Iara Pietricovsky, Member of the Executive Board of Abong
ABONG, our Brazilian member, has spoken out against the statements of the then Presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, who on 21 October, once again, challenged democracy with statements that are true threats against Brazilian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Speaking to demonstrators in favour of his candidacy, Bolsonaro stated that he will carry out a “cleansing” and that the “red outlaws” will be “banished” from the country, referring to his opponents:
“The cleansing will now be much more widespread. If this group wants to stay here, it will have to put itself under the law of all of us. Or leave or go to jail. These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland.” (...)
“You will no longer have NGOs to quench your hunger for meat. It will be a cleansing that has never been seen before in the history of Brazil.” (Read about the matter in the Observatório - in Portuguese).
By making unacceptable statements like these, Bolsonaro doesn't just act on behalf of a project of dictatorship, he also behaves as if we were already in one, in total disregard for the 1988 Constitution and the Democratic Rule of Law, as well as the many institutional guarantees that support civil and political rights, many of which underpin, for example, the existence of parties like his.
Let us value freedom of expression, but it cannot serve as a shelter for a sequence of expressions of hate that authorise violence and disrespect for diversity, which is an intrinsic characteristic of Brazilian society.
The vast majority of Brazilian NGOs are responsible and respectable institutions that work in the fight against inequality, with a deep commitment to democracy. Article 5 of the 1988 Federal Constitution ensures freedom of thought and autonomous organisation. CSOs may only be closed down by a final court decision, and the interference of the Executive Branch in their operation is prohibited.
There is no area of Brazilian public policies without the effective participation of CSOs. We are distinct, diverse and autonomous in relation to parties, churches and governments. But we are not apolitical. We defend the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we are against any form of dictatorship or dictators!
We understand that the biggest crisis in Brazil is inequality, which causes violence, hunger and exclusion of the majority of the Brazilian population from access to rights. Brazil's way forward is not more violence, nor arming people against people.
The candidate's statements show an authoritarian and disrespectful slant against that which is different and they go against the values of democracy, justice and peace!