Journalist Jeremias Vunjanhe, member of the organisation Justicia Ambiental-Friends of the Earth Mozambique was denied entry in Brazil. He was there to participate as an observer at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in Rio from June 19 to 22.
Vunjanhe was also scheduled to participate at the parallel Peoples’ Summit to expose the negative impacts of Brazilian mining corporation Vale at the 3rd International Meeting of People Affected by Vale. The company is one of the official sponsors of the UN summit in Rio de Janeiro. The activist was part of a delegation of Friends of the Earth International, an environmental organisation with more than 80 member groups around the world.
When he arrived on Tuesday at Guarulhos airport, in Sao Paulo, Vunjanhe was intercepted by the Federal Police and his passport was taken away. They then took him to the boarding room to send him back to Mozambique. NAT-Friends of the Earth Brazil together with the groups organizing the Peoples’ Summit claim that the activist did not get any explanation as to why he was being sent back. They gave him his passport back hours after boarding the plane back to Mozambique, with a stamp that says he is not allowed to enter Brazil.
Real World Radio managed to have a short interview with Anabela Lemos, member of Justicia Ambiental, who expressed her outrage at what happened to her colleague. She described the incident as “a lack of respect” and said this is just one of many attacks that the organisation has recently had to put up with. She did not rule out that the ban may be linked with the activist’s work to expose Vale’s actions in Mozambique and to support the communities affected by the company. However, Justicia Ambiental has not received an official answer as to what happened in Sao Paulo.
Justicia Ambiental and Jeremias Vunjanhe, have supported hundreds of Mozambican families that have been resettled by Brazilian company Vale in Moatize district. They have carried out demonstrations in the recent months to reclaim their rights.
Vale has had the concession of a mineral coal extraction project in Moatize since 2007. The area is considered as one of the world’s largest mineral coal reserves. The project has been criticized by some national groups because nearly 1,300 families were displaced as a result of it. Justicia Ambiental has visited the area and confirmed the reports of the families: they are living in deteriorated houses, they have problems with access to water, to land for agriculture and to transportation to get health care. Vale has failed to comply with the promises made when the works began.
Many social organisations and movements that will participate in the Peoples’ Summit in Rio de Janeiro are expressing their solidarity with Justicia Ambiental and with Jeremias Vunjanhe. Led by Friends of the Earth Brazil, the civil society groups gathered at the Peoples Summit have already contacted the Brazilian embassy in Mozambique and the Brazilian Consul in Maputo, the Mozambican capital. They are asking for the actual reasons that led to the deportation of the journalist from Brazil and for a formal apology.
Meanwhile, Justicia Ambiental has made it clear that it would not rest until it knows the causes of the incident.They will hold a press conference on Friday in Maputo to expose what happened. “Jeremias is a good person, a social and environmental activist”, Lemos told Real World Radio.
This podcast was originally produced and published by Real World Radio.