To the Editors:
The enclosed letter from the people of Sao Luiz do Maranhao to CARIB, Committee Against Repression in Brazil, is a cry that cannot be ignored.
Since 1964 the people of Brazil have been oppressed by a repressive and brutal military dictatorship.
The case of Manoel da Conceicao and Luiz dos Santos is but one amongst the thousands of people, from all classes, that are now in the hands of the executioners of the Brazilian dictatorship, being tortured and sometimes coldly assassinated, while held without charge.
We can help support the struggle of the Brazilian people by forming a movement of support and collaboration:
1) By writing letters against the arrests of Manoel da Conceicao and Luiz dos Santos to the Brazilian authorities through: Inter American Commission of Human Rights, c/o Dr. Luiz Reque, Organization of American States, Washington, D.C. 20006.
2) By writing letters of support towards the opening of investigation by the Bertrand Russell Tribunal, in judgment of the crimes of the Brazilian dictatorship which can be addressed to: (A) Lelio Basso, Via della Dogana Vecchia, 5, 00186 Roma, Italia; (B) Professor Vladimir Dedijer, Trg. Revolucije, 1, 61,000 Ljebljana, Yugoslavia.
Also by supporting organizations like CARIB, who is coordinating the US movement in favor of opening of preliminary sessions by the Bertrand Russell Tribunal—For more information or if you wish to give financial support, the address is: CARIB, Box 426, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782.
International Campaign of Struggle Against Repression
Los Angeles, California
To the Committee Against
Repression In Brazil:
Having acknowledged the activities of your organization in favor of the struggle of the Brazilian people for liberation, and convinced of the important role played by CARIB on the road to our independence, we come to ask for your valuable solidarity in the organization of the defense of two more victims of the military dictatorship, usurper of power and muzzler of our peoples’ liberties.
Manuel da Conceicao, peasant leader for many years, was the president of the Farm Workers Union of the Pindaré Valley, Maranhao. He played an outstanding role of leadership in the fight for land for those who work on it; in the defense of better prices for peasant agricultural products; in the defense of the peasant landholdings against the invasion of their crops by cattlemen; and in the struggle to gain respect for the democratic liberties of our people.
By doing these things he incurred the fury of government repression; and in 1968 he was cowardly shot and arrested. One of his legs had to be amputated as a consequence of the wounds he suffered and the ill treatment he received in a filthy cell of the prison where he was illegally detained without any medical assistance. Proud and willing to suffer anything for his people, Manuel replied to his torturers: “My leg is my class.” This was proven later by the reception he received in Santa Inês, Maranhao upon his return. He was greeted by a gathering of 2,000 people who, during a popular campaign for his defense, raised enough money to buy him an artificial leg.
On January 23 of this year, Manuel was once again arrested in the municipality of Pindaré, this time with another young man named Luís dos Santos.
They were imprisoned because they are patriots who fight for our people’s interests, for a free nation, for justice and for progress.
All of us are aware of the horrible crimes the dictatorship has committed against all those who dare raise their voices to defend our people. Thousands have been arrested and brutally tortured and many were cowardly murdered. Therefore we have reason to fear for what may happen to Manuel and Luís; we know that their lives are in danger.
The struggle for legitimate human rights is declared! We cannot allow this gang of assassins who are in power to take away such valuable and dear lives from our people and snuff them out.
The dictatorship tries to cover up its crimes against the Brazilian nation and her people by boasting of a fake development—speaking in terms of an “economic miracle”—which is but an inane attempt to improve its image before the eyes of the other nations and peoples of the world. Internally, however, the dictatorship exerts a systematic campaign of repression against our people; it imposes a strict censorship of the information media; and it has also constructed a huge propaganda machine to thwart the dissenting spirit of the Brazilian people.
The activity of other peoples and foreign organizations who act in defense of freedom in Brazil has increased the isolation of the military dictatorship. Today protests arise in different parts of the world against the tortures and repression in Brazil, and the military who usurped power are frightened with the denunciation of their crimes abroad. The Bertrand Russell Tribunal has decided to concentrate on the question of human justice in Brazil. The demonstrations promoted by CARIB at the occasion of General Medici’s official visit to President Nixon were very important in this context. This is clear proof of the indestructible friendship between the North American and the Brazilian peoples.
Thus, we now ask of our North American friends an increased effort to prevent Manuel da Conceicao Santos and Luís dos Santos from suffering the cruelest of tortures and loss of life in the jails of the Brazilian army and police.
Expecting your great solidarity, we strive for a deepening of fraternal ties in the struggle for our independence and the progress of both our peoples.
National Campaign For the Struggle Against Repression
Sao Luís do Maranhao
PS—Manuel da Conceicao and Luís dos Santos are now in the Police Headquarters of Sao Luis, under the authority of the Police for Political and Social Order (DOPS), and will be tried and judged by the Military Court of the 10th Military Region in Fortaleza, Ceará.