Airton Luis Rodrigues da Silva is victim in the relentless violence against land rights activists in Rio Grande do Sul.
On the night of Thursday 30 April 2020, two members of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) were murdered in the Santa Rita de Cássia II Settlement, in Nova Santa Rita (RS), in the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre. The victims were Adão do Prado, 59, and Airton Luis Rodrigues da Silva, 56.
According to reports from MST, the two men were at Adão’s house when armed men arrived at the scene by car and executed Adão and Airton in front of family members.
Both had been part of the movement for land reform since 2000 and had taken part in many protests and land occupations until finally they got a piece of land for themselves and their families in 2005. They were also both environmental activists and were involved in environmental farming. They were part of a cooperative of 364 families, working together for the last 20 years to produce organic rice.
In the last ten years there have been multiple attacks on land rights activists and members of MST in Rio Grande do Sul.
On 20th March 2017, two human right defenders (HRDs) were killed by unidentified men. Antonio Mig Claudino, a cacique (chief) of the Terra Indígena Serrinha (Serrinha Indigenous Land), was gunned down in a bar in Ronda Alta, state of Rio Grande do Sul. Serrinha is an indigenous reservation in Ronda Alta, where several disputes over land and attacks on its indigenous inhabitants have taken place. Waldomiro Costa Pereira, a land rights activist, was killed on the same day in Parauapebas, Pará state. Costa Pereira, a longtime activist with the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement – MST), was assassinated by five gunmen who stormed the small-town hospital in the Brazilian Amazon where he was recovering from a previous assassination attempt.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed grave concern over the situation for human rights defenders in Brazil and demanded that the authorities take the necessary actions to identify and hold the culprits accountable.