By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Protests over the disappearance of Amarildo de Souza, a bricklayer and resident of the Rocinha favela community, who was last seen in police custody over three weeks ago, will continue this weekend. The protest, meant to coincide with Brazil’s Father’s Day, will begin at Rocinha’s Via Apia street on Sunday, August 11th at 10AM.
A sign that read “Quem matou Amarildo?” (Who killed Amarildo?) and hung from the large footbridge that crosses the freeway at the entrance to the community reportedly disappeared in the early hours of Friday morning. Although the identity of those who removed the banner remains unknown, many Rocinha residents point to the police.
Amarildo de Souza, a 42-year-old father of six, disappeared after being called in for questioning by Police Pacifying Unit (UPP) officers on July 14th, sparking anger in Rocinha and beyond. Pressure from residents and Rio de Janeiro’s protesters for answers and Amarildo’s whereabouts has been mounting.
Amarildo’s role as a father of six children has inspired the protest that will take place on Father’s Day this Sunday. “On this Father’s Day, all the sons and daughters of Amarildo want an answer: where is Amarildo?,” reads the event flyer, produced by global human rights NGO, Amnesty International.
While disappearances and irregularities in law enforcement such as this are not uncommon in a country known for police corruption and brutality, Amarildo’s disappearance has picked up momentum in light of widespread dissatisfaction over police violence, sparking protests and gaining international attention.
Rocinha, widely considered Brazil’s largest favela, received a UPP in September 2012. The commander of the Rocinha UPP, major Edson Santos, again stated in testimony that Amarildo Souza was released after being subjected to an investigation at the headquarters of the UPP. Since the disappearance on the night of July 14th, officials say 24 police have given testimony in the inquest.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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