As part of our ongoing campaign on forced evictions in the name of development, I was just in Brazil to meet with our partners and plan our upcoming video advocacy workshop in Rio de Janeiro.
While there, I had the privilege of joining some important groups as they embarked on a special three-day mission in Rio de Janeiro to investigate the situation of communities that are being forcibly removed from their lands to make way for construction sites for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Led by the Rapporteur on the Human Right to the City of the Plataforma Dhesca Brasil (a national human rights network), the mission visited nine communities to listen to stories of rights violated and gather recommendations from residents on what needs to be done differently.
During the mission, I captured some of the testimonies on video and today we’re launching Voices of the Mission, a series of four short videos spotlighting these stories. The videos will accompany Plataforma Dhesca’s final report, which will be launched in the coming weeks and distributed to key decision-makers in Brazil and internationally.
The videos will also be screened tomorrow, June 21st, at a special public hearing being organized in Rio by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor’s working group on housing violations linked to the upcoming megaevents. This working group can play an extremely important role in holding the government’s feet to the fire and demanding that the existing protections against forced evictions be upheld in the communities being targeted. By using video to bring the voices of these community members into spaces like this hearing, our partners are helping make visible the abuses that are happening while putting a human face on the stories behind the report. They’re also using strong firsthand testimony to counter the government’s version of events.
The Voices of the Mission videos illustrate different points we heard over and over again during the mission.
In the Restinga community, residents told us about bulldozers showing up without notice and forcibly removing people from their homes, even before any agreements on compensation had been made.
In Favela do Metrô – a community that’s being removed to make way for a parking lot for the stadium that will host the final match of the 2014 World Cup – families that still remain in the area told us about being forced to live amidst the hazardous rubble of the houses the municipal government has already started demolishing.
In Morro da Providência – known as the first favela of Rio and founded by slaves – residents told us about the lack of information they’ve received about what’s going to be done in the community even though an estimated 1,700 have already been marked by the local government for eviction.
And lastly in Vila Recreio 2, the resident of one of the few remaining homes in what used to be a community of more than 200 families asks what it means to have good laws that provide real protection for citizens if they’re not implemented or respected?
You can browse through the videos in this playlist – please share them and continue to follow the blog for more updates on our work in Brazil. In the meantime, I leave you with Restinga: