On International Human Rights Day Activists Gather in New York to Demand Freedom for Former President Lula, Political Prisoner in Brazil

On December 10th, 2018, to mark the 70th anniversary of the International Human Rights Day, activists will gather in New York City to demand freedom for former Brazilian president, Luís Ignácio “Lula” da Silva, currently held in custody in Brazil. The gathering, organized by the New York-based Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee will take place at The People’s Forum, 370 West 37th Street. The event will happen in tandem with events in Brazil and in Latin America as part of an international effort for Free Lula Day. In addition to speakers who will address the alarming human rights situation in Brazil, and a performance based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, organizers will provide updates on Lula’s situation and discuss solidarity work to support Democracy and Human Rights in the country. Keynote speakers will include Maria Luisa Mendonça, a renowned observer of Human Rights in Brazil, and Douglas Belchior, one of the leaders of the Black Movement in that country.

What: Free Lula on the International Human Rights Day
Where: The People’s Forum, 370 West 37th Street, New York
What time: 7PM - 8:30PM

The keynote speakers will be: Maria Luisa Mendonça (CUNY), a respected author and scholar on Human Rights, as well as one of founders of the World Social Forum, who will speak on Human Rights and Social Justice in Brazil. She is the founder of the Brazilian Network for Social Justice and Human Rights and the editor of the book “Human Rights in Brazil,” which has been published annually since 2000. She will be joined by Douglas Belchior (UNEAFRO Brasil), speaking on behalf of the Afro-Brazilian community and the work UNEAFRO does to guarantee access to higher education by people of color. Mr. Belchior, a historian, is one of the nationally-recognized leaders of the Black Movement in Brazil and was a candidate for the House of Representatives in the 2018 elections.

The event is aligned with international efforts coordinated by the National and International Committees to Free Lula, together with Frente Brasil Popular, which brings together more than 80 Brazilian social movements and organizations. It is also part of growing solidarity work in response to the urgent situation in Brazil after the election of far-right candidate Jaír Bolsonaro. Douglas Belchior stresses the importance of the international campaign since “Lula was arrested without any evidence of wrongdoing, because of what he represents for the Brazilian People, and to not be elected as an impediment to the international financial interests in Brazil’s resources. Lula is a political prisoner and all who fight for justice should commit to fight for his freedom”

As Maria Luisa Mendonça puts it, “ We will have very difficult times ahead in Brazil with increasing intolerance, violence, racism, sexism, homophobia and repression against progressive movements, universities and indigenous communities, stimulated by a discourse of hate that characterizes Bolsonaro and his supporters.” Yet, Mendonça also highlights the importance of emerging efforts: “ we saw a new wave of hope for progressive politics in the campaign of Fernando Haddad and Manuela D'Ávila, which was built by the mobilization of millions of people, as we see now in the international day to denounce the political imprisonment of Lula.”

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For more information, visit:

Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights): www.social.org.br
UNEAFRO Brasil: www.uneafrobrasil.org
Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee - New York: www.defenddemocracyinbrazil.org