Amnesty Commission Recognizes Seven Activists in Historic First Visit to US

Posted by Rebecca Atencio

Seven human rights activists who were active during the 1970s in denouncing torture by the Brazilian military regime were honored Thursday in an official ceremony conducted by Paulo Abrão, president of the Brazilian Amnesty Commission, at Brown University.

Created in 2001, the Brazilian Amnesty Commission provides moral and financial reparations to individuals persecuted by the government between 1946 and 1988, a period that encompasses the years of dictatorial rule. One of initiatives of the commission is to travel around Brazil on “Amnesty Caravans,” which consist of public hearings intended to provide victims of the dictatorship a platform for telling—and receiving official recognition of and apologies for—their experiences of political persecution.

The Brown event represented a kind of Amnesty Caravan (which officially are restricted to taking place within the boundaries of Brazil). In a moving rite, Abrão presented each of the seven honorees with a certificate of recognition, thanking them for human rights activism during the 1970s and apologizing on behalf of the Brazilian government for any adverse effects that they may have suffered as a result. Those honored were Marcos Arruda, Jovelino Ramos, Harry Sthrarsky, Loretta Strarsky, William Wipfler, Paul Silberstein, and James Green.

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                                                         Back row (l-r): H. Strahrsky, P. Abrão, J. Green, C. Amaral
                                                         Front row (l-r): L. Strahrsky, J. Ramos, P. Silberstein, M. Arruda, W. Wipfler 

Abrão presented each awardee with a certificate from the Amnesty Commission, “in public recognition of your distinguished participation against the military regime and in favor of Human Rights, amnesty, and democracy in Brazil.”

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Certificate presented to the James Green.

Sponsored by the Brazilian Amnesty Commission as well as the Watson Institute and Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University, the event was streamed live on the Watson Institute’s website. Video recordings will be posted to YouTube of the ceremony as well as Abrão’s keynote lecture, the talks of invited speakers Carla Simon Rodeghero, Rebecca Atencio, Marcos Torelli, James Green, and Adam Waters, as well as a session in which each of the honorees gave personal testimony of his or her experience opposing the Brazilian dictatorship.

To watch Abrão’s speech (dubbed in English), click here. For the other talks, the Q&A with the honorees, and the amnesty ceremony, click here.

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