By Atila Roque, Director at Amnesty International Brazil
Brazil is about to host the biggest football frenzy on the planet, where teams from around the world fight for the Cup every fan wants to hold.
But as Messi, Neymar and Rooney come face to face, outside Brazil’s shiny new stadiums another more serious standoff is taking place – one in which the ‘rules’ are being openly flouted.
Since June 2013, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers of cities and towns across Brazil demanding better public services, including transport, among other rights. Many of them complain that authorities are paying too much attention to FIFA’s demands and too little to the needs of their own people.
The response of the authorities has been nothing short of disgraceful.
Military police units sent to keep the protests “under control” have not hesitated for a second before shooting tear gas at peaceful protesters – in one case even inside a hospital. They have fired rubber bullets and beat men and women with batons despite them posing no threat.