quinta-feira, 21 de junho de 2007

“In the Name of Intolerance”

By Ana Paula Prado Magalhães - Historian

On June 22nd, Jean Charles de Menezes, Brazilian, 27 years old, was shot and killed by the Scotland Yard in London. According to the police, Jean was mistaken for terrorists after behaving suspiciously in the Stockwell underground station.

Jean has been living in England for about four years working as an electrician. He grew up in a farm in Gonzaga, located 650 kilometres (400 miles) Southwest of Brasília. Son of a bricklayer, Jean came from a poor family. After receiving a professional diploma from “The State School of São Sebastião” in São Paulo, he has decided to go to London in order to try a better life. A cousin of Jean said that one of his dreams was to save money to return to Gonzaga, where he had friends, parents and family.

The town of Gonzaga is in shock. People cannot understand how the British police could have chased and shot dead Jean without having clear evidence that he was really a terrorist. According to the Scotland Yard, Jean was wearing an winter jacket that could be hiding a bomb. He also failed to obey orders and jumped a ticket barrier. Vivian Figueiredo, One Jean’s cousins, has contradicted that information. In a press conference held in London, she said that Jean was wearing a jacket jeans and he has not jumped the ticket barrier.

So, why was he killed? In Brazil, the majority of the population agree that Jean was murdered in cold blood by the anti-terrorist police and it happened because of the British policy of intolerance and discrimination. Would the police have shot Jean if he looked like as a typical English person? Why did they shot to kill? Those are the questions that are in the Brazilians’mind today.

The sadness and indignation of the Brazilian society were showed in protests in front of the British Embassy in Brasília and the consulates in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Besides, Jean’s family has been receiving the Brazilian public opinion’s support regarding the possibility of filed suit against the Scotland Yard.

The reaction of the Brazilian people is understandable. Jean, like other Brazilians immigrants, embodies the dream of having a better life in a developed country. The poverty and the lack of opportunity in Brazil stimulate many Brazilians, especially from the poor and the middle classes, to go abroad with a view to changing their lives. Those people also help their parents, relatives and friends who are still in Brazil. In that sense, the death of Jean is also seen by the Brazilian population as the murder of a dream.

Regarding the Brazilian Government, it has taken an appropriate strong stance. After receiving the tragic news, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Celso Amorim, has talked, in person, to the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in order to demand a complete inquiry into the case. In response to the accusation that Jean had a false visa, the Brazilian Government has reacted by stating that it is not a reason to kill a person.

All over the country, people have the same feeling. We, Brazilians, are against all kind of terrorism. However, we are also against that terrorism becomes an excuse to kill innocent people.

Nenhum comentário: