Unions in London & Globally say #FreeLula

UK and international trade unions have demanded the immediate release from prison of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) in London attempted to hand in a letter demanding Brazil #FreeLula to the Brazilian embassy today. It read as follows: “The arrest of Lula is a disgraceful attack on freedom and progress, and will have a serious effect on how Brazil is viewed in the UK and around the world. Lula must be freed at once, and allowed to contest the upcoming election to restore trust in Brazil’s respect for justice and democracy. We are proud to have joined unions around the world on this international day of action, in standing with Brazilian workers and demanding freedom for Lula.”

Unions in attendance were Unite, the GMB, NASUWT, NEU and UNISON, with the TUC and the TUC’s London, Southern & Eastern Region.

Unite also attempted to hand in a letter on behalf of Workers Uniting, representing more than two million workers in mining, petroleum, manufacturing, communications, education, health care and the public sector in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, saying “we write to express our outrage at the conviction and imprisonment of former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. We are equally outraged at the denial of his habeas corpus motion. And we are most concerned that the judicial process in Lula’s case has been politically manipulated to exclude him from the ballot in the 2018 presidential elections. The people of Brazil should have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice, in a democratic process.”

Meanwhile, in a letter delivered to the Brazilian ambassador in Brussels, the CSC, the FGTB as well as the ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation stated that Lula’s arbitrary imprisonment is a threat to democracy.  Trade unions in Asunción, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Jakarta, Lima, London and Rabat are also gathering at Brazilian embassies today, following protests in recent days in Madrid, Montevideo, Paris, Rome and Washington, D.C.

“Lula was found guilty by a lower court on the basis of no evidence, something that the lower court judges themselves have admitted. Lula is Brazil’s most popular politician by a huge margin, and the judicial persecution of him is aimed at stopping him becoming President again,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Lula’s lawyers have taken his case to the UN Human Rights Council, pointing to the blatant bias of judges and prosecutors and asking the Council to recognise that “the regional court which found him guilty, Judge Sérgio Moro and the ‘Car Wash’ Federal Prosecutors have violated Lula’s rights to privacy, right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right to freedom of movement and right to be presumed innocent until found guilty.”

Previous evidence submitted to the UNHRC focused on the leaking of confidential material to the media, the unlawful issue of a bench warrant, illegal disclosure of telephone intercepts, use of indeterminate pre-trial detention against ‘Car Wash’ suspects, obtaining plea bargains and numerous examples of the prosecutors and Judge Moro’s pronounced bias against Lula.

“The European trade union movement stands in absolute solidarity with our Brazilian colleagues and will assist in every way we can their quest to defend democracy and reinstate the rule of law,” said ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini.

This is the latest of a series of grave threats to democracy in Brazil. The Belgian labour movement stands with Lula for the fight for the Brazilian people and their democracy,” said CSC President Marc Leemans.

“We are deeply concerned by the will of the conservative forces to impeach, by all means, ex-President Lula to be candidate in a fair and democratic election process,” said FGTB General Secretary Robert Vertenueil.

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British open letter: The fate of Lula da Silva is the very fate of Brazilian democracy

Attempts continue to stop the popular former president Lula da Silva from standing in Brazil’s presidential election in October (Report, 5 April). Polls show he would be the likely winner, yet since the removal of President Dilma Rousseff, Lula has been subjected to a concerted campaign against him, where his basic human rights have been breached. As part of this, Lula has been subjected to a political prosecution and conviction, ignoring evidence of his innocence, and triggering a crisis of confidence in the rule of law. This is not just about one man but the future of democracy in Brazil. We believe he should be allowed to stand and the Brazilian people allowed to decide their own future.

Yours,

Chris Williamson MP No Coup in Brazil
Dennis Skinner MP
Clive Lewis MP
Mike Hill MP
Jean Corston House of Lords
David Lea House of Lords
Tim Roache GMB general secretary
Kevin Courtney Joint general secretary, National Education Union
Zita Holbourne PCS and Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts
Dr Mehmet Ali Dikerdem School of law, department of law and politics, Middlesex University
Dr Michael Derham Northumbria University
Professor Julia Buxton Central European University, Budapest
Emeritus Professor Frank Land LSE
Salma Yaqoob Human rights activist
Tim Potter Barrister
Colin Burgon Honorary president, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

Justice for Marielle Franco – 100 British Voices Speak Out

Reproduced below is an open letter signed by 100 prominent figures from across British society demanding justice for Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian progressive leader and rights advocate who was assassinated on March 14. Across Brazil, and the world, people have been outraged at this tragedy and pledged their solidarity with those struggling for justice for Marielle –here in Britain we must do all we can to further raise awareness of this case and build the international pressure for justice and for an end to the deepening criminalisation of activists, government opponents and low-income people in Brazil.

Letter:

“On March 14, one of Brazil’s most courageous social leaders was brutally assassinated on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman and human rights defender, was shot four times in the head by unknown assailants in a passing vehicle shortly after leaving a gathering of young black activists. Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed.

Long before being elected to Rio’s city council in 2016, Marielle was widely known as a tireless and fearless advocate for the rights of Afro-Brazilians, LGBT people, women and low-income communities. A gay black woman born and raised in one of Rio’s poorest neighbourhoods, she campaigned relentlessly against spiralling police violence in the city’s favelas.

Marielle’s activism earned her many powerful enemies. She vehemently challenged the impunity surrounding extrajudicial killings of black youth by security forces and, two days before her death, had denounced the police’s role in the killing of a young black man named Matheus Melo. She was a leading critic of the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro and was the head of a city commission tasked with monitoring the intervention.

We are deeply concerned and shocked by this commando-style killing of a woman who was a voice for the voiceless and a symbol of resistance to state-perpetrated violence, militarisation and anti-democratic forces. Given that Marielle’s murder bears all the hallmarks of a targeted assassination, we call for the creation of an independent commission comprised of prominent and respected national and international human rights and legal experts and tasked with carrying out an independent investigation of the murder of Marielle Franco with the full cooperation of state judicial and police authorities.

Shortly before her death, Marielle asked: “How many others will have to die before this war will end?” We call for justice for Marielle Franco and the daughter and the partner she leaves behind, and for an end to the killings and criminalisation of activists, government opponents and low-income people in Brazil.”

Signed:

  1. Chris Williamson MP (Labour,) President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America & No Coup in Brazil.
  2. Diane Abbott MP (Labour), Shadow Home Secretary
  3. Kate Osamor MP (Labour,) Shadow International Development Secretary.
  4. Richard Burgon MP (Labour) , Shadow Justice Secretary
  5. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP (Labour)
  6. Baroness Shami Chakrabarti (Labour,) Shadow Attorney General
  7. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour)
  8. Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Labour)
  9. Bill Kidd MSP (SNP)
  10. Christina McKelvie MSP (SNP)
  11. Alex Rowley MSP (Labour)
  12. John Finnie MSP (Scottish Green Party)
  13. Benjamin Zephaniah, poet
  14. Naomi Campbell, model & activist
  15. Brian Eno, musician & writer
  16. Tariq Ali, writer & playwright
  17. Linton Kwesi Johnson , poet
  18. Ken Loach, filmmaker
  19. Michael Mansfield QC
  20. Richard Gott, writer
  21. Ann Pettifor, economist
  22. Andy De La Tour, actor & playwright
  23. Johann Hari, writer & campaigner ,
  24. Owen Jones, writer & commentator
  25. Maya Goodfellow , writer & journalist
  26. Joy Johnson, writer & Tribune columnist
  27. Ava Vidal, comedian & journalist
  28. Chardine Stone , founder,  Black Girls Picnic
  29. Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Executive Director,  UK Black Pride
  30. Denis Fernando, Rainbow Coalition Against Racism
  31. Myriam Kane, Executive member, National Union of Students
  32. Zita Holbourne, National Vice-President, PCS, Artists Union England National Executive & National Chair of BARAC UK.
  33. Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC & former Labour Party NEC member
  34. Rachel Garnham,  Labour Party NEC member
  35. Cllr Alice Perry, Labour Party NEC member  & Islington Councillor
  36. Cllr Claudia Webbe , Labour Party NEC member, Labour Party & Islington Councillor
  37. Peter Willsman, Labour Party NEC member
  38. Cllr Peray Ahmet, National Policy Forum member, Labour Party & Haringey Councillor
  39. Marcus Barnett , International Officer, Young Labour
  40. Artin Giles, Chair, London Young Labour
  41. Huda Elmi, NCG Member, Momentum & BAME Labour activist
  42. Mark Serwotka, General Secretary,  PCS
  43. Matt Wrack, General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union
  44. Ian Lawrence, General Secretary,  NAPO
  45. Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU
  46. Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU
  47. Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union
  48. Tommy Murphy , EC member,  Unite the Union
  49. Simon Dubbins,  Director of International, Unite the Union
  50. Annmarie Kilcline, Regional Secretary,  Unite the Union East Midlands Region
  51. Jim Kelly, Chair, Unite the Union London & Eastern Region
  52. Christine Blower, International Secretary, National Education Union (NUT Section)
  53. Gawain Little, Joint Executive Council member  ,  National Education Union (NUT section)
  54. Max Hyde, Past President (Personal capacity), NEU ( NUT)
  55. Bernard Regan, Trustee,National Education Union (NUT section)
  56. Carl Maden CWU NEC
  57. Steve Jones, National & Postal Executive, CWU
  58. Andy Bain, Past President, TSSA
  59. Samuel Tarry, TSSA, National Political Officer
  60. Terry Hoad, Past President, UCU
  61. Moz Greenshields, Trades Unions Councils JCC (personal capacity), TUC
  62. Barbara White, Executive Committee member, Musicians Union
  63. Karen Mitchell, Head of Legal Department, RMT
  64. Phil McGarry, RMT Scotland
  65. John Haylett, political editor, Morning Star
  66. Bob Oram, Chair, Morning Star
  67. Ken Livingstone, Former Mayor of London
  68. Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation (formerly the Movement for colonial freedom)
  69. Peter Purton, historian & former TUC LGBT Officer
  70. Jane Shallice, writer & activist
  71. Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
  72. Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND
  73. Pablo Navarrete, Alborada
  74. Saundra Satterlee,  journalist
  75. Georgia Platman, former Telesur English journalist
  76. Susanna Mitchell, Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique
  77. Liz Davies, barrister & Vice-President Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (personal capacity)
  78. Bruce Kent, peace campaigner
  79. Murad Qureshi, Chair, Stop the War Coalition & former GLA member
  80. Stephanie Kennedy, journalist
  81. Callum Simpson,  Movimientos
  82. Sue Branford, Latin America Bureau
  83. Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
  84. Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
  85. Louise Richards, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group
  86. Susan Grey, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
  87. Professor Robert Blackburn, Associate Dean Research, Kingston University
  88. Julia Buxton, Central European University / Swansea University
  89. Professor Mike Cole, University of East London
  90. Francisco Dominguez, Head,  Brazilian & Latin American Studies, Middlesex University
  91. Professor John Gledhill, University of Manchester
  92. Professor Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University
  93. Conrad James, Department of Modern Languages, Birmingham University
  94. Hazel Marsh , Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of East Anglia
  95. David Raby, former Senior Fellow in Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool
  96. Sami Ramidani, academic
  97. Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics
  98. Professor Michael Wayne, Brunel University
  99. Matt Willgress, editor, No Coup in Brazil
  100. Colin Burgon, Honorary President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America.

Lula Conviction Further Undermines Democracy and Rule of Law in Brazil -ITUC

Trust in the rule of law in Brazil suffered a severe blow on Wednesday as an appeal court failed to provide former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva with a fair trial. The court ignored all evidence of Lula´s innocence and proceeded to uphold a sentence handed by a lower court, increasing it to more than 12 years. (29/01/18)

Continue reading “Lula Conviction Further Undermines Democracy and Rule of Law in Brazil -ITUC”

Why we need Solidarity with former president Lula!

Tomorrow Lula da Silva will be tried on appeal on trumped-up charges. MARIANA NOVIELLO explains why we should be supporting him. (23/1/18)

 Over 150k have signed the petition “Elections without Lula is fraud”, amongst them legal professionals, academics, politicians, artists and union leaders across the world.

Continue reading “Why we need Solidarity with former president Lula!”