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Open Letter We demand justice for Marielle Franco

MATT WILLGRESS introduces an open letter by No Coup in Brazil in protest at the murder of a Brazilian rights activist

WE reproduce below an open letter signed by 100 prominent figures from across British society demanding justice for Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian progressive leader and rights advocate who was assassinated on March 14.

Across Brazil, and the world, people have been outraged at this tragedy and pledged their solidarity with those struggling for justice for Marielle.

In Britain we must do all we can to further raise awareness of this case and build the international pressure for justice and for an end to the deepening criminalisation of activists, government opponents and low-income people in Brazil.

“On March 14, one of Brazil’s most courageous social leaders was brutally assassinated on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman and human rights defender, was shot four times in the head by unknown assailants in a passing vehicle shortly after leaving a gathering of young black activists. Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed.

Long before being elected to Rio’s city council in 2016, Franco was widely known as a tireless and fearless advocate for the rights of Afro-Brazilians, LGBT people, women and low-income communities.

A gay black woman — born and raised in one of Rio’s poorest neighbourhoods — she campaigned relentlessly against spiralling police violence in the city’s favelas.

Franco’s activism earned her many powerful enemies.

She vehemently challenged the impunity surrounding extrajudicial killings of black youth by security forces and, two days before her death, had denounced the police’s role in the killing of a young black man named Matheus Melo.

She was a leading critic of the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro and was the head of a city commission tasked with monitoring the intervention.

We are deeply concerned and shocked by this commando-style killing of a woman who was a voice for the voiceless and a symbol of resistance to state-perpetrated violence, militarisation and anti-democratic forces.

Given that Marielle’s murder bears all the hallmarks of a targeted assassination, we call for the creation of an independent commission comprised of prominent and respected national and international human rights and legal experts and tasked with carrying out an independent investigation of the murder of Franco with the full co-operation of state judicial and police authorities.

Shortly before her death, Marielle asked: “How many others will have to die before this war will end?”

We call for justice for Franco, the daughter and the partner she leaves behind and for an end to the killings and criminalisation of activists, government opponents and low-income people in Brazil.”

• Chris Williamson MP (Labour,) President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America & No Coup in Brazil.
• Diane Abbott MP (Labour), Shadow Home Secretary
• Kate Osamor MP (Labour), Shadow International Development Secretary.
• Richard Burgon MP (Labour) , Shadow Justice Secretary
• Lloyd-Russell Mole MP (Labour)
• Baroness Shami Chakrabarti (Labour,) Shadow Attorney General    
• Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour)
• Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Labour)
• Bill Kidd MSP (SNP)
• Christina McKelvie MSP (SNP)
• Alex Rowley MSP (Labour)
• John Finnie MSP (Scottish Green Party)
• Benjamin Zephaniah, poet
• Naomi Campbell, model & activist
• Brian Eno, musician & writer
• Tariq Ali, writer & playwright
• Linton Kwesi Johnson, poet
• Ken Loach, filmmaker
• Michael Mansfield QC     
• Richard Gott, writer
• Ann Pettifor,  economist
• Andy De La Tour, actor & playwright
• Johann Hari, writer
• Owen Jones, writer & commentator
• Maya Goodfellow, writer & journalist     
• Joy Johnson, writer & Tribune columnist    
• Ava Vidal,  comedian & journalist
• Chardine Stone, founder,  Black Girls Picnic
• Phyll Opuku-Gyimah,  Executive Director, UK Black Pride
• Denis Fernando, Rainbow Coalition Against Racism
• Myriam Kane, Executive member, National Union of Students
• Zita Holbourne, National Vice-President, PCS, Artists Union England National Executive & National Chair of BARAC UK
• Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC & former Labour Party NEC member
• Rachel Garnham, Labour Party NEC member
• Cllr Alice Perry, Labour Party NEC member & Islington Councillor
• Cllr Claudia Webbe, Labour Party NEC member, Labour Party & Islington Councillor
• Peter Willsman, Labour Party NEC member
• Cllr Peray Ahmet, National Policy Forum member, Labour Party & Haringey Councillor
• Marcus Barnett, International Officer, Young Labour
• Artin Giles, Chair, London Young Labour
• Huda Elmi, NCG Member, Momentum & BAME Labour activist
• Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS
• Matt Wrack, General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union
• Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, NAPO
• Ronnie    Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU
• Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU
• Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union
• Tommy Murphy, EC member,  Unite the Union
• Simon Dubbins, Director of International, Unite the Union
• Annmarie Kilcline, Regional Secretary, Unite the Union East Midlands Region
• Jim Kelly, Chair, Unite the Union London & Eastern Region
• Christine Blower, International Secretary, National Education Union (NUT Section)
• Gawain Little, Joint Executive Council member,  National Education Union (NUT section)
• Max Hyde, Past President (Personal capacity), NEU ( NUT)
• Bernard Regan, Trustee, National Education Union (NUT section)
• Carl Maden CWU NEC
• Steve Jones, National & Postal Executive, CWU
• Andy Bain, Past President, TSSA
• Samuel Tarry, TSSA, National Political Officer
• Terry Hoad, Past President, UCU
• Moz Greenshields, Trades Unions Councils JCC (personal capacity), TUC
• Barbara White, Executive Committee member, Musicians Union
• Karen Mitchell, Head of Legal Department, RMT
• Phil McGarry, RMT Scotland
• John Haylett, political editor, Morning Star
• Bob Oram, Chair, People’s Press Printing Society
• Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London
• Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation (formerly the Movement for colonial freedom)
• Peter Purton, historian & former TUC LGBT Officer
• Jane Shallice, writer & activist
• Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
• Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND
• Pablo Navarrete, Alborada films
• Saundra Satterlee, journalist
• Georgia Platman, former Telesur English journalist
• Susanna Mitchell, Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique
• Liz Davies, barrister & Vice-President Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (personal capacity)
• Bruce Kent, peace campaigner
• Murad Qureshi, Chair, Stop the War Coalition & former GLA member
• Stephanie Kennedy, journalist
• Callum Simpson, Movimientos
• Sue Branford, Latin America Bureau
• Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
• Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
• Louise Richards, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group
• Susan Grey, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
• Professor Robert Blackburn, Associate Dean Research,  Kingston University
• Dr Julia Buxton, Central European Univerity / Swansea University
• Professor Mike Cole, University of East London
• Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head, Brazilian & Latin American Studies, Middlesex Univerity
• Professor John Gledhill, University of Manchester
• Professor Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University
• Dr Conrad James, Department of Modern Languages, Birmingham University
• Dr Hazel Marsh, Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of East Anglia
• Dr David Raby, former Senior Fellow in Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool
• Dr Sami Ramidani, academic
• Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics
• Professor Michael Wayne, Brunel University
• Matt Willgress, editor, No Coup in Brazil
• Colin Burgon, Honorary  President, Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

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