By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wept Wednesday as she was handed the final report on the crimes committed during the country’s military dictatorship prepared by the Comissão Nacional da Verdade (National Truth Commission). Rousseff’s voice faltered as she spoke about the parents and friends of those who disappeared during the period.
“Brazil needs to know the truth…. and especially those who lost family members and parents and continue to suffer as they die again each passing day, need to know the truth,” said the President.
According to President Rousseff, the report will help to insure that the human rights violations committed during that period will not be repeated. “We, who believe in the truth, hope that this report will help to deal with the ghosts of a very painful and sad past so that they are no longer protected in the shadows of silence and omission,” she said. Rousseff herself was imprisoned for almost three years in the early 1970s and tortured with electric shocks.
Pedro Dallari, coordinator of the Commission said during the presentation that the final report recommends the creation of a public agency to continue the work started by the commission with investigations that may even find more victims from that period. “The number of victims in the report is clearly not a final tally,” added Dallari. The document also has 28 other recommendations.
Dallari said that the commission found that the human rights violations during the period were not conducted by a few rouge military officials, but that the practice of violent interrogations, torture and even deaths were part of the official systemic plan. “I can state, in general terms, that the most important conclusion (of the report) is the proof that not only was there a serious scenario of human rights violations but that these violations were conducted in a systematic, planned manner, organized by the Armed Forces through their chain of command,” said Dallari according to Agencia Brasil.
The report, which took almost three years to be concluded, lists 434 Brazilians who either died or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of authorities during the 1964-1985 period as well as a list of 377 officials who are said to have committed or ordered serious human rights violations. In addition the document lists locations where interrogation and torture sessions occurred.
According to Amnesty International Brazil, “The document is an important step in the efforts by Brazil to obtain justice for crimes against humanity committed by agents of the State during the military dictatorship,” said in a press release.
Another issue highlighted by the Commission is that many of the violations proven to have taken place during the military dictatorship still occur today. According to the report “the practices of illegal and arbitrary detention, torture, execution and disappearances are no strangers to contemporary Brazil.”
This association of the past with the present, says Amnesty, is important. “By linking the impunity of the past to the serious human rights violations which persist until now, especially in the public security area, the final report of the National Truth Commission shows in a clear way how the cycle of violence is sustained by the lack of justice.”
In 2011 President Rousseff sanctioned a law establishing the National Truth Commission, to investigate suspected human rights abuses that occurred between 1946 and 1988 – a period which includes the 21 year rule of the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.