Brazil: Fatal altercation between police and Romani family launches campaign of mass murder against local Roma
According to Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia, a Romani journalist, lawyer and politician who is a Spanish citizen and vice-president of the International Romani Union, Brazil's military police have been murdering the Romani residents of Vitória da Conquista. On the afternoon of Tuesday, 13 July, there was an altercation between two plainclothes police and a local Romani family in the Zé Goncalves quarter of the city.
The incident ended with the deaths of the officers and two Romani men. Police then reportedly launched a fatal campaign of persecution against all of the Romani families in the city, which has roughly 340 000 inhabitants, as well as throughout the entire northeastern state of Bahia.
According to local media and the Romani residents' neighbors, at least six Romani people have been shot dead and another 15 wounded. The following day, a 14-year-old Romani boy was shot dead by the police.
That tragedy transpired in a pharmacy. Elsewhere on that same day another young Romani man was murdered by police in front of the local post office.
The cars and homes of Romani people have been set on fire and many Romani families are afraid to go outdoors, or only go out for groceries. What's more, surviving relatives of the victims have reportedly been forbidden to take care of their dead and bury them according to their traditions.
In a manifesto sent to the authorities in Brazil, including President Jair Bolsonaro, the International Romani Union (IRU) and the Unión Romaní in Spain (URS) are calling for the safety of Brazil's Romani people to be guaranteed, as they could be targeted for further attacks by groups of racists. The IRU and URS are also demanding an immediate intervention by the United Nations and punishment of those responsible.
"We believe the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Gutteres, as a citizen of Portugal, will be able to comprehend this tragedy," the manifesto reads. It has been signed by more than 100 organizations and public figures.
There are about 800 000 Romani people from different groups, such as the Kalé or the Sinti, living in Brazil, where they contribute to the country's development. Brazil even elected the world's first-ever president of Romani origin during the 1950s.
Dr Juscelino Kubitschek was elected president of Brazil in 1956, and during his administration the country enjoyed economic prosperity and political stability. His mother Júlia Kubitschek was of Czech and Romani descent.
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