**disclaimer: this is not actually on Amnesty International, but there is reason for international indignation against political imprisonment, and someone should have made this by now.
Imagine if ex-president Barack Obama were sentenced to jail by a federal court because the court was “convinced” he was guilty. Guilty of…not his actual war crimes, but “undetermined acts of office”. The acts being a supposed corruption scheme, detailed by the court and one plea-bargain witness. They would say he was given an apartment by a construction company in exchange for federal contracts, even though said apartment was never in his name, even though there was no evidence he had ever set foot in the apartment, but because they were “convinced” it had been reserved for him. Imagine if all the judges of this court were out-spoken critics of Obama’s policies, and had been nominated by a Republican-controlled Senate?
One would at least imagine headline news, international outcry, and frank confusion at the kafkaesque situation. Yet most people outside of Brazil have no idea this is happening to ex-president Lula. Lula’s presidency was marked by the rise of social welfare programs and an improvement of national health and education. Though he is by no means a hero (he was not without a tweak of neo-liberalism), his rise from union leader to president, and his government’s role in increasing the visibility of women and minorities –such as through the introduction of racial quotas in the federal university system– disturbed the entrenched white land-owning political elite. This elite would rather not see him re-elected. They would rather send an innocent man (before the law) to prison than give the Brazilian people their right to democracy. By using institutional means–the justice system– they escape the charge of a strong-man jailing opposers: it is a strong system jailing a threat to its survival.
The weirdest thing is that when I ask Brazilians: “How is this possible? How can every single federal judge sentence a man on no legal grounds whatsoever? Are they all corrupt?”, they answer: “Because they’re right-wing.” It seems to be normal that judges make their decision on politics rather than legislation; the idea being “if only there were left-wing judges to support Lula”. The idea should be that judges apply the law blindly, regardless of support or opposition to a particular person’s politics, is rare to find. That’s the kind of justice system a democracy needs to ensure the its citizens’ freedom.
For nothing is more inherent of a kafkaesque bureaucrat State than being convicted of an “undetermined” crime, the evidence being the “conviction” of the judge, and the judge being the initial prosecutor who brought the case against you! Lula is Brazil’s public Joseph K.