The killings of African descendants in Brazil has gotten so bad that a researcher has dubbed the South American nation a “genocide project” of Black people.
A recent study by the Institute for Applied Economic Research and the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety, released Monday, June 5, found that Afro-Brazilians are 23.5 percent more likely to be killed than any other ethnic group in the country. Researchers’ appropriately titled “2017 Violence Atlas” also revealed that for every 100 murders in Brazil, 71 are of Black Brazilians.
“It’s not by chance that most people who die are Black, [and] that the majority of those incarcerated are Black people,” said lawyer, researcher and actress Dina Alves, who studies race, gender and class in Brazil. “It’s the state that kills when police kill.”
Alves, an outspoken supporter of the rights of Afro-Brazilians, said the staggering numbers are proof that Brazil is virtually exterminating its Black population. In a sit-down interview with Black Women of Brazil last year, she discussed how simply being Black is often viewed as a crime in Brazil’s criminal law system.
“For us, Black women and men and indigenous, we are still in the fight for reaffirmation of our humanity and political existence,” Alves said. “Why are we the No. 2 country in the Americas with the largest number of imprisoned? What is the color and gender of prisoners in Brazil? Why are so many young Blacks killed in Brazil?”
“Answering these questions may make us reflect on the condition of our existence as Black men, Black women and indigenous,” she added. “We die and are criminalized by the condition of our color.”
Data complied by the atlas was based on information obtained by the Mortality Information System of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, TeleSUR reported. The statistics indicated that in 2007, Brazil’s homicide rate was 48,000 people per year. By 2015, the number of Brazilians murdered each year had jumped to 59,080. A large majority of the victims were young, uneducated Afro-Brazilians who lived on the outskirts of large cities.
The report found that violence among Blacks increased by 18.2 percent between 2005 and 2015. Meanwhile, the homicide rate for non-black individuals fell by 12.2 percent.
In just the first five months of 2017, “the total number of murders in the country surpassed the number of people killed in all of the terrorist attacks in the world,” researchers wrote.
Though their report doesn’t give statistics on the number of killings by police, researchers highlighted a major barrier to justice used by police called “auto de resistencia,” or resisting arrest. After authorities kill someone they describe as a “bandido” or thug, they try to justify their actions as lawful self-defense because the suspect resisted arrest. More often than not, the only witness to the killing is another officer, and the case is recorded as resisting arrest. In turn, the investigation into the victim’s death isn’t priority and no police officer is held accountable.
TeleSUR reported that a parliamentary inquiry commission was created to abolish all forms of resisting-arrest cases. A law forbidding the practice was proposed in June of last year but has yet to be approved.