On August 16th, 2014 the Front in Defense of the Palestinian People (Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino) hosted a popular tribunal charging Israel with grave crimes for its attacks on the Palestinian people and its role in contributing to state repression in Brazil. The event, Popular Tribunal: Israel on the Defendant’s Bench featured powerful testimony from many important sectors affected by the Brazilian government’s close relationship with Israel, particularly its purchase of millions of dollars worth of Israeli weapons. Testimony from members of important social movements included the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST), Quilombo Race and Class (Black caucus), the Students’ Federations (ANEL and UNE) and Palestinians living in Brazil. The verdict presented by Judge Joao Batista Damasceno condemned Israel’s role in repression in Brazil itself and for supplying military equipment that Brazil uses in the UN occupation of Haiti.
The tribunal follows the people’s movement assembly organized at the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre by IJAN, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the Palestinian Youth Movement with testimony from organizers from across the globe. Here are links to the 7 part video of this assembly: pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4, pt 5, pt 6 and pt 7.
The full verdict and sentence from the Sao Paulo tribunal is posted below in English. To read more about the tribunal in Portuguese, click here.
Defendant: The State of Israel
São Paulo, August 16, 2014
Development of technologies for the repression of social movements, extermination of human beings and exporting these technologies worldwide. Concluding trade and military agreements as well as diplomatic relations with the Brazilian government for the development and sharing of these technologies to be employed against the people.
The People’s Tribunal, after receiving a complaint against the State of Israel and against Brazilian state bodies that have various agreements with the Israeli state, established a process for determining the alleged facts at trial. The popular judgment was set for this date and invitations to the Police Departments of the State of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Government of the Rio Grande do Sul were sent, as well as the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs (Itamarati). Having fulfilled the steps of the judicial proceedings, after hearing the witnesses and other evidence produced, the findings are:
1) On the night of June 26, 2013, the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro conducted a raid into the Maré community which, in addition to collective and widespread violation of human rights, led to the deaths of 13 people. To carry out this raid, the Rio de Janeiro Military Police used armored vehicles known as “caveirões” manufactured by Israeli company Global Shield. The use of “caveirão” is widespread in raids on poor communities in Rio de Janeiro.
According to Rio de Janeiro media sources, the Government of Rio de Janeiro held on January 21, 2014 an auction for purchase of eight new armored vehicles (called “caveirões”) for approximately 6 million reais (Brazilian currency). The Israeli company Global Shield, which has contracts with the occupation forces in Palestine, won the million dollar bid. This business with the Government of Rio de Janeiro was seen as an “opportunity” by Global Shield as Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2014 World Cup, and will host the 2016 Olympics becoming, as stated by the local media, “the biggest show room for defense and security across the world”.
As journalist Naomi Klein writes in “The Shock Doctrine”, the State of Israel actually has become a big shopping mall when it comes to military systems, so-called defense and security technologies. Israel uses Palestinians as human guinea pigs in laboratories and then they reach business agreements with governments around the world to carry out repression against their own people. In Brazil, Maré community residents are among the victims of these agreements. This community faces oppression which has many similarities to the situation which the Palestinian population is subjected. They live in a social apartheid where they face institutionalized violence and occupation on a daily basis – now with the help of Israel.
2) The Military Police of São Paulo also have a history of repression against the black youth in poor communities and against demonstrations. Additionally, the police carry out evictions violently and have also employed repression against the labor movement, as was the case with the strike of the São Paulo Metro workers held from June 9-13, 2014, in which riot police entered into subway stations, which are confined spaces, to repress strikers. To perform these actions, the Sao Paulo Military Police used technological devices such as glasses coupled with micro cameras for immediate identification of people (checking demonstrators with the police database in real time), and X-ray equipment. Sao Paulo Military Police also receives training courses from Israeli institutions. We must not forget that military police bodies across Brazil have already received training in Israel.
3) The Brazilian armed forces have acquired equipment and training from Israeli arms corporations such as Elbit Systems, Israel Aeroespace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense System, either directly or through domestic subsidiaries of the same corporations. This fact is relevant since the Brazilian armed forces are now leading the occupation forces in Haiti (Minustah) with a record of violations both of human and national rights of the Haitian people.
4) On April 29, 2013 the government of Rio Grande do Sul signed an agreement with the Israeli company Elbit Systems to form an aerospace hub in this state. The agreement provides for the use of the research departments of public and private universities located in that state, delaying the development of domestic technologies, as well as providing this important sector which represents universities, for direction and control by foreign forces. Beyond Rio Grande do Sul universities, Israeli institutions have also established partnerships with various universities across the country, such as the University of São Paulo (USP), which has a long history of agreements with Israeli universities.
5) The repeated cases of impediment of entrance in occupied Palestine by the State of Israel, particularly for Palestinians and their descendants who have dual citizenship point to an ongoing surveillance of this community in Brazil and other countries, as well as monitoring of protests, constituting actions of harassment and discrimination.
6) The violent attacks against Palestinians in Gaza and also in other parts of occupied Palestine show that the so-called defense and security technologies (technologies that are actually for murder and state terrorism) are developed in the process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and then exported all over the world, including to Brazil (which has become in recent years one of the five largest importers of Israeli military technology).
Thus, given the evidence of the complaints, the People’s Tribunal brings in as its Verdict:
• To condemn the State of Israel and Israeli companies for the development of defense and security technologies through experiments against the Palestinian people, as well as for the export of these technologies throughout the world, including Brazil, spreading the means and methods of repression and extermination of human beings.
• To call on the various sectors of the Brazilian State to break all trade and military agreements as well as all diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, therefore taking a position consistent with the defense of human and national rights of both the Brazilian as well as the Palestinian people.