The people of Rio whose lives have been blighted by the Olympic Games have had their voices heard around the world following our joint press conference with Amnesty International.
Three days before the Olympic Games opening ceremony, journalists from 20 countries gathered to hear powerful human stories that laid bare the realities of eviction and police brutality that have occurred in Rio in the build-up to the Olympics.
They also heard the recommendations which the Sport and Rights Alliance (of which Terre des Hommes is a member) made to the IOC in order to ensure breaches of human and children’s rights are not repeated at future Games.
Naomy, the 14-year-old star of our award-winning film ‘The Fighter‘, bravely told her story of being evicted “like a dog” from her home in Vila Autodromo, next to the Olympic Park. She featured in an outstanding piece in The Guardian by Owen Gibson, which highlighted the SRA’s call for changes to the Host City Contract to include human and child rights provisions at future Olympics. Owen’s piece was also picked up by Brazil’s O Globo.
Naomy featured on the BBC News the following evening in a wide-ranging report by their sports Editor, Dan Roan. She also spoke to Newshub in New Zealand and in a truly gripping video report by USA’s Yahoo Sports, which also featured our campaigner Andrea Florence prominently. Argentinian newspaper La Nacion also quoted Naomy in a feature on the 600 families displaced from Vila Autodromo.
Vitor Santiago, 30, also told the assembled press how he was shot twice by police sent to ‘pacify’ the favelas in readiness for the Olympics. He will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair due to his injuries.
Germany’s Hamburger Abendblatt led on Vitor’s story and his description of life in the Maré favela as “tanks, barbed wire and sandbags; as if there were a war.”
The Christian Science Monitor focused on the wider principle of protecting human rights issues at future Olympic Games, quoting Sylvia Schenk of Transparency International, one of our key partners in the Sport and Rights Alliance. German outlet Ad Hoc News also echoed our claims that the Games must protect the rights of children.
In Portugal, Noticias ao Minuto focused on Amnesty International’s alarming figures for police killings in Rio in the months before the Games, while Toronto’s The Star proclaimed that “Rio’s image is marred” by human rights violations. Similarly, Paris-based RFI said Rio’s government faced “serious accusations” and also included quotes from Maria da Penha, Vila Autodromo’s now-famous figurehead of resistance.
Maria da Penha’s story was heard extensively, thanks to the New Indian Express, as well as London Evening Standard‘s excellent piece with her and Ana Paula Oliveira, whose son Johnatha was shot dead by police prior to the FIFA World Cup. Coverage across German media was extensive with Aargauer Zeitung also profiling the hardships of both women.
A heartfelt thank you goes out from Children Win, Terre des Hommes and the other members of the Sport and Rights Alliance to the world’s media for sharing our message that Mega Sporting Events should not harm children.
Photo credits : Lucas Jatobá/ Amnesty International Brazil.
You can help Children Win to STOP the displacement and violence related to Mega Sporting Events by signing our petition.