Torture Never Again Group honors victims of state violence

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The Tortura Nunca Mais Group, from Rio de Janeiro, presented this Monday (1) the Chico Mendes Medal of Resistance to people and groups that defend human rights. The movement, created in 1985 to fight against State violence, held the event at the National Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (FND/UFRJ).

The organizers emphasize that the edition is emblematic due to the 60 years of implementation of the military dictatorship, when the Brazilian State promoted persecution, torture and murders against opponents.

“It is important to always report it. Memory needs to be preserved in this country. The Brazilian people need to know what happened 60 years ago. The dictatorship killed and tortured many people,” said Victória Grabois, director of Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais/RJ. “My brother was 17 years old when the coup happened. And nine and a half years after that, he gave his greatest asset, his life, so that today we can have democracy. This story has to stay alive, for us to understand what happened. Because the violence against opponents of the regime at that time, today is directed towards the poor, black people and those living in favelas”.

One of this year’s honorees was Norberto Nehring, a member of Ação Libertadora Nacional (ALN). He was arrested, tortured and murdered in 1970, at the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS) in São Paulo. The daughter, Marta Nehring, received the medal on behalf of the family.

“The official version of my father’s death was suicide, it was on the death certificate. And I spent my entire childhood dealing with this. Afterwards, it was recognized that it was a police hoax, we obtained a death certificate that spoke of ‘unnatural deaths in police facilities’. But our family still wants to know who killed them and how they killed them. We seek truth and justice”, stated Marta.

Rose Michele Rodrigues, lawyer and human rights activist, came to receive the honor on behalf of her aunt Ranúsia Alves Rodrigues. A university student and member of the Brazilian Revolutionary Communist Party (PCBR), Ranúsia was murdered by agents of the dictatorship, but her body was never found.

“She was probably arrested and tortured, and they invented a theater to cover up the body. She was chased from Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro. And here, she was caught along with a group from the PCBR. My father tried to recover her body. And they said if he came, he would be arrested. She was buried in a mass grave, as a pauper, even though she was recognized. The ditch was found, but the genetic material was never recovered. To this day, she is considered a political missing person. And I’m very proud of them remembering my aunt, who fought for a more just society and of continuing her fight through activism”, highlighted Rose Michele.

For the quilombolas of Sapê do Norte, in Espírito Santo, being honored is a way of giving more visibility to the fight for land and the maintenance of ancestral traditions. A problem that deepened after the 1964 coup.

“Our fight is for the demarcation and titling of our territories in Sapê do Norte. We are all born and raised there. And from the moment paper companies and sugar cane companies set up shop in the territory, the process of expulsion from our families and our way of life began. At the time of the dictatorship, in the 1960s, there were more than 13 thousand families. And today we have been reduced to less than 4 thousand families. The territory has been invaded by big companies and big capital”, explains Olindina Serafim, quilombola school education teacher.

Also remembered on Monday night was the Argentine group Historias Desobedientes. It is originally formed by family members of military personnel and civilians who were responsible for the military dictatorship in Argentina. Instead of defending their ancestors or adopting a comfortable silence, they mobilized to expose and denounce the crimes committed during the period.

“We are family members who repudiate the actions of our fathers, grandfathers and uncles. We come out in defense of victims, survivors and relatives. We grew up with great shame about the place we came from. And we reject our family members, regardless of the emotional bond we have with them. It is a position that starts from an ethical and human decision”, said Bibiana Reibaldi, psychopedagogue and member of the Historias Desobedientes collective.

The others honored by the Tortura Nunca Mais Group were:

Maria Criseide da Silva and Wellington Marcelino Romana: couple who, for being involved in the struggle for land and housing in Minas Gerais, were arrested and tortured.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) and Stop the Wall: social movements seeking international support to condemn Israel’s actions against Palestinians.

Gonzaguinha (in memoriam): singer and composer, died in 1991, known for being critical of the military dictatorship and, therefore, having many of his songs censored.

Leonel Moura Brizola (in memoriam): labor politician, governor of Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro, who opposed the dictatorship in Brazil.

Pastor Mozart Noronha: he was a member of Ação Popular (AP), a Christian organization resisting the dictatorship. He had to go into exile in Switzerland and Portugal in the 1970s.

The Chico Mendes Resistance Medal is in its 36th edition and takes place every year on April 1st, a date that for the Tortura Nunca Mais Group is the correct day of the 1964 coup. It is worth emphasizing that this is a political debate. Military personnel and some researchers defend March 31, when the movement of coup troops began in Minas Gerais. Other researchers and activists point to April 1st, when President João Goulart leaves Brasília, the federal capital, and goes to Porto Alegre. April 2nd is when the National Congress declares the presidency of the Republic vacant.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Torture Group honors victims state violence

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