Rioters destroy a window of the supreme court in Brasilia Rioters destroy a window of the supreme court in Brasilia  (AFP or licensors)

Brazilian Bishops condemn storming of congress

Brazil's Catholic Bishops Conference calls for the “immediate cessation of criminal attacks on the democratic rule of law" following attacks by rioters on government buildings.

By Joseph Tulloch and James Blears

A mob of far-right protestors descended on Brazil’s Presidential Palace, Congress, and Supreme Court buildings on Sunday.

In response, the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference released a statement calling for “immediate cessation of criminal attacks on the democratic rule of law”, and urging that participants be “held accountable with the full force of the law.”

The statement

On Twitter, the bishops wrote that they were “perplexed by the serious and violent events in Brasilia,” and called for “serenity, peace and the immediate cessation of criminal attacks on the democratic rule of law.”

“These attacks,” they continued, “must be immediately contained and their organisers and participants held accountable with the full force of the law. Citizens and democracy must be protected.”

The storming

The invasion of government buildings, in the capital Brasilia, was carried out by a faction of extremists who refuse to accept the result of recent Presidential Elections.

The attack involved around three thousand protesters, who support former President Jair Bolsonaro. Some unfurled banners calling for military intervention. Offices in the complex, which were mostly unoccupied, were stormed, vandalised, and ransacked, and windows were smashed.

Many of the rioters were clad in Brazilian football shirts, which have become a symbol of allegiance to Bolsonaro.

A full-scale investigation into the attacks is now underway. 

International reaction

Newly inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, who was in Sao Paulo at the time of the storming, called those involved fascists, and insisted that they will be punished.

Several hundred people have been arrested and the National Guard have restored order. Lula is dissatisfied with the way security was handled, and insists this too will be be thoroughly investigated. 

Jair Bolsonaro, who lost the Presidential Election, and is now in the United States, has condemned these actions, saying only peaceful and lawful demonstrations are a legitimate part of democracy.

World leaders have also joined in with condemnation of the protests, which fall short of a coup attempt but exceed spontaneous rioting, as some form of planning was behind the action. 

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09 January 2023, 10:59