Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet of meddling in Brazil’s affairs ‘along the lines’ of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Former Chile president Bachelet was ‘following Macron’s line’ by interfering in Brazil’s internal affairs in ‘attacking our courageous civil police and military,’ Bolsonaro said on Twitter.
Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the last year, had told a news conference in Geneva her office was concerned a hike in killings by police officers and by broader human rights restrictions in Brazil.
She said that in Rio and Sao Paulo alone, ‘1,291 individuals were killed by the police. It might be police action, but what I want to highlight is there is an increase from 12 to 17 per cent compared to the same period last year.’
‘In recent months we have seen also a shrinking of civic and democratic space, highlighted by documented attacks against human rights defenders, restrictions on the work of civil society and attacks on educational institutions,’ Bachelet said.
Bolsonaro recently accused Macron of meddling in Brazil’s affairs after the French president called for the internationalization of efforts to protect the Amazon amid raging wildfires and deforestation.
Brazil’s president further accused France and Germany of ‘buying’ Brazil’s sovereignty after the G7 group of rich democracies offered $20 million in Amazon fire aid.
He initially rejected the money unless his Macron withdrew ‘insults’ made against him.
In her news conference, Bachelet said that since 2012, ‘Brazil has been one of the five countries in the world with the highest number of killings of human rights defenders.
‘From January to June this year at least eight human rights defenders were killed,’ she said.
She said her office had documented killings over land disputes, but also in violence between environmental activists and illegal loggers, miners and farmers.
Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon and indigenous tribes in order to benefit his supporters in those industries.
‘We are experiencing a real environmental psychosis,’ Bolsonaro said recently.
He has attacked environmental agencies and pledged to crack down on what he’s called radical activism, and also questioned the latest official figures showing deforestation increasing by 88 percent in June compared with the same period last year.
On the eve of the G7 summit in France in August, Macron declared the forest fires, which are also affecting Bolivia, an ‘international crisis’ and put them on the agenda of the gathering.
Macron also accused Bolsonaro of lying to him about Brazil’s climate change stance.
Bolsonaro reacted furiously, accusing Macron of having a ‘colonialist mentality.’
The Brazilian leader later said he will stop using disposable pens made by France’s Bic.
Under growing pressure to do more, Bolsonaro issued a nationwide 60-day ban on burning vegetation in the vast Amazon basin.
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