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Brazilian peasants issue appeal to prevent massacre as camp attacked by soldiers

GOVERNMENT forces have launched an overnight attack on an alleged Maoist camp in Brazil’s Porto Velho region, holding around 600 families under siege as troops prevented entry and exit.

Around 300 police and soldiers stormed the Tiago dos Santos camp, which has been blockaded since October 5, with residents deprived of food and other basic goods.

Helicopters flew overhead as security personnel attacked the peasants with tear gas and batons.

Earlier this month, women and children living in the camp issued an urgent video appeal, saying that the siege had caused a shortage of milk for babies.

“We are all very concerned here with the rights violations that can happen — murders, torture, humiliation and retaliation against innocent peasants,” they said.

The camp, organised by the Poor Peasants Union (LCP), was surrounded after residents were accused of involvement in the killing of a Brazilian police officer, despite no evidence being offered to support the claim.

Security forces were egged on by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who shared video footage of peasants in another camp where police had been driven out.

The LCP insisted that it had nothing to do with the murder, and that it took place in a settling of scores between Brazil’s military police and organised criminal networks.

Some 2,000 men, women and children live in the camp and are locked in a battle for a public area of more than 57,000 hectares, which they say was stolen by landowner Antonio Martins dos Santos using forged documents.

The LCP insisted: “The land belongs to everyone who lives and works there.”

It issued an urgent plea for solidarity and for the international community to put pressure on the Brazilian government to prevent what they feared could become a massacre.

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