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Two journalists are expelled and a third one is sentenced to a fine for covering the occupation of Belo Monte

Two journalists are expelled and a third one is sentenced to a fine for covering the occupation of Belo Monte

Source : Xingu Vivo Para Sempre
On the International Press Freedom Day, three reporters have been prevented from providing coverage of the occupation of the hydroelectric plant's building site of Belo Monte on Friday, May 3rd, in the State of Pará. Two of them have been expelled by about a hundred federal police officers, the Shock Troops, the ROTAM (Rondas Ostensivas Táticas Metropolitanas, Military Police Force units in Brazil), and the National Police Force. A third one has been fined 1000 Brazilian Reais -approximately $500. An activist has also been expelled from the building site.

Three days ago, about 150 natives from eight indigenous peoples suffering from the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Xingu, Tapajós and Teles Pires Rivers, started occupying the main construction site of Belo Monte, demanding the suspension of all work until the federal government pays heed and listens to them.

On Friday, the Federal Court of Justice denied the claim for the reinstatement of possession of Norte Energia against the indigenous people. Yet, the Belo Monte Construction Consortium (CCBM) asked the Federal Court of Justice to grant this reinstatement of possession of Norte Energia against the non-indigenous people who would be present on the building site. Judge Cristina Sandoval Collier, of the 4th civil court of Altamira, accepted the request, which led to the expulsion of two journalists and a fine for a third one.

The three journalists, Reuters photographer Lunaé Parracho, the journalist Ruy Sposati of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) and Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent in Brazil François Cardona, were providing daily coverage of the action carried out by indigenous people against the building of large dams which affect their territories. On Saturday RFI published a report on the journalists' expulsion.



“This decision is completely meaningless,” Sérgio Martins, lawyer of Pará Society for the Defense of Human Rights (SDDH), claims. “It is technically inconsistent. There are a dozen similar trials here. It is as if any justification of  the Belo Monte Construction Consortium were sufficient for the Court of Justice to grant decisions that are favourable to him,” he says.

As far as Sérgio Martins is concerned, the state court's decision is a political one. “Actually this action dates from 2011. It was about some ban which has never been withdrawn by the Department of Justice and which has been transformed today, that is to say a year and a half later, into a reinstatement of possession. It aims at withdrawing any form of support or solidarity of non-indigenous people and at eliminating any journalistic coverage on the ground. It is purely a political decision from a judicial perspective”, he explains.

SDDH will require to ensure the access of journalists on the location of occupancy.



In a new letter released on Saturday, May 4th , the indigenous people who were occupying the building site expressed their concern with regard to the press being banned on the scene. According to the document, “the journalistic coverage helps a lot” to “convey our voice around the world.”

“Our protest is peaceful. We demand to be heard. Why don't they want any journalists here ?” the warrior Valdenir Munduruku asks. “If anything happens, the government will be responsible.”

The information comes from the CIMI




Occupation of the Belo Monte dam: letter No. 3

May 4th , 2013.

Leave the journalists here.

Yesterday, while we were still occupying the building site, the government sent out an assistant to offer us a proposal. He was accompanied by one hundred military, civilian and federal policemen, by the Shock Troop and the National Police Force.

We want to talk with someone from the government who would be a decision-maker. And without the army.

This official wanted us to leave the site and wanted only a small commission to talk with the people within the Department. We disagree. We want them to come to the site and to talk with all of us together.

Yesterday the Department of Justice issued a demand of reinstatement of possession concerning only the white people present on the site. With this decision, the police force and the law officers expelled two journalists who were filming us and conducting interviews and they imposed a R$ 1000 fine upon a journalist. They also expelled an activist.

The media coverage helps a lot. We demand that the judge withdraws the request of reinstatement of possession, does not impose the fine, allows journalists, academics, volunteers and organisations to keep witnessing what is going on here, to help us convey our voice around the world.

Occupation of the Belo Monte site, Vitória do Xingu, Saturday, May 4th, 2013.

- translation by Wendy Labadie -

Date : 05/05/2013