A new website documenting human rights violations perpetrated by former military dictatorship in Brazil has been launched in Sao Paulo.
The site, Brasil: Nunca Mais Digital [Brazil: Never Again-digital], provides free access to more than 900,000 pages of official records of human rights abuses and is a follow up to similarly named Brasil: Nunca Mais (BNM) project, which was supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the 1980s.
The files of documents and microfilms, dating to the days of Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, were until 2011 stored in the archives of the WCC in Geneva, Switzerland and the Center of Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago, USA.
The files were secretly gathered from court records at the time and shipped to the WCC and the CRL for safe keeping.
In June 2011, the WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, personally brought the files from the WCC Archives to Brazil and entrusted them to the Brazilian attorney general during a public ceremony.
The restored court records are now available for public consultation on the website Brasil: Nunca Mais Digital. The name pays tribute to the 1985 book detailing state crimes committed in the era of military rule.
The website was officially launched with a click by Sonia Wright, daughter of the Rev Jaime Wright, a Presbyterian minister in Brazil, who preserved the military government's records on torture.
The launch of the website marks a new period in Brazil’s search for reconciliation after these tumultuous times. During her speech to the estimated 200 participants attending the 9 August event in Sao Paulo, Rosa Maria Cardoso da Cunha, coordinator of Brazil’s truth commission, formed in June 2012, referred to BNM as a foundation to country’s first truth commission. “What you did in the BNM established a parameter to our work,” she said.
One of the key persons behind the website project was regional prosecutor and Brazilian human right activist Dr Marlon Weichert. He worked closely with the WCC and the CRL arranging repatriation of records, which include evidence that had gone missing from files held by the Supreme Military Court of Brazil, and coordinating the teams that digitalised the documents and set up the website.
In an emotional testimony about the process of Brasil: Nunca Mais Digital, Weichert expressed his thankfulness to the WCC former General Secretary, the Rev Dr Philip Potter. and former WCC staff member, the Rev Charles Harper, for their support in originally gathering the evidence.
“The support of the World Council of Churches was crucial to this whole process,” said Weichert.
“We celebrate the creation of the website, but we also honour the victims and survivors and we reflect about the power of information and the truth.”
* Brasil: Nunca Mais Digital - http://bnmdigital.mpf.mp.br/#!/
* See also 37th edition of the book Brasil: Nunca Mais Digital - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18789