Target: Luiz Fernando Pezão, Governor of Rio de Janeiro
Goal: Investigate the killing of an unarmed man killed during a nonviolent protest
Edilson Silva dos Santos, a mentally disabled man from Pavão-Pavãozinho community in Copacabana, Brazil, was recently shot and killed during a nonviolent protest. There is reason to suspect that he was killed by police. Sign the petition and urge the authorities in Rio de Janeiro to launch a full investigation into the death of Edilson Silva dos Santos.
The protest in which Edilson Silva dos Santos was participating was in response to another killing, that of Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva, who was well-known in the community as a dancer on a Brazilian television program. Da Silva’s body had been discovered early that morning and local residents believe he was killed by police. Later that day the much-maligned Police Pacification Unit (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, UPP) surrounded the site of the murder, and according to Amnesty International there are “strong indications” that the crime scene was altered. The UPP was also present–and armed–at the subsequent protest where Edilson Silva dos Santos lost his life. Witnesses report that no attempt was made to preserve that crime scene, either.
The UPP is widely feared in the communities it polices, and outside sources have linked it to corruption and human rights violations. It is therefore imperative that we stand with the people of Brazil and demand justice for Edilson Silva dos Santos, Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva, their families, and their community. Sign the petition demanding full investigations into both deaths, and urge authorities in Rio de Janeiro to ensure that the police forces are keeping citizens safe, not threatening their well-being.
In light of recent events and the deaths of Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva and Edilson Silva dos Santos, I urge you to launch a full investigation into the activities of the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP) on April 22. Many believe that the UPP are responsible for at least one, if not both, deaths, and there will never be peace in the Pavão-Pavãozinho community until justice has been served. I urge you to ensure that both men’s deaths receive full, impartial, and prompt investigations, and that any UPP members implicated in their deaths be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Although it exists ostensibly to protect those living in some of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest communities, the UPP is a source of fear rather than comfort to most people living in the favelas. Outside sources such as Amnesty International have linked the presence of the UPP to an uptick in human rights violations in communities, even as official figures show a decrease in crime. When it comes to basic human rights, the ends do not justify the means; a lower crime rate that comes only at the expense of the most basic personal liberties and rights is the very hollowest of hollow victories.
Likewise, the deaths of Douglas Rafael Pereira da Silva and Edilson Silva dos Santos are hollow: senseless and apparently preventable acts of violence, they have shattered a grieving community and provoked entirely justifiable outrage, especially since there is evidence that the UPP has tampered with the crimes scenes and/or been otherwise involved in the deaths.
If the UPP will not promote justice for the people of Pavão-Pavãozinho, it is up to you, Governor. I urge you to investigate allegations that the UPP was involved in the killings, to appropriately discipline any officers found to be implicated in the deaths, and to ensure that the people of Rio de Janeiro are being protected, not exploited, by their law enforcement agents.
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Photo credit: Hmaglione10 via Wikimedia Commons