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International union Workers Uniting have published a powerful statement calling for EU-Mercosur trade deals to be halted until political prisoner Lula da Silva is freed. Read the full statement here. (1/7/19)

Workers Uniting, the global union representing over 2 million workers in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, opposes the European Union-Mercosur trade agreement signed on 28 June.

The political message sent by the signing of this agreement is antithetical to the democratic aspirations of working people everywhere in the world. There can be no legitimate negotiation with the Bolsonaro government while it subverts democracy in Brazil and holds Luiz Inacio da Silva as a political prisoner.

We share the concerns raised by the Trade Union Coordinating Committee of the Southern Cone (CCSCS) in its statement of June 28, and by the statement of June 14. The proposed trade agreement fails to address the objections raised by the trade union movement and will increase inequality while limiting the possibility of democratic, equitable and sustainable development.

Governments that support democracy and worker rights should refuse to ratify this agreement.

Workers Uniting is the global union – representing more than two million workers in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States – formed by Unite the Union, the United Steelworkers, and the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Matralurgicos, Siderurgicos y Similares de la Republica Mexicana (Los Mineros).

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MPs, academics, trade unionist and other figures are calling for Lula’s freedom following the revelations made by the Intercept, which show his arrest and jailing was politically motivated with the aim of stopping the Workers’ Party in the 2018 election. (30/6/19)

We are deeply concerned that Brazil’s judicial system has been used for political purposes with the imprisonment of former president Lula da Silva.

New revelations on how Judge Sergio Moro collaborated with prosecutors to ensure Lula’s imprisonment show a blatant disregard for Brazilian democracy and the rule of law.

There is growing evidence that Lula was jailed to prevent him from standing in the 2018 presidential election, which was subsequently won by far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has said that he wants Lula to “rot in prison.” Incredibly, Judge Moro has since been appointed by the president to be Brazil’s minister of justice.

We call for freedom for Lula and stand in solidarity with those defending democracy and the rule of law in Brazil.

Richard Burgon MP, Labour
Baroness Jean Corston, Labour
Grahame Morris MP, Labour
Dan Carden MP, Labour
Christine Blower, NEU International Secretary (NUT Section) & Brazil Solidarity Initiative Vice Chair
Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite
Jo Grady, General Secretary Elect, UCU
Dr Oscar Guardiola Rivera, Professor of Law, Birkbeck
Dr Renata F. Peters, Associate Professor , UCL
David H. Treece, Camoens Professor of Portuguese King’s College London
Dr Fiona Macaulay, Senior Lecturer, Bradford University
Professor Alfredo Saad Filho, SOAS
Dr Angela Torresan, Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Manchester
Gabriel Cambraia Neiva, Ph.D. Researcher, University of Manchester
Lúcia Sá, Professor of Brazilian studies, University of Manchester
Tariq Ali, Historian & Writer
John Pilger, Journalist & Documentary Maker
Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND
Nara Filippon, Comite Lula Livre UK – FREE LULA

A shortened version of this letter was originally published by the Morning Star here.

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Brasília (AFP) – Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request to free leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from prison while they consider whether Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who was the convicting judge, was biased. (26/6/19)

The court voted 3-2 to postpone debate on whether Moro had been impartial when he handed Lula his first conviction in 2017 — which effectively ended his hopes of contesting the 2018 presidential election — and dismissed a petition to let Lula out of jail until then.

Moro, the powerful judge behind the so-called Car Wash corruption probe before he was appointed to President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet in January, has been accused of conspiring with prosecutors to keep Lula out of the election race that he was favorite to win.

Moro has denied any wrongdoing and ignored calls to resign after The Intercept investigative website co-founded by US journalist Glenn Greenwald published leaked Telegram messages earlier this month purportedly showing he improperly advised and guided Car Wash investigators.

Lula’s legal team on Tuesday argued for the 2017 conviction to be quashed, but the court refused.

“We had already presented countless evidence that the ex-president did not have a fair, impartial, independent trial,” lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins told reporters after the hearing.

“He did not commit a single crime and he has the right to be judged by an impartial judge.”

– Sprawling corruption probe –

Lula is serving eight years and 10 months after being found guilty of accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe for helping the OAS construction company get lucrative deals with state oil firm Petrobras.

He is one of scores of high-profile figures in politics and business to be caught up in the sprawling corruption probe that uncovered large-scale looting of Petrobras in a massive kickback scheme.

A second conviction was handed down in February for which he was sentenced to almost 13 years and he still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, has denied all the corruption charges against him.

He has long argued they were politically motivated to prevent him from competing in the 2018 election that was ultimately won by far-right Bolsonaro.

After losing appeals against his first conviction, Lula could see a change of fortune if the Supreme Court were to find that Moro had been biased in his case.

The court is expected to decide later this year.

This article was orginally published by AFP here.

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No Coup in Brazil by Brazil Solidarity Initiative - 1M ago

he revelations uncovered about the case against former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, jailed in April last year, vindicate a year of campaigning for his freedom. (14/6/19)

But this isn’t just about Lula, the consequences of this miscarriage of justice are huge. 

This last week the Intercept published a range of documents that show Lula’s conviction was politically motivated and aimed at stopping him running in the 2018 presidential election. With front-runner Lula out of the race (he was polling over double of his election rivals at the time of his arrest) far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro went on to win the election. Lula’s prosecuting Judge Sergio Moro was then appointed Minister of Justice. 

Lula was convicted for ‘indeterminate acts of corruption’ and accused of receiving an apartment in the form of a bribe. The investigation was part of a sweeping corruption probe called the ‘Car Wash’ (Lavo Jato) Operation that caused a huge political uproar in Brazil. It claimed to be neutral, and its star Judge Sergio Moro claimed to be above politics. 

The investigation was even hailed by the national and international media, and Moro was named in the Time 100 list

At the time of Lula’s arrest, numerous campaigners argued that the investigation against him was an abuse of the judicial system – illegal wiretaps on his family and legal team, lack of material evidence, and evidence of his innocence systematically ignored. The argument against his trial’s fairness is now indisputable.

The released documents show that Judge Moro acted with blatant disregard for the principles of neutrality. While claiming to be impartial, Moro was secretly collaborating with the prosecution to design the very case he was supposed to be ruling over. 

Moro was communicating with, and directing, leading prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, whose case he was later supposed to judge. The explosive files even show that the prosecution themselves didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict Lula – but they pushed ahead anyway. And why not?  They knew that the overseeing judge wanted to convict him. 

You don’t need a legal background to recognise this abuse of the justice system for political ends. As The Intercept journalist Glen Greenwald said, this is “a complete and undeniable violation of every ethical rule that governs what a judge can do.”

Not only were the investigators attempting to discredit Lula, these documents show that they wanted to destroy the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) and the huge progressive gains they made in poverty reduction, social mobility and other areas, ensuring that the right-wing returned to political dominance in the process. The files show the prosecuting team directly intervening in politics by working to stop Lula giving interviews from prison in case it helped the chances of Fernando Haddad, Lula’s replacement candidate, in the election. 

The ramifications of this now-disgraced investigation have been enormous. Bolsonaro and the far-right rode to power on the back of Lula’s removal from the political process and the anti-PT sentiment fostered by Judge Moro. With Bolsonaro’s rise to power has come an agenda of privatisation, slashing budgets and dismantling the education system, attacking trade unions, social welfare and environmental protections, and threatening Brazil’s LGBT and indigenous populations.

Brazil now has a President who doesn’t believe in climate change (his ministers believe that it’s a ‘Marxist Plot’), who wants to row back all progress made in protecting the Amazon rainforest and who supports Donald Trump’s political interventions on the world stage.

With their praise for Judge Moro and his actions, respected institutions across the globe facilitated this situation by paving the way for Bolsonaro’s rise to power.

This case hasn’t just affected Lula’s freedom or the democratic right of 200 million Brazilians, the example he sets for aspiring far-right authoritarians, wherever they may be, impacts all of us.

The only response from Brazil’s right has been outright denial and personal attacks on the journalists involved. In a climate where progressive councilwoman and human rights campaigner Marielle Franco was politically assassinated last year, we need to take this fight seriously. 

These revelations could be a ‘Watergate’ moment for Brazil. We must insist they are not ignored and continue to push for Lula’s freedom.

Tony Burke is the Assistant General Secretary of Unite and the Vice-Chair of the Brazil Solidarity Initiative

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Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was the subject of a plot to keep him in jail and stop him winning the 2018 presidential election, according to leaked documents. (11/6/19)

The Intercept website accused Brazilian Justice Minister Segio Moro of leaking information and advising prosecutors working on a lengthy anti-corruption probe into high-profile business leaders and politicians known as “Operation Car Wash.”

They warned of a “systemised abuse of prosecutorial powers” and said the “trove of materials” leaked to them exposed “a long-denied political and ideological agenda.”

According to the Intercept, Mr Moro advised lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol for two years on how to best structure the corruption case against Lula. This was despite the legal requirement for Mr Moro to judge the case as a neutral arbiter.

Other leaked documents show prosecutors agreeing that there was a lack of evidence that Lula received bribes from a construction company.

Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison on corruption charges as a result of the investigations. He denied the allegations which were branded a form of “lawfare” by his Workers Party (PT) and legal team.

They claimed it was a deliberate ploy to prevent him standing for election. Polls had showed the country’s most popular politician comfortably leading the presidential race until a court ruled against his candidacy.

The election was eventually won by the far-right former army captain Jair Bolsonaro.

Journalists at the Intercept said material sent by an anonymous source detailed private discussions, audio recordings, videos and photographs showing “serious wrongdoing, unethical behaviour and systematic deceit.”

“Moro secretly and unethically collaborated with the Car Wash prosecutors to help design the case against Lula,” the Intercept says.

It adds: “Car Wash prosecutors spoke openly of their desire to prevent the PT from winning the election and took steps to carry out that agenda.”

Mr Moro was a leading federal judge and prosecutor in the Car Wash case.

He presided over Lula’s case and handed him an additional 13-year sentence in February this year.

Mr Bolsonaro appointed Mr Moro as justice minister soon after assuming the Brazilian presidency in January.

He is an avowed opponent of Lula and said he hopes the former leader “rots in jail.”

Mr Moro denies the allegations against him and said the “criminal invasion of prosecutors’ cell phones had been ‘taken out of context’.”

“Careful reading reveals that there is nothing there despite the sensational material,” he said.

Lula’s Twitter account linked to the Intercept articles and said simply: “The truth will prevail.”

This article was originally published by the Morning Star here.

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No Coup in Brazil by Brazil Solidarity Initiative - 3M ago

Former Brazilian president Lula was once termed the most popular politician on earth by Barack Obama. Now, he is a political prisoner in jail in Brazil, which has a far-right President who has said he hopes he rots there, writes Matthew Willgress, Brazil Solidarity Initiative (26/4/19).

Last year, on April 7, he was jailed for “indeterminate acts” of corruption while millions across Brazil were gearing up for the most important presidential election in a generation.

At the time of his sentencing, jailing, and when he was denied the right to stand in the election and removed from the ballot, he was leading in every poll for the Presidential election. And just weeks before he was removed from the political process, the UN human rights committee officially requested that Lula be allowed to stand, have access to media and have access to members of the Workers Party while he was imprisoned.

In the end Brazilians were denied the option to choose whether or not they wanted to return Lula to power, and in the end the far-right Jair Bolsonaro was elected.

Astonishingly, Lula’s prosecuting and sentencing judge, Sergio Moro, has since been appointed as Jair Bolsonaro’s Minister for Justice, despite continually asserting that he was not interested in politics.

But the fight for freedom of Lula continues, and goes alongside the resistance of millions of Brazilians to Bolsonaro’s far-right agenda.

International solidarity couldn’t be more vital for these fights, and that’s why it was so heartening to recently see prominent Parliamentarians, Trade Unionists, academics and others call for Lula’s Freedom in a recent letter to the Guardian, with a strong Labour Party presence on the signatories list showing just how internationalist our party is becoming under Jeremy Corbyn.

The reason for this significant show of support was well explained by Rachel Garnham, Labour NEC member, who said on behalf of Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America, “Labour and trade union activists are united in standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Brazil who are resisting the far-right Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has said he wishes for Lula to rot in jail. Lula is a political prisoner, and we must continue to speak up for his freedom.”

Lula is an icon of the left internationally, as recognised by Young Labour making him their honorary president last year and brought millions out of poverty in Brazil, dramatically changing the country for the better.

As Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union and of the Brazil Solidarity Initiative added when the letter was published, “Lula is a political prisoner, jailed to remove him from the presidential ballot when he was leading every poll. His political persecution opened the door for Bolsonaro and the far-right in Brazil.

Lula’s historic achievements as president are a symbol for progressive people and trade unionists across the globe. That is why it’s vital that we join the millions in Brazil and around the world calling for his freedom.”

Let’s keep up the campaigning – #LulaLivre!

APPENDIX: Free Lula letter and key Labour signatories.

“We condemn the continued persecution of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was jailed a year ago. Lula was favourite to win Brazil’s 2018 presidential election until he was jailed and barred from standing, in a move condemned by the UN human rights committee.

The election was subsequently won by the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he hopes Lula “rots in prison”. Astonishingly, Judge Moro, who oversaw Lula’s trial, has now been appointed as Bolsonaro’s minister of justice. Lula is a political prisoner. We call for his freedom and stand in solidarity with those struggling for democracy in Brazil.”

  • Diane Abbott MP, Labour
  • Richard Burgon MP, Labour
  • Daniel Carden MP, Labour
  • Rt Hon Baroness Jean Corston, Labour
  • Emma Dent Coad MP, Labour
  • David Drew MP, Labour
  • Neil Findlay MSP, Labour
  • Baroness Llin Golding, Labour
  • Karen Lee MP, Labour
  • Clive Lewis MP, Labour
  • Rachel Maskell MP, Labour
  • Grahame Morris MP, Labour
  • Kate Osamor MP, Labour
  • Laura Pidcock MP, Labour
  • Danielle Rowley MP, Labour
  • Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour
  • Laura Smith MP, Labour
  • Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC
  • Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT
  • Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA
  • Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU
  • Chris Kitchen, General Secretary, NUM
  • Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, USDAW
  • Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite
  • Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
  • Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB
  • Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF
  • Huda Elmi, NEC member, Labour & Momentum NCG
  • Rachel Garnham, Labour NEC
  • Lara McNeill, Youth rep, Labour NEC
  • Nav Mishra, Labour NEC
  • Claudia Webbe, Labour NEC
  • Pete Willsman, Labour NEC
  • Colin Burgon, President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America
  • Christine Blower and Tony Burke, Vice-Chairs, Brazil Solidarity Initiative

This article was originally published by Labour Hub here.

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No Coup in Brazil by Brazil Solidarity Initiative - 3M ago

Born in Venda Nova district of Belo Horizonte, Andreia de Jesus, is a lawyer, educator, public employee and a State Representative for PSOL.

Patrick Foley, Brazil Solidarity InitiativeThank you for giving us your time and speaking with the Brazil Solidarity Initiative. Our initiative is committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with Brazilians defending social progress, equality and human rights in Brazil and has been raising awareness of the political crisis and building international support for Brazilians resisting against Bolsonaro and the far-right.

While the international media has been focused on Bolsonaro’s first two months, there has been much less reporting about the millions of people standing up against his toxic political programme. It would be great to hear about your background and how you became involved in politics, and why you think your campaign was able to resonate in your community, especially at such a potentially dangerous time for progressive politicians in Brazil?

Andreia de Jesus: I started my political trajectory in the basic pastoral church nuclei (small groups of the Catholic Church that are politically progressive). I enrolled in the state-funded college and because of the course I got involved in the struggle for transportation, because we also needed to guarantee access to education. As a student of the law course of the Izabela Hendrix Methodist Institute I began my militancy in the Popular Brigades acting mainly in the defence of incarcerated people.

In 2018 I became a candidate for PSOL as a result of my involvement in campaigns related to the right to housing and the city, public security etc. Despite the upsetting scenario experienced in the presidential election, we also experienced an openness to the progressive sectors of politics, which can be proven by the election of women like Aurea Carolina and Taliria Petrone as federal congresswomen and my election to state congress in Minas Gerais. Perhaps this is related to the fact that we propose, through our political bodies, a new type of politics in which the connection with people and with society is at the centre of the construction of the political project for the places we occupy.

PF: Bolsonaro’s first two months were extremely chaotic – corruption in his cabinet, divisions between himself and the military, and the shocking allegations that his family are connected to the Paramilitary group accused of the murder of Marielle. Are the public aware of the scandals around Bolsonaro, and what effect has it had on his supporters and progressive Brazilians across the country?

AJ: The instability presented by the Bolsonaro government in its first months bare its inability to maintain even the smallest links of political unity in the country. An example of this has been the recurrent refusal of the president with the Chamber of Deputies, to work with president of the house, Rodrigo Maia. The process of unveiling the president’s governing incapacity to society will not occur instantaneously, so it is necessary for the progressive sectors to engage in building an accumulation of forces that both guarantees our resistance, and creates real conditions so that we can establish a counter-offensive against the government’s actions.

PF: The Minas Gerais Dam disaster was a truly devastating environmental event and human catastrophe. As a representative in Minas Gerais, how badly did this effect your community and how are the communities affected by the disaster recovering?

AJ: The Brumadinho disaster and the current context of the dams in Minas Gerais and in Brazil highlights an irresponsible practice of mining. The communities live in an atmosphere of constant fear and terror with each siren fired, with each simulation of evacuation organised by the miners. I have noted that communities are seeking to deal with the effects of mining and disasters by organising community defence committees, bringing together different sectors of society to discuss concrete problems and the daily impacts of mining on people’s lives. It seems to me that the popular organisation is one path to deal with such devastating disasters such as Brumadinho and Bento Rodrigues.

PF: March 14th marks the anniversary of the tragic assassination of Marielle Franco. At our public meeting on March 28th we held a tribute to her. Can you tell us about Marielle and about the women’s movement that sprang from her death?

AJ: I met Marielle at the Occupy Politics event in 2016 at a time when I immediately recognized her remarkable struggle against this perverse and violent logic against black women in Brazil. She built a political trajectory of resistance and confrontation, and overcame many obstacles. The death of Marielle Franco was an attempt to silence us, to reaffirm what the place of the black woman is, to take us out of spaces of power. Because of this, it is not possible to discuss the progress of the investigation without a reflection on institutional racism and the omission of the State.

I am a seed of Marielle, as well as the women’s movement that arose after her death with the strength of those who have preceded me and those who resist in the occupations, in the indigenous lands, in the rural areas, in the quilombola communities, in the favelas, in the peripheries, who occupy the legislative houses and National Congress to reaffirm: They will not silence us!

PF: Brazilian culture has had a profound effect across the world, and it was uplifting to see such a show of diversity, unity and resistance against Bolsonaro at this year’s carnival. What role do you believe cultural events like Carnival can play in the fight against the far right?

AJ: The party, the celebration, the eating habits, traditional knowledge, and more specifically the carnival have always been closely related to the forms and habits of resistance of the Brazilian people. Overall this year brought an intense politicization of the carnival blocks, exemplified in the Mangueira Samba School parade. The blocks are the picture of the varied forms of existence and resistance of our people. The far right is not used to it, but it will have to start accepting it.

PF: I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Lula’s grandson. While it was a relief to see Lula released to attend the funeral, it was shocking to see far-right supporters cheering Lula’s pain and the death of a child. We have carried out a number of initiatives calling for an end to Lula’s political persecution, how large is the movement behind Lula in Brazil and what are the next steps in the campaign for his freedom?

AJ: The arrest of former President Lula, one of the greatest political leaders in the country’s history, opens yet another chapter in the ongoing coup unfold in Brazil and deepens the State of Exception.

We have the highest number of homicides in the planet, the third largest prison population in the world (which is rapidly growing), the police that executes the most and at the same time the one that dies the most. We oppose this failed policy – racist, classist, sexist, focused on the extermination of black youth and war on the poor masqueraded as a drug war. This punitive politics has brought us to a bleak scenario, to a war where almost nobody wins.

You can follow the Brazil Solidarity Initiative on Facebook and Twitter for up to date campaigns and actions supporting movements resisting the far-right in Brazil. 

This article was translated from Portuguese to English by Beatriz Lacerda Ratton.

This article was originally published by Brasilwire here.

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Parliamentarians, trade unionists, journalists, academics, activists and campaigners join the world-wide movement calling for former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s freedom. (11/04/19)

Lula da Silva was jailed last year on April 7th after a travesty of justice that saw him removed from the presidential ballot and Lula convicted for ‘indeterminate acts of corruption’ with no material evidence provided against him.

His political persecution saw the far-right come to power and has led to Brazil’s biggest shift towards authoritarianism since the fall of the military dictatorship. His prosecuting and sentencing judge, Sergio Moro, has since been appointed as Jair Bolsonaro’s Minister for Justice, despite continually asserting that he was not interested in politics.

That is why millions in Brazil and around the world are calling for his freedom. You can see the full statement below and signatories below, and add your name here.

“We condemn the continued persecution of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was jailed a year ago. Lula was favourite to win Brazil’s 2018 presidential election until he was jailed and barred from standing, in a move condemned by the UN human rights committee.

The election was subsequently won by the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he hopes Lula “rots in prison”. Astonishingly, Judge Moro, who oversaw Lula’s trial, has now been appointed as Bolsonaro’s minister of justice. Lula is a political prisoner. We call for his freedom and stand in solidarity with those struggling for democracy in Brazil.”

Diane Abbott MP, Labour

Richard Burgon MP, Labour

Daniel Carden MP, Labour

Rt Hon Baroness Jean Corston, Labour

Emma Dent Coad MP, Labour

David Drew MP, Labour

Neil Findlay MSP, Labour

Baroness Llin Golding, Labour

Bill Kidd MSP, SNP

Karen Lee MP, Labour

Clive Lewis MP, Labour

Rachel Maskell MP, Labour

Grahame Morris MP, Labour

Kate Osamor MP, Labour

Laura Pidcock MP, Labour

Danielle Rowley MP, Labour

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour

Laura Smith MP, Labour

Jean Urquart, Former MSP         

Claudia Webbe, NEC member Labour

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC

Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA

Ronnie  Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU

Leo Gerard, International President, United Steelworks USA & Canada

Chris Kitchen, General Secretary, NUM

Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, USDAW

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite

Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON

Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB

Valter Sanches, General Secretary, IndustriALL Global Union

Luc Triangle, General Secretary, IndustriALL Europe

Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

Bob Archer, Secretary, Redbridge Trades Union Council & SERTUC International Committee

Howard Beckett, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Lorene Fabian, National Retired Members Committee, Unite

Dave Green, National Officer, FBU

Moz Greenshields, Secretary, Derby Area Trades Union Council & TUC JCC

Bill Greenshields, Past President, NEU (NUT)

Terry Hoad, Past President, UCU

Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Max Hyde, Past President, NUT

Steve Jones, National Executive, CWU

Vicky Knight, Vice President, UCU

Sam Macartney, International Committee, UNISON Scotland

Phil Mc Garry, Political Advisor Scotland, RMT

Pat McCourt, Regional Officer, Unite

Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

Howard Turner, Unite EC

Adrian   Weir, Assistant Chief of Staff, Unite

Paul Welsh, Unite EC

Barbara White, NEC member, Musicians Union

Tariq Ali, Writer & Journalist      

Andy de la Tour, Actor  

John Pilger, Journalist and Documentary Maker 

Huda Elmi, NEC member, Labour & Momentum NCG

Lara McNeill, Youth rep, Labour NEC

Nav Mishra, Labour NEC

Claudia Webbe, Labour NEC

Pete Willsman, Labour NEC

Professor Keith  Ewing, Institute of Employment Rights

Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War

John Hendy QC              

Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND

Judith Amanthis, Writer

Maggie Bowden, Liberation

Colin Burgon, President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

Ben Chacko, Editor, Morning Star

Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity

Ibrahim Dogus, Founder, Centre for Turkish Studies

Dr Francisco Dominguez, Secretary, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

Kofi Mawuli Klu, Co-Vice Chair, Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe

Ken Livingstone, Former Mayor of London, Labour

Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign

Susanna Mitchell, Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique

Pablo Navarrete, Journalist, Alborada

Bob Oram, Chair, Morning Star

David Raby, Norwich City Councillor, Green Party

Louise Richards, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group

Jackie Simpkins, War on Want

Callum Simpson, Movimientos

Jeni Vine, Filmmaker     

Professor Hakim Adi, Professor of the History of Africa & the African Diaspora, University of Chichester

Kuat B.  Akizhanov, PhD Research Programme in Global Political Economy, Bath University

Professor Ray Bush, Professor of African Studies and Development Politics, Leeds University

Barry Cannon, Lecturer in Politics, Maynooth University

Professor Mike  Cole, UEA

Professor Marcos, Costa Lima, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

Michael Derham , Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, Northumbria University

Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University

Julian Hunt, UCL

Professor Peter Lambeth, Latin American Studies, University of Bath

Dr Peter Purton, writer

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, LSE

Tereza Briggs, Playright & member of the PT      

Luiz C Zanin, Democracy for Brasil UK

Joabe Cavalcanti, Vicar, Church of England & PT member

Nara Jararaca, Committee Lula Livre UK – FREE LULA

Ana Rojas, Member, Núcleo PT Londres

Christine Blower, Vice-Chair, Brazil Solidarity Initiative

Rachel Garnham, Labour NEC, & Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

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TONY BURKE calls for a sustained campaign to secure an immediate release of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from prison (8/4/19)

Last year, on April 7, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was jailed for “indeterminate acts” of corruption while millions across Brazil were gearing up for the most important presidential election in a generation.

At the time of his sentencing, earlier that year, Lula was leading every poll. At the time of his jailing, Lula was leading every poll. When Lula was denied the right to stand in the election and removed from the ballot, he was leading in every poll.

Just weeks before he was removed from the political process, the UN human rights committee officially requested that Lula be allowed to stand, have access to media and have access to members of the Workers Party while he was imprisoned.

This was ignored and, subsequently, the man polling second behind Lula won the 2018 election. You will know him as the military dictatorship-supporting, homophobic, racist and misogynistic far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula’s arrest was not about tackling corruption, but about removing the most popular figure in Brazil from the presidential ballot.

For many, this travesty of justice was realised when Bolsonaro appointed Lula’s prosecuting and sentencing judge, Sergio Moro, as justice minister — despite Moro’s continued assertion that he wasn’t interested in politics while orchestrating Lula’s trial. But for those of us who follow Latin American politics, Lula’s political persecution was clear from the beginning.

Moro had shown his bias throughout proceedings, illegally wiretapping Lula’s legal team and family members and appearing at public events depicting Lula as guilty before the trial process was concluded. This would not have been allowed by the British, EU or even US judicial system.

Not only did Lula face political persecution to remove his political rights, he also faced a trial by media. Major news outlets continually depicted Lula in prisoner’s clothing and blamed Lula and the Workers Party — without evidence or logic — for a corruption scandal involving almost every major political party in the country.

The far-right used the perception that the Workers Party were corrupt as one of their main campaign focuses, painting Bolsonaro as an outsider who would be tough on political corruption.

Of course, Bolsonaro is now facing his own corruption allegations involving his family, money laundering and a paramilitary group involved in the tragic assassination of councilwoman Marielle Franco.

Just like the 2016 coup against Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s right wing used real public anger at political corruption to remove their opponents and take power through undemocratic means.

Lula’s jailing is not just a travesty of justice, it’s a travesty of democracy that has seen authoritarianism knocking at the doors of Brazil for the first time since the fall of the military dictatorship.

Lula was a former union leader from the north-east of Brazil who played a pivotal role in organising trade union action against the military dictatorship. He peacefully fought the far-right then, as he does now from his jail cell.

But it’s not just Lula’s freedom that is at stake. Lula’s two terms saw Brazil lift millions from poverty with a series of world-renowned social programmes and workers’ and trade union rights enshrined in law.

His policies for the younger generation have also had a huge effect, implementing a “nutritional revolution” that massively reduced child malnutrition as well increasing Brazil’s education budget and access to higher education for low-income Brazilians.

Bolsonaro’s first months have made it clear he is planning to roll back over a decade of social progress under Lula and the Workers Party. His call for Lula to “rot in jail” show that it is not only Lula’s achievements that under threat.

That is why millions in Brazil, and across the world, are calling for Lula to be freed and for his political persecution to end. Supported by international trade unions, and by unions here in the UK, there are demonstrations taking place in major cities across the globe on April 7 to mark one year since his jailing.

You can add you name to a public statement of support for Lula and join the millions calling for his freedom at https://brazilsolidarity.eaction.online/freeLula

This article was originally published by the Morning Star here.

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No Coup in Brazil by Brazil Solidarity Initiative - 3M ago

Sunday, April 7th 2019, marks one year since the jailing of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva for carrying out ‘indeterminate acts of corruption.’

At the time, Lula led every single presidential poll but he was subsequently barred from the political process. The UN Human Rights Committee declared that Lula must be allowed to stand, but this was ignored, and the doors were opened for Bolsonaro and the far-right to take power.

Lula is the world’s most high-profile political prisoner, charged without material evidence against, the call for his freedom is backed by millions in Brazil and around the world.

To mark one year from his arrest, you can join the chorus of voices speaking out against his political persecution – we must send a message to the far-right globally that they will not get away with locking up political opponents and persecuting progressive people.

To add your name click here.

See the full statement text below.

We condemn the continued persecution of former President Lula in Brazil. Lula was favourite to win Brazil’s 2018 presidential election until he was jailed and barred from standing in a move condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.

The election was subsequently won by the far-right Jair Bolsonaro who has said he hopes Lula “rots in prison.” Astonishingly, Judge Moro who oversaw Lula’s trial has now been appointed as Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice.

Lula is a political prisoner. We call for his freedom and stand in solidarity with those struggling for democracy in Brazil.

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