Screenshot from video by Centro Gaspar Garcia user on YouTube

World Cup Futebol and Freedom of Expression in Brazil: An Update

Posted on July 3, 2014 by WITNESS

By Charlotte Gilliland

International media stated this week that the predictions for large-scale protests in Brazil during the World Cup now seem  “overstated,” and reported that protests have begun to dwindle in Brazil. The videos the Human Rights Channel has curated from the ground, however, highlight the reality of discontent surrounding the World Cup, and the ongoing threats to freedom of expression and civil and economic rights during the large-scale sporting event.

Police crackdown on Metro strike protesters

The World Cup kicked off with a strike from Metro workers in São Paulo where workers demanding higher wages were met by rubber bullets, as seen in the video above fromMidia NINJA. Additionally, citizen footage documents a violent clash between police and protesters in support of the Metro strike. Beginning at 00:32, the conflict escalates as a policeman repeatedly beats a citizen with his baton. The subway strike was suspended just two days before the opening match of the world cup, with 42 workers fired. The workers’ union accepted an 8.7 percent raise, despite initial demands for a 35 percent pay rise.

Arrests of Reporters, Human Rights Defenders, and Protesters

Citizen videos have documented multiple arrests of journalists and lawyers conducting their work at protests. Midia NINJA journalist Karinny de Magalhães was arrested while filming a live-stream of protests and police activity in Belo Horizonte on June 12. Midia NINJA reports that she was later beaten by police to the point of losing consciousness, and accused of overturning a police car. The video above recreates the events with Magalhães’ footage and, around 2:35, another video showing the crowd at the police car, making the argument that Magalhães was not at the scene of the police car. The same day, two reporters with the media collective, Coletivo Mariachi, were taken into custody by military police in Copacabana. They released this footage of the incident.

More recently, Benedito Roberto Barbosa, a human rights lawyer and leader against forced evictions in São Paulo, was arrested on June 25, as shown in the video below.

The Gaspar Garcia Center for Human Rights, with whom Barbosa works, stated that the lawyer was working in his professional capacity, and attempting to cross a police line to communicate with residents of the building police had blocked off, when he was violently detained. (For more on the issue of housing rights and forced evictions in Brazil, see this video playlist.)

See the entire World Cup playlist on the Human Rights Channel on YouTube for more videos, including the June 23 arrest of Fábio Hideki in São Paulo. The detention of Hideki and Rafael Lusvarghi have raised widespread alarm in Brazil due to allegations of arbitrary charges and suspicious police behavior.

Impact

Online video and other documentation of police violence has prompted Human Rights Watch to call on the Brazilian government to “conduct thorough and impartial investigations” into allegations of police brutality during the opening weeks of the World Cup. “Other methods of crowd dispersal, not involving potential harm to protesters, should be exhausted before resort to tear gas or stun grenades,” stated the organization, which has also pushed for an investigation into the arrests of Fabio Hideki and Rafael Lusvarghi. Reporters Without Borders condemned the violent detention of Midia NINJA reporter Karinny de Magalhães, and the Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed concern about police conduct, after several television journalists in São Paulo were wounded by stun grenades thrown by police to disperse the June 12 protests.

For the latest updates on videos from citizens and activists on the ground in Brazil, subscribe to the Human Rights Channel on YouTube and follow the Human Rights Channel on Twitter.

[Featured image from account of Centro Gaspar Garcia on YouTube]

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Charlotte Gilliland is a student at Tufts University and is interning with the Human Rights Channel at WITNESS. Follow her @cgilliland07.

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