Sat Sep 20, 2014
Dr. Ermogenes Jacinto de Souza is a well-known People’s Advocate and a
member of Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers. He has spent his
professional life defending the poor peasants who have struggled for their
legitimate right to have lands in the State of Rondônia, in Brazilian
Amazon. This area of Brazil has witnessed significant number of murders
planned, ordered and executed by Landlords or their mercenaries.
No one forgets the murder of Renato Nathan a teacher and Élcio Machado,
Gilson Gonçalves peasants and dozens of others. The Landlords commit these
atrocities and criminal acts due to lack of rule of law and accountability
in the State of Rondônia. Murder, with total impunity is the fact of life in
Rondônia. The State authorities have failed to act. The Judiciary including
prosecutors and police have been busy dancing to the Landlord’ s tunes. They
are institutionally corrupt and server and assist the landlord to continue
their land grabbing strategies. Dr. Ermogenes have been threatened and
severely restricted in performing his duties as a lawyer.
The landlords’ armed mercenaries have constantly threatened him. The
Judiciary, civil servants and member of the police forces in the State of
Rondônia have repeatedly denied his legal request such as access to his
clients, disclosure of evidence and police reports and legal files and
papers. They have literally obstructed him from exercising his duties as a
lawyer. He has been prevented from representing more 20 poor peasants who
have been detained for brining legal actions against the landlords in the
region of Rondônia. Dr. Ermogenes has become extremely vulnerable over the
past three months. He has established certain facts regarding the state
corruption and the police collusion with the landlords. He found out that
specific members of the Military Police Edelvan Moura da Silva (nicknamed
Zeca Urubu), Andrade Kenio Fonseca (nicknamed Fonseca) and Fernando Alencar
Larios, had been doing private work for the landowner Nadir Jordan dos Reis.
It was revealed these officers were involved in the confiscations and land
possession against the poor peasants. He was informed that these three
officers were recently convicted of torture.
In spite of this they are still active members of the military police. Dr.
Ermogenes received a death threat from Edelvan . He was literally warned
that he could be eliminated at any time, unless he ceased his activities
against Mr. Reis or any of the other landowners in the region of the city of
Ariquemes. Dr. Ermogenes has brought actions and made official complaints to
the ‘National Agrarian Ombudsman’ chaired by Gercino José da Silva Filho,
and at the same time in the Special Secretariat for Human Rights of the
Presidency, chaired by Minister Ideli Salvati. The atrocities such as
unlawful arrest, torture, against the peasants, repeated shooting incidents
and police actions against those peasants who complained to the Police were
clearly raised and addressed in the ‘National Commission for Combating
Violence in the Field’ during the meeting on July 22, 2014, in Porto Velho,
with the presence of the Chief of Agrarian Civil Police, Lucena Vinicius
Tavares Bastos, and the Attorney Raphael Bevilacqua.
On another recent occasion, Dr. Ermogenes was unjustly admonished by Judge
Alex Balmant, from the 1st Criminal Court in the case involved 14 peasants
unjustly convicted for conspiracy. This judge repeated insinuations brought
by the police that Dr. Ermogenes allegedly urged the poor peasants to occupy
land. This is a clear violation of professional prerogatives according the
Statute of Advocacy. Dr. Ermogenes has also noted that the police have
started a new campaign of persecution, undermining his professional
reputation by spreading wild and baseless allegations against him whenever
he represents peasants who took actions against forced evictions of their
lands and wrongful arrests of their comrades peasants. Since 2000, when Dr
Ermogenes began his professional work in that region, he has been subjected
to restriction, obstructions, in his professional work.
He has been receiving constant death threats from the landowners and their
gunmen. In his report, he outlined the details of his persecution
orchestrated by landowners Nadir Jordan dos Reis, Jorge Chaparini, Dilson
Caldato, José de Oliveira Heringer, Cataneo and Antonio Martins dos Santos
(nicknamed Galo Velho, business owner of Leme Ventures Ltda, company that
was mentioned in the Report of Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Public
Lands in the Amazon region). Ermogenes stated that Mr. Chaparini already
insulted and threatened him with death. At another point, some armed gunmen
who work for Mr. Chaparin had tried to kidnap him in Porto Velho Court
office. To avoid being kidnapped by the gang, Dr. Ermogenes managed to
escape unharmed when he climbed the Court office wall. He reported that he
has faced many difficulties in the Porto Velho Court office because the
landlord José de Oliveira Heringer, who is also a lawyer, has an office in
the same court. In 2008, Mr. Heringer invited Dr. Ermogenes to his office to
deal with a case where both were involved.
When Dr Ermogenes reached the office, he noticed that another landlord,
Dílson Caldato, (Mr. Heringer’ s client) was waiting for him with some of his
armed men. Dr. Ermogenes clearly states in his report that he cannot work in
free and safe environment in Porto Velho and Buriti Court offices (two
cities in the state of Rondônia). He cannot work in his office due to the
fact that Heringer’ s employers informed the landlord of his presence in the
office whenever he attends his office. In addition to this, he further
stated that he has been under surveillance by The Federal Police and his
phones been tapped without judicial authorization. Dr. Ermogenes has been
recently investigated for a false allegation of racketeering by Helio Vieira
a landlord and former President of the’ Lawyers Association of Rondônia’ .
This charge was later filed without any further action.
He further stated that the Chief of Civil Police of Porto Velho, Antonio
Garção Sobral, who is also a landowner and Helio Vieira’s neighbour of Helio
Vieira, has been involved in fabricating this false accusations. It is clear
and evident that Dr. Ermogenes’ life is on stake. An urgent national and
international actions are required to stand and defend the right of those
who defends the defend less and poor oppressed people. We hereby urge the
international organisations to raise their support for Dr. Ermogenes and his
fellow lawyers in Brazil who stood for their personal and professional
integrity which is the cornerstone of any civilised society. In endorsing
this statement, the following organizations, democrats and advocates for the
rights of the people affirm their concern about the situation of Ermogenes
Jacinto de Souza and require immediate action by local, state and federal
authorities to protect his life and the legitimate exercise of his
professional activity! August 12, 2014 .
Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers/ABRAPO
International Association of People’s Lawyers/IAPL .
Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples/CEBRASPO .
Torture Never More Group / Rio de Janeiro .
Lenir Correia Coelho, Legal Assistant of the Pastoral of Land Commission
(CPT) / Rondônia and Lawyer of the National Network of Popular Lawyers (RENAP)
Marilsa Miranda de Souza – Professor of Education Departament of Federal
University of Rondônia (UNIR) .
Márcio Marinho Martins – Professor of Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rondônia (IFRO)