Education, Government - Outage Over Brazil University Raids
Brazil's Supreme Court ruled that military police should not intervene in politics on university campuses after they launched a series of operations against students oppose to fascism and incoming president Jair Bolsonaro.
"There is no democratic right without respect of freedoms," said Judge Carmen Lucia Antunes, who was rapporteur for the case. "The only legitimate force that can invade universities is that of free and plural ideas; any other is tyranny," she added. The other eight magistrates agreed the police actions on university campuses should stop, because it affects freedom of expression and thought at the universities.
The far-right Bolsonaro was elected president after winning last weekend's run-off election. Within days, police and lower courts started cracking down on campuses. At Grande Dourados Federal University, court officials suspended a public event against fascism. At Campina Grande Federal University, police seized copies of a pamphlet titled "Manifesto in defense of democracy and public universities" as well as hard drives from professors' computers. At Rio de Janeiro State University, police had no court order and demanding the removal of a banner honoring Marielle Franco, a feminist and human rights defender who was elected councilmember for Rio de Janeiro.
As word of this spread around the global via social media, 107 academics from world universities signed an open letter deploring the police raids and confiscation of teaching materials on ideological grounds.
"As academics, researchers, graduates, students and workers at universities in the UK, Europe and further afield, we deplore this attack on freedom of expression in Brazil’s universities, which comes as a direct result of the campaign and election of far-right President Bolsonaro," the letter read, "Academic autonomy is a linchpin not only of independent and objective research, but of a functioning democracy, which should be subject to scrutiny and informed, evidence-based investigation and critique."