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Brazil: Fear of attack against human rights defender Mr Antônio Felício da Silva
On 29 November 2011, Mr Antônio Felício da Silva accompanied community members from Gleba Bacajá land settlement to file a complaint at the police station in Anapu, Pará state.
The complaint followed the sighting of two men, who are reportedly known locally to be hired gunmen, entering the area on motorcycles, neither displaying registration plates. The men hid the motorcycles in the trees before entering plot 68 of the settlement and making a number of verbal threats against members of the community and its leaders. On 10 October 2011, one of these men had reportedly entered the workplace of Mr Antônio Felício da Silva in order to verify the human rights defender's identity.
Antônio Felício da Silva is the president of Associação dos Agricultores da Mata Preta – AAMP (Black Forest Farmers Association) and community representative before the National Agrarian Ombudsman's Office. Since 2007 the human rights defender has been working for the regularisation of land ownership for approximately 125 families settled in plots 68, 71, 71A and 73 in Gleba Bacajá, city of Anapu, Pará state. This includes the submission of documentation to the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária - INCRA (National Institute for Colonization and Land Reform) to expedite the process of legalization of land for the families. This work included the sending of a dossier in 2007 containing information about "land grabbing" which allegedly occurs in the area.
On 10 March 2010, a court order directed the community of settlers to leave the region. Due to the fact that the INCRA had not made a final decision on the case the families decided to reoccupy the area. That month Antônio Felício da Silva decided to temporarily relocate to the city of Altamira due to the number of threats that he had been receiving since 2007 and a fear that his work would make him a target for physical attacks
The human rights defender made an official request through the National Agrarian Ombudsman's Office for police protection but to date has received no response from the authorities. Antônio Felício da Silva continues to report seeing persons who work for the landowners driving by areas near his residence and workplace in Altamira.
Environmental and human rights defenders working in the state of Pará have reported ongoing fears of threat and attack. In 2011, Front Line reported on the murder of José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva and João Chupel Primo, three environmental rights defenders who worked in the region denouncing illegal logging activities. The area of Gleba Bacajá forms part of the Projeto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Esperança (Sustainable Development Project Hope), where human rights defender Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered in 2005.
Front Line believes that the threats against Antônio Felício da Silva are directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of land rights, and is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the human rights defender given the violent nature of previous attacks in the region.
(The Portuguese version of this appeal is attached below)