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Brazilian president seeks resolution on missing victims of dictatorship

Brazilian president seeks resolution on missing victims of dictatorship

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on Wednesday for a deadline to find out what became of Brazilians who went missing and were presumably killed under the country's 1964-85 military dictatorship.
Silva made the comments as he presented a book prepared by the government that makes unprecedented revelations about the repression of dissidents by the dictatorship. The book cites 475 cases of people who were killed or disappeared during the military regime, including seven Argentines.
Silva said the murder, rape and torture of suspected subversives is an open wound that has not healed.
"We should set a deadline and plan what strategy to use so we can definitively know and recover" the remains of victims, said Silva, a former leftist union leader who was arrested and jailed in the 1980s by the dictatorship for leading an illegal labor strike.
"One of the wounds that remains open is finding the remains of many adversaries," Silva said at the presidential palace. Families "have the just (and) sacred right to bury their loved ones."
But Silva said Brazilians should not expect prosecution of members of the dictatorship, recalling that they are protected by a 1979 amnesty.
He also did not promise to open the era's secret military archives, which families of victims believe could reveal the location of the remains of 140 "disappeared' adversaries of the regime, according to the National Human Rights Secretariat.
The government's 500-page book, "The Right to Memory and the Truth," took 11 years to prepare and was released on the 28th anniversary of the 1979 Amnesty Law, which pardoned all Brazilians _ civilian and military _ for alleged crimes committed under the dictatorship. The government has paid compensation to more than 300 families.
The cases in the book all were previously known, and the book does not represent any form of "reprisal" against the armed forces, said Paulo Vannuchi, head of the National Secretariat of Human Rights.
Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said "the Brazilian armed forces accept this act as absolutely natural" _ although no military officers attended the ceremony.
Families of victims of the dictatorship said they were still looking for answers.
"I'm already old, (and) I think I might not have the strength to see this battle to the end," said Elzita Santa Cruz, 94, whose son Fernando Santa Cruz is listed among the disappeared. "I have faith in your courage, your dignity, so you will give us an answer," she told Silva.
Her only desire, she said, is "to bury my son, to know what happened to him."


Updated : 2020-12-02 03:27 GMT+08:00