of the press monopolies, which framed the protesters as bandits and terrorists, agents illegally intervened to construct the fraud in this process, and others that engulfed the country.
Throughout the tenure of the targeting ,incarceration or criminalization of the popular struggle, he 23 were denied their fundamental constitutional rights and guarantees. They were stripped of demonstration, as they were prohibited from participating in public meetings and demonstrations.
They were deprived of their right to come and go, prohibited from moving outside the city of Rio de Janeiro; protesters were unable to get jobs, civil servants were threatened with dismissal; some had to suffer unfairly the inequities of prisons, one activist spent 7 months in a maximum security prison. To add to that, family members, especially the elderly, had their health deteriorating.
The protestors' valiant or resilient spirit in the face of incarceration not only by state institutions, but also by the monopoly press, was most commendable. The solidarity of the such a wide range of peoples and all the defenders of the people’s rights who fuelled the fire of the campaign in defence of the 23 throughout this period through events, debates, leafleting and active solidarity with their families, displayed tenacity at it’s zenith.
The mothers, partners and other family members, people who often became aware of the political determinants of the process during the campaigns and who were strongholds of CEBRASPO’s defence work, elevated combative spirit to it’s superlative height. Renowned lawyers acted with daunting courage in the process and all those who contributed in the legal field to expose the legal frauds.
Democrats should salute two tireless fighters who are now martyrs and who fought a relentless battle to the very end to this campaign: José Sales Pimenta and José Maria Galhasi, founding members of CEBRASPO and heroic crusaders of the people’s rights in the countryside and in the city.
The acquittal of the 23 is a victory for democratic rights and a mortal blow expression to those who tried to criminalise and wipe out the legacy of June 2013 and the fight against the World Cup in 2014. The coup plotters, who want to eradicate democratic rights to intensify this economic and social order in crisis, remain unpunished. The current government has no orientation of establishing people’s rights. Those waging battle for land are criminalized and mercilessly attacked by State agents and big landlords’ henchmen.
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*Freelance journalist

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